Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pescatores Seafood and Grill — 614 Humboldt — 250-385-4512 —

Oscar Burger
(lunch only)

My cousin was hyping the Oscar to me pretty hard about a month ago. Given Pescatores' status as tourist spot, as opposed to local haunt, I was slightly sceptical of the place. I generally trust endorsements given by family, and crab and Bearnaise is a pretty dope combo, but I wasn't going to get too excited about this burger. I've been cheated by lunch burgers before and I wasn't going to get red-riding-hooded again. I came in expecting an average burger, and I think that's about what I got.

The Oscar Burger is not for purists: the crab and Bearnaise sauce pwn the burger pretty hard as far as flavour goes. I like crab, but if I'm eating a burger I want to taste beef. The beef takes an unsettling backseat here, and although I appreciate the moist, flavourful crab Pescatores uses — it ultimately becomes way too dominant.

Pescatores receives the majority of its meat and veggies from North Douglas/Sysco which means you get a pre-made patty with this burger. Not only is the burger pre-made, but given the lack of juices, I have to assume Pescatores orders frozen patties instead of fresh. The decision to go frozen is partly, if not largely, to blame for this burger's lack of flavour balance.

Criticisms aside, there are some things this burger does right. The decision to use Bearnaise as the only condiment (and to tell the veges to fuck off) was definitely the right choice for this burger. It might seem like an obvious decision, but as Floyd's Diner has shown us — it's not uncommon for cooks to treat burgers like Christmas trees and start hanging as much crap as possible on them.

The only other thing to mention is the bun, which was a rather crusty sesame seed kaiser number. Despite the overt crustiness, I actually enjoyed this bun a fair bit. It complimented the rest of the burger nicely, and didn't taste half bad either. Unfortunately for Pescatores though, the overall nature of this burger is very laboratory-esque.

VERDICT: Keep experimenting Pescatores, you don't have it yet.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Floyd's Diner 2 — 2915 Douglas Street — 250-382-5111 —

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an expansion of a review that is featured in this week's Nexus Newspaper. Pick up a copy at your newstand for a comparison of this burger to the fare at Camosun College's Lansdowne Campus.

First Kiss Burger

Floyd's has possibly the most notoriously shitty service in Victoria. Lucky for Floyd's, however, they are also the most recommended breakfast joint in town. Buoyed by its Eggs Benedict, Floyd's has somehow managed to turn itself into a mini-franchise. Earlier this year a second restaurant was opened inside the Super 8 Hotel building on Douglas. Funnily enough the last eatery I remember in this location was also a faux-diner trying to cash in on nostalgia loving noshers. They appear to have failed miserably, but given its reputation, Floyd's might have a chance here. I'm not concerned about how viable a business venture this franchise is though — I'm much more interested in the burger.

Floyd's is much too democratic with its condiment selection. There is no way you should be giving chipotle mayo AND barbeque sauce equal billing on a burger. In fact nine times out of ten, you shouldn't even keep barbeque sauce in the same room as your patties. All BBQ sauce ever manages to do is destroy any semblance of flavour hierarchy within your burger unit. Despite my distaste for BBQ sauce, I can understand that sometimes a restaurant will try to be different by using it instead of traditional condiments. I can understand the need to be different, but using special mayo AND barbeque sauce AND mustard on the same burger is total fucking lunacy. It's akin to wearing jeans and a skirt at the same time: it doesn't make you unique, it just makes you look stupid.

In spite of the condiment blunder, the First Kiss Burger manages to be fairly decent. The patty is slightly crispy on the outside, with a supple, juicy centre: it's a hearty bugger with a considerable meatloafy flavour. As for the other essentials — the bacon is good (but could be crispier), the cheese is fine, and the whole-wheat kaiser is surprisingly squishy. I actually can't remember the last time I had a whole-wheat bun that was this squishy.

Despite the vexing nature of its condiments, the First Kiss Burger ain't all that bad. It's definitely reminiscent of Fifth Street Bar and Grill's over-hyped buffalo burger, but something makes this burger more enjoyable. Maybe it's the fact that it's served by a waitress who isn't afraid to tell you she's late taking your order because she was in the kitchen hiding from unhappy customers: there's a certain air of authenticity this burger gains from being brought to the table by a self-deprecating diner waitress. It doesn't change the fact the burger is faux-diner fare, but it sure doesn't hurt.


I remember a day, four or so years ago, when I went to Floyd’s and it took more than an hour and a half for my food to arrive. The service was not very good, probably because the servers were inexperienced and overwhelmed at the amount of costumers coming through the door, but I’m still not really sure why the food took so long to arrive. I’m also not really sure why Floyd’s is so revered in Victoria. I’ve had better breakfasts at ma ‘n’ pa restaurants in rural Ontario; with better service and MUCH better atmosphere. But, I guess that’s what you get for living in Victoria. Every time some young restaurant entrepreneur opens up their own business in Victoria, they tell all their friends to tell their friends, and then some sort of unexplainable allegiance is created. But that’s not to say Floyd’s has not earned their accolades, and it’s not to say Floyd’s owner is under the age of 35. But I do feel there is some sort of yuppie-love mentality attributed to the success of this establishment. I mean the food is not horrible. The menu is fairly original, and the fare tastes better than your ordinary Brannigans experience. But I wouldn’t be shelling out awards in the direction of Floyd’s. It may be one of the best places to eat breakfast in Victoria, but that is not saying much.

The First Kiss burger is good. If I were from, lets say Regina, and I was on a cross-country tour with my family, I wouldn’t be upset with it. Hell, it does the job. You got yourself a whole-wheat bun that is soft and chewy combined with a very interesting and flavorful homemade patty. The BBQ sauce kind of overpowers the taste of everything, but the patty is thick enough that you can still taste the beef. A little more cheese on it would have been better, but nobody’s perfect, especially after watching Hamburger America. I still prefer simpler and greasier burgers compared to the one Floyd’s are serving, but the burger does have an original flavor and the patty is not dry at all. If you’re patty isn’t dry, you’re already ahead of the game.

VERDICT: Floyd's makes a half-decent burger that would be fully decent if not for counter-intuitive condiment practices.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Campus Cafe — Camosun College Lansdowne Campus

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an expansion of a review that will be featured in tomorrow's Nexus Newspaper. This version is a lot less over-the-top, but is worthwhile nonetheless.

Grade Eh! Burger
$3.79 (add $1.59 each for Bacon and Cheese)

The cafe at Camosun's Lansdowne Campus has gone through some major aesthetic and managerial changes, but it still gives the same half-assed effort behind the grill. Aramark may have taken over from Chartwell's as Camosun Food Services Provider, but the kitchen staff at the cafe has barely changed, and food preparation practices still leave something to be desired (the cafe serves baguettes now, but they don't even cut them in fucking half when they serve them to you). Aramark has claimed "quality of food will be improved" at the cafe, and that the cafe is "buying locally". That might be true of the new baked goods, but the quality of the cafe's burger certainly hasn't improved under new management, and I have my doubts as to how local this beef is.

I can't argue that the lettuce and tomato on this burger were fresh, but the patty hit the grill frozen and with hair on it. Now I'm not some lysol-loving light-in-the-loafers germ freak; hair is everywhere, it's bound to fall on food eventually. What does bother me is the fact the grill-cook used his bare hands to remove the hair from the patty. Given the fact the the grill is wide out in the open, this just shows a total lack of interest in presentation and shoots Aramark's rhetoric straight to shit.

As I said this is a frozen, pre-fab patty, but it isn't a terrible one. The flavour certainly won't rock your socks off, but add a dollop of mustard and this will match your average little-league baseball fundraiser burger. What really turns this burger into an insult to your tastebuds is the bacon. Now you'll noticed the picture above doesn't show bacon, that's because I learnt my lesson the first time I ordered this burger. The bacon I was given the first time I ordered the Grade Eh! Burger can only be described as akin to a fossilised scab. It felt and tasted as if it was a remnant of some paleolithic era of burger making at Camosun. Completely unacceptable, especially considering Aramark is trying to push their commitment to "healthy options" and "food quality".

As far as burgers go, absolutely nothing has changed at the Campus Cafe since new management took over. The one burger element that benefits the most from being fresh is frozen, and the bacon is old enough to remember the Red River Rebellion. What we've got here is a Chartwell's in sheep's clothing. Camosun is stuck with Aramark for another eight years, whether they like it or not, hopefully they'll make some changes to the kitchen in that time.

VERDICT: A $1.59 for rest-home bacon and grill-cooks who couldn't care less? That'd be a big fat passola thanks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Election Burgers

Burger Heaven in New Westminister is serving up burgers inspired by party leaders in the run-up to the federal election.

Here's a short piece (direct link) that News 1130 did on the "Bun-Official Burger Poll". Great pun Burger Heaven!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beerfest BBQ Hut

Nothing quite like getting drunk at an afternoon festival: crappy folk music being kinetically interpreted by even crappier dancers, free key chains, friendly framboise drinkers — pretty much all the ingredients for fun. My first trip to the Great Canadian Beerfest was a great experience, brought down slightly by a heck of a lacklustre burger.

Maybe I just wasn't drunk enough, but man this burger was unsatisfying. The patty was dry and flavourless, the cheese sweaty, and the bun a tad obtrusive. BBQ Hut is obviously pandering to the lowest common denominator when it comes to hungry masses, but it would have been nice to see a little more effort put into this. I had a pretty good afternoon buzz going when I started pounding this burger back, and it was still painfully obvious I wasn't going to rest easy until my stomach lining was wrapped in a tastier, beefier, grease blanket.

My body's need for a grease-bomb was so completely violated by BBQ Hut that I had to go to Wendy's and eat not only a Baconator, but a JBC and fries too. Wendy's just barely satisfied my needs, but it did sober me up enough to fully appreciate the brush with fame me and Guy had on our way past SOFMA.

Backstreet Boys were in town Friday and Guy totally shook Nick Carter's hand as he was signing autographs outside the arena. Aside from an opportunistic photographer, we were definitely the only dudes there, and of course Guy was the most obnoxious in the crowd. I suppose we have BBQ Hut to thank for that.

VERDICT: Mute metro-sexual Nick Carter beats BBQ Hut by a mile.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Burger Blog Goes Home

I went home a couple weeks ago and the family decided to have a little burger shindig. Ground up some steak from Cooper's (there's no butcher shop in Hope) and we made our own buns.

Here are a few pictures from the event:

We made mini-burgers, and some more conventional four-ouncers. The burgers ended up being a little lean, but they were great with goop sauce. Taking a cue from one of the grill-cooks mentioned in Hamburger America (I can't remember which one) we cooked the cheese separate from the burgers. This is definitely the way to do it, as you end up wonderfully gooey cheese, as opposed to sweaty cheese.

Our buns were good, if a little small. We used a recipe from epicurious. If you end up trying the recipe, and you like squishy buns, I would recommend steaming your buns ever-so-slightly.

The mini-burgers were a lot of fun, and allowed for some experimentation. My dad's favourite was nutburger spread (salted peanuts and miracle whip) with bacon and blue cheese.

All in all the event was a huge success; even if we didn't entice the vegetarian in the crowd to slam a burg.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Buffet Blog Review Makes it to Print

Our sister blog's review of Chinese Village has been reprinted for Nexus Newspaper's new column "Look Who's Eating Too". The column is a little something Guy and me will be working on this year. Expect us to venture out of the burger and buffet world for this one. The column will run monthly, as will "Worth The Trip", another Nexus food column that we have taken on. Nexus is all over town: go pick one up.

New(ish) Vancouver Area Burger Blog

Just noticed this relatively new Burger Blog that's covering the Vancouver scene. I don't really agree with his reviews, but the blog is a good read. It's also nice to see another blog with pictures almost as shitty as ours.