Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fifth Street Bar and Grill—1028 Hillside Avenue—250-380-4600—www.fifthstreet.ca

Buffalo Burger $10 (add $1 for Bacon or Mushrooms)

Apologies as always for the horribly blurry burger picture. I've only had my camera five years, I'll figure out how to use it eventually.

Fifth Street Bar and Grill is possibly the most overrated restaurant in Victoria. Over the years I've sampled some incredibly mediocre offerings here (pizza, steak, wings, etc.) and have never come to understand Fifth Street's cult status. The Buffalo Burger here is easily the most recommended burger in Victoria (for some unknown reason it has managed to achieve a surreal level of salacious super-stardom that is unmatched in our fair city). I've always viewed this burger as severely flawed, but on my most recent visit I was pleased to find it's not as underwhelming as it used to be.

The biggest change Fifth Street has made to the Buffalo Burger in the last year is the bun: the restaurant used to employ a very dry whole wheat kaiser, but have since changed to a smaller, chewier kaiser. The quality of the new bun is far superior to its predecessor, but unfortunately it throws the burger:bun ratio totally out of whack. The Buffalo Burger patty is approximately 1/3 of a pound, and incredibly loose. Due to the smallish bun, and loose patty, pieces of your burger tend to drop to your plate like flies from a bug zapper.

Despite the structural problems, this is a fairly tasty burger. I hate BBQ sauce on burgers like Achilles hates his heel, but Fifth Street has managed to make the condiment fairly unobtrusive. The portion of BBQ sauce used nowadays is much less than in Buffalo Burger days past, and it is hidden under a layer of melted cheddar. This layering effect allows the BBQ sauce to blend into the burger patty a little more naturally, but I still consider it an unnecessary element. Fifth Street flame-grills their burgers, and it seems more logical to me to spread some sauce on the patty while cooking—thus enhancing the flavour in a more subtle way.

Before finishing this review I need to quickly mention the service I received at Fifth Street: it was horrible. I could go on and on, but I'll keep my criticism focused on the burger, as this was the second time in recent history they've screwed up my order. As you will notice in the picture above (if you can make them out through the blur) I ended up with mushrooms, instead of the bacon I had ordered. I'd normally be willing to ignore this, but this isn't the only time Fifth Street has made an error in my order, and given the fact it takes half-a-fucking-hour to make this burger, you'd think they'd get it right.

Criticisms aside, I have to admit Fifth Street has made great strides toward providing a quality burger. The new bun is much better than the old, and through clever construction, they have allowed for a better flavour balance than in the past (not easy for a burger with both chipotle mayo, and barbecue sauce). I still think this burger doesn't deserve its constant accolades, but it is infinitely better than it used to be, and you'd be hard-pressed to find something better on the menu at Fifth Street.

Guy Alaimo Chimes In!!!!

After thirty minutes I received my piping hot, wood burning stove cooked buffalo burger, with mushrooms instead of bacon. Big let down, but the burger was still decent, which is the important thing. The patty fell apart too easily, but there was a nice injection of garlic inside, and the barbeque sauce was sweet and light.

Ten dollars is also a good price, but the shitty service was not worth the value of the food: Fifth Street is a wolf in sheeps clothing.

VERDICT: Recent changes are pleasantly surprising: structural problems, and fanatical devotion to barbecue sauce hold it back from true excellence though.


Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin said...

Fifth Street - not bad, indeed,


You *must* try The Pink Bicycle Gourmet Burger Joint on Blasnhard (between Broughton and Fort) - it is AMAZING. Totally up your alley!


dk said...

shit, this just opened eh?

looks exciting: do you know where they get their beef from?

Richard McDevitt said...

Yay! I'm glad you like the new and improved version. My first try was a about two months ago so I never had to experience the crappy bun.

Balls to the service. I stood around for five minutes once before they told me to sit where ever I want. Fucking morons.

Oh, I went to Glo today...no more Buffalo burger...boo urns.

dk said...

Too bad about the buffalo burger at Glo. Did you try their prime-rib burger? It's pretty dope.