Monday, December 29, 2008

Robvious Blogwatch Continued...

Not much of an update, but it's nice to see he's still keen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fast Food Update: Burger King Angry Whopper

Angry Whopper (Single) $8?
(ordered a double, but was given a single... can't be sure what we were charged for)

Almost as annoying as the current Steakburger trend, is the pervasive "extreme" trend that pops up sporadically across the fast-food landscape. No matter who is serving up "extreme" burger-fare, you can be pretty sure their product is going to be about as extreme as a piano recital. Your average burger-munching fast-food frequenter can't handle outrageous heat, and therefore "spicy" burgers generally end up being rather tame. No body's going to buy your product if it makes them shit blue flame in the morning; they'll think they have e-coli.

The latest "extreme" fast-food burger offering comes from Burger King. Screamin' in at least five heat notches below Wendy's "Spicy Baconator" (I seriously wouldn't be worried about knocking a couple of these back before a date, family gathering, night with an escort, etc.) is the new "Angry Whopper".

Though it's nowhere near what I'd call an accurate culinary representation of anger, the "Angry Burger" is one of the better fast-food specialty burgers I've had in quite a while. The gushing processed flavour of this unit is quite comforting. Every ingredient tastes spectacularly bad for you, in the way that only a truly transcendent assembly-line foodstuff can. A fluffy white bun, sweet jalapenos, and an array of salts and chemicals provide perfect punctuation to any trip through Colwood. Save the glut of ketchup (which does come close to completely ruining this package), the "Angry Burger" is pretty tasty.

VERDICT: Unless it's ketchup and mayo, I have no idea what "Angry Sauce" is supposed to be, and this unit isn't much "angrier" than a regular Whopper. It still tastes about a thousand times better than a regular Whopper though.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Catrina's Grill—Mill Bay—170 2720 Mill Bay Road (Mill Bay Shopping Centre)—250-743-7277

Avalanche Burger

Mill Bay! Home of the hottest little teenage fast-food vixens this side of Salmon Arm! But we're not going for fast food today, instead we're going to a glorified Greyhound Bus Stop Cafe.

If you've ever been unfortunate enough to have to take a Greyhound up island, you know there is a nice clean parking lot that Mill Bay-ites get dumped at before the bus moseys it's way on to Nanaimo and parts unknown. Inside the highway-side strip mall is Catrina's Grill, and its Avalanche Burger. If you ordered a burger making kit online; the final product would probably taste like this burger.

Like so many other burgers in the area we've got ourselves a relatively blahzay, pre-formed patty sitting underneath an "avalanche" of mushrooms, bacon, and caramelized onions. The flavour of the sauteed mushrooms gets lost in the mix, and the caramelized onions are pretty damn sweet in this package. If this burger was served at a folksy southern cafe they probably would have thrown in some carrot shavings and called it "The Kitchen Sink Burger".

Not much else to say about this burger. There are a million restaurants out there that copy the Boston Pizza/Kelsey's family fare style, and Catrina's Grill is just slightly better than the rest of the imitators. The Avalanche Burger does have a great bun, but a bun alone is not worth the drive to Mill Bay.


"5-10 centimeters of snow is expected to fall..."-Weather Men.

With the prospect of making snow angels on the horizon, we hopped into my parents SUV and drove up island to avoid another disappointing lack of snow in Victoria. Of course the weather forecast was wrong, and our Snow Day 2008 was a failure. In fact, on the way to a Shawnigan Lake Pub to do a burger review, we noticed candles glowing in all of the houses off of Shawnigan Lake road. Apparently a trace of wet snow and 30 kilometer winds is enough to knock out power for 5,000 households on Vancouver Island.

So we left the darkness and ended up in downtown Mill Bay and stopped at the first pub style restaurant we could find: Catrina's Grill: the burger was average. The cheese and bacon was nice, and it wasn't dry, so it wasn't a failure, but the beef was tasteless and soggy. Making the burger even soggier was the pool of caramelized onions and dripping wet mushrooms. Luckily, the bun was fantastic; probably the best aspect of this burger. It was soft and delicious, holding the wet little package together. But the best part of this burger experience was making eye contact with the severely under aged girl making sandwiches at the Subway next door. I give this burger a C+.


For a "healthy" burger, the Avalanche Burger is not too bad, and bigger than the average chain store version. There is no secret ingredient comprised of sugars and liquid imitation grill taste that is added to this burger, and the fries are tastier since there's a crunch in every bite.
For the burger itself; it does not live up top its namesake. There's no overwhelming mountain of mushrooms, onions, lettuce or tomatoes—and I've consumed designer burgers where I can pile on as many condiments as I want (that is when they once existed in Victoria... remember Fuddruckers?).

While I consumed the burger expecting a flood of flavours to overwhelm my taste buds, it was more like a flood of feeling somewhat filled afterwards. This burger is approximately 1.5 times the size of the usual fast food take out places. I average two burgers per sitting, so you get the idea: this "meal" was like lunch for me.

VERDICT: If you're looking for an alternative to playing in the snow... this ain't it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bard & Banker Public House—1022 Government Street—250-953-9993—

Grilled Bison Burger

Historians remember it as a place where Robert Service may, or may not have, scribbled out some poems in-between bank clerk duties. For your average Victorian though, it's just the place they got drunk at last weekend.

You may have to dodge a few ghosts, (including that of a failed Christmas store: OOOOOOoooooOOOOoooo!) but if you're looking to get plotzed—a trip to the Bard and Banker is well worth it. Co-owner Matt MacNeil has made it his life's work to open as many bars as possible (Penny Farthing, Irish Times, and the Barley Mill in Calgary to name a few) and they're all great places to drink.

Now that I've established the stunning fact that an Irishman managed to open a good bar; it's time to critique this burger.

The Bison Burger at the Bard and Banker is kind of like that scene in Girls Just Want to Have Fun when the punks crash the debutante ball: a fancy culinary outing that gets ruined by some dipshit interlopers. In the case of the burger, the head interloper is the bison patty. I'm assuming the patty was pre-frozen, as it is a tad rubbery, lacking in juices, and slightly lacking in flavour as well. The lack of juices can be partially explained away by the fact bison is a lean meat, but the lack of flavour is pretty uncharacteristic for bison.

The patty wouldn't be so disappointing if it weren't for the fact that there are some really primo toppings that adorn this burger. Off cowering in the corner of this unit is a layer of Stilton cheese, and some incredible bacon. While other restaurants are content to use proletariat pig bacon, The Bard uses wild boar bacon. If you've never had wild boar bacon, imagine skinning an angel and making bacon from its back. To put it bluntly: this is some fucking good bacon. As good as this bacon is though, it's really just a front for what is a pretty average burger.

The crispy-edged kaiser bun, the red onion, the plain white mayo: they're all pretty humble ingredients. Personally I think if you're going to go fancy, you better go whole hog (pun intended). I mean Jesus Christ, you're using wild fucking boar bacon—can't you make a fresh-tasting patty and throw some house-mayo on that sucker? Either make a unique, up-scale burger, or pump out some by-the-book pub fare: you're wasting your time when you straddle the line.

VERDICT: Take away the special cheese and bacon, and this is the same as any other average pub fare in Victoria.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Gorge Pointe Pub—1075 Tillicum Road—250-386-5500

Prime Rib Beef Burger
(add $1 for bacon)

I am declaring Wednesday unofficial burger day in Victoria. Not just this Wednesday: every Wednesday. After discovering both Gorge Pointe, and Smith's Pub devote a coveted Wednesday dinner special spot to their burger; I think I'm justified. The burger at the Gorge Pointe Pub is definitely worth six bucks on a Wednesday, but for eleven....

This seven ounce, prime rib burger is satisfying—but nothing worth making a special trip past the horrible Douglas/Hillside intersection for.

The patty is a rather salty, char-broiled number with a faint whisper of juices. Tomato lovers (a group that doesn't include myself) will be happy with the hefty slice they'll find resting on top of an onion straw bed. Onion straw lovers aren't as lucky though, as these straws are dry and crunchy—crumbling and cracking like the brittle bones of an Oak Bay grandma who has just suffered a fall outside Pharmasave.

For only a dollar, the bacon is pretty decent, though its flavour is hidden a little by the onion straws. The onion bun is large and flat, offering a good bun:burger ratio with the wide-body patty. Although wider than your average bun, the relative flatness allows it to not overpower the rest of the burger. When it comes right down to it though, the Gorge Pointe Pub looks like a million other pubs, and the burger isn't wildly unique either.

VERDICT: Worth checking out for six bucks on a Wednesday, but too salty and onion-strawy for me to want to pay much more.