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.

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