Thursday, July 31, 2008

Valentino's Cafe — 1002 Blanshard Street — 250-294-9366


Deluxe Burger
$7.75 (+$2.75 for Onion Rings)



Is Valentino's the only restaurant in Victoria with a banner advertising burgers? These banners are rather commonplace in the U.S., but extremely rare in Victoria. The lack of banners here says something about local burger culture: it's lacking.

The burger just doesn't hold the same place in day-to-day life that it does in the states, and therefore it's not as blatantly advertised here. I've never met a local that has ate at Valentino's, and I imagine their banner is an attempt to draw in burger addicts from south of the border.

You can usually count on a restaurant with a banner to satiate your base burger desires, but not necessarily exceed them: Valentino's certainly fills that profile.


Valentino's Deluxe Burger is crafted in familiar fashion: pre-fab patty, processed cheese, bacon, lettuce, red onion, dill pickle, tomato, and mayo. The bacon is crisp, and the veges are fresh, the pickle adding a particularly nice dose of flavour to this unit, but you can't win me over with dill pickle alone.

The cheese on this burger was barely melted, and is evident of one of the main problems with pre-fab patties: they cook too quickly. Pre-fab patties are relatively thin, and generally don't need as much grill time as a homemade patty. The decreased grill time means the cheese doesn't always have sufficient time to melt. This problem is even more evident at a place like McDonald's which is often just re-heating patties. In such a case you end up with cheese that is sweatier than my back after a ride to Colwood, but still far from melted.

Another grill-related problem this burger has is its bun. The bun on the burger at Valentino's manages to soak up an alarming array of grill flavours, to the point where the bottom half tastes like a cheap beef piroshki. You get used to the strange bun flavour after a couple bites, but it's always in the back of your mind.

Despite the sweaty cheese, and piroshki-esque bun, this burger isn't a total loss. The Valentino's Deluxe benefits greatly from crisp bacon and fresh dill pickle that contribute a nice duality of flavour to an otherwise pedestrian affair.

I'm confident Valentino's has the ability to make a quality homemade burger that would stand strong alongside their hand-cut onion rings, but sadly they haven't bothered.

VERDICT: Fills your burger craving, but doesn't leave you craving more.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ripple Rock Pub, 2231 South Island Highway, Campbell River, B.C - - (250) 923-1782

Ripple Rock Burger
$10.50
(Homemade beef patty, lettuce, red onion, tomato, pickle, mayo)
For cheese and bacon add an extra $1.50



Located in historic, and newly revamped Willow Point, the Ripple Rock pub is named after the famous underwater, twin-peaked mountain in Discovery Passage, that wreaked havoc on ships for centuries, before it was blown up on April 5, 1958. The man made explosion, which was broadcast live on CBC, took years to plan, and involved several underground tunnels filled with explosives.



The pub is in a nice building that was probably built no more than two years ago. It's location is prime. Jutting out at an angle towards the highway, its difficult not to notice it when your coming into town. I would not be surprised if this place has been tried many times just because of it's location.



I was really hungry so I ordered a starter. The sushi looked like the best deal for appetizers, as mostly everything else was over ten dollars. They try to make a nice impression by putting the wasabi and pickled ginger into a wonton soup spoon, but the sushi was horrible. The rice was chewy and tasted like it was sitting in a metal bowl in a fridge for 5 days. I'm not even positive that it was rice.

Now obviously, the main reason why I came here was to try the burger. Initially it was brought out to me by a waitress who tried to get away without putting the cheese on. "They ran out of cheese," she hastily suggested, hoping that I would be as compliant with her as I was in previous conversation. "No no no," i quickly retorted, shaking my head side by side while grinning in disbelief. "Go tell them to put a different kind on, Edam, whatever, I don't care, but I'm not eating this burger unless there is cheese on it." She replied with an "ok" and quickly grabbed the platter before scuttling into the kitchen.



When the burger came back three minutes later, there was definitely cheddar cheese on it. "They ran to the store and just grabbed some," said the lying waitress. Anyways, the burger was clearly microwaved, as the bottom of the bun was just soaking in grease, and the burger as a unit was unbelievably warm. Little pockets of toughness in the bun signified definite microwave burn. As I held the burger in my hand, it fell apart in an instant, and the patty crumbled onto the plate. At times, it seemed as if I was navigating the forest, and not eating a burger. The piece of lettuce was ridiculous. It was obviously just pulled out of the lettuce tray and hastily laid on top without any recognition. A word to line cooks: it might look nice, but it's fucking annoying taking a pair of scissors to my burger lettuce before consumption.

Now the taste of the patty itself, wasn't bad. I had some good opportunities eating patty by itself, because barely any of it wanted to stay in the bun. It had a sweetness that I enjoyed. And they put a shit load of bacon on. I mean a shit load. More often than not I was eating a bacon burger instead of a beef with bacon burger.

Verdict: Way to expensive and never again. Please don't microwave my burger.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rose's Burger Bus — Courtenay — Top of Mission Hill/4915 North Island Highway — 250-334-0405


Bacon Cheeseburger
$7


Rose's is part of a very rare breed: there aren't a lot of humble, classic style burger-shacks on the island. Rose's name is perhaps a little misleading, but if you go around the backside of the place, you will notice the kitchen is in a shortbus. Being next to a tack shop, Rose's is a common stop for island bikers, and if I lived in the area it would probably be a regular stop for me too (despite their inflated burger pricing).


Rose's Bacon Cheeseburger is a remarkably compatible unit. Imagine this burger as the family down the street who always seemed eerily harmonious. You've got little brother bacon and cheese, an attention grabber. You recognize him quickly, but you know he's still just a shadow of the core of the family unit: daddy beef patty. Little sister lettuce and green relish sits on the sidelines, but makes a vital contribution, and mama bun holds the whole works together.


Perhaps I'm getting a little too poetic here, but this burger really is a lesson in the importance of having burger elements that compliment each other. The ingredients here are incredibly simple: 4oz pre-fab patty, processed cheese, cheap white bun, fried onions and lettuce, green relish and mayo. Because none of the ingredients try to upstage each other, you end up with an incredibly delicious union. Rose's does a wonderful job of proving you can make an excellent burger without being fancy; and that's no small feat.

VERDICT: The price is a little steep considering its pre-fab nature, but this is an expertly crafted shack-style burger. Definitely worth checking out.

NOTE: Rose's is open Tuesday-Saturday 10-3PM

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jan's Cafe — Hornby Island — 5875 Central Road — 250-335-1487

Super Burger
$10


Sporting a resume that highlights probably at least half the cafes and restuarants on Hornby, Jan Kennedy is a woman that likely knows a thing or two about the challenges of being an island restauranteur.

When she bought Jan's Cafe (originally "The Joy of Cooking Cafe") it was little more than a tent on the grounds of the old Hornby Island Co-Op. Nearly twenty years later, it's a rather inviting little cafe which appears to be as popular with locals as it is with visitors.


I have no idea how difficult it is to find a beef supplier on Hornby, but I imagine it isn't easy to find an affordable one. Whatever the reason (lack of an affordable supplier, or otherwise) Jan's Cafe has decided to use frozen patties for its burgers. As is often the case when using frozen patties, the Jan's Super Burger ends up being rather dry and flavourless.


Jan's blahzay beef stands in rather stark contrast to the rest of the Super Burger's elements. It's obvious that Jan's has tried to create a burger that in some way reflects the island lifestyle. The bun is multigrain (and suprisingly fresh and moist), the top half of the bun is adorned with sprouts (which are also rather fresh), and the cheddar cheese is sprinkled with basil (if I remember correctly).

Jan's Super Burger is much like a Hornby Island Tourist: trying to escape the modern white-bread world, but invariably remaining a part of it. The Super Burger strives to be different, but ignores the most important factor in making a burger stand out: the meat. You can pile the sprouts mile-high, but you'll never rise above the shitty sports bars if you're using frozen patties.

VERDICT: Two patties of total mediocrity. There aren't a lot of options on Hornby, but there's probably somewhere with better burgers than Jan's (although their hashbrowns are pretty good).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fatburger — Vancouver — 1101 Denman Street — 604-689-8858

Fatburger w/ Bacon and Cheese
$7.50



Editor's Note: Please enjoy Miles Bissky's first contribution to the Victoria Burger Blog. We hope it's one of many from our new Vancouver Burger Correspondent!


I first discovered Fat Burger while still in honeymoon mode. My wife was at a conference on Denman street and I happened to come across the Fat Burger location there. I was immediately drawn to the King Burger, it's thick patty is juicy and extremely tasty. They only use fresh not frozen beef and make all the burgers at the time of order. Unfortunately this can extend the wait for your burger to about 15 minutes, but it is worth it. Another issue is I find them slightly pricey, especially for the smaller burgers. The smaller "Fat" (not king size), burgers have another fault, they seem to get dried out more easily and they don't seem to stand up to the bun quite as well as the King or Double King sizes.


Having had great Fat Burger experiences at all three lower mainland locations I was surprised when I ordered the regular sized Fat Burger that it was so dry and chewy. If you are going to go to a Fat order either the King or my favorite, the Double King which is one pound of beef; this burger is just the right amount if you don't order fries. Their bacon is reasonably good quality, the smoke flavour can be detected and they use a classic complement of toppings. They do toast their buns but they seem to be toasted by a 12V or similarily low power version. Overall, the old addage is particularily true at Fat, go big (on the patties) or go home with a dry and disappointing burg.

VERDICT: If you choose your burger wisely, you'll have a wonderful fast food experience at Fatburger.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dick's Fish & Chips, 1003B Island Highway, Campbell River, BC - - (250) 287-3336

D's Burger
5oz. Homemade beef patty, special sauce,
onion, mushroom, bacon, cheese.
$6.50 + tax


For everyone who is new to Campbell River, Dick's Fish and Chips, located on a floating dock beside Robert Osler Park, seems to be a popular spot to dine.

Perhaps its the heavy marketing that allows Dick's to be such a prominent presence on the Campbell River dining scene (which is not that great to begin with). Or could it be, that Dick's actually offers a good product?

I have not tried their Fish and Chips, so it would not be appropriate for me to say that they do not offer a good product in general. However, I can say that their burger is an underwhelming, and probably an under cared for product.



Beginning with the bun, which may have been alright had the beef patty been twice it's size, the "D" burger is a soggy and almost tasteless burger, and is something I would not expect for the price.

I'm starting to figure out why fast food companies like McDonald's and Wendy's have strong followings. There are just way too many people who run into mediocre, overpriced "home style" restaurant burgers. Plus they have to wait longer for a product that IS NOT better than fast food. My order at Dick's took about 15 minutes.



The lettuce on this burger was wilted, the tomato was soggy (I am not a fan of tomato to begin with), and the "special sauce" was one thousand island dressing.

Furthermore, the mushrooms were most likely from a can or just not drained properly, because they leaked moisture all over the cheese and gave the "D" burger a wet texture. If it were not for the mammoth bun to soak up all the moisture, this burger would have been leaking and falling apart like crazy.



Which brings me to my next point. Recently, Donald asked me if one of the burgers I tried "held up", meaning, does the burger maintain itself without dramatically falling apart. The answer for the "D" burger is no; the burger does not hold up. In fact, the bland patty crumbles as the moisture from the mushrooms leak, an ugly combination, especially if the burger is nothing special in the department of good taste.

However, I will end on a positive note by saying the bacon was close to perfect.

VERDICT: If you plan on going to Dick's Fish and Chips for a burger because a tourist guide told you too, think again. I think Dick's, is Campbell River's version of the tourist trap. You're better off going to White Spot.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jigger's Grill — Campbell River — 2660 Spit Road — 250-850-2521

Bacon Cheeseburger
$8.75



Who knew a throwaway trip to Campbell River could result in such a find. A couple of weeks ago I sashayed my way up island to visit blog contributor Guy Alaimo, and to do some camping on Hornby. Before making our way to the Denman Ferry, Guy took me to this trailer-come-diner. They push the pies pretty heavy down at Jigger's, but that doesn't mean they're a one trick pony.

Jigger's is about as good as a diner burger gets. The condiment selection is simple, the cheese processed, and the burger juicy. The top bun is given a healthy (but not overabundant) swish of mayo, and the bottom is wisely adorned with mustard and big slices of raw onion. My colleague Guy is not a big fan of mustard and onions, but I consider them the perfect choice for this kind of burger.

The burger itself is homemade and juicy, although the bun used to house it is perhaps a tad over-toasted.


Jigger's makes an extremely satisfying burger. They choose to do things right, rather than do things fancy. There's good reason why this place is a local favourite.


GUY ALAIMO CHIMES IN!


I first heard about Jigger's Grill from a woman smoking a cigarette outside Joey's Only Fish and Chips, just around the bend from Jigger's. According to her, Jigger's is a local favorite, and a good place to go for burgers.

Located just across the street from "The Spit", home of chicken bones and salami shoved into size 12 running shoes; Jigger's Grill offers a beef patty that is just slightly charred, offering a tad bit of BBQ sweetness to this delectable burger. The patty was savory and delicious, not thick, but complemented well with mayonnaise and simple condiments. Very often restaurants will provide a patty that is bland, and not very tasty: it is actually rare to eat a patty with flavour. Most beef patties rely on condiments to carry the flavour: not at Jiggers.

The crisp bacon lay perfectly across the top of the beef, and added even more flavour to an already flavour packed burger. The price is very reasonable, coming out to under ten dollars.

VERDICT: This will be my first meal stop next time I'm in Campbell River, and it should be yours too.

Make Your Own FatKreme!

The history of the FatKreme is fairly well documented here, so I won`t bother going into it too much.

Here`s a condensed version of its history:

The FatKreme was first documented online by blogger Neon Epiphany. This early version featured two donuts, a Fatburger patty, and a glut of toppings (fried egg, lettuce, bacon etc.).

A variation on the burger eventually found its way into Mulligan`s Pub in Georgia, and later the ballpark of the Gateway Grizzlies (an independent league team from Sauget Illinois). The Baseball Diaries Blog reviewed the burger, the review was picked up by AHT, and that`s when it first came to my attention.

Without further adieu, I present you with a guide to making your own FatKreme (or whatever you want to call it).


STEP ONE: ACQUIRE BACON DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER


You can get this from any fast food joint you choose, or even make your own patty, but I've always gone with McDonald's. I find the McDonald's patty offers good burger to doughnut ratio, and it only costs about two dollars. As an alternative to McDonald's, I would suggest the Wendy's Junior Bacon Cheese. Make sure you order it with no condiments, you won't need them where you're going.


STEP TWO: ACQUIRE KRISPY KREMES


This step is a little more difficult (the closest Krispy Kreme to Victoria is in Delta). The only way to buy Krispy Kremes in Victoria is if you catch a doughnut sale at one of the local department stores. These sales are few and far between, but I was lucky enough to catch one at the Bay's downtown location. The best way to find out about these sales is to have a friend or relative within the organization having the sale, or to check the community calendar in your local paper.


STEP THREE: CUT DOUGHNUT IN HALF/ GRILL OR TOAST


You can go oldschool and use two doughnuts, but you'll have a better experience just using one. A single doughnut is easier to hold, and won't make you suffer from any sort of extreme Kreme rush. Using a grill to toast the doughnut is preferable, but an oven (or toaster oven) can be used almost as effectively. If using an oven, make sure to put the doughnut halves on some sort of tray or rack. This should be obvious, but you only want the unglazed side to be toasted. The glaze is the only condiment you've got on this burger, and you don't want to lose any to the bottom of your oven.


FINAL STEP: PUT IT ALL TOGETHER!


Take your double bacon cheeseburger, take it out of it's bun and place it between the two burger halves. Place the halves glazed sized in (this ensures the glaze will fuse with the patties).

There you have it! The Bacon Double Kremeburger! This is one of the best things you'll ever taste. There are truly no words.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Brady's Fish and Chips — #1-50 Burnside Road West — (250) 382-3695


Deluxe Cheeseburger
$4



Tucked away in a Burnside strip-mall is a place with a great feel, but sadly no great burgers to match.

A carpeted dining room and grandmotherly tables and chairs greet you as you walk into Brady's. Walk up to the till and you'll be met with a pleasant "hello" from a young woman wearing a shirt about three times too big for her. You are surprised by her soft vocal tone, and a feeling that she's never negatively judged a person in her life. Will your experience with your burger be as heartwarming and homespun?


Unfortunately for you, the Brady's Deluxe Cheeseburger is not nearly as comforting as the place that produces it.

This burger is probably a cheap eat for a reason: it's not all that good. Imagine a group of Lion's Club BBQ-ers invading your local White Spot, and you'll get an idea of what this burger's like.

The Brady's Deluxe is absolutely swimming in burger relish. The taste of relish almost completely obliterates all other flavours. The patty — floating like a raft on the sea of relish — is not dry, but it is sort of crumbly. The bun is a standard white bun, perhaps a little too hefty for the small pre-fab patty, but not really a point of contention.

I'm not quite sure what makes this burger "deluxe", but my guess is you don't get any toppings whatsoever on the regular cheeseburger. The "deluxe" came with lettuce, and probably some tomato (if I had asked for it). Those toppings put the cost of the "deluxe" at 25 cents more than the regular, and oddly enough they put my lettuce on the bottom bun.

When the processed cheddar (which I genuinely love) is the best part of your burger, you've got a ways to go.

VERDICT: Love the feel of the place, but this burger's not worth the trip.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Welcome Miles Bissky!


The Victoria Burger Blog is pleased to welcome Miles Bissky as a Vancouver area burger correspondent. Miles is part-time prison cook, and RCMP wannabe, that splits his time between Burnaby and Hope BC.

Bissky's father is a former restauranteur and long-time diner enthusiast. The younger Bissky shares his father's passion, and grilling expertise.

I grew up with Miles, and having seen him suck bone marrow out of a goose, I ensure you he is truly devoted to all carnivorous endeavours.

We look forward to seeing his first contribution to the blog soon.

Splitz Grill — Vancouver BC — 4242 Main Street — 604-875-9711 — www.splitzgrill.com


Legendary Splitz Burger
$5.50 (add $1.00 cheese, $1.25 bacon, $1.00 fried onions)



A shake-up in the Splitz world means a big gain for the Vancouver burger landscape. After handing over their Whistler location to some old friends, Trevor and Miriam Jackson (founders of Splitz Grill) moved to Vancouver and opened the Main Street location in January of 2008.

During it's short time in Vancouver it has already been hailed as the best burger joint in the city (by Eat Magazine), and one of the top ten new restaurants in town (by Vancouver Magazine).

Anytime the viciously loyal Vera's Burger Shack supporters start gazing elsewhere, you know something special is happening. With a smile on my face, and joy in my heart, I set out to Vancouver last week to check out this new boy on the burger block.


Splitz allows you to choose from over 20 different condiments and toppings. Unlike some American burger joints (ie. Sutter's Grill in San Francisco, or Sarge's Burger Bunker in Tonasket) Splitz doesn't allow self serve. This is a minor complaint though, as the burgermeisters are generous with toppings, and didn't even flinch when I asked for extra pickle.


I went for lettuce, red onion, bacon, cheese (cheddar and swiss), fried onions, sprouts, pickles, and Splitz Sauce on my burger. Splitz Sauce is a mixture of garlic, dill, mayo, sour cream, tabasco, worcestshire, a dash of salt, and a pinch of pepper. It's a unique signature condiment that never stresses the wisely picked sesame seed bun.

The bun is certainly superior to your average burger housing, while still retaining a classic diner feel. The patty was juicy, and the meat a good quality. Unfortunately the sprouts took away from the burger flavour: a foolish topping pick on my part.

Given the accolades Splitz has received, I was pretty excited to try this burger. As you'll see in the pictures, I didn't even have the common courtesy to remove my hat before eating.


I don't have much to compare Splitz to. I'm still a little wet behind the ears when it comes Vancouver area burgers. I've been to a couple of the heavyweights (Vera's and Burger Heaven out in New West) but I'm far from having my finger on the pulse of the GVRD burger scene.

That being said, Splitz completely owns Vera's. Splitz certainly loses points for not having fried egg as an option, but in general the options are greater here. The overall flavour is much better than Vera's, and their vanilla shakes are wicked too.

VERDICT: Worthy of the accolades, but probably not quite the number one in Vancouver.