Friday, November 28, 2008

Pink Bicycle Gourmet Burger Joint—1008 Blanshard Street—250-384-1008—www.pinkbicycleburger.com

Pink Bike Cheese Burger
$12
(add $2 for sub. Onion Rings)
(add $3 for Bacon)



Is a brave new burger era being ushered into Victoria? With the opening of Pink Bicycle Gourmet Burger Joint, and utterings of a high-quality shack-style burger joint being in the works, could burger be the new box?

Pink Bicycle has garnered a lot of attention in the two short weeks it has been open; showing that Victoria is dying for a good burger joint. It's a bit of a reviewers sin to pass judgement on a new restaurant so early in the game, but I had to give this place a try. So far early reviews have been mixed, and the question still remains: will Pink Bicycle be a yuppie curiosity, or a mecca to all burger lovers?


I'm going to break down this review by ingredients:

Bun:

In a stroke of genius, Pink Bicycle gets their buns from right next door at Bond Bonds Bakery. This ensures a fresh, tasty, sesame seed bun, and probably saves them a bit of money on delivery costs. The bun is cut in a way that makes the bottom a little hefty, which is sort of unnecessary when the burger is lacking in juices. This is a small point though, honestly this is a great bun, and a smart choice.

Patty:

When I heard tell of a new gourmet burger joint in town, I had visions of patties ground and formed in house, but that isn't the case here. Patties are hand formed, but the beef is not ground in house. Pink Bicycle gets their beef from Neptune (apparently the only local supplier of AAA Certified Angus Beef). The quality of the beef is beyond question, but is lacking in juices, and perhaps over-seasoned.

Whereas other joints like Moderne Burger in Vancouver shun all seasoning, in order to show off their beef, Pink Bicycle has surprisingly gone the other way. The patty (crispy outside, soft inside) tastes rather meatloafy. By no means does the patty taste bad, but it could be tweaked to be more hamburgy, and less sandwichey. The seasoning is quite good, but does end up competing a little with the taste of the beef.

Various Accoutrements:

The bacon wasn't worth three dollars, but it wasn't necessarily worth leaving off either. The special mayo was excellent, but in the future I will ask for a little more. Not much else to mention; the cheese and lettuce were fine, but couldn't compete with the intense flavour of the patty.

Other:

The onion rings here are easily the best in town, and should never be skipped. The poutine was light on the gravy (possibly because they were running out), but has the potential to be great.

ps. Word on the Yorkshire Burger is that it will probably be a sporadic Friday special.

pps. I know you read this Pink Bicycle (because you noticed us in your restaurant) so please alert us when the Yorkshire Burger is on the menu!


GUY ALAIMO CHIMES IN!!!!!!!!


During my eight or so months with the burger blog, no burger has been more anticipated for review than that of the Pink Bicycle (save maybe Aura), and apart from some minor, personal quibbles, the Pink Bike cheeseburger is pretty good. The bun is very interesting. It feels like your eating bun tops, and it's a little crusty, but nice and fluffy on the inside.

The beef itself was seasoned well, as every single bite unleashed a furry of garlic and rosemary into my mouth. The bacon was expensive(3 dollars extra) but it's taste balanced beautifully with the beef. I felt like it could have used some more of that red peppery mayo, because at times the burger as a whole tasted a little dry. Luckily the taste of the rosemary, garlic and bacon made up for this. I was a little confused at times during my meal because It was hard to notice the cheese, but that might have been a good thing.


VERDICT: Early on, it's hard to give a definitive verdict, but it's a noble start for Pink Bicycle. They aren't yet the best in town, but I'd put this burger above the Canoe Club Short Rib/Blue Cheese Burger.

It's nice to finally have an entire restaurant in Victoria devoted to burgers. Hopefully they continue to grow and improve.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pink Bicycle Hours of Operation Woes

I just finished talking to my cousin (whose husband's friend runs the Pink Bicycle) and have gathered some insight into why they never seem to be open.

Apparently they have been a LOT busier than initially expected, and have been closing early because they run out of supplies early in the day. Expect a review this weekend if they're open on Friday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yorkshire Burger a Pipe Dream?

Pink Bicycle has updated their website, and the Yorkshire Burger isn't on the menu... a seasonal menu item perhaps?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Exciting Burger News!!

Just got a tip in the comments from someone mentioning a brand new burger joint (the place just opened Monday).

The new place is called the Pink Bicycle Gourmet Burger Joint, and it's downtown at 1008 Blanshard. Can't wait to give it a try.

Check out this sample menu... the Yorkshire Burger looks promising.

A1. Beef Burger - Hand harmonized grain fed Alberta angus beef tenderly nustled into a rosemary rock salt bun. Clothed in BC butter lettuce, organic BC grown tomatoes and the rest of the pack.

A2. The Inside-out Veggie Burger
- The patty is the bun! Organic red and green lentils mingling with organic carrots corn and dates. These miscreants are cozied around an beautiful array of seasonal local vegtables, and a delicious minted yogurt.

A3. Honest House Made Fries
- Clandestine procedures done by our own house chemist/cooks to bring you the most exquisite french fry flavor.

A4. The Pork Burger
- Organic pork chalked full of green onions and ginger. Nestled into a beautifully toasted bun, and topped with grilled pineapple, house teryaki, and mozarella.

A5. The Yorkshire Burger
- ............gravy......yorkshire pudding.......ground sirloin.......Questions?

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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dutch Bakery—718 Fort Street—250-385-1012

Bacon Cheeseburger
$6



The Dutch Bakery is probably the last remaining true diner in downtown Victoria. It's been run by the same family for over five decades, the tabletops are formica, and baked goods are proudly displayed in those little plastic pie-houses that have become so iconic (yah I don't know the technical term for those serving dishes, give me a break). This restaurant is the stuff immigrant dreams are made of; the kind of place people make a habit of going to. A burger in a place like this should be different, yet humble. It should stir your emotions ever-so-slightly, and every time you eat one it should make you forget all your miserable shortcomings. I realise that's a tall order, but you should expect nothing less from a semi-iconic family business.



The Dutch Bakery makes a pretty good burger, but it didn't quite fill me with the vim-and-vigor I figured it might. The (supposedly) 1/3 pound patty was juicy and flavourful—the "special blend of seasonings" making it taste a little like a sausage roll. The taste was a tad arresting at first, but after a few bites it got pretty familiar, and the chef balances it well with the other flavours at play. The burger is adorned with your standard condiments (mustard, mayo, ketchup) and a healthy dose of fresh produce. The bun is squishy, and the bacon is thick, crispy, and much tastier than your average cheap diner fare. Overall this burger meets expectations, but don't expect it stir up any post-war style feelings of confidence and serenity.


VERDICT: Good, but not great. Perhaps if the patty was beefier this would be a true gem.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Shark Club Bar and Grill — 2852 Douglas Street — 250-386-5888 — www.sharkclubs.com

Double-Fisted Bacon Cheese Burger
$14



Normally I would apologise for the horrible nature of these cell phone pictures, but given how hideous this burger is, they're completely appropriate. I'm going to keep this review short and sweet, because there really isn't much to say. This is quite possibly the worst burger I have ever had. The patties taste like I-5 road garbage, and no amount of "spice rub" or "sundried tomato mayo" can ever change that. None of the other ingredients matter when your patties are this Karloffian. In the race for worst burger in town, we have our first contender.


GUY ALAIMO CHIMES IN!!!


Shotty service from a slutty waitress. What more do you want? The Shark Club is Canuck fan territory, every booth equipped with it's own television broadcasting a hockey game on any given night. But among the middle aged alcoholic construction workers and the twenty-something Zellers brand Vancouver Canuck t-shirt wearing assholes lies something even more disturbing: the food.

Everything here was terrible, from the 1/2 price pizza with chicken wing sauce, to the double cheeseburger that I couldn't even finish because it tasted like shit. The terrible service was icing on the cake. Sweetheart, I'm sorry my name isn't Tommy and I don't work for Farmer Construction. Is it O.K if I have a glass of water? Whore. Shark Club, your pub sucks.


VERDICT: Guy has told me horrible things about Cosmo's Pizza, but personally I haven't encountered a worse burger in Victoria yet.

Monday Mag Reviews Fifth Street

People have been asking me for a Fifth Street Bar and Grill review since the day I started this blog. I'll get around to it eventually, but for now I present you with a Monday Mag review, and my own reaction.

Monday Review of Fifth Street Buffalo Burger:

...my first choice, the massive buffalo burger, which comes with your choice of fries, Caesar or green salad. I added some perfectly sauteed mushrooms—for only a dollar more—to the fattest burger patty I have had in ages. With cheddar, barbecue sauce and chipotle mayo, this was one fine burger and, at 10 bucks, one of the best deals on the menu.

Massive? I don't remember this burger being any more than a 1/4 pound (1/3 at the most). Sure it may be larger than the usual 4oz, but calling this burger massive is incredibly misleading: it's like mistaking a gopher for a grizzly bear. You want to see a massive burger? This is a big burger. THIS is a massive burger. Really anything under a pound doesn't come close to massive.

Size aside, I have to say this burger is incredibly overrated. A large portion of its accolades can likely be attributed to the novelty of having your first bite of buffalo. Buffalo is good, but it can be done much better than 5th Street does it. Putting large dollops of barbecue sauce on a burger is pretty much the dumbest thing you can do to it. I have other problems with this burger, but I'll leave those comments for when I do a full review.

Aside from the burger part, I generally agree with what was said in Monday's review of 5th Street. The reviewer, James Russell, rightfully criticises a lot of their presentation, and seems to find most of the dishes underwhelming. Personally I feel 5th Street is one of the most overrated restaurants in town. Sure they have some cheap options, but a lot of the menu is pretty boring.