Monday, June 15, 2009

Parliamentary Dining Room | 6 500 Belleville Street

"Assembly Burger"

As Times Colonist readers already know: I recently took a trip to the Legislature Cafe. During said trip I experienced the joy of having a waitress hang over me like wet laundry—asking every 3.2 seconds, "how's the burger?" Well I'm about to tell you—but first let me mention a couple other highlights from my recent trip to the legislature cafe.


1) Listening to an excited waiter named Mur gush about his upcoming Fringe Fest play "L.U.S.T." (it's about love and school and the audience are all students at this love school). Word is "L.U.S.T." is going to blow the roof off Victoria, and give the local theatre scene something it's in dire need. If the kitchen staff at the Ambassador Cafe had a passion for burgers similar to this man's passion for risque theatre... well who knows what could happen.

2) The TC reporter I was dining with (Amanda Ash) must have dumped at least three tablespoons worth of ketchup on her burger. I think she actually put more ketchup on her burger than she did on her fries.

Review time now:

Not much to say here: you've got a frozen B&C patty which the cook envelopes in cheddar cheese, mushrooms and bacon to try and mask the dryness of the meat. The bun (a nice, simple, chewy white kaiser with crisp, buttery edges) is adorned with something called "Lass Sauce". I assume the "Lass" in the name is short-form for "Legislative Assembly": cute yah? I wonder if they have "Hansard Homefries" on the breakfast menu? Maybe "Press Gallery Poached Eggs"? Anyway; the "Lass Sauce" isn't very notable and doesn't really add much to the package. Bottom line: it's a cafeteria burger that tastes like a cafeteria burger.

VERDICT: You know what's easier than trying to cover up a lacklustre frozen patty? Using a good fresh patty.


Carter said...

Minus point for a stupid name.

Jon said...

try the blue fox, i'm curious what you think

iamhady said...

hi i am trying to get a hold of the critics here..tried to find a contact..but no info
I work at a take out place in Sooke called Homers Most Excellent TAke-Out..people day after day has commented on our burgers and one lady has told me about his site on told me about yr write up in both papers..we would love if you guys would come and rate our burgers..please conatct me at my place off work 250-642-7456..You can conatact me(Connie) or My Boss Deryl
thanks so much for your time

dk said...

yah I've been meaning to head out on a Sooke burger trip for a while now, and Homer's is definitely on my list

don't expect to get any prior warning when we do decide to head out there though

Don Vitto said...

The Fernwood Inn also has a pretty dope, in-house made burger. Tuesdays are burger & beer night (I think it's something like $10 for a burger and a domestic draught - fries $2 extra).

Nice article in the paper, btw.

Anonymous said...

You should have a list of your favorite burger joints ranked in order. It's difficult to tell from reading all your reviews which one's out perform the others. Maybe you could grade them? Make the information easier to access.

ben said...

just heard about your blog: funny stuff, good reviews and entertaining as well! you and little piggy are both on my checkback list now. if you're in james bay try heron rock bistro. we do our own (interior bc ranchlands)beef and (metchosin/ssi)lamb burgers on homemade buns. i think they're awesome, anyhow!

Anonymous said...

Your blog is so damn interesting for a Vic-burger-hound like me, I had to read every post over the course of 3 nights. Great writing style. I second the opinion of the other anonymous poster that you should have the top 5 list on the front page. Thankyou so much for your volounteer effort creating and maintaining this blog, I recommend this URL to everyone I meet now.

dk said...

@ calls for a "best of" list

ahh it seems you've uncovered my clever ruse: forcing people into reading through each increasingly repetitive review to discover where the best burgers in town are.

Honestly though the reason I don't do rankings is because it's hard to work out a system without flaws. Inevitably the every time you have an exceptionally good, or bad, burger-there is always a better, or worse one on the horizon. This means the rating system gets thrown out of whack everytime you find something better than the previous best. The other reason I don't keep a "best of" list is it's always changing, and I eat a lot of burgers. I might eat a burger that I love, but then not go back to it for months on end (or even a year, although I do try and go back and do redux reviews of some of my favourite places). I don't want to recommend a burger as a best if by some chance it's gone through a wild change. I also think it's fairly easy to tell from my reviews what the standouts are.

However... The Black Press "Best of the City" is coming out soon, and at that time I will do a counter-list to say what I think should have made it. My list should be up in a week or so.

If you want to see the list of the best burgers I ate last year, you can just search the blog for "Best of the City".

There you go. That was a completely fucking long-winded answer that you weren't really looking for wasn't it?

dk said...


Do you use Dave Chutter's beef? Heron Rock has been on my list since the beginning of the blog, I just haven't made it there yet. I had a lamb burger there about 5 years ago that was good, but then had a kind of blahzay lamb entree a couple years ago that kind of moved Heron Rock down a little bit in my books (that and the fact meal prices have gone up and everyone I know is poor).

ben said...

hmm, not sure which farm the beef comes from, and sorry to hear about your so-so meal. trust me, you aren't the only ones effected by rising prices: if quality products were cheap we'd all be priced like macdonald's! we opened barely 4 years ago so it's possible we were going through some growing pains. we definitely strive to improve (everything) constantly.

like most protein in this day and age of Government Inspection, meats are taken to a centralized slaughterhouse for processing so the exact location of a meat's origin is rarely tracked by the name of the farm itself. we buy from Slater's butcher shop on cadboro bay road for our burger meat, always excellent quality...

Trevor G. said...

I saw that thelittlepiggy did a recap of their visit to the new Hotel Rialto. They said that they tried the sliders (which were chopped/ground in-house) that were able to be ordered to varyibg degrees of doneness. I would enjoy seeing your review of a place like this as I have never been to a joint that lets you have a medium rare burger, never mind a medium rare slider (which I'm sure is harder to do than a full-size burger).

Trevor G. said...

Also, a new joint opened up down on Yates by Lucky Bar. It's called the Podium Sports Bar. I'm sure they would have burger or two on their menu. You should check it out and let us all know if it's worth going.

Matt R. said...

So, yeah .... burgers.
I have been going to the Marble Arch since moving into the 'hood in September, and they have excellent food. It's a real greasy spoon, Chinese/Canadian fare like you find in every small town east of Vancouver. The burger here is pre-formed, but nice and simple. They season as it's cooked. They do everything on a griddle, so no grill marks. The patty is never overcooked, and it served with a (griddled) sesame seed bun. Shredded iceberg, tomato, ketchup and mayo are standard. Fries are house cut and double fried. Gravy is also excellent. They do everything from raw at this place, no pre-cooked frozen business, and it shows up on the plate. $6.30 will get you a great cheeseburger and fries.

Well worth checking out, and make sure you go back for the chinese food!

Marble Arch, 3468 Tillicum Rd (between Tillicum and Burnside in the same mall as the bingo hall) Cash only, no plastic, very good health inspection reports.

dk said...

@ Matt R. and others.

Can we all stop posting advertisements in the comments section please. Next time someone posts an add in the comments it's getting deleted. If you want to advertise on the site then leave a message in the comment section with your e-mail address and I will contact you.

As for Marble Arch having "very good health inspection reports"—in April you were given a moderate hazard rating. I see that on a follow up inspection your rating was changed to "low hazard", but fuck. A quick look through shows you have been written up more than once for improper food storage.

How fucking stupid are you? Do you not realise that it's really fucking easy to fact check claims of "very good health inspection reports"? Your comment will be left up to expose how retarded you and other people like you are, but from now on all comments that look like advertising will be deleted from the site: it's either that or I make you look stupid.

All other future would-be advertisers... consider yourselves lucky.

Matt R. said...

Easy guy - I don't work there, never have and never will. I read the blog semi-regularly, and as I was sitting there today enjoying my burger, I thought you might like to know about this little, hole in the wall type place that lots, even most people don't know about. That's it, nothing more. If there was contact information on the blog, I would have sent you an email but since I didn't see any, I figured a comment would do. As far as health inspections go, I take what I read with a grain of salt (I'm in the 'biz') and can decipher what is being written. Take it from me, the Marble Arch is clean restaurant. I work in a clean restaurant, and I know one when I see it.

You're reply is really quite arrogant, and truly misinformed. You suggest I am both stupid and retarded (given the fact that your assumptions about me are wrong, what does that make you?), but you just come across sounding like jerk.

This is a burger blog, after all. Comments like "hey, here's a place for a good burger" from a reader (not an owner!) should be received for what they are - a helpful suggestion. Why so douchey? Go on, make me look stupid. I dare you.

dk said...

everything about your comment looks like an ad for Marble Arch.

The claim of "very good health inspection reports" is not backed up by ACTUAL HEALTH INSPECTION REPORTS which are readily available online to anyone who wants to read them.

This is why I took issue with it. It was a false claim contained in a comment that looks exactly like the type of fake reviews that numerous people in the restaurant industry post all over the internet. I'm sick and fuckin tired of the sort of disingenuous opinions that show up here and on other food review sites. If a business wants to use this blog, or any other site, to hype their product, they should be paying for it.

If my anger was misplaced in your direction, well I suppose you were just unlucky. Next time you recommend a burger here, don't use language that indicates a connection to the business. As you've seen, it pisses me off.

Anonymous said...

DK, are you going to leave your post up to show all of us how shallow you can be with your name calling?

matt R. said...

Hey DK,

Thanks for the reply and "apology". I did actually read the inspection reports, but since I am more aware of what they really mean than you are I feel very confident in my suggestion that the Marble Arch runs a clean ship. Go ahead, read all of the reports - "premises is noted to be clean". An inspector can see an insert of rice on the counter during the lunch rush that has been there for three seconds and write you up (and they do).

Don't worry, DK. We both like burgers, at least we have that in common. You, on the other hand are just a petulant dickhead - I'll spread the word about you and your site.

dk said...

Still not sure how anyone can make claims about a restaurant's cleanliness unless the place has a very open kitchen, or you've actually been in the kitchen. That was always my problem, the way you were talking made it seem like you had a personal connection to the restaurant. But maybe Marble Arch just has an open kitchen.

As for the reports, obviously we have a different view of what constitutes "very good". Very good to me would be a series of visits where no violations have been noted. By no means are the reports on Marble Arch horrible, but compared to other similar restuarants, I'd say they are fairly average.

I know you work at the Marina, and I assume you've probably worked with Jeff Keenliside, who has been named the best chef in the city numerous times. No doubt you know more about how kitchens run than I do. Nonetheless I still think your original comment was slightly misleading to the readers of the blog.

Of course the real issue is whether or not Marble Arch's burger is any good. Maybe I'll try to send someone to check it out, lest you think my review would be biased.

Matt R. said...

Wow, that was such a nice, polite comment. Way to go. You can look at my blog, google my name, check out where I work, whatever you want. There's no privacy on the internet.

Bottom line is I was trying to be helpful, and I've enjoyed your blog in the past and thought making an honest contribution would be appreciated; instead it was met with hostility, name calling and downright douche baggery. I'm not sure where the venom is from or why it was directed at me when you didn't really have the information you needed to make any decisions or come to any conclusions.

The Marble Arch does have an open kitchen - very open. It's a mom and pop operation, but you can go in and sit at the lunch counter and have a nice lunch and watch them make your meal, start to finish. If you need help in deciphering any questionable health inspections, let me know. Putting those things on line is a double edged sword.

Look, I know this is just a blog, but I'd expect a more professional attitude from someone who wants to be in broadcasting - maybe you should stick to polar exploration and advenure.

dk said...

I thought I described where the venom was coming from. People in the restaurant industry often post fake reviews on a number of food review sites. I thought that was what you were doing. I don't like that. I got mad. Apparently that wasn't what you were doing. I'll try to curb my temper in the future.

ps. you should have said "stick to making shitty brochures and amateurish websites", or maybe "go back to the dollar store". Yah, that would sting. "Go avidly bike off a cliff" would have also worked.

Warren Betanko said...

if I can return to the blog post topic - Having eaten the occasional Leg burger over the past few years, I'm glad to see a review from someone who knows what a burger should be. However, I think that you are too kind in your review. Eating that burger is akin to eating 5 pounds of that stuff they put in those plastic exercise weights - and the act of doing this requires the same stamina needed to get through a whole Question Period.

The ketchup--sacreligious as it may be--is needed to wash it all down. Think of the ketchup as Canwest media and the burger as the Govt. You'll live through it all but it wont feel good.

dk said...

oh be fair, some of those Jenny Kwan/Joy McPhail lib-bashing sessions were pretty damn fun

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Matt R. said...

Haha, oh man, just came across this in an unrelated Google search, and had forgotten what an ass hat you make yourself out to be.

Love it. Keep up the good work!

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