Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Important Bun Update: Fifth Street Bar and Grill

For the second time in approximately a year and a half; Fifth Street Bar and Grill has made a bun change. Fifth Street has now completely given whole wheat the boot, and is currently using a white kaiser to house its Buffalo Burger. The new bun is a bit of a step up, but Fifth Street still hasn't quite found the perfect match for this burger. The kaiser still doesn't offer a perfect bun:burger ratio, and I believe a softer, squishier number would better match the sort of sloppy joe/rice pudding consistency of the burger.

Honestly the most recent incarnation of the Fifth Street Buffalo Burger sort of reminds me of the offering at Gathering Place (just substitute BBQ sauce as the main patty infusion as opposed to sugar water, or whatever GP use). They both have similar textures, but Gathering Place uses an appropriate bun to downplay the different feel of the patty.

I think Fifth Street is moving in the right direction, and I'm interested to see how the recent bun change will be received by the restaurant's rabid fans.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jasmine's Restaurant | 1610 Island Highway | Colwood, B.C. (Just Before Colwood Corners) | 250.391.8648

(add $1.50 for American Cheese)

The burger philosophy employed by Jasmine's is really no different than that of many other family-style restaurants; the main ingredients are chemically enhanced, and everything looks just a little impersonal. As lazy looking as the package at Jasmine's is, it still manages to be significantly more enjoyable than some of its peers.

The supplier patty used here is much juicier than a lot of other similar patties, and it is housed by a type of bun that is slowly encroaching on a special corner of my heart. The Charlie Brown's head-shaped Portugese bun (the same as what is used at Gathering Place) is squishier than a stress ball, and offers a similar level of comfort as yours hands clamp around it.

The Thousand Islandish dressing smeared across the bun gives this burger a distinctive A&W Mozza Burger feel, and is offered up in appreciated abundance. As you can see in the picture above, the American cheese is not melted properly, but it melts enough once the two bun halves are smooshed together that I can't complain much. This burger might not be a revelation, but it's fairly enjoyable for what it is.

VERDICT: Above average family restaurant lazy burger.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jesse's Grill | 1109 McKenzie Street (Behind Cook Street Village Food Court)

(add 75¢ for cheese)

Perhaps as part of Victoria's never-ending quest to co-opt as many ideas from Portland as possible, a permanent food-cart settlement has recently been set up adjacent to the Cook Street Village Food Court. Some would say we'd be better off taking Portland's "ban vagrants from downtown" idea, or their "put bacon on donuts" idea, but sometimes you have to start with baby-steps.

Jesse's is currently the go-to spot in our local conglomeration of carts if you're looking for a burger. I'm feeling the need to make some sort of douche-chill inducing Rick Sprinfield related joke, but I think I'll just move straight into the review instead.

As should be the case with most burgers, the flavour of the patty at Jesse's is immediately identifiable within its unit. Jesse's serves beef that is ground at Pepper's Foods in Cadboro Bay, aged 21 days (the average for supermarket beef is around 7) and then sent to the Cook Street Cart. The flame-grilled patties at Jesse's have a very distinct honey-like flavour. I couldn't really determine if this was a by-product of the aging process, or the flavour of caramelized onions being infused with the meat. I think this flavour probably would have balanced out decently if I had ordered bacon as a topping, but with just cheese and the regular fix-ins (choose ketchup, mustard, or relish from the fix-it-yourself table) it feels a little sweet to my tastebuds.

Otherwise there's not much to say about this one—sort of just a slightly upscale festival-fundraiser style burger.

VERDICT: It's okay, but certainly not my favourite cheapskate burger in the city.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good and Yummies Bistro (Inside Craigflower Foods) | 811 Craigflower Road

(add .50 cents for cheese)

You'd think spending nearly a decade in the restaurant industry would teach you to avoid serving re-heated refrigerator burgers at all costs, but such is not the case at Good and Yummies. G&Y's is one of a select few number of convenience store lunch counters in the Greater Victoria area (at last count there were approximately three). The place, located inside Craigflower Foods, is focused on comfort foods and operates with a bare-bones kitchen, which has caused all convential burger-making wisdom to be thrown out the window.

As it says on the sign; the burgers are homemade, but the patty is so dry by the time it reaches your plate, that it might as well be a frozen, supplier number. The patties, after being pre-made in the morning I suppose, are brought back to life bachelor-style on a Hamilton Beach Grill. The whole point behind these grills is to suck out as much juice from the patty, making them "healthy". Using this method to reheat meat means you end up with a patty even more dried mud cookieish than usual. That's just the beginning of the meat-reheating misadventure at Good and Yummie's though.

Order some American cheese with this little burger bummer and expect your patty to end up being zapped in the microwave for about 30 seconds. By this time what was probably at one time a pretty palatable patty has now become almost completely devoid of flavour—it's like eating bread held together with clay. The other elements are fine (relatively fresh veges, regular mayo, mustard and ketchup optional, all on a white kaiser) but man is the patty horrible. Ever stuck an Ultimate Burger in the microwave? That's pretty much what Good and Yummies' offering tastes like. I'm sorry to say this one is all rough and no diamonds.

VERDICT: Worth checking out for big bags of cheap mini-donuts, but avoid this burger at all costs.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kelebrity Korner #2: Melanie Moore at Aura

Okay I know what you're going to say. "Who the fuck is this person? This isn't a kelebrity! Where are Hudson Mack and Susie Hahn already?" Well your criticism wouldn't be completely misplaced, but let me try to justify the decision of allowing Ms. Moore to appear as a part of Kelebrity Korner: Ms. Moore shares names with an award-winning '90's porn star, and she too has gotten naked for an audience. That might not be enough for you, but it's kelebrity kredential enough for us creeps at the Burger Blog (that and we figured plugging her Fringe Fest show would be noble of us).

So who exactly is Melanie Moore? She's a UVIC Theatre grad currently performing as part of "Pretty Little Instincts" at this year's Victoria Fringe Festival. After finishing school in Victoria, she moved to Vancouver where she now affiliates herself with Itsazoo Productions. She also does some non-performing arts based work too. A while ago in the comments section of this very blog she wondered aloud, "if anyone in BC has had a decent burger before." It sounded like a challenge, so we took it.

Now on to the questionnaire...

Where is your favourite burger in Victoria (SPOILER ALERT!!!)?

My favourite burger in Victoria is at Aura (now that I've been there)!!


It's not so much about the patty but the delightful execution of it... and the toppings.

What is the best burger you've ever had?

The best burger is any burger from The Works in Ottawa, as long as it's an organic beef patty.

Name your best and worst ever burger experiences.

My best friend Jane and I had to kill some time at the Stansted airport in London before we went to Glasgow. We decided to split a burger at the Irish pub chain O'Neill's. I have no idea what that burger was, if it was even made from cow beef, what was on it... it was as if they slapped dog food on a patty and called it a burger. It was the worst burger of my life, possibly the worst food at any restaurant ever. If you find yourself in the UK, never eat there. But as a word to the wise: generally all burgers in the UK are nasty.

My favourite burger experiences are when you're surprised. I remember being shocked by the quality of the burger at this hole-in-the-wall pub called Penny Lane in East Vancouver. Any time I've ever eaten at the Works in Ottawa has been amazing.

Name another local kelebrity you wish you were.

I love Celine and Treena Stubel. They are incredibly inspiring actors and movers and just overall beautiful women. My good friend Sarah Pelzer (actor/singer) has a fantastic soprano voice that I wouldn't mind trying on for size.

What is the best burger-centric movie of all time: Hamburger America, Fast Food, Hamburger: The Motion Picture, or "Other"?

Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. No other movie accurately depicts what some of us will go through to satisfy our cravings.

Melanie Moore Reviews The Point Burger!

I was very skeptical of the Aura burger, especially since it's a supplier patty. However, now that I have tried it, I can safely say that it's the best burger I have had in BC (so far). The supplier patty is AAA and quite tasty. The mushrooms and cheese were so saucy and melt-in-your mouth. I could see the whole mustard grains on the bun, so that's bonus points for me. Great in-house made sesame bun, great fixings. There aren't many surprises from this burger, but that's what makes it so great: Aura's burger is a well-executed classic.

Editor's Note: There you have it! Another skeptic skewered by the Burger Blog! If you'd like to see Melanie and some of her friends naked, you can catch her performing in Pretty Little Instincts (review here) Sept 5-6 7:30pm, and Sept 9-11 7:00pm at Point Ellice Heritage House.

If you are a local or traveling kelebrity who would like to be a part of Kelebrity Korner, please email vicburgers@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Rathskeller | 1205 Quadra Street | 250•386•9348 | www.rathskeller.ca

Barbarian Burger
(add 30 cents for cheese)
Lunch Only

First things first: Germans did not invent the hamburger. Yes, most of our readers know this, but I have to throw that out as a little FYI for those who don't. This is important to know, because it takes the hamburger as menu item at a German restaurant out of the realm of "a dish created to show national culinary superiority" to "just another stock lunch option". Although its undeniable Americanness means the hamburger may not be the spotlighted centrepiece of a German restaurant menu, it doesn't mean Germans don't know how to make a good burger.

Somehow the Rathskeller manages to take a sausagey patty, something I often find off-putting, and turn it into part of a very satisfying burger. A quick side note: what is it that makes burger patties sometimes taste like McDonald's sausage patties? I offer the following three theories: a mixture of garlic salt/onion salt, water, and sugar added to the mix; inherent griddle flavour becoming infused with the meat; or its just cheap, preservative filled meat.

How does the Rathskeller make this sausagey little darling work? A big part of the equation is butter: the bun that houses the patty is absolutely slathered and toasted to perfection. The rim of the bun is so saturated that its taste ends up resembling that of the crispy butter you sometimes pull out of a pan when cooking pancakes. The comforting buttery crispness of the bun goes a long way to killing any discomfort that may come from eating beef that tastes like sausage.

The other reason this package works is the fact it is constructed almost more like a sandwich than a burger. For condiments you have an aioli and some cheap dijonaise. In addition to the standard toppings (pickle, onions, lettuce, tomato) you also get cucumber. The cucumber really ties the unit together, and totally balances out the salty, sausagey flavour of the patty. Top it off with some Swiss cheese, and you've got a real winner.

One last little note about this burger and German culinary convention: I was very surprised to see that the offering at the Rathskeller is made of ground meat, and not chopped steak. Though the Germans did not invent the hamburger, they are, of course, responsible for hamburg (ie chopped) steak. Going to a German restaurant and not getting a burger patty made with chopped steak seemed a little strange to me, but I can't say it actually effected my enjoyment of the Rathskeller's offering: this one's a keeper.

VERDICT: Might not taste like beef, but it's still pretty damn good.