Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bo's Grill—Saanichton—2138 Keating Cross Road—250•544•8269

Bo's Burger
$10.50

(add $1.50 for cheese and $1.00 for bacon)


Sometimes beloved dogs die. Sometimes you pay tribute to their memory by naming a family style restaurant after them: thus is the case with Bo's Grill. Stuck smack dab in a Keatings Cross Road strip mall is this average diner, dedicated to what looks like a husky cross with a friendly disposition. My first dog was a collie/german shepherd cross named Beau, and I felt a certain tacit connection to Bo's Grill when I sauntered inside. The last time I cried really hard was when Beau died, and I know how important a dog can be. Our family chose to honour Beau by burying her on a ranch with a humble wooden headstone. The Bo's Grill Family chose to honour its dog with a burger that looks like something out of the Wendy's "Where's the Beef Commercial".


As you can see in the first picture—the bun:burger ratio is completely out of whack here. The bun hangs out almost an inch from the edge of burger, which is strongly seasoned with black pepper. The menu refers to the over-peppered patty as "spiced to perfection"—a statement that is true if you hold your uncle's backyard BBQ fare as the gold standard of burgerdom. The patty is the size of a small hockey puck, and approximately 2/3 as thick. It's not particularly juicy, but not dry and crumbly either.

This burger would probably be relatively pleasant, if not for the horrible way it's constructed. There are roadside native jewelry stands constructed with more attention to detail than the Bo's Burger. A child's size patty, and condiments that lightly brush the bottom bun like the wings of a fly on a farmer's forearm combine to make a very meh tasting meal. At least Bo's has a waitress that's a Leafs fan. Maybe they should move her to the kitchen, because whatever Canucks fan is in there now doesn't have a fucking clue how to build a burger.

VERDICT: A patty that fits its bun and more condiment generosity: two simple changes needed to make the Bo's Burger a satisfying meal.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Monday Magazine Mentions Yours Truly

Just a quick note to thanks James Russell of Monday Magazine for giving us a shout-out in his recent review of The Pink Bicycle.

He reviews the regular burger, the buffalo burger, and the halibut burger in his column this week. The assessment of the Pink Bicycle Burger is pretty fair (I can't speak to the other ones, because I haven't tried anything else at Pink Bike). He does have a few minor criticisms of the burger, which are nice to see as a number of other reviewers are waaayyyyyyyyy too kind to restaurants in Victoria.

So Monday has given us some press; now it's your turn Times Colonist.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday To Us

Today marks the first anniversary of the launch of the Victoria Burger Blog (and coincidentally the buffet blog as well). We are currently planning a small BBQ and possible screening of the Jim Varney/Traci Lords film Fast Food in order celebrate. We may also work on getting a few prizes to give away as well.

In other news; I've followed in the footsteps of Guy and introduced the Victoria Burger Blog to Facebook.

I'm mostly doing this because I'm jealous of Guy's blog groupies.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Paula's Variety and Take Out—Spring Park Road—Charlottetown, PEI

Cheeseburger
$3


Editor's Note: My sister Helen Kennedy is now an official east coast burger correspondent (at least until she comes back home for the summer). Please enjoy this review.

As a post-EATAPETA day/pre-birthday present to myself, I thought it was finally time to try the burgers at Paula’s Variety and Take-Out. I walk past Paula’s everyday on my way to school and everyday I joke about how eating there will likely cause a serious case of food poisoning. That was also my first thought upon entering Paula’s, which seemed to be filled with a haze of some sort. Regardless, Paula makes a fucking good burger.



The patties are thick and made in-house (no sign of a grinder, so I’m not sure where they get their meat). Paula (who’s about 65 years old) has perfected the art of grilling the classic sesame seed bun: just enough to stop the burger juices from making it mushy, but not so much that the bun becomes too crunchy. The burger to bun to condiment ratio was just delightful.

I do have three qualms with this burger (although all of them are minor):

1) Lettuce. Nothing matches the joy of crunchy iceberg lettuce on a burger and nothing is as much of a let-down as limp and awful lettuce that you just have to pick off.

2) Mayo. It seems lunch-counters in Charlottetown are morally against mayo on burgers.

3) Cheese. I realize my brother thinks Kraft singles are god’s gift to burgers because they melt really well, but I feel processed cheese detracts from the burger package (and would much prefer having to wait another minute or 2 to get real cheese all melty).

VERDICT: Even if food poisoning does kick in later tonight, I still stand by this review. (Editor's Note: Food poisoning did not set in.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Brasserie L'ecole—1715 Government Street—250•475•6260—www.lecole.ca

Brasserie Burger
$21
Friday Night Only


Victoria culinary history has officially entered a brave new burger age. First a food network chef moves to town and adds a burger with a house made bun to the menu. Then the city is blessed with its first legitimate burger-centric restaurant in years (and the blogosphere hints at another haven for burger lovers being on the horizon). Finally we come to this: Brasserie L'ecole enters the arena with what is perhaps the only burger in the city made with a house-ground patty. Yes my friends; the burger has arrived in Victoria, and it is here to stay.


The burger at Brasserie is the first truly upscale unit I have encountered in Victoria. The use of a brioche bun follows a common trend amongst higher-price point packages. Brioche buns are often railed against over at A Hamburger Today, and after eating this burger I kind of understand why. In terms of flavour: the bun is good. The texture, however, is rather flaky and not as enjoyable for me as a nice squishy number.

Of course the most exciting element of this burger is the house-ground patty. I am not personally aware of any other restaurant in Victoria that grinds its own meat. The grind at Brasserie is a sirloin/brisket mix with a fat content of about 35-40%. The fat content is certainly a little greater than the norm, but it doesn't have a negative affect on the patty. It may not have been dripping copious amounts of juices, but it was nice and moist with a natural beefy flavour.

Finally a couple of words on the cheese and bacon: they are both exceptional. I actually had a vision of the pig from which this bacon was created while I ate it. I imagine the little fellow as a friendly, cartoonish piggy—striding to the abattoir with a twinkle in his eye, and a joie de vivre unmatched by even the most care-free, puddle-jumping school-girl. The wonderful bacon is joined by some delicious creamy raclette that really melds well with this unit.

The strengths of the Brasserie Burger lay in the fact that nothing about it is overdone. The patty is subtle and beefy, the cheese and bacon mingle masterfully, and the mustard aioli adds a sharp exclamation point to the whole unit. This isn't the best burger in the city, but it is unique and fairly priced.


GUY ALAIMO CHIMES IN!!!!


It's good, but I wasn't impressed with the mustard (which tasted like blue cheese). The patty was a little dry near the end, and wasn't as juicy as the Aura burger. The weird-mustard—or blue cheesy— taste was not as overpowering as the Canoe Club burger (which I found almost atrocious), and the nice atmosphere makes up for the minor flaws of the burger. Brasserie is a very pleasant place to dine. The Maitre De even joked with us, saying "we've run out of burgers." What a tease!

ps. The fries were saltier than a glass of ocean water.



VERDICT: There are certainly better tasting burgers in the city, but none that strive as hard to mix a patty and toppings as individualized as this.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Happy International EATAPETA Day!!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a very happy International "Eat A Tasty Animal For PETA Day".

ps. This is also the blog's 100th post! WOW

Monday, March 9, 2009

Heckler's Bar and Grill—123 Gorge Road East—250-386-9207—www.hecklersbarandgrill.com

Big Burger
$9
(add $1 for bacon)


Heckler's has a lot going for it. Pull tabs, chocolate bacon, a bubble hockey table that hasn't been broken by Guy and me... yep Heckler's pretty much has it all. Bubble hockey tables are few and far between in Victoria, so finding this one was a total revelation. It was like getting dragged into a cave by a hungry bear; only to find the cave walls are made of caramel, the stalagmites are Sweet Marie bars, and the bear just wanted company while he eats some spaghetti.

Ok so Heckler's isn't exactly like virtual reality Grimm's Fairy Tales, but it is a restaurant on the Gorge that isn't horse-shit—and there aren't many of those.


The Big Burger has been recommended a couple times in the comments here at the blog, and I'm pleased to say it wasn't a bad recommendation. The house made sirloin patty is well seasoned, and much more rich and flavourful than your average Victoria pub fare. The bacon is affordable and served crisp, while the bun is a chewy sesame seed kaiser. The kaiser doesn't offer a perfect bun:burger ratio; but doesn't dwarf the patty either.

The weak points here are definitely the condiments and the run of the mill vegetable toppings. Veges are fresh, but don't add a whole lot to the overall flavour of this unit. They are there because they are obliged to show up—and they don't disapoint—but they do get lost a little in the bun.

For condiments on this bad boy you get a smidgeon of mustard aioli on top, and a little bottle cough of bbq sauce on the bottom. It's a good thing this bbq sauce is used sparingly, because otherwise it would really overwhelm this package. Personally I would like to see a slightly more dynamic house mayo to go with this burger, but I can't say the mix here is necessarily hurting anything. The aioli isn't much more than regular mayo though, and without the great taste of the patty to guide it, I can picture it being a let-down.

When it all comes right down to brass tacks though; this is a good burger. The patty is unique and flavourful, and none of the other elements sabotage that. I could be quite content hanging out here on a regular basis.


GUY ALAIMO CHIMES IN!!!!!


Hecklers is the home of rough customers, stand-up comedy nights and a decent burger that might be priced a little high. The patty is big, thick and delicious, but there was almost no mayo! Put a little more mayo on this bad-boy and you got yourself a hearty AND flavorful burger.

I know Donald already mentioned this, but Hecklers has dome hockey: and that's amazing.

VERDICT: I know where I'm going the next time I want to play bubble hockey and laugh at horrible local comedians.

Brasserie L'Ecole Has a Burger

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH MY GOD!

Gotta shout out Little Piggy for tipping me off to this little bit of information.

BRASSERIE L'ECOLE HAS A FUCKIN BURGER ON THEIR FRIDAY NIGHT MENU NOW!

The meat for the patty is ground in house. I'm not aware of anyone else in Victoria that does this.

Surf on over to The Little Piggy for a review. The Burger Blog's take on this exciting development will be up as soon as we get a chance to slam one of these little darlings.