Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reader Report: Lunchbox Laboratory in Seattle

Editor's Note: Please enjoy our first ever reader report! This review of Lunchbox Laboratory comes courtesy of John in Tacoma. Thanks John!


I've really enjoyed reading the blog, and hope to hit a few of the spots next time I'm in Victoria avoiding my in-laws...

So what about the Lunchbox Laboratory? You probably saw this over at A Hamburger Today, but the Lab's Dork Burger made a Food Network Magazine list of the best burgers in America.

That being said, I went for one of the daily specials, I think it was called the Smokey. Lunchbox Laboratory is a tiny place, 2 community tables seating 4-6 people each, and that's about it. I think I saw something that said it was 400 sq feet (which is tinier than my apartment in dental school): the freezer is outside. They have a sign saying they're going to a bigger place, but no idea when. There's a specials board right when you walk in, and then the regular menu board. Real sugar cokes are a nice addition and my kids thought the hand spun shakes were great.

As for the burger itself: just super (comes with havarti, a kind of grilled onion and bacon, and a smokey pepper mayo). The onion mix reminded me a little of the hot dog cart 'red onions' you get in NYC. As for the mayo? As you guys write on the blog, they didn't tap the burger with the sauce spoon, they made sure there was more than enough (see autopsy shot). The burgers are hand formed, and fall apart a little. Well done all of the way through, although I think this was a function of the thinness of the burger. Well seasoned, and great taste, and excellent toppings in abundance. What more could one want? The tots are an option along with skinny fries, and as well as the burger was seasoned, I thought the tots were a little light flavour-wise (sea salt and pepper).

Price: Depends on what options you want. It can get a bit pricey depending on what you get, but its more than offset by the quality of the burger. Awesome!

Apologies for the quality of the pics, apparently I don't know how to use my camera phone. Plus, not being an official food blogger and burger authority, it did feel a little awkward. Still, here they are!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maude Hunter's Pub—3810 Shelbourne Street—250•721•2337

Angus Burger

This is a burger that comes highly recommended by readers and randoms. Often when a local burger receives accolades it's because someone's life partner is the grill cook at the restuarant, or it's the only burger the person is aware of that doesn't use a frozen patty. Sometimes (in the case of Heckler's Bar and Grill) the readers will tip us off to a hidden treat. That's not the case with Maude's though.

The flame-grilled nature of this patty is certainly appreciated, but I can't get behind anything else it stands for. Like freckles on a ginger, little green sprigs of something are liberally sprinkled throughout the patty. The flavour of the sprigs completely overwhelms here and highlights a certain level of pretention that is prevalent in a number of local burger packages. A word of advice to these places: non-essential burger spices are not exotic or impressive, and they rarely enhance the flavour of your beef. Stop clowning around and just cut this shit out ok?

Aside from the patty there's nothing much else to mention here. You've got a decent sesame seed kaiser, the regular vege mix, and some chipotle mayo: we've seen it all before, and it's not backing up anything too remarkable. If this burger was a baseball team it would be the L.A. Dodgers: looking to impress with a bit of a sideshow, but not likely to win a pennant anytime soon.

VERDICT: Better than your average Victoria burger, but suffers significantly from experimentation.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Burger Bash a Total Smash!

A transendent display of blog supremacy and springtime fun; our first anniversary burger bash was a triumphant event. I'd like to thank all who attended, and were very patient when we ran out of propane. I had a lot of fun, and I think everyone else did too.

Please enjoy some pictures from the party:

Esteemed prop-comic Jimmy Nguyen presents his turd burger to a highly receptive audience.

Victoria Burger Blog royalty enjoy a few patty nibbles.

Auggie presents some pork and beef patties while Neil looks on.

Ed Sum: "This burger is better than ghost-hunting!"

Elite Jimmy Nguyen prop-comedy on display once again!

Love at first bite... ZING!

Jimmy's entry in the great burger-off: A pork and beef patty stacker.

Claire gets burgified.

A whole wheat bun encroaches on an otherwhise incredible looking burger.

All hands on deck! HAH!

Neil studies a burger

One of our esteemed judges considering the merits of a burger-off entry.

Fun burger times!

Another Neil with another burger.

A burger gathering for the ages!

Judges confer before announcing the champion of the first annual Victoria Burger Blog Great Burger-Off.

Auggie is the winner of the burger-off!

Final Burger-Off Standings

1. Auggie: Beef and Lamb Curry Burger with Mango Cream Cheese

Runner Ups
Donald: Beef Burger with Homemade Peanut Butter
Guy: Shake and Bake Burger
Jimmy: Pork and Beef Patty Stacker

Please feel free to post a comment if you were at the event last week and want to share some memories.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Roxy Burger—910 Granville Street—Vancouver—604•646•4000—

The Canadian Roxy Burger

It's no secret that Vancouver is years ahead of Victoria as far as burger culture goes. They have a well established regional chain, they were the first West Coast Canadian city to embrace the fancy burger trend, and they were one of the first Canadian cities to get a Fatburger. Yes burger culture has seeped into Vancouver quite nicely over the last decade. Even the bar/club scene has managed to co-opt the burger: turning it into an accessory as sought after as headbands, tattoos, or whatever the fuck else people that go to clubs wear.

Since its inception seven years, Roxy Burger has managed to command a fair bit of clout. It's never rated as high as Vera's or Moderne—but many locals still mention it as one of their favourites. The walls in Roxy Burger are plastered with self-promotional posters screaming with the type of fonts you'd find on handbills for a 24-hour rave in Chilliwack. Given the glossy nature of the bar and its patrons—it was a tad surprisinging to find a fairly humble burger at this place.

"The Canadian" comes with half a pound of beef, expertly melted cheese, and decent bacon. The condiment mix is somewhat akin to A&W (mustard, ketchup, mayo) and the bun is a slightly above average kaiser. The ketchup was a tad distracting, but the special mayo here is nice and thick—with a flavour not unlike what you'd find at White Spot (just minus whatever reddening agent is in Triple O Sauce). The beef is good, but it lacks juiciness. Ultimately the patty probably sits somewhere in the middle of the pack as far as burger-centric restaurant packages in Vancouver go.

Roxy Burger is one of those places that claims everything it does is famous (even the fucking "pickle sail" it spears through its burger buns). How the fuck does a pickle become world famous? Is Seth Rogen actually just one big Roxy Burger pickle sail with curly hair? My dad used to call his salmon and peas on toast world famous, but that was only because we had international students living with us.

Despite the hackey claims of being "world famous"—this is a pretty good burger. The ketchup does give the unit a slightly upscale fast-food flavour, but the freshness of the package leaves you thinking you've walked away with a little more. There are other burgers in Vancouver I would recommend over this one, but its still a decent bet if you're in a pinch downtown.

VERDICT: Roxy Burger just slightly surpasses the middling experience "world famous" usually indicates.

Aura: Point Burger Redux

Point Burger

(Lunch Only)

I am happy to say the Point Burger remains the top burger in Victoria: a remarkable achievement for a package that uses a supplier patty. The patty used in this little trip to heaven comes from Centennial Food Services and is made of Sterling Silver Alberta Beef. It was just as juicy and delicious on your recent trip as it was the first time we met this sly little vixen. Would this burger be better with a house made patty? Perhaps; but maybe it's better to not mess with a good thing.

The only thing that has changed since our original review is the bun. The bun on our recent trip was a little smaller and chewier, but still played among the other items well. The wild B-C mushrooms, perfectly melted cheese and crisp, salty bacon all envelope the patty like the warm arms of a first love. This really is one of the true triumphs of the local burger scene.

This redux review wouldn't be complete without a quick note on the service and recognition we received on our recent trip to Aura. Apparentely we're credible reviewers or something because our waiter said he quotes our earlier review often, and has sold "at least two hundred burgers" based on its plaudits. This guy was so excited to meet us you'd think he'd just received a miracle wish. We actually ended up getting an industry discount and being introduced to the sous chef. Yes it's true; somehow we've turned an unhealthy alternative to meeting girls into something worthy of respect. Kind of hilarious yah?

VERDICT: Aura and the Victoria Burger Blog: BOTH FUCKING MAJOR!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Victoria Burger Blog First Anniversary Burger Bash!

So we've finally got our shit together and we're having an anniversary BBQ at Jimmy's place!

Here are the details:

Saturday April 18th
4283 Baylis Place
Accessible by #28 bus

I will be providing four pounds of grass fed Fraser Valley beef for the occassion, but that will only last so long. We will provide beef to as many people as possible, but guests are encouraged to bring their own meat and buns if possible.

Vegetarian patties will only be tolerated if they are thrown on the BBQ by a resident of the house that is hosting the party. If you are not a resident of the hosting house VEGETARIAN PATTIES WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

Hot dogs are discouraged, unless being used as part of a burger package. This is not a BBQ—it's a burger bash.

Ok so those are the anal-retentive rules I've set... here are some other details:

In addition to regular burger eating, there will be an informal burger making contest.

We also hope to screen two films at this event: The burger-centric Jim Varney/Traci Lords vehicle "Fast Food" and the straight-to-dvd masterpiece "Ace Ventura Jr Pet Detective".

That's all. It'll be fun. Hope you can attend. If you need any more info leave a message in the comment section with your email address.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pescatores Grinding Patties In House?

I was casually surfing the Pescatores website today and came across this on the lunch menu:

Oscar Burger
House ground AAA beef burger topped with king crab and béarnaise.

The last time I went to Pescatores they were using a supplier patty from North Douglas/Sysco. If they're actually grinding beef in house than this is a pretty big development. Can anyone who has been to Pescatores recently confirm or deny the claim made by the online menu?

Saanich Roadhouse Bar and Grill—5285 W Saanich Road—250•479•6612

Roadhouse Prime Rib Burger

This is not a roadhouse. Despite the promises; there are no Texas style BBQ items on the menu, and there is nowhere for you to watch your meat cook on a spit. The walls are covered with cheap furniture store art: in short this place is a sham. Over two years ago the fine men who brought us The Boom Boom Room promised Greater Victoria would get its own Big Texan. Instead we got some pseudo-upscale rat-hole serving Thai Noodle Salad. This place is perhaps the biggest restaurant disappointment the Victoria area has ever seen.

Visions of chicken-fried steaks danced in my head when I first read this Times Colonist article two years ago. Sadly the vision for this restaurant changed completely, and now we're stuck with another place with a tourist trap menu and a supplier patty burger.

When this package came to the table the little burger discus had sunk so far into the over-toasted bun that it was almost impossible to see. Soon I found it hiding behind a thin layer of cheese, exuding all the fucking banality of a high school newspaper. This same patty is being supplied to probably dozens of other area restaurants, and it's just plain boring. Oh sure they use a ciabatta bun to try and fool you into thinking this is some sort of bourgeoisie treat, but anyone who eats at McDonald's knows its a fucking scam.

The Saanich Roadhouse is a joke. It's all borrowed style and no substance. The spiral staircase and tall tables might impress some, but not people who actually eat when they go to restaurants. Eating in the parking lot of the gas station next door would have been a more pleasant experience. At least a gas station doesn't put on airs.

VERDICT: Broken Promises and Shattered Dreams: The Saanich Roadhouse Story.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Voting Underway for Victoria News Best of the City

Yes it's that time of year again kiddies!!! You want to know where the most middling burger in the city is?!! Well Black Press readers are about to tell you!

Who will win the coveted title of burger of the year? Could Red Robin steal the crown from White Spot? What about perennial runner up A&W? Could this be their year? Only time, and your votes, will tell what completely non-unique to Victoria burger package will run away with the prize!

Here's the link if you're interested in voting. It's an open ballot and this year there's a prize for best all-you-can-eat as well. What restaurant will readers drive by on the way home and then vote in as the best? The exciting results will be announced late spring!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Burger Blog Makes Front Page of A Hamburger Today!

Ok, so it doesn't really count. I'm still stoked anyways.

EDIT: We're now legitimately on the front page! I've said it before, and I'll say it again: WE HAVE ARRIVED!

Times Colonist Reviews Pink Bike

The TC rates Pink Bike "Above Average" in today's paper. They fail to mention us in the article, but they do make fun of cul-de-sac bed and breakfasts. Jokes involving cul-de-sacs are always funny, so I'm willing to forgive the lack of a Monday Magazine style mention.