Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pig BBQ Joint | Colwood | #304 - 1913 Sooke Rd Colwood Corners Plaza | 250.590.8034 |


The peacocking of the kitchen crew sent my heart a flutter, "I think this is the best burger we've made." With those words I knew I had picked the right date to finally catch up with a Pig burger special. Yes, I'd tried before, but this was the first time I wasn't late to meet the little lady (and the first time I chose not to rely on a driver to bring me here).

Although I reached Pig little more than an hour after the tweet went live, I was fraught with anxiety. You see Pig burgers have a reputation. They sell out VERY QUICKLY (as Brendan will tell you later). I decided to order immediately, and I attacked this one with gusto—my meal being long finished before Brendan even arrived for our rendezvous.

I don't know how anything can be better than a Fatty Melt, but I imagine the kitchen was damn close to the mark when they made their boastful comments about the Scramburglar. This treasure is topped with scrambled eggs (with cheddar and banana peppers), onion straws, and Pig's signature sauce. The bottom bun is swamped in bread and butter pickles and a sort of dijon aioli (and not swamped in a bad way).

The patty is good quality meat that is not over-seasoned, but definitely has a flavour unique to Pig (mostly black pepper and . . . maybe a little paprika or something similar?). Not overly juicy, but enough juices are present to enhance the experience. Do the juices and all that sauce make the onion straws soppier than a used bathing suit? NOPE! The architect has done a good job here, 'cause they hold up nicely.

We were also lucky enough on this day to sample the new buns on show at Pig (supplied by Rising Star). These are WAYYYYYYY better than the weak-links they previously employed—we're talking chewy buns here people. Thank god they finally made this change, because it was long overdue. I expect the enjoyment of pulled pork sandwiches to improve by 47%.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: there is no other restaurant in Victoria pushing forward our burger culture the way Pig does. Not bad for a place that refuses to make burgers a regular menu item.


Nodding awake around noon today meant I could basically run right off to Pig today to meet Don. Pig had only been open a little over 2 hours, but he was certain the new Scramburgler would be a hot star on the menu, and with a limited amount, the cook shack might sell out before afternoon tea.

Well, Dons a burger prophet. Mine was the 6th or 7th one left. Yes; by 2:30 in the afternoon this creation would officially be deemed extinct (meaning it actually sold out closer to between 1:30 and 2:00). Luckily, that's just around my breakfast time.

Ok, so this burger is all over the place (in a good way). The bun is just big enough to hold everything in place at first, and it's not a small bun. The scrambled eggs with cheese are definitely my highlight here, as the headlining flavour. Falling all over the place like spongey goo; it might not be the prettiest thing, but I orally vacuumed this: the eyes weren't on it for too long.

The Scramburglar is balanced nicely with the pickles, tomato and sauce all adding a bit of sweet to the salty. The bun and patty are good, but they're taking a back seat in this one, while the onion straws add texture as pieces sneak out. Though it's a little steep for me price-wise—it's still got lotsa bang for its buck.

VERDICT: We have a winner.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Keg Steakhouse | 3940 Quadra Street | 250.479.1651

Mini Burgers
$10 (?)

Basically Veneto with none of the personality or flair. You can survive without flair, but not without personality. You get three burgers here—just to clarify for those with counting problems (we'll cure numericus perplexicus someday!). One is draped in Swiss cheese, another in blue cheese sauce, and the last in BBQ splork.

Keg wins points for at least serving what appears to be house-made patties in their minis (and using higher quality beef than you usually find at a chain restaurant). Even the ciabatta bun used to house each mini is not nearly as detrimental to enjoyment as a ciabatta usually is—here the buns are soft and the patties have been formed into ovals to allow for better symmetry.

So with two major factors going pretty well for The Keg, why do these minis remain so banal? Well just look at them: they're lazy. Lazy is often fine if it just means sticking to the generally accepted burger blueprint (lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayo etc.), but even that requires some thought.

Swiss cheese is like any given awards show performer: you better sexy up the stage around her, 'cause she don't sing sultry enough on her own. And BBQ sauce—don't even get me started. The blue cheese sauce is more-or-less good enough to stand on its own, and thankfully rises a little above the blahness of its brethren. The other two really are little more than works in progress though, and that's a shame.

VERDICT: Veneto is well worth the extra cash.

2abpsslcpooassb Reviews Glendale Gardens Nourish Cafe

2abpsslcpooassb just posted a review of a place I've been meaning to go to ever since Christabel of The Little Piggy mentioned it at the Burger Bash (one of her former employees co-runs the place). Unfortunately 2abpsslcpooassb was decidely more underwhelmed by the Glendale Gardens offering than Christabel was. I agree that using a focaccia loaf for a burger bun is just about one of the dumbest decisions you can ever make, but I trust a recommendation from Christabel so I'll give this one a try eventually.

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Burger Cart in Qualicum

I don't know Qualicum Bay very well—so I'm not sure exactly where it is—but a new cart called "Bugaboo Burgers" has just opened up. It's location is 6010 West Island Highway, and Google Maps doesn't appear to show much there other than a couple of motels and rv parks. Qualicum Bay Resort is in the area too, so I suppose it might be safe to assume that this place is operating somewhere in the campground. Whatever, and wherever, it is, it's only open seasonly. Send pictures and info if you've got 'em!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Desperately Seeking Sooke

The Edge Restaurant in Sooke recently updated its website, and it now includes a picture of this infamous burger that I have yet to try.

Photo © Andrei Federov (taken from Edge Website)

Fucking homemade bacon—comes with fries, salad, or soup and is ONLY $9. Somebody drive me to Sooke already, it's driving me insane that I haven't tried this yet.

Best of the City 2010

Editor's Note: Thanks to Pedro for the quick response to my call for info on this.

Not much to report here—as the list is almost exactly the same as the 2009 version—but we'll give'er a run through anyhoo. Here's the Black Press list of best burgers in Victoria for 2010:

1) The Pink Bicycle
2) Red Robin
3) White Spot

So White Spot and Red Robin switch spots, and otherwise the list is exactly the same. It says a lot about burger culture in this city when our residents can only name one local business when trying to determine Victoria's top burger spot. The Pink Bicycle is essentially the only "burger joint" in town. Because, as a whole, other restaurants don't make burgers marquee menu items; The Bike is the first place to come to the mind of most residents.

This is to take nothing away from The Pink Bicycle, which on a good day makes one of the best burgers in town, it's just unfortunate they don't stand in better company on this list. I like Red Robin and White Spot as much as the next guy, and I'll admit Red Robin helps burger culture evolve, but there are better local restaurants.

I'm not sure it's fair at this point to list my picks for the best burgers in Victoria (because there are a number I have been alerted to recently that I haven't tried yet, and they could be top 5 contenders), but I can offer a couple of more specific lists. Here they are:

Restaurants that have made the best contributions to burger culture in Victoria
(in no particular order):

Pink Bicycle: As essentially the only dedicated "burger joint" in Victoria, they have upped the profile of this ubiquitous menu item in the Garden City. Their commitment to using island meats—and introducing exotic specials (kangaroo burgers... although maybe those don't quite fit the traditional definition of a burger)—has helped Victoria begin to catch up to other cities.

Pig BBQ Joint: The only place in the area to have ever served a Fatty Melt (to the best of my knowledge), and thus the only local venue keeping track of the more gluttonous side of burger culture.

• Hecklers Bar and Grill: As much as I hate monster burgers; they are a big part of burger culture. Before the Challenge Burger (or Matt's Burger) there wasn't one in Victoria. I can't stand burgers with buns the size of Galapagos turtle shells, but I have to give Heckler's credit for its contribution.

My current favourite burger bites:

Aura: Point Burger
Veneto: Mini Burgers
La Belle Patate: La Belle Burger
Pizza AllNite (our sponsor!): Burger with just about any pizza topping you desire

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

La Belle Patate Grill Takeover

Just paling around with Nathieau Lott

Quite some time ago now I was graciously invited by the proprietor of La Belle Patate to sashay on over and make a burger or two on his grill. I got distracted by going on vacation, and the plan got put on the back burner. Then a few weeks ago I popped in for lunch, and was immediately told to get behind the counter and have some fun.

Dazed and confused.

My only previous experience on a restaurant grill was approximately ten years ago when I enjoyed a brief stint with A&W. Thus I was a little out of my element, and very worried about getting in the way.

First attempt.

I decided I'd try my hand at making a smashburger/slider of sorts. Step one: place some onions on the grill. Step two: smash a ball of meat into the onions. Finally wait a few minutes and assemble the remaining parts. In my haste to get off the grill quickly and out of the way, I completely forgot to pepper the patty, or sprinkle some salt on the patty while it was grilling. This oversight was compensated for slightly by adding Belle Sauce and mayo. I have described Belle Sauce quite poorly here in the past, so let me take another stab at it.

Nathieu listed the ingredients to me in rapid fire (running through all the ingredients in about two seconds) and I think I remember about four elements: French Dressing, Catalina Dressing, garlic, chilis. The sauce works magnificently when packaged with bacon, mushrooms, and great globs of grease in the infamous La Belle Burger.

Rubbing Belle Sauce into my second burger.

The first burger was good, but I knew I could do a little better. For my second attempt, as per the suggestion of grill-cook Oliver, I rubbed some Belle Sauce into the uncooked patty. I then used a similar smash technique, but this time using diced onions instead of sliced. The slightly sweeter diced onions where definitely a better match.

Grillin' like a villain.

Next time you order a burger at La Belle, I highly recommend you try and convince them to steam your bun instead of toast it. Nathieu threw the bun for my second burger in the steamer, and the result was a pillowy soft housing unit that was just 100% comfort.

After going with a Belle Sauce/mayo blend again in the second burger, I can safely say I would probably have ended up with a more pleasing burger if I used mustard instead of Belle Sauce as a core condiment. Belle Sauce is an absolute triumph when coupled with bacon, but doesn't reach its full potential without it. Nonetheless, this was still an incredibly juicy, pleasant burger.

I did alright here, but Nathieu, Oliver, and the rest of the staff are pros, and easily do a better job with the tools in their kitchen than I do. The La Belle Burger might be nothing out of the ordinary, but it remains one of my favourite burgers to eat in town. I'd like to thank Nathieu and the rest of the staff at La Belle Patate for giving me the opportunity to experiment at one my favourite eateries, and I hope to do so again.

FYI: Oliver of La Belle Patate recommends Blue Fox's lunch burger.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cheeseburger Doritos on the Island

Apparently Esquimalt Grocers has Cheeseburger Doritos now. I actually have no clue where exactly Esquimalt Grocers is. All my information is coming from Facebook; someone help me out here.

*edit*: They have BIG bags at Shoppers Drug Mart downtown. Cheeseburger Doritos Canadian Invasion!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kettle Valley Station Pub | Ramada Inn, Penticton | 1070 Eckhardt Avenue, West | 250.493.3388 |

Cheeseburger in Paradise


You guys like the show Mythbusters right? Well I hope you do, because I am about to confirm a WHOPPER! This is going to get scientific, but follow along closely and you'll be sure to learn a lesson that will stick with you for a lifetime (or at least until bedtime). Victoria is on an island. Amongst other vegetation, there is a lot of grass on this rock. Separating Victoria from mainland Canada is the Salish Sea (or the Georgia Strait... IF YOU'RE RACIST!). On the other side of the sea/strait there is also a lot of grass. Well I have been to the other side, and I can say the grass is greener. MYTH CONFIRMED!

...well confirmed at least as far as fast-food and gambling are considered. Seriously; I swear every town in BC aside from Victoria has a KFC/Taco Bell. You know how people are always bullshitting about how their wedding day was the best day of their life? Try going to Penticton, tossing some chips around at a LAKESIDE casino, and blowing your winnings on Crunchwrap Supremes. By the end of the day, you won't even remember you're married.

For all the sybaritic pleasures of Penticton, there are some disappointments as well, and this burger is one of them. I'll give this to the Kettle Valley Station Pub though: they are masters at writing deceptive menu copy. Usually a size of over 6oz means the patty is homemade, but such is not the case here. This half-pounder is an insult to the Tiger Blue that adorns it.

Aside from Blossom's Blue, I'm not sure there's a better blue cheese in Canada, and it deserves more than a supplier patty and a dry, whole-wheat kaiser. Also, how was this cheese not melted AT ALL? There hasn't been an easier thing to melt in the history of the world since the hearts of 1940's moviegoers were subjected to Bambi. Is the integrity of the cheese hurt by melting it? No. Is enjoying melted cheese on a burger some sort of bizarre personal preference? Maybe in crazy land, but not in level-headed logical land where I live.

So in summary dear readers: the grass is greener on the other side. Unfortunately, however, this means there's always greener grass just around the corner. Do you have any idea how much I wish Burger 55 had a television with the World Cup on (so I could have dined there instead)? Of course you don't: you were stuck in an agricultural zone where nectarines aren't in season yet, while I was pining for burgers from an old tire shop. You haven't been as close to paradise as I was, but here's hoping, when you get there, you eat a better cheeseburger.

VERDICT: Supposedly the top dog at this pub really knows his Scotch... sadly the same can't be said about his kitchen's burger knowledge.

ps. If you really want a drink in town though—you should go get hyphy with the dudes at Villa Rosa. Place is swimmin' in Yukon Jack! R.I.P. Mac Dre y'all.

pps. I was trying to wedge in a comment about how women in Salmon Arm are better looking than women in Penticton, but I couldn't figure out how. At least you have this informative footnote though!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Clifton Ranch

If you're ever on your way through Keremeos, this place looks like a stop worth making. I passed by Clifton Ranch on my way to Penticton this weekend with my dad, and am now sort of regretting passing this place by. Ground beef at $3.50/lb seems like a pretty dope deal straight at the gate.

Internet research shows these dudes do good work: The Countryside Canada Stewardship Recognition Program gave the ranch an award in 2004 for its work maintaining and restoring natural grasslands and associated habitat in the South Okanagan. Check out their website for more information on feeding practices, and the history of the ranch.

ps. I'll have a couple of travel burger reviews up soon.