Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Refiner Diner | 1917 Quadra Street (Corner of Quadra and Caledonia) | 250.884.5643 |

Crispy Cheeseburger
(Only available Wednesday-Saturday 11:30-3:00PM)

I'm sorry I haven't wrote you in a while. It's not that I don't love you anymore. It's just . . .

The excitement is gone from our relationship. Five years ago everything was new. There was hope that maybe we really could make it together. Maybe there really was an amazing burger out there in Victoria somewhere that no one knew about and we were gonna find it together. "Damn them all!" we said. They told us Victoria wasn't a burger town, but we knew our love was strong enough to change that.

And for a moment the love felt so real. It grew inside us and spread across the rest of the city like a C difficile outbreak spreads through a senior citizen's home on the gossamer intestines of withering grandmas (or like awkward similes spring forth from this blog). Burger joints were poppin' up like teenage boners. There's a time in life when you see a window to your future open and ours was a window to communal burger lust. A window bathing us in the light of true love's unceasing luminescence. And then. Suddenly. Without warning. It was all gone. There were no more burgers to be excited about. The love was gone and we were left wailing to the great burger spirit, "WHY DO YOU DELIGHT IN TORTURING ME?"

But true love lingers. When things get tough, all it needs is an accelerant. The Refiner Diner's Crispy Cheeseburger may be the accelerant needed to rekindle the fires of our true burger love.

This is a fantastic burger. It's name comes from the coy skirt of salty, crusted cheddar that clings to the juicy patty like starry-eyed young table chairs cling to the dream of one day growing up and becoming Barcaloungers. The Crispy Cheeseburger is a little more restrained than the famous Squeeze Burger, which is likely its inspiration, but that's ok. From the tangy pickles to the well-picked brioche bun and tasty house sauce--this is one of the most finely crafted burgers in Victoria. The love is back, baby.

VERDICT: Rivals Bubby's Kitchen as my current favourite in town.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Relish Food and Coffee | 920 Pandora Avenue | 250.590.8464 |

Relish Burger
add $1 for bacon
add $1 for cheese
Add $0.50 for onions

Well lick a cricket and hump a moose! It's been a while, hasn't it? Mahfuckin Telus had me on an internet wait list for like two months. What's the deal Telus? Why were you all holding me back from the internet? Had me feelin' like some jabroni waitin' in line for the club. Nobody thinks you're cool Telus. You don't need to be velvet ropin' bitches to create some sort of illusion of popularity.

Right. Anyway. Let's talk about a burger shall we.

You see that burger up there ^ ? That my friends is the most elusive burger in all of Victoria. This burger is on some serious Sasquatch shit. Sightings of it are so rare that I had questioned whether it even still existed. Since December 2011 it appears to have made it onto the menu at Relish only four times. They teased us in July saying they planned to make the burger a regular Saturday special, yet here we are with no confirmed sightings since July 17 (as far as I know). I'm starting to think, like pagans, this burger only comes out with the changing of the seasons.

It's unfortunate the Relish Burger isn't a regular menu item. It's pretty darn good. Picture the offering at the EdGe, except this actually tastes like a burger instead of a sandwich. The homemade focaccia looks like it has no business working, but it's actually pretty decent. The sprinkles of fennel in the patty make for a really unique touch as well. I'm usually not too crazy about patty seasoning that goes beyond salt and pepper, but Relish manages to pull it off without being all dry and disgusting. Actually, believe it or not, this is one of the juicier burgers I've had in Victoria.

Like the chocolate cinnamon buns at Patisserie Daniel, I fear I may never see this burger again. Oh well. Try to remember the good times, right?

VERDICT: Top 5? Definitely worthy of consideration.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Are These the Best Burger Spots in Victoria?

Once again the people of the CRD have spoken (or at least the people of the CRD who read Black Press publications have spoken). What hath they bespoke, you may ask? This will be nothing new for a lot of people. But here, for those who missed, are this year's Victoria News Best of the City picks for Best Burger:

1. Bin 4 Burger Lounge
2. The Pink Bicycle
3. Red Robin

There ya have it! Sorry Bigwheel! Try again next year. Bin 4 deservedly knocks Pink Bike from the top spot as a list that was once dominated by fast food and chain joints, now features only one. Just to provide a counterpoint, here are my top three of the moment:

1. Bubby's Kitchen
2. Bin 4
3. ... kind of undecided now that Aura is blahzay, and I haven't tried the new menu at Veneto yet. Eh, maybe I'll go with Carnarvon Park.

ps. Best of the City quotes me in an article about Victoria's burger boom. Page 27. Find it here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Aura Redux Pt.2

The Best Burger
(has now been replaced by the "Aura Burger" for $15)

I'm sorry. For all the times in the last two years I've recommended Aura's burger to you, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for touting it in national and local newspapers and I'm sorry for not doing another redux sooner. 

When I first met this burger in 2008 it was easily the best I'd ever encountered in Victoria. There were few that even came close. For years whenever I was asked, "Where's the best burger in Victoria?" I would exclaim "Aura" faster than a French rooster screeches "cocorico" at sunrise. I imagine the initial name change of Aura's burger from "The Point" to "The Best" was likely due to the accolades given by this blog. 

To mangle a well-known poem immortalized by The Outsiders: this burger's first hue was awesome, but now it's kinda lame . . . so much for a burger gold staying. Yikes, that was terrible. Remind me to never re-appropriate poems for this blog ever again.

You know when you have a MASSIVE crush on a girl and then you don't see her for a couple of years and then when you see her again she's lost a little lustre? Maybe she's kinda overweight and she looks bored with life. Suddenly she's just another girl, and it's sad because the mystique is gone. You've been robbed of a daydream. What was once magic is now a lounge act. That's how I feel about this burger now. I was crushing hard and now I don't really care anymore. And goddamn if it isn't a little devastating when something magical disappears. 

Perhaps the new "Aura Burger" has brought Aura back to it's rightful spot atop the burger heap in Victoria, but I have my doubts. For now I guess I'll just sulk and remember what was. We had some good times Aura, sorry you had to grow old.

VERDICT: I guess the deluxe at Bubby's Kitchen is my go-to burger recommendation now.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Red Kettle | 2630 Bridge Street | 250.388.3966


*Sigh* 'Tis a sad day when one is content--even relieved--when met by what is bland. But such is where I find myself now in life, or at the very least it's the spot I was placed in while having a mid-work mange at Red Kettle Restaurant.

I've had so many devastatingly disappointing meetings with other burgers lately, that I truly was slightly soothed when the patty here was revealed as utterly flavourless. Yes my friends, this is where I am now in my burger reviewing career (if you can call it that)--praying against the putrid and never expecting true burger bliss.

Ok, so I'm being a tad dramatic. Seriously those folks, it seems life is more about dodging dodgy patties these days than it is discovering Valhalla in burger form.

Bromide, while not gallivanting around as a binary compound of bromine, sometimes lends it's name as a slang term to describe people devoid of personality. This burger from Red Kettle is pretty much bromide--it's not offensive or unpleasant, but it sure ain't exciting either.

Red Kettle's cheeseburger could be good. Heck, it could even be great. Improve or change the patty and you've basically got the supremely satisfying type of cheapo burger you find at ballparks around the CRD. For now, however, it's just bland.

VERDICT: Awesome diner atmosphere, maybe even a decent breakfast. The burger, however, is senior citizen's centre bland.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Glo Redux

Glo Burger

*Sigh* Oh how the mighty have fallen. Back when I was still but a babe in the burger woods, I gushed about this package as if it had descended from heaven on a cloud of fairy wings. Now it's four years later and I can barely finish the thing.

You see that raft of lettuce there? Seriously dudes--this thing was so massive Noah could have used it as a replacement ark. The patty is just a few shades shy of being the monstrous car wreck  that is (was?) known as Shark Club's Double-Fisted Bacon Cheeseburger. It's one of those patties that seems to ooze water instead of grease. Glo tries to gussy up their burger with a couple of house sauces, but they end up serving as more of a distraction than an enhancement. 

I sincerely hope I was simply unlucky enough to arrive at Glo on a busy day when they had been forced to go to the grocery store to buy some el cheapo extra patties to stock the kitchen with. Sadly, however, I don't think that's the case. Gone are the good times my friends. Gone are the good times.

VERDICT: Good patio, bad burger.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oak Bay Bistro | 206-2250 Oak Bay Avenue | 250.598.1441 |

Bart's Burger

(lunch only)

Reunited and it feeeeeeeeelssss soooooooo goooooooodddddd. Reunited eatin' burgs like we shoooooooooulllllllldddddd.

*Sigh* It feels like only yesterday Guy Alaimo and I were gallivanting around Victoria--knockin' back three burgers a day and cruising around Gordonhead without a care in the world (aside from rapidly deteriorating health, crushing loneliness and a complete lack of career prospects). We had the world on a string! A greasy, greasy string. Now Guy's on a juice diet and I'm eating salad for dinner. We've even both managed to see girls with their shirts off this year . . . and not prostitutes either! Holy mackinaw, are we turning into a couple of fuckin' frauds over here, or what? Seriously, what's going on?

Trust me dear friends--despite the lack of frequent posting here, and the fact Guy and I haven't collaborated on a post in almost a year--we are still hopelessly devoted to questionable eating habits. Anyways enough on that; we're supposed to be discussing a burger here aren't we?

I chose Oak Bay Bistro for our big reunion meal because of its notable chef, John Waller. I figured a dude who has taken home 2nd place in the Island Chef of the Year Awards probably makes a decent burger.

Bart's Burger--named after the owner if I remember correctly--may not be an award winner, but it's pretty satisfying. The style is slightly reminiscent of Aura, except OBB uses a slightly less juicy homemade patty. The patty billows forth from the tiny house-made bun like the muffin top on a girl who just refuses to commit to form-fitting jeans. It makes the package a tad unwieldy, but not unmanageable. Intermittent zings of mustard pickle make for some tantalizing bites here and there. Sadly those zings can, however, be few and far between.

The real triumph of this burger is that Chef Waller doesn't try to do too much with it. There has been many a top chef in the world who has tried to turn the burger into something it isn't. They stuff them with Foie Gras, serve them on focaccia, or make some other hoity-toity alteration to a formula that doesn't need such tweaking. I'm all for a little experimentation, but sometimes a chef just doesn't get what a burger is all about. Thankfully Waller keeps things pretty traditional at OBB, and his burger is better for it.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for . . . GUY ALAIMO CHIMES THE FUCK IN!!!!!!

The cleavage was intoxicating at Oak Bay Bistro. Not all the staff, just our waitress. Every time she leaned over to ask me if I wanted another Caesar, my eyes filled with the sight of hanging flesh banana's held together by a lacy number that was hopefully purchased at the incredibly sexy lady's confection store around the corner.

The burger is a nice effort. A mustard pickle based sauce coats the inside of a soft and slightly oiled bun, giving this juicy burger a fluffy exterior.

Though it was priced a little high, that's the cost of doing business in an Oak Bay Village breakfast establishment where you're able to look at undergrad tits. The old Blethering Place Tea Room which used to occupy the space would be disgusted!

VERDICT: A respectable effort. As good, if not better, than expected.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Big Wheel Burger | 341 Cook Street | 250.381.0050 |

Double Cheeseburger

My god! Could it be? The Burger Blog bringing you a fresh review of a fresh new burger joint? After all these months? Don't get too excited, I promise you this will be the same old horseshit you've grown accustomed to from these eeeeeee-lectronic pages. Shall we start?

It's clear from the multitude of comments on this blog, and the personal accounts I've been getting from friends and family, that Big Wheel isn't what people were expecting. It begs the question, what did people think they were going to get from this place?

If you read any of the pre-opening interviews with Big Wheel, or followed them on Twitter, the taste of this burger should come as no surprise. It's simple, fresh fast food that tries to clone Shake Shack and similar beloved east-coast burger stands. I couldn't say if it's a successful clone, I haven't been to Shake Shack, but Big Wheel does serve up a good, albeit predictable, bit of meat and bun.

I think the predictable nature of this joint is what has upset people. There's nothing necessarily wrong with being a predictable burger joint, sometimes it's nice to know what to expect from your burger. The problem is somehow local meat-munchers envisioned something different from a place with such high-caliber names attached to it. Would it have been nice if Big Wheel was just an outlet for crazy Pig-style specials? Maybe, but what we've ended up with is good too.

To address a couple of the commenters from this blog; no Big Wheel does not taste a thing like McDonald's, and why would you ruin a burger like this by using anything other than American Cheddar? If anything, this burger could have used more processed cheese (I am a glutton though). I will admit it's a little cheeky to serve processed cheese at a place that champions the 100 mile diet on its website.

The patty is loosely formed using beef from Vancouver's Two Rivers Meats. Two Rivers is decent stuff, but I still say Pemberton Meadows is the best B.C. beef I've ever tasted. I'm going to go ahead and recommend getting a double here, just because the bun:burger ratio on the singles didn't quite look as good. Texture and consistency is nice, due to the fact the patties are loosely formed, but don't expect to have to wipe your chin after biting into this baby--it's not quite that greasy.

The bun is soft and sweet and the special sauce is good. If you're looking for a fast food comparison, I suppose this burger is somewhere between White Spot and a Wendy's Baconator. If you're sober I'd say it's better than those, if you're drunk maybe not.

Is this a great burger? No, but it takes a lot to be a great burger. I don't know if there are even five great burgers in Victoria. Big Wheel serves a good product that I'll be happy to eat again. I understand why people are disappointed though. It's not because Big Wheel's a bad burger joint. It's because we now have three dedicated burger joints in Victoria, and I'm not sure you can say any of them serve up the best burger in town.

VERDICT: If you're looking for a new king of Victoria burgers, this ain't it. What you will get is good, fresh fast food that should easily satisfy cravings.