Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hawk's Nest Pub | Bamfield, BC | 226 Frigate Road | 250.728.3422

Bacon Cheeseburger

Much more notable for its location than its burger; the Hawk's Nest is a bit of an oddity. The nest is perched on the second floor of a pretty dumpy looking motel called Bamfield Trails. A quick glance at the front of the building and you'd think the pub sign on the street corner was a canard. There is no awning marking the pub entrance, no "RIGHT THIS WAY TO BEERS" arrow to guide your way--the nest just sits there, hoping you'll find it if you look hard enough. Somehow we found our way in through the (unmarked) exit. It wasn't so much difficult to find as it was just odd that there wasn't a clearer path.

The Hawk's Nest backyard.
Anyhoooo, all this expository nonsense is just a way of padding this review. This burger is both inoffensive and unexciting. The patty is pre-fab and probably frozen. The unit itself is the same as myriad other pub burgers. It'll fill you up nicely, but it won't leave you wanting more. And that's all I have to say about that.

VERDICT: A kind of neat bar in an unexpected location, but the burger ain't worth taking a road trip for.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chez Monique's | KM 45 (just south of Carmanah Lighthouse) | West Coast Trail | Pacific Rim National Park | British Columbia

(add $2 each for cheese and bacon)

It seems everyone who does the West Coast Trail has an "I had the best burger of my life!" story that stems from their time on the trail. For some the best burger of their life is at the pub in Port Renfrew. Most West Coast hikers, however, will point to Chez Monique's as their best burger experience.

Don't trust these people. The average person, by the time they get to Chez Monique's, has been eating nothing but sand, mud, Clif bars and dehydrated meals for three days. In between sex dreams about the last attractive human being they saw on the trail--and paranoid "OH MY GOD WAS THAT A BEAR??" outbursts whenever a large man grunts somewhere on the other end of the beach at night--most hikers are daydreaming about "real" food. Chez Monique's is their first opportunity to get some. That's why this burger is so satisfying for so many, and why it's one of the experiences hikers rave about the most.

In reality, there isn't much to differentiate the burger here from any other burger you might get at your average family-friendly restaurant. The bun is garnished with light scrapes of mustard and ketchup, with a little relish added to the top bun. Cheese is melted well and probably comes from one of those Kraft half&half bags. The patty is an approximately quarter pound pre-fab number that is fine, but obviously far from fantastic. To sum up: it's just good enough. And good enough can be pretty good indeed if you've been sucking sand for a few days.

VERDICT: Make a point to stop by if you're in the neighbourhood, but don't charter a float plane so you can go in for an afternoon nosh.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Big Chains Wiped From Vic News Top Burger List for 2013

Victoria News released their annual "Best of the City" readers' poll results last week, and for the first time ever there are no fast food joints or off-island chains on the list.

Here's da winners:

1. Bin 4
2. Pink Bicycle
3. Bigwheel

So Bin 4 and Pink Bike maintain their positions from last year and Bigwheel knocks off Red Robin. Are these three spots the best places to get burgers in Victoria? I don't think so, but let's take a second to gaze upon the past and see how far we've come. Back in 2008 this is what the "Best of the City" list looked like:

1. White Spot
2. A&W
3. Red Robin

We've come a long way folks. Bin 4, Pink Bike and Bigwheel may not be the best of the best, but they are a fuckload better than A&W (girls: if your man ever brings you to A&W, steal his car and leave him in the parking lot). If nothing else, the Victoria News list indicates that burger lovers in the ol' land of flowers and old farts actually have options in 2013.

Now as I mentioned, I'm not sure the options they listed are necessarily the best ones. Bigwheel was pretty underwhelming on my last trip (although, like an idiot, I bought a single instead of a double). I haven't been to Pink Bike in ages because they're wildly inconsistent and the buns, though great, are kind of shit when it comes to providing good bun:burger ratio (I still stand by Pink Bike's daily soups as the most under-appreciated in the city though). Bin 4 consistently pumps out tasty burgers. Do they provoke wild excitation? No, but they satisfy more than 80-90% of the other burgers available in town.

So what's in my top 3?

1. Love Perogy
2. Love Perogy
3. Love Perogy

The Love Perogy is the only spot in town that serves up anything that even remotely resembles an authentic slider. In a sea of pretenders, they are the real deal. Aside from maybe Refiner Diner, which is still good even if the patties seem drier now than when the truck first opened, LP makes the only burgers in the CRD that I feel like eating every week. Bin 4, Pink Bike and Bigwheel are simulacras of burger culture. The Love Perogy IS burger culture.

And that's all I have to say about that.