Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Uli’s Restaurant White Rock. BC. Canada

Paula is our guest reviewer today. It’s always nice to have guests and to get a new perspective on my burger ratings system. Not that I really have a burger rating system, per say, it’s pretty much totally subjective on how I feel that day. On the other hand, I know what I like and what I don’t like and regular readers to the Handsome Burger Blog will definitely pick up on my likes, dislikes and little quirks.

Today we find ourselves at Uli's Restaurant on Marine drive in White Rock. Marine drive in White Rock is a restaurant strip, extraordinaire, packed with tourists in the summer but depressingly vacant this time of year. Still a great view, albeit pouring down rain, looking over the bay at the Washington coast in the distance. Hello America.

Surrey Now picked Uli's as the best burger in the Faser Valley. Is it worthy? Paula and I are here to find out. We both had the Uli Burger ~ challah bun, burnt onion relish, smoked cheddar, I added pancetta, Paula added back bacon. Just a note, the description of the Uli Burger in Surrey Now is quite different to the burgers we were served.

The patty is 7 ounces of dry aged beef, hand made in house, nice and thick. The patty is tasty but could use a little something something and it also could have been just a bit pinker in the middle. Nit picky perhaps, but both Paula and I thought it was missing some unidentifiable ingredient. Just a little something to give it that added zing. I’m going on a limb to suggest that it probably just needed a bit more salt.

Paula thought the whole was too big, something about the burger hitting her in the nose because of its enormous size (the burger not her nose). And on that tangent nobody has ever accused me of having a small shnoz and I didn't have a collision problem, so take that for whatever its worth. Plus a big burger is almost never a bad thing.

Other considerations: great challah bun, not enough aoli and subsequently not enough drippy goodness falling from the burger when you bite into it.

I haven't had a better burger in the Fraser Valley so I suppose that for the time being I must concur with Surrey Now, Uli's is indeed the best burger in the Frazer Valley. But as usual, more research will definitely be required to substantiate this claim in the future.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Simon Holt. Nanaimo. BC Canada

Nanaimo, you have a winner.

The kick Ass Burger at Simon Holt, stacked high with barbeque pulled pork, crispy bacon, aged white cheddar and chipotle aioli.


But first let me bitch a little. I'm not a fan of the open face burger display/concept or whatever its called. The skeptical bastard in me can't help thinking that the restaurant is just trying to fill up the plate, less fries, ha.
And it's not that I'm lazy as an objection to personally having to take the cold side of the dastardly presentation with the tomatoes and pickles and lettuce and place it on the hot side of the burger. But really can the kitchen not do this? I thing the burger cools off too quickly leaving it open face, plus I like a the juice to meld a bit, get acquainted so to speak. Anyone remember the failed McDLT experience? Get over it, just put the damn burger together for me please. Now, the reason I'm on this tangent is that Simon Holts takes this lunacy one step further. Granted they put the bun on the burger, but they put all of the veg, the pickles, the onions, the tomatoes and the lettuce on the plate next to the burger. Really? What the hell is up with that? Now I have to take my burger apart and rebuild it myself? I'm sure someone is already working on the de-constructed burger concept. "We bring you all the pieces of a burger, separately, on the plate and you put it together".

Luckily for Simon Holt they make, with my assistance at the table, a pretty damn outstanding burger.

This Kick Ass Burger is combination of two favorites, burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. To be fair, I think the burger is more about the pulled pork then the beef. I would love to see this burger with a bit of slaw instead of the regular tomatoes pickles and lettuce; that would be out of bounds. Just put the slaw in the burger not the plate ;)
Everything works here; the bun, perfectly chewy and soft. Mega juicy interior, drippings galore.
I've never heard of Simon Holt before a friend recommended it to me for the burgers. I don't think it’s a chain but it certainly looks to me like a chain wanna be. Which, if they keep the quality of the burgers up wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mrs Riches. Nanaimo BC Canada

After many many mediocre, read crappy burgers in Nanaimo, I've been referred to Mrs. Riches by some of my local friends. I'm told it's the best burger in Nanaimo, a claim by the way that is also confirmed on the Mrs Riches menu. They don’t reference the best burger claim, I guess its like all of those best pizza joints you see around town. I'm also worried because this is the place of the K2 mountain burger a 2 pound behemoth that is just waiting to be featured on Man v food.

I'm not even temped. I don't need my Polaroid on the wall of fame. I'm worried because I'm thinking this place is all about quantity over quality. If your claim to fame is the monster burger how much attention are you going to give the lonely sautéed onion bacon cheeseburger, a mere 6 once patty.

My first impression, really good. This is a nice looking burger even with the Costco fries ruining the frame. The taste, well, let's call this the coulda burger. The onions coulda been juicier and better sautéed. The onion rings coulda made an impact. (I didn't even taste them) The cheese coulda been melted (shredded yet not melted- I hate that). The patty coulda been juicier and bigger, you really have to go with 8 once for a burger this size. The bun coulda been fresher (it broke up and crumbled while eating). There you have it the coulda burger. And yet this coulda burger was still pretty good above average 8/10. Not bad for Nanaimo.

Is it the best burger in Nanaimo? I'm not so sure or at least I hope not. Readers please let me know.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just Jakes. Duncan BC Canada

Downtown Duncan on a cold December night is a scene right out of Norman Rockwell, 1950's small town America. Love it.

Duncan gets a lot flack for its image as a mill town, strip mall dive. Did you know about the small old town charm? The uniqueness of the small shops and the family businesses and the hometown feeling that sadly doesn't exist in many places anymore. Maybe it’s the Christmas lights or the decorations, no matter, I am now officially full into the Christmas spirit. And if you are like me and work too much and can't even think of Christmas before say the 24th of December, head for Duncan and get into the spirit.

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Nice old town but it’s also nice to see local restaurants stepping up and setting up modern trendy eateries.

Just Jakes is the restaurant side of a brew pub experience. The place is trendy, it wouldn't be out of place in any major city.

Nice atmosphere and happily nice burgers.

I had the CRAIG STREET BURGER Topped with crispy fried onion rings, aged white cheddar, lettuce and tomato on a chipotle aioli dressed Kaiser

A solid 8/10. Great flavor from the home made patty, smokiness from the jalapeño sauce. The onion rings tasted good and crispy on their own but in the burger they just sort of get lost. This was the case with my last couple of burgers with onion rings. I have yet to find a burger were the onion rings stay crispy. Obviously more investigation is required. When I have issues with burgers most often than not it’s about the bun and unfortunately here it’s the same beef, a not so fresh, whole wheat Kaiser Bun. I don't know which to bitch about more the fact that the bun could have been fresher or that it was whole wheat. Regular readers of handsome burger know my thoughts on whole wheat buns. Burgers are not and should not be light, diet, fat reduced or have a whole wheat bun. What's the point?

And one other nit picky thing that applies to other establishments as well: When you serve breaded fries it just makes people think they are eating at Costco or KFC. Just saying!

But that's just me. Still a pretty good burger all and all and a really nice home brewed beer.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Earls. Port Coquitlam BC Canada

Earls has, for the time being, redeemed themselves. The last burger I had at Earls in Chilliwack was a terrible disappointment. This is a major turn around.

The Bronx Burger (I didn’t know the Bronx was famous for their burgers?) is a half pound patty, 3 beer battered onion rings stacked high, roasted garlic aioli, red pepper relish, aged white cheddar, rocket and the bun made fresh from scratch everyday.

This is a solid 8.5/10 burger. How could it not be? Bake your own bread everyday, most outstanding. And the bun was just the right size for the 8 ounce patty which was perfectly chard on the outside, semi perfect on the inside and had great flavour. The standout for me was the addition of the rocket. It added a nice bitter component to the combined symphony of flavours from all of the other ingredients.

Surprisingly, you would think that the beer battered onion rings would add some crunchy texture to the party but they turned mushy and greasy. This part of the burger needs a rethink.

Earls is batting 500, lets see what the next one has to offer. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

FatBurger Burnaby BC Canada

Fatburgers has been popping up all over the lower mainland. I’ve been avoiding going. I’m pretty sure I know what to expect.

I was correct and I was pleasantly surprised. FatBurger describes itself as “the last great hamburger stand”. Yes this is very burger shack burger like, although it also sort of startles the line between shacky fast food and a gourmet burger. The “stand” has been modernised and licensed the burger is kicked up to a fresh AAA Alberta beef, yet that fast foodish taste lingers. It reminds me of a Red Robin or Five Guys burger. I had the King Cheesburger with bacon, fast foodish yes, fresh yes and still a respectable 8/10. I can not deny that Fatburger makes a pretty darn tasty burger.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Gillnetter Pub. Coquitlam BC Canada

My buddy’s b-day. He's in denial. Yes we are all getting old. It’s nothing that a couple....or more tequila shooters won't temporarily cure.

So here we are at the Gillnetter Pub. Home of the Pitt burger a 6oz charbroiled prime rib patty, topped with Cheddar,cheese & bacon, served with mayo and our special sauce.

They almost named this burger correctly...except drop the p and add sh and you've got yourself a pretty good description of the burger. Perhaps the worst burger I've had this year. I'm not even going to rate this thing. On the surface it looks ok, a standard pub burger, the patty is frozen but everything else looks good. And then you pick it up and try and eat it. The ciabatta bun was so old and so hard I couldn't even bite through the burger. This is brutal. They might just as well have used a couple of thick pieces of corrugated cardboard.

Pass me the tequila shot.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Minnoz Restaurant, Nanaimo BC Canada

This was a nice surprise. I almost didn’t order the burger. I’ve had a number of mediocre to bad meals at Minnoz in the past, but it was pissing rain outside it looked miserable and I just didn’t feel like going anywhere. Once again stuck in the hotel restaurant.

The menu says fresh homemade patty but the server told me it was frozen. That’s why I almost didn’t order the burger. I ordered reluctantly and excepted the average generic crap to arrive. I was wrong. This burger, frozen patty and all was very very good. Out of good conscience I can not possibly rate any burger over a 7.5/10 if the patty is frozen no matter how good it its. And this one was good, so much potential. This could easily have been a 9, instead a 7.5 dressed as a nine. (My apologies to Trooper).

Fantastic soft pretzel bun (the menu said Kaiser), the onions and the bacon melded beautifully, great flavours great juices, and then, unfortunately, the rubber, tasteless, salty burger product for a patty. Uhg, so close.

It’s a sad fact but this frozen pseudo burger is the best burger I’ve had in Nanaimo. Really? Can someone please point me in the right direction? Nanaimo deserves better.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Moderne Burger, Vancouver BC Canada

Moderne Burger is often mentioned as one of Vancouver’s best burger establishments. It’s taken me a while but I finally had a chance to check them out. I really like the feel of this place, simple art deco interior, muted pastels, stainless steel, and sort of a dinner-esc look. Super clean, this place is the antithesis of Burger Heaven in New Westminster. Not to be mean to Burger Heaven because their burgers are quite good and sometimes the best places are the dive hole in the wall, but there is just something sterile about Moderne Burger.

I had the cheddar, bacon and grilled onion burger. It was fantastic 9/10. Great flavour and most certainly the drippiest burger I’ve had in a long time a 5 napkiner, most outstanding. Nice touch on the black olive toothpick on top of the burger. It’s funny how little touches like that elevate things to a whole different level. It’s a garnish, I know, but to me it shows they care. Although, if they really really cared they would get a liquor licence and serve great tap beer. The cherry coke was nice but a beer with this burger would be super nice and probably elevate the burger to a 10/10. Yes, my ratings can be influenced with alcohol.

And by the way, this little strip along Broadway and Trafalgar is the winner of best burger by density in Vancouver, from east to west, Moderne Burger, DB Bistro and right across Trafalgar the Sunshine Diner. Great burgers at all locations, check them out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Acme Food Company. Nanaimo, BC, Canada

There is something about a cool neon sign. I don’t know why but for some reason a neon sign makes restaurants more appealing. I haven’t conducted a scientific trial but I can guess with some certainly that if there were two restaurants side by side, both serving similar fair and looking pretty much the same on the inside with the only difference being one catchy neon sign, the one with the neon sign wins. Neon sign equals huge eat here restaurant magnet but for me the name, ACME, also draws me in given that childhood memoires of Will E Coyote still bring a smile to may face.

Were the hell is everyone? Perhaps I’ve made a mistake? Midweek 6:30 PM, it should be the dinner rush or so you would think and there is no one in the restaurant. Bad sign! Well, good sign on the outside, bad sign on the inside. What the hell, looks like a nice place, even empty. Plus, look around; there are a whole bunch of framed award certificates attesting to the quality of the restaurant. My favourite: “Best Place to Socialize” in Nanaimo. I wonder who won? Maybe they trade of nights? Maybe everyone’s hanging out with the winner tonight?

Tonight I will be socializing with my burger. I had the bacon cheddar and sautéed onion burger. Pretty good a solid 7/10, a passable restaurant burger from an establishment that obviously doesn’t really care about making awesome food. Enough said. If the neon ever draws me back in the future I’ll order something besides the burger. I’ll need to call ahead make a reservation to avoid disappointment.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Burger Heaven, New Westminster, BC Canada

The vine covered patio in the front speaks volumes. I’m fairly certain that in a previous incarnation the building that houses Burger Heaven used to be a tacky Greek Restaurant. The restaurant can be comfortably filled under “Dive” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just ask my good friend Guy Fieri of Food Networks, “Dinners Drive-ins and Dives”. The place is a throw back, pre 50’s wooden construction, dingy, dark interior. The walls are plastered with snapshots of clientele enjoying their burgers. Newspaper reviews and reward certificates also compete for wall space. I have to agree with the awards, Burger Heaven makes a pretty dam good burger, although I stayed away for the 10 stacker, something called Ernie’s Mile High, this baby has it all!! Two and a half pounds of meat, 8 patties high topped with THE WORKS! Cheddar, mozzarella, mushrooms, bacon and our special sauce.

I had the BBQ Bacon Cheese Burger a solid 8/10. Everything in this burger works together to a better than the sum of its parts type of thing. The soft white Keizer bun was supremely good and the BBQ sauce added a smoky sweet something something. The weakest link in the burger was the patty itself, thin and overcooked. Everything else stepped up to the plate and made up for the patty but just imagine if the patty was a perfectly grilled pink in the middle 8 plus ounces of triple A certified Canadian beef! This is just my humble advice, free of charge. Maybe I should become a burger consultant, hmm.

This little burger dive, at the foot of 10th St in New Westminster, makes a really good burger, definitely check them out.

The Bard and Banker. Victoria BC Canada

Its 7 PM, I’m hungry and walking aimlessly through downtown Victoria. The Pig BBQ Joint closed at 6:30PM. What the? I’ve heard many good things about the Pig and I was looking forward to some BBQ or perhaps one of their elusive burgers. Now I’m in a funk. Where to eat? Victoria, being a tourist type town has no shortage of crappy restaurants. Every chain you can think of is here, Milestones, Earls, Browns, Cactus Club. No, not tonight, I’m going to take a risk on the unknown. Tonight it’s the Bard and the Banker an upscale Scottish Pub on Government St. that screams tourist. What the heck, I’m in Victoria on business so technically speaking; I suppose I’m a tourist as well.

The bard is a great looking bar, multileveled, terraced layout and it boasts a huge tap beer selection. I’m always amazed at places like this. The amount of investment that must have gone into this place, not to mention the overhead and the revenue required to keep this place open. Now, does the food match up?

I sat at the bar ordered a beer and a lamb burger. I was told by the bartender that the lamb burger is the house specialty, the thing on the menu that they are known for. It turns out this is a very average burger. Maybe they are known for being average? Who knows? Everything was tasty just nothing too special, accept perhaps the arugula which added a nice tasty bit of bitter extra something something. This is all a bit disappointing if you believe the menu claims….

“Our food is made fresh daily using many local and seasonal products. As often as possible, our produce, meat, poultry and fish come from farms and fisheries guided by principles of sustainability”.

But the bar has a nice feel and I would definitely be back for a drink. Maybe next time I’ll order the wings. The people next to me at the bar had the wings and during idle bar chit chat asked me how my burger was. I told them it was “OK, just kinda average”. They shook their heads in agreement, leading me to believe that they nod with experience. I was indeed advised by this group to go with the wings next time because “It’s really hard to screw up wings”. What an endorsement! Ok, so next time it’s definitely wings even though in the back of my mind I’m thinking “I’ve had screwed up wings before”.

Screw it, live dangerously.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taylor’s Crossing North Vancouver BC Canada

Is the humble hamburger the litmus test for food quality at that particular restaurant or pub? I mean, if you can't make a decent burger can you do anything else right?

I had a burger at Taylor’s Crossing a popular pub-restaurant in North Vancouver. Taylors is part of the Mark James group which owns and operates a number of well known pub-restaurants throughout Vancouver; the YaleTown Brewing Company, the Brewhouse Whistler, the Big Ridge in Surrey and the Flying Beaver in Richmond.

My burger at Taylor’s sucked. No question, less then a 3/10 and that's being kind.

I had the Jalapeño Lamb Beer-ger a 10 oz patty topped with feta and tzatziki. Sounds good, but the 10 oz patty was more like a flat lamb meatball, all kinds of filler, I couldn't even taste the lamb. The jalapenos overpowered everything. The bun was hard and crumbly. They either forgot the tzatziki or applied such a thin layer that it was totally unperceivable.

I shake my head in shame for the kitchen and for myself for ordering this thing. I had a burger at Taylor’s a few years ago and I remember it not being very good, nice to see that they are still serving crap.

Now back to my original question. Does this hamburger scare me away from ever dining here or at any one of their other establishments in the future? Ya I think it does....sort of. I wouldn't go to Taylor’s for dinner but to be fair, I've read great things about the YaleTown Brewpubs chicken wings and I have had dinner at the Brewhouse in Whistler and it was OK. As great of an endorsement as OK is, I didn't actually have a burger, if memory serves I had the ribs, like I said OK. To be fair to the Mark James Group, I think I must do some more research, even if it means more crap burgers coming my way in the future. What I won't do for journalism. I'll let you know what develops but I’d definitely recommend staying away from the burgers at Taylor’s Crossing.

In case you are wondering why I gave this brutal burger a 3/10? They make really good beer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Romer's Burger Bar. Vancouver BC Canada

My tip to check out Romer’s came from the Edible Vancouver Blog. Please read the review; I will be referencing the article.

In the review, seems like Debbra from Edible Vancouver loved the food but was a bit ticked off by some of the menu claims and the restaurant staffs general lack of knowledge about these claims and then further exacerbated by the delay from the restaurant in getting back to her and her questions.

In the comments section I see Jim Romer finally got back to Debbra about the source of their meats. She still seams a bit cranky though. To be fair, I would have been cranky myself, I like when restaurants can back up their claims. When I went in today and asked about the meat, just out of curiosity ;) I was given a glossy marketing piece from Heritage Farms Angus Beef. I’m always a bit sceptical by glossy marketing pieces but if you believe even a fraction of the stuff in the brochure, Heritage Farms is definitely a company to support.

By the way I can definitely vouch for Coiffi's on Hastings in North Burnaby. That’s my hood and I’m in that shop or shops, don’t get me started about their two locations two doors apart, at least once a week. The quality of their meats is extraordinary .

So Heritage Farms does exist and I have to tell you their beef tasted great. I had the  RIGHTEOUS RIB BURGER

All-natural beef, thick-sliced applewood bacon, braised short ribs, sweet onions, Gorgonzola garlic sauce, fresh thyme leaves

A solid 9/10. From the beef end, the flavour of the patty was tremendous and a fantastic burger all the way around. I look forward to tasting all their other burger creations. So, why not a 10/10? Even though the whole burger came together well and the flavours were wonderful there were a few nit picky things that could have improved the burger.

The beef together with the bacon, short ribs and onions come together in a savoury choir but either the gorgonzola was tasteless or too subtle. I didn’t even taste it. I didn’t even know it was there. But then, I suppose, all the other ingredients made up for lack of sauce.

The bun, beautiful brioche, tasted great, held up to the burger well but it was too big. Either make the patty bigger or decrease the size of the bun. Just up the street at Refuel is an excellent example of the burger with the perfect meat to bun ratio and a 10/10 burger to boot.

Debbra liked the yam fries, I ordered the regular fries with truffle oil. Outstanding, in fact, now that I think about it, I’m increasing my rating by half a point to 9.5/10 just for the truffle oil. Think about this for a second, who has truffle oil as an option for their fries? It’s little touches like this that get me all excited about good restaurants. As soon as I tell my friend Wei that Romber’s has truffle oil for their fries she will be driving in from Richmond immediately. And, I’ll join her there for another burger. I really like this place, you should check it out.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Splitz Grill Vancouver, BC Canada

I'm going to have to give Splitz Grill an absolute WOW. I've been meaning to try Splitz Grill for sometime now. This place is constantly being mentioned as one of Vancouver’s best. What the hell took me so long and I totally concur.

If you are looking at opening a burger joint take note. This place has thought this shit through. They do burgers, and a few other thinks like dogs, but generally burgers and they set up the place with that single objective in mind. From ordering to building the burger to seating it all screams casual burger joint. They use a backward Subway (the sandwich place) ordering system. Order your burger and extras like patty, cheese, bacon, fries and drinks then pay, then slide on over to the burger building area. Here instruct your burger artist (sorry I couldn’t resist) to build your burger your way with your choice of condiments.

Baba ganoush, are you kidding me, who has baba galosh as a condiment? How about one that serves a totally perfect local Salt Spring Island lamb burger. Along with the baba ganoush I added grilled onions, tomatoes pickles mayo. I got totally excited and missed the tzatziki. That would have gone great with the lamb. This burger came together with great flavour. Everything melted together perfectly. The lamb patty was pink perfection the grilled onions and eggplant added just the right amount of sweetness. This is a memorable burger a 10/10 for sure. I don’t think it gets any better then this. Maybe different but not better. Next time I might have to add some mustard and tzatziki, even a 10/10 can be improved upon.

I have to mention the fries, home cut, dark, crispy, glistening hot straight out of the fat and totally addictive. I couldn't stop eating them. In think I polished off three quarters of them before I even touched my burger.

You get the idea, I like this place.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bridge Bar and Eatery. Heathrow Airport Terminal 1 London England

The menu says "made from the finest beef". Really? An airport burger made from the finest beef? Is that even possible? I supposed they couldn't call it the "finest mad cow burger". I asked the waitress what this "finest meat" thing means and I got this kind of dull silence and a look that tells me that she thinks I'm an idiot. I will go on a limb and guess she knows very little of this "finest beef" claim, although she does tell me that it is indeed a fresh patty, not frozen. A "finest beef" burger it is, with cheese and bacon.

I'm tired and hungry; I’ve been on 2 planes and on the go for 9 hrs, a 6 hr lay over here and then a 10 hr flight home. If there was ever a need for a good burger, this is it. Luckily this is not a bad burger at all, a solid 6.5/10. The patty indeed looked like it could be fresh, nice and thick, though expectantly overcooked and low on the flavour scale. (You wouldn't want to give someone e-Coli at an international airport).
Better be tasteless then to cause an international incident. English bacon means back-bacon, nice change from the North American version. Also a nice touch was having Coleman’s Hot English mustard at the table to add a bit of heat. The only  spotty thing on this burger was the bun, a white chemically mess with something akin to a powdered flour dusting. God, I hate airports but if you are at Heathrow Terminal 1 and want a decent burger check out Bridge, the whole burger wasn't bad, or maybe I was just tired but I think you could definitely do worst.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Anthony Bourdain and a Name Change

For all of you burger lovers out there, I urge you to read chapter 9, titled "Meat", in Anthony Bourdain's new book Medium Raw.

It starts off with:

I believe that the great American Hamburger is a thing of beauty, it's simple noble charms, pristine. The basic recipe - ground beef, salt and pepper, formed into a patty, grilled or seared on a griddle, then nestled between two half's of a bun, usually but necessarily accompanied by lettuce, a tomato slice, and some ketchup - is, to my mind, un-improvable by man or God.

From there, the shit hits the pan, literally. Tony writes about the constant risk of E-Coli contamination. The way in which the multi national food industry, in an effort to make ever increasing profits produces ever increasing crap in place of food, bleached meat anyone? It's disgusting and while on the topic please read:

Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser and Ominivors Delema. Micheal Pollan.

This is my sermon; the modern industrial food complex shamelessly abuses animals, constantly poisons the public and reaps profits on the backs of uninformed manipulated consumers. Cargil is the largest privately held company in the America, $116 billion in yearly revenue, would it be too much to ask Cargil and companies like them to have some honour, to have some soul, to show some honesty in what they do.

And yet here I am writing a burger blog and there is my dilemma. I like food, I like to eat, I like to eat meat and I like burgers. Becoming a vegetarian myself is outside the realm of possibility, My DNA is too strongly coded to the taste of meat. I agree with Tony and Micheal Pollan, there are options. There are ethical ways to treat animals, before you of course kill them, but there are ethical ways to kill as well. Don’t get me started on shooting cows full of hormones and antibiotics. Antibiotics required by the way to protect cows from disease caused by the way they are being treated. This is kind of like beating someone over the head with a baseball bat and then offering them a Tylenol.

So what do I do? I stop eating burgers from places that can not guarantee that their meat was fresh ground, preferably on premises, preferably natural. I do not trust frozen, even organic frozen. Guess who owns all the big name organic labels out there? Yup, the same ones that feed us other crap. I'm not entirely sure, but pretty sure that as my good friend Bill once wrote: a rose by any other name is still a rose. In this case, organic or not it's still shit.

From now on, no more crap burgers, I’ll try, and by try I mean I may like any addict slip up once in awhile, but I will try to focus exclusively on places that source their meat from small local producers that treat their animals and their livelihood with honour.

I will be changing the name of my blog. A couple of reasons; One, few people are able to figure out what 2abpsslcpooassb means. So just for the record, it’s a burger blog people, remember the Big Mac….that’s as close as I get to spilling the beans. Anyway, given my born again beef outlook, the association with MD’s has to end.

And BTW Chapter 10 is pretty funny as well, it's about Tony's daughter and MD.

So the new name, for the millions of you out there following this blog (anonymously) is:

“Handsome Burger”.

Why Handsome burger? I don’t know. I kink of like the way it sounds.

Set our browsers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cevapi. Split Croatia

People are giving me strange looks. Who the hell is this idiot taking a picture of a half eaten cevapi sandwich? I’m standing on the Riva in Split Croatia, facing Diocletian’s, Palace, holding a cevapi sandwich (let's call it a Croatian burger) with one hand, up high, with the other trying to frame a photo with my camera. This is more difficult then you might think. I can't get the camera to focus on both the cevapi and the palace at the same time. Oh well, I'll post two photos and between the two you get the idea.


Although not technically a burger, it sort of looks like one and it's easy to call this a Croatian burger. Cevapi are small sausage shaped, kabab like, mixtures of ground meat, usually a mixture of beef pork and or lamb and spices but depending on who's making it the ratios can vary and of course the taste. The cevapi are served in a "ljepina' which is pretty much a giant burger bun, but in terms of flavour sort of a cross between your typical bun and a chewy ciabatta bun like texture with some sour dough thrown in. Normally, I'd be screaming about too much bun smothering the flavour of the burger but in this case it works, there is a lot of flavour in this thing. Traditionally served with onions and ajvar (a local condiment, red pepper spread) this is a classic. Huge flavour from the little cevapi smothered in a smooth red pepper sauce and the crunch and sweetness of the onions wow. You can grab a cevapi sandwich at many of the small takeout windows dotted around the Split Riva or almost anywhere in Croatia.

This is my first meal in Croatia this year. Ah, it's good to be back.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mandalay Bay Steakhouse, Richmond BC Canada

Mandalay Bay Steakhouse

Just another burger with a view. And not a bad view at that, sunny day sitting on the deck enjoying lunch with a view and a burger. In this case an Angus Beef Prime Rib Burger, 8oz , lettuce, guiness cheddar cheese tomatoes, onions and mayo. A pretty good burger but not as nice as the view. Lets call this one a respectable 7/10 with room for improvement.

First off, get rid of the giant generic Safeway style kaiser bun. I don't care if it's a massive 8 once patty the bun is way too big and smothers everything. As my good friend Tom Arnold said when discussing his ex-wife Rosanne; "Even a 747 looks small flying into the grand canon". You get the idea.

And please please please, major pet peeve, do not overcook the patty!

Everything else was pretty good. No major complaints. Nice upscale eatery.

Nice touch on the half potato and half sweet potato fries.

Pick a nice sunny day to head out to Steveston, sit on the patio and have a burger. All in all a nice way to spend lunch. Only problem is dragging my ass away from the patio and back to work.

Monday, July 26, 2010

City Square Grill. Duncan BC Canada

I never thought I would be reviewing a burger in Duncan, but here I am, out for lunch with customers from work. It’s always nice to go out with locals who usually recommend a great place I would never find on my own. This time it was the City Square Grill, a nice cozy modern restaurant in the heart of Duncan BC. The menu looks like it has an Indo Canadian fusion thing going on. A couple dining companions order great looking grilled seafood salads and loved them. One ordered the fish burger. It looked good; she gave it an 8/10. I of course ordered the regular burger. Or in this case the City Square Grill Burger (Half Pound Sirloin) with Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Cheddar Cheese. Everybody always gets totally confused when my burger comes to the table and I take my camera out to take pictures. Weird stares for sure until everyone learns I have a burger blog and then the conversation becomes quite animated. Everyone offers their suggestions and the table volume level increases to an excited buzz. Nice.

The burger was pretty good, a solid 7/10. But truthfully, I’m really starting to get tired of the “pretty good” burger. I find that at a lot of places this is what you get. The burger looks good, has all of the right fresh ingredients and yet…something is missing. A good 8 oz sized sirloin; hand packed in house and then thoroughly overcooked. So much potential, it’s a shame really.

A day old bun, even toasted makes a big difference in taste. Toasting doesn’t help; the only thing that happens is the burger disintegrates in your hands.

No juice. How does this happen? Great ingredients and a dry burger. Mindboggling.
In the end, the burger is edible, decent even, but there is just a little something something missing.

Just goes to show that making a truly outstanding burger is not easy. Those that do, my hats off to them. Those that don’t please take a step back take an honest assessment of your offerings, figure out the details and keep on trying. I’ll keep on eating. Although next time at City Square I might try something else.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nourish Garden Cafe at Glendale Gardens. Victoria. BC Canada

After a stellar recommendation from Vicburger for Pink Bicycle, my new favourite burger place in Victoria, keeping in mind, favourites tend to change quickly but at least for now.

I once again took their recommendation and visited Glendale Gardens. What I experienced was totally unexpected. Straight off, I do not like this burger. It was just weird. The best way to describe their burger is like going to a "foodie" friends place for dinner and having them try to impress you with a totally "out of the box thinking burger".

The bun, ciabatta, sort of? It had a cornbread like texture, the bottom layer was soggy. The patty, OK so the patty is from Quist Farms, a local natural hormone free meet producer, good, but it also had a weird texture and colour. It looks like they added some sort of filler which I couldn't identify. I had a few bites of just the patty, since my bun disintegrated anyway, and it was quite tasteless. "More filla no thrilla" Sorry but as you can tell not my favourite thing. I did like the way the burger was barbequed on an outdoor grill accessed through the kitchen window. Like a said more like a burger you would get at wanna be chef friends place. To be fair I think this burger would go over big with a certain crowd. Maybe the grey-haired set, I don't know? I know I didn't like it, maybe a 3/10 maybe lower?

Don’t let me dissuade you, go and let me know what you think. This burger is unique and you might like it. The owner and operator seemed nice and genuine; let me know if it is worth a second look. I'd like to support this place, but for now sadly no.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Pink Bicycle Gourmet Burger jont

I love The Pick Bicycle. Thank you to VicBurger and friends in Victoria for recommending this place. This is a small, homey, downtown joint specializing in phenomenal burgers. This is my new favourite burger place in Victoria. Until of course, the next favourite comes around.

How can you not like this:
Experiece burgers on a whole new level.
All ingredients are sourced as close to home as seasonally possible to ensure freshness and to encourage sustainability. Local organic meats such as organic Island Bison and Seabluff farms organic lamb and mutton are featured. All dishes hand made daily and all oils used are top quality and trans fat free to ensure taste and health. Soups are made daily from ingredients sourced from local farms.

We care about our local food producers and your health!

I had the Metchosin Mutton, Sea Bluff Farm’s naturally raised mutton lightly seasoned and topped with Little Qualicum Gruyere & lime mayo. I added the sautéed leaks.
As I was eating this burger, all I could think of was wow. I don’t think that you can make a better burger. Seriously, there is nothing you can do to improve this burger. Everything comes together perfectly. 10/10 Wow. Feed yourself, feed your soul. Definitely check this place out in Victoria.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Skol Pub. Gabriola Island, Canada

The Viking burger, a double slab monster, bacon, cheese, sautéed mushrooms, more raw onions (nice touch), pickles tomatoes, lettuce and a mayo dressing.

I'm going to call this the "so close yet so far burger"

Here's the thing; Replace the whole wheat bun with a nice white toasted sesame seed bun. Are you kidding me? This burger has enough cholesterol to kill a white lab mouse instantly dead and it comes with a whole wheat bun. I shake my head.

Take the two tasteless salty pieces of previously frozen meat like product and replace it with a nice 8 oz, fresh natural ground, cooked to a perfect pink centre. Then put it all together, forget this open faced presentation stuff. Wrap the burger in a burger diaper and bingo an instant winner. The Viking burger could be close to a 10 but sadly currently a 6/10. Once again a very mediocre burger while waiting on a ferry.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Earls Chilliwack. BC Canada

I’ve had many many burgers at Earls. Function of work mostly. Earls is generally a good place to meet clients and colleagues for lunch. And usually the burgers are pretty good, somewhere between 7 or 8 out of 10 on a consistent basis. So it was very disappointing to have the worst Earls burger of all time at their Chilliwack location. The bun is of huge importance in the overall burger picture. So when the bun is old and crumbly and you can’t eat the burger because its disintegrating in your hands, no matter how good everything inside is, it’s just game over for me. I’m a bit of a fresh bread nut. In this case on top of the crap bun, the burger was way too salty. I spent the next 4 hours licking my lips and downing Dosani. 5.5/10 this time around, sad sad sad. The sadder thing still, I’ll be having many more Earls burgers in the future.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Five Guys Burger and Fries West Vancouver. Canada

Five Guys Burger and Fries is widely advertized as president Obama's favorite burger joint. CSpan did a piece on him visiting the outlet in Washington DC with secret service in tow. I imagine not too many of the chains customers usually arrive in a limo.

Started by 5 brothers in the 80's, five guys now boasts over 1500 locations. I guess they've finally made it to Canada. Is it just me or are there just a slew of chain burger places popping up everywhere? By the way I still haven’t had a Fatburger. Am I missing anything?

Five guys makes a pretty good burger. Everything on the burger is fresh. The patties are small (3.5 oz) so naturally you have to go with the double burger. Rule of thumb, anything under 6 oz and its an automatic double. I find the meat gets lost otherwise.

I’ll give it an 8/10 for this burger. There was lots of plastic cheese. I added what turned out to be glow in the dark green jalapeño peppers. The sign over the grill said: “We cook our meat juicy and well done”. How the hell does that work? One of my patties had a bit of pink in the middle and that's how I prefer my burger medium and juicy. But I guess with all the mustard, mayo and plastic cheese there is some juice.

I'm not going to slag Five Guys too much, after all this was a good burger, but the place still feels fast food like.

The fries were great, fresh cut, specially grown for the chain. They remind me of New York Fries outlets, just a bit thicker but with that same meaty potato and heavy dark tasting skin.

I'll be back when I'm in in a hurry and want a quick good burger.