Friday, June 24, 2011

Pink in the Middle

I like my burgers pink in the middle. People think I'm crazy. I'm sure to be infected with E-Coli and die an agonizingly slow and painful death. At restaurants when I ask for a medium rare burger I often get a pained expression and, in Canada anyway, the standard reply, "sorry but it is illegal to serve burgers medium rare. We have to cook the burgers through and well done". They tend to leave out the obvious, "sorry your burger is required to be dry, tasteless and crappy".

What restaurants are really saying and what they are really worried about is that they don't trust their ground beef source. I can't say I blame them, with the size and scope and questionable practices of the industrial meat industry it's hard to trust the quality of commercially produced ground beef.

Here's a novel idea: grind your own meat! Is there a kitchen and facilities in this restaurant?

I have long suspected that there is no such law. Just think about it for a second, it's illegal to serve a burger medium rare but perfectly legal to serve beef tartar. Or perhaps beef Carpaccio anyone?

From a link on Vic Burger I came across this posting at Foodosophy. They argue that there is no law on the books preventing restaurants from serving medium rare burgers.

Alleluia! Vindication!

This is a food quality issue period. The article goes on to identify 3 Vancouver restaurants that grind their own meat and offer burgers medium rare:

Refeul Burger

1. Refuel

2. Hamilton Street Grill

3. La Brasserrie.

I can certainly attest to Refuel the burger flavour and quality is off the charts and is definitely one of my favourites in Vancouver for sure.

Guess were my next two Vancouver burgers, and subsequent posts, are coming from?

Stay tuned.

A special thanks to Vic Burgers and Foodosophy for the heads up.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Flying Canoe West Coast Pub, Courtenay, BC Canada

Maybe it was a latent sub conscious response to not being able to order the Bison burger during a recent trip to the Yukon that made me order the Bison Burger at the Flying Canoe West Coast Pub in Courtenay.

It also reads pretty good: Vancouver Island Bison Burger Hand formed spiced patty, Okanagan merlot cheddar, purple dijon mayo

So the hand made in house claim from the menu and enthusiastic "it's great" comment from the bars thespian/waitress sealed the deal.

BTW, whenever the server responds with a "it's great" to a question about something on the menu your next question to them should be" OK, what on your menu is crap"? The honest servers usually have an answer and should be trusted. The thespians get confused and tow the company line with "nothing everything is really good". These people should not be trusted, there is a high probability of a very mediocre burger (or anything else you've ordered for that matter) coming your way.

My server unfortunately falls in the latter category. Not that my "in house made Bison Burger" was bad. OK maybe it was a bit bad, a 5/10, a crumbly bunness of small non flavoured patty "greatness".

Ho hum, at least the Canucks won game 2.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Deck, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

Location: Whitehorse in the Yukon Territories. Objective: find a really good burger. My friends and I asked around town for the best burger and we were told enthusiastically that The Deck had a killer Bison burger. Right O, we are totally there because, first reaction, Bison sounds so Yukonish until you give it some thought and consider that Bison is probably not local, more of a plains/prairies like creature, we should be looking for Moose or Elk burgers instead. We fall for it anyway but as it turns out when we got to the Deck they are sold out of the Bison and we had to settle for a regular beef patty.

It's OK, it's a beautiful sunny evening sitting out on the deck with a local Bear beer draft and it's all good. (It's the end of May and 22° C up here. 17º in Vancouver...crap, who new you had to fly 2 hrs north to find descent spring weather)

This is burger 101, standard, bacon cheese and sautéed onions, stacked with fresh tomatoes, onions and pickles all enveloped into a soft and warm bun.

It was way over expectations, although nothing special ingredients wise everything came together beautifully for a solid 8.5 - 9/10. My friend Ron also had the burger and as guest reviewer concurred on the taste but wouldn't commit to an actual score. He did comment that he would have preferred more juice. As in juiciness. I can’t argue with that, more juice is always good.

Now Fran is another story, I post this picture of the vegetarian Portobello mushroom burger she had and raved about. A 10/10 she stated with great enthusiasm and then went on and on about how good it was. Sorry Fran, I'm sure it tasted great but no way that this thing is a burger. Where is the bun, the MEAT, the GREASE? You ate it with a knife a fork. I double dare you to try and pick that thing up hold it in your hands and eat it like a REAL burger. Menu marketing is a wonderful thing.

I'm sure I'll be hearing about this for sometime to come. Maybe we continue the debate next time on another patio somewhere with another beer another burger and another great evening.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Airport Chalet, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

A quick Google search of "the best burger in Whitehorse Yukon" comes up with The Airport Chalet as the first 7 choices. OK, so 4 of them are on trip adviser, the other 3 random ad sites. The Airport Chalet does not have their own website but trip adviser and yelp seem to think highly of this establishment.

Situated directly across for from the airport, surprise, The Airport Chalet is straight out of the 40's or 50's roadside hotel /diner. The sign reminds me of old Vegas before all the neon. Inside, it’s dark and dingy which is somewhat bewildering because it's sunny outside and there are big windows on the front of the restaurant. It seems that light is forbidden entry into this throwback tavern. The walls are covered in old wallpaper, muted pink flowers with pastel green stems. The height of fashion in the 40's, I think I saw Sarah Richardson on the Home and Garden Network, do a retro cottage in similar colours. A small but beautiful cowboy bar sits alone in the corner. I can imagine the beat up gold miners sitting have a whiskey and dreaming about riches to come.

The waitress calls me Hon and brings me a standard looking pub burger. The patty is homemade but needs some seasoning. Everything else is fresh tasty and perfectly average. This is a workmanlike burger, for the workman like local crowd.

At 6.5/10 it was ok an experience but I don't need to go back for the burger. I would however go back in a minute to sit at the bar and have a few drinks and soak up the local ambiance.