Monday, July 30, 2012

Vera's Burgers, YVR, Vancouver Airport Domestic Terminal C

In a previous post I trashed Monks Grill at YVR. Do not order their burger. By all means go, have a comfortable seat order a nice draft beer and when no one is looking bite into a Vera’s Burger that you’ve smuggled in from just down the concourse.

Killer airport burgers.
Killer burgers in general.
Vera’s is flush with awards in Vancouver for best burger. They do a great job. For me they straddle that fine line between fast food burgers and gourmet burgers. I have to tell them to lay off the ketchup next time. But I’ve got to hand it to them they do burgers well and not just well they offer a “natural beef” burger. This I find outstanding. I love having this choice. Now you really can't beat Vera's meat!

I vote Vera’s best at YVR.

Monk’s; just keep the beer cold.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Uli's Restaurant, White Rock

Back to Uli's Restaurant on Marine Drive in White Rock, the home of Surreys Best Burger, according to Surrey Now Newspaper. Me, I scratching my head a bit on this one.

On one hand, I personally have not had a better burger in the valley to date although to be fair my experience here is a bit limited. So ok, best burger for Surrey.

On the other hand, I’m not all that excited about their latest offering. I chose the Uli's burger 2.0.

It sounds great; 30 day aged sirloin, candied shallots, garlic aioli.

But then, so much potential leads to greater than usual disappointment. I ordered my burger medium rare (they actually allowed me to order it this way! Huge huge kudos).

And so this is where the excitement begins, the anticipation of a juicy flavorful burger. I was unfortunately let down when the burger arrived cooked through. Not a smign of pink in the middle.

I was deflated.

And once deflated it’s pretty much game over. A comeback unlikely.

The patty was somewhat juicy, somewhat tasty the bun somewhat hard and stale.

Let's call this the somewhat disappointment burger and give it a 6/10.

I must have been there on a bad day for the chef. The last burger I had at Uli’s was far better.

Good onion rings in case you're wondering.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ETap, a celebrity burger

Can you judge a chef by their burger?

If I owned a restaurant I'd ask all potential chef applicants to make me a burger. It seems simple. The burger is at its core a simple food, some ground meat, perhaps cheese, dressings and veggies.

Seems simple but in practice finesse is required to move the ingredients from individual solo performances to a choreographed culinary masterpiece.

So I'm always interested in trying a burger from a celebrity chef. Yes a burger is my rating system, screw the fancy shamncy stuff just show me your burger. Dale MacKay won top chef Canada and shortly thereafter opened the acclaimed Ensemble. I liked it, it was good, but I’m not going to go as far as Van Mags, Silver Medal, for best new Restaurants 2012.

Etap, Dales second opening, is a downscaled casual bar like eatery with burgers. OK, now we really have a test of his cooking chops.

The Verdict: Near perfect execution with no wow factor.

Perplexing I know, a burger well assembled with good ingredients and yet lacking that little something something that elevates good to extraordinary.

Don’t ask me how to improve this burger, I have no idea, everything is there but sadly it comes of as just good. I suppose it’s like the “IT” factor for actors, some just got “IT” and some just don’t.


Celebrity burgers in Vancouver:

Hawksworth: Van Mags Best New Restaurant of the Year. Better then good but not great.

Fennie, used to have the best burger in town at the old Fennies. Not so much at Cactus Club.

Daniel Boulud made such a good burger at DB Moderne Bistro that they had to close it down. Wasn’t Dale the chef there?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Monks Grill, Vancouver Airport, Domestic Departures

The best thing about the burger at Monks Grill, Vancouver Airport, Domestic Terminal, is the beer. Is it me or does beer taste better at airports?

The Whistler Whiskey Jack Ale really hit the spot. Or maybe the beer was just compensating for a very corporate cafeteria style burger, 4/10 at its best. Enough said except, BTW, who ever decided that incorporating dried sawdust tasting basal to a burger bun should reconsider their chose of careers.

I know what your saying; this is an airport right? What do you expect? Truth is, there are some really good eats at many airports out there. And why should we except crap? Walk down the concourse at YVR and Vera’s Burgers has a line of patrons ordering and the smell coming off the grill is enticing and I see people digging in to killer looking burgers. I’ve never had a burger from this location but if it’s anything like there other locations that’s a very good thing. The diners seemed enthralled. But they don’t serve beer! Crap. Maybe next time I can sneak a Vera’s burger into Monks Grill. Do you think they would mind? I don’t see why, its not like they can argue that they have a burger on the menu. What they may have is an unreasonable facsimile perhaps but certainly not a real burger.

I’ll be back for a beer.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Earls, Vernon BC

The Bronx Burger is on the "specials menu". Hmm, I had the Bronx Burger at Earls in Port Coquitlam Nov 2010. Really? Perhaps, it took a year and a half to make it out to Earls in Vernon?

Come on guys shake things up a bit. Does it take you a few years to invent a new burger?
It’s a good burger but come on.

I'm going with 8/10 but could have been more if I wasn't to bitter with lack of change and inspiration.

The fried onions added crunch, sometimes they just add grease. the red pepper relish was a nice juxtaposition (yup I said juxtaposition) to the bitterness of the arugula.

I have to give props to Earls I think they consistently out burger the competition in this dining space compared to, Milestones, Joeys and the Cactus Club.

As good as it was I'm not having another Bronx burger ever again. I'm holding out for Earl’s next burger creation. Why do I get the feeling that it’s going to be a long wait?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tableau Bar Bistro, Vancouver

What the hell am I doing ordering a burger at a French Bistro? OK, so they might get the frites right but what do the French know about burgers?

I should have had the steak frites. I've been to Tableau in the past and I've had the steak and it were excellent. I spent lunch staring longingly at my friend’s plate of steak frites while taking unfortunate bite after unfortunate bite of my less then inspired burger. To be fair it wasn’t a bad burger just a blah burger, 6/10, made worst by thinking about what I could have had.

I just managed to snap a picture of the steak frits before Wei polished it all off. She did give me a piece, I was grateful.

Sometimes it sucks having a burger blog. The nagging feeling that I must order a burger everywhere I go. As god is my witness "No more, I say, no more". From now on, screw the blog I'm ordered the best of the menu, which at Tableau is the steak frites. BTW, in case you feel I’m slagging Tableau, I’m not, just the burger. Agreeably the Georgia Straight named Tableau best French Bistro in the city.

I wonder what award they would bestow on their burger?

Please, just take it of the menu, help people from making the same mistake I made.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

St James's Well, Newport Village, Port Moody

It's nice to be surprised. I really wasn't expecting much from the St James’s Well Irish Pub. That's not fair; it's not that I wasn't expecting much it’s just that I was expecting the usual mediocre pub burger. Happily, the Smokehouse Burger is much more. An easy 8/10, very nice.

There was a couple of things I really liked about this burger, firstly take a look at the picture, the bun to patty ratio was just about right. Often the patty is way too small and the bun way too big. Sadly like many places in this non burger city, the patty was cooked through (read overdone).

But back to the things I liked; secondly there was a savoury smoky sticky gooiness from the house made BBQ sauce, really nice, unique and tasty.

Be it from me to offer advice on improvement, however, bump up the quality of the patty, grind your own beef and then leave a smign of pink in the middle when served and there are huge prospects here for a truly special burger.

If your looking for a burger in Newport Village in Port Moody head to the St James’s Well. You may be tempted to stop at Browns Social Club down the path but the Well makes a better burger in a homey Irish pub environment and the beers not bad either.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Au Petit Chavignol, Vancouver BC

Au Petit Chavignol is a restaurant built on cheese. And yet the restaurant is so small, you would think it would be enormous to accommodate all those cheese lovers out there. I think this is a Vancouver hidden gem, a tiny, cozy oasis of cheese. If you like cheese do yourself a favour and go.

I was eying the fondue but then I’ve heard so many good things about the burger here, I’ll leave the fondue for next time.

I had the cheeseburger, with 3 year old raw milk Quebec Cheddar, double smoked bacon and an egg.

Always add the egg because I think that Canadian dietary guidelines on levels of allowable daily cholesterol are way to low and plus there is this ooie gooie thing the egg does to a burger that for me is quite appealing.

Life like investing is really all about risk vs. reward. The risk in this case is elevated cholesterol levels leading to arthrosclerosis an early cardiovascular episode and eventually an agonizing death.

On the other hand adding an egg can send an ordinary burger into the realm of the sublime and that’s the reward in life enjoying ethereal tastes and pleasures.

I choose the egg. Ironically, perhaps both.

Here my burger was bordering on the sublime. Yes the egg pushed it in that direction but the damn patty was way too small and overcooked. Still, an easy 9.5/10. Oh, but what could have been? Perhaps a double patty next time?

Or maybe I’ll get the fondue and the burger at the same time and dip the burger in the fondue. Ooo, but no, that’s just crazy speak ;)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Original Joe's Restaurant and Bar, Vernon BC

“Frozen Patties” the waitress replies somewhat ashamedly.

“But the meat comes fresh we portion it out and then freeze it and it’s not in the freezer long”.

Well then, that makes all the difference, if it's only in the freezer for a short period of time, sign me up! It’s the original Original Joes Burger for me, enhanced of course with bacon and avocado.

Original Joes is a chain, this one in the beautiful town of Vernon BC. In the whole chain hierarchy a step down from Earls but perhaps a step up from Boston Pizza. Does that make sense?

There motto gives you a good idea of their marketing positioning: Because you can’t get beer at a drive thru!

The burger is a step up from fast food for sure, but all in all a very average pub/grill restaurant burger, lets say 6.5/10. The bacon looked great, maybe that’s why they serve the burger open face but overall I couldn’t really hear it much in the orchestra of the burger. I think in this case the orchestra was playing a generic Britney Spears song from the days that she still had the cute factor and the avocado called in sick.

This was my first visit to Joe's. It is what it is. I’ll probably be back one day but I’m not in any great hurry.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Floyd's Diner, Victoria BC

I came across Floyds Diner on an episode of Food Networks You Gotta Eat Here.

Fresh ingredients, huge all day breakfasts, eclectic somewhat campy interior, they didn’t do a burger but looking at the other stuff I’m guessing their burger has to be good. I wasn’t disappointed, I got what I expected, a pretty darn good home made burger.

I got excited for a second when waitress said ok to my request for some pink in the middle patty, but alas, hopes were soon crushed when she returned and to me that the kitchen said my request was illegal. I'm getting tired of this debate. We settled on please don't kill my burger.

I'll give this burger a 7.5 - 8/10. A solid burger with generous guack and fresh ingredients. The patty itself although perhaps not dead did arrive comatose. This burger is another of those meatloaf burgers; I'm seeing a lot of those lately. This one had a nice hint of cumin. In addition to all the other stuff the kitchen mixed in. I'm a bit of a burger purist, just give me good quality beef perfectly cooked and I'm happy. Please leave out the spices and the breadcrumbs and the eggs and spices and filler. Still not a bad burger at Floyds, the filler works.

BTW, Check out the staff baby staff photos on the wall, what a great idea. As one of the servers put it “That’s all of us, we are family here”. I like that. I like Floyds.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wild Apple, Kelowna BC

The first Handsome Burger review from Kelowna at Wild Apple in the Manteo Resort Hotel. Right off the bat I’m happy, enjoying the look of the colourful home made pickled veggies and Okanagan fruits in syrup on display. I like. It signals to me that the chef is engaged and passionate about his or her craft. I think Chef Bernard has it going on.

Fancy and colourful pickled jars from Costco signal something entirely different. I wonder why other restaurants bother. We are in real deal country here and happily the burger is also the real deal.

This is a gorgeous looking burger with taste to match (even though its served open face, I hate that). Orange tomatoes, nice touch. How often do you see that? Sometimes it’s these little things that make the difference between mediocrity and something special.

I'm going with a 9/10 for this beauty.

So now you're thinking, all I have to do is add orange tomatoes to my burger and I get a stellar review on Handsome Burger? Well, yes and no. Yes, orange is nice but it’s not all that. If you read this blog regularly you can figure out the rest.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rockford Wok Bar Grill, Prince George

I ordered the burger at the Rockford Grill in Prince George because I was impressed by their markeing claim, a chain using natural beef, I have to give it a try.

we use only spring creek ranch 100% naturally raised, hormone-free albertan cattle for all our beef burgers. our burgers are char grilled and served on our signature golden-top bun with house sauce, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickled cucumbers

I ordered the:

bacon + blue cheese burger crumbled blue cheese and two strips of smoked bacon

The good: I ordered this burger because of the beef but the standout was the bun, phenomenal. Smooth and shiny on the outside soft tasty on the inside.

The bad: Everything else. Even the bun couldn't save this thing. Natural beef cooked to a piece of charcoal is a shame. Total disappointment and I had such high hopes. I really really wanted to like this burger.

I had a bit of a debate with the server when I tried to order the burger medium rare. I'm getting tired of the "oh we are not allowed to do that" explanation. I shake my head and grit my teeth and I smile.

You notice a trend here at Handsome Burger?

6 /10 and thats just because of the bun.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bobs Burger and Brew, Tulalip, Washington, USA

Bobs Burger and Brew is a concept restaurant. Think Red Robins for adults.

I'd like to be critical because I'm not a big fan of concept chains like this but I have to admit they make a pretty darn good burger.

I had the: Bacon Burger - Plus Guacamole.

This is one of our favorite burgers. We top our 6 oz. charbroiled burger with melted American cheese and three rashers of fresh lean Hormel smokehouse bacon and place it on a bed of crisp lettuce, pickles, a slice of tomato and savory sauce.

Sure Bob's burgers straddle that fine line between fast food and gourmet burgers. And sure the buns are Wonderbread like and could be considered fresh for years, and sure Bob's is a proud
purveyor of Hormel foods ( Makers of SPAM and $7.9 Billion 2011 revenue) but this is one tasty industrial burger, an easy 8.5/10. Big juicy and meaty and yes ordered medium rare and pink in the middle. God Bless America.

Hey, when you have burger in the name of the restaurant you better deliver on said burger. Bob's does.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cactus Club - here we go again

Crap, here I am at the Cactus Club, again. This time in Victoria, having another Fennie Burger, again. This after promising not to have another Fennie Burger ever again a few blog posts ago.

What can I say? My work colleagues like the Cactus Club and I have the willpower of a nat.

Once again, it’s not that the Fennie Burger is a bad burger, it’s actually pretty good. But it should be better than just pretty good. I blogged about the burger a few years ago and not much has changed. Actually probably nothing, an 8 then maybe 7.5 now. OK, lower score, just because I’m bitter.

Shouldn't just pretty good be improved on?

Shouldn't they shake things up a little?

Or is that the best they can do?

Or do they not care because week minded souls like me will keep on ordering this above average mediocrity?

I don't know? But for sure this is the last Feenie burger for me.

Until, of course, I have my next one.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

John's Place, Victoria BC

I went in for the burger walked out with a loaf of bread.

Forget about the burger, it’s good, the home made bread served free of charge with your meal is truly outstanding. Mine was still warm, the soft butter melted delicately in the hot air pockets and the salty crest pops with flavour. Wow, I bought a loaf, my car smelled like a bakery for the rest of the day.

And speaking of the rest of the day I was burping up beefy garlic flavour all day long. OK, back to the burger. I had the:

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE BURGER … An 8 oz. homemade ground beef sirloin patty stuffed with Blue Cheese, grilled and topped with crispy fried onions. Served on a kaiser with leaf lettuce, sliced tomato and our own Blue Cheese dressing.

The patty was tasty albeit meatloafy (they must have thrown in a bit extra on the garlic powder) and the blue cheese melted like butter added great taste and aroma. This is a very good burger let's say 8.5/10.

Next time I'll try the Triple D Burger, but really I'll be going back just for the bread.

Expect John’s Place to be packed, the seating is almost family style, very tight, this is a very busy place. And BTW, I was really trying not to pay too much attention to the conversation next to me ( there's 3 inches between tables) but when you here " I like Jake the best out of all of my boyfriends" I just couldn't help myself. Oh well it was a tasty and entertaining lunch. And in case you are wondering, no I never did learn what it was that Jake had that made him so much more desirable then all else.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stackhouse Burger Bar, 1224 Granville St. Vancouver

Van Mags things to eat and drink in Vancouver 2011: the Stackhouse Kobe Burger.

OK, I'll concur, this is a very good burger, 8.5/10.

Fantastic flavour from the Kobe, even though the patty was cooked through and the restaurant would not serve it medium rare. I was informed by the server that the last thing I wanted to do was have a Kobe Burger medium rare because of its high fat content it would ruin the flavour and the uncooked fat would leave a bad mouth feel and anyway we don't grind our own meat so it would be unsafe. Ah ha, the real truth comes out..excuse…excuse…excuse..real reason.

I wish restaurants would get their act together and give me rare! OK, medium rare.

None the less a very good burger in a hip small joint on Granville St. The burger not the location reminds me a lot of Romers on 4th Ave.

Good ingredients good attention to detail good flavour.

Nice, I'll go back have another and debate the waiter on why it would be ok to do Kobe Medium rare.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Heart Attack at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas

Well I suppose it was just a matter of time that there was a heart attack at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas. Wow talk about fantastic advertizing. It even fits well with their motto: “A Taste Worth Dying For”. I jest of course; the poor gentleman heart attackee is doing well. Although, well being a relative term. I mean, how well was he really doing before he even bit into the monster Triple Bypass Burger. Take a look at this thing; it’s a beauty and only $11.10. Hmm, that must be some quality beef? I wonder if he added the extra 15 pieces of bacon for $2.77? Can you grow pigs that cheap? And if you can do you really want to eat them?

Would I eat at the Heart Attack Grill? Probably not, except maybe out of some morbid curiosity and then I certainly wouldn’t order the Triple Bypass Burger. I’m more of a quality v quantity type of guy. But then, if this is something that turns your crank, go for it, have fun.

There are many calls from politicians, physicians, food activists and vegetarian organizations to force the Heart Attack Grill to close because of this incident. I haven’t actually seen anything form PETA –surprising.

Instead of getting all indignant about the Heart Attack Grill which is catering to a very specific idiot demographic, think about the bigger picture. How it is that you can actually sell that much meat for that amount of cost? Plus, think about the under the table cheep Latin labour, in the kitchen, putting the whole thing together. What’s the mark-up on the Triple Bypass Burger? In the end, Mister Heart Attack needs to make some money? Industrialized, mechanically separated, mystery meat at its best. Wouldn’t you rather pay $11.10 for a smaller (much smaller) naturally raised killer tasting beef burger? And maybe add a couple of slices of bacon for $2.77 from a pig naturally and humanely raised? All made by someone in the kitchen making a living wage? I would, but that’s just me, the hamburger idealist.

God Bless America

Monday, January 16, 2012

Another First Cheeseburger Claim, Burger Porn and the Nod

Yet another claim for inventing the cheesburger.

Some great burger porn

And the Burger Nod.

View the video: On CNN

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cactus Club, Coquitlam BC Canada Sliders

Cactus Club in Coquitlam for a casual dinner with family, the place is packed, 30 minutes for a table.

I feel like ordering a hamburger (sometimes that happens) but I don't want to order the Fennie Burger. Not that it’s a bad burger it’s actually pretty good. You can read my review here from the last visit.

It’s just not outstanding and I kind of feel a "been there done that" kinda thing. In case you are wondering a burger has to rate at least a 9/10 for me to get excited about repeat orders.

And that's a bit of a pet peeve for me for many of these chain restaurants, their menus become a bit stale at least on the burger side. They should consider having a monthly or seasonal burger, something different. It’s been almost a year since my last burger at Cactus Club and it’s the same old thing.

Change it up a little. Hey, it works for McDonalds.

So I ordered the burger sliders. Not bad, pretty good actually, 8/10. I find that sliders for the most part because they don't include all the usual accouterments that come with burgers are more about the flavour of the beef. More of a pure burger burger and here it works the beef really comes through and the sliders are quite pleasant.

But I won't be ordering them again. Ok, maybe I will if I’m with a group of people and we order a bunch of appies to share.

But please Cactus Club add some new burgers on the menu for me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Glo Restaurant and Lounge. Victoria BC

Burger killed by heat lamp.

My pickle was dry and limp.

It’s a shame really because the rest of the burger was really really good, great potential, especially the sauce, loved it but couldn't really crack the code on its ingredients, sweat creamy cheezyish, its driving me crazy I just can't get it. But it was good. The patty was big and juicy, fresh but not ground in house, nice touch on the oven dried tomatoes, together soft and melty, I give the burger and easy 8/10 even with the heat lamp crisping.

Imagine what it could have been. Stay away from the artificial radiation (the place is called Glo, right? Never mind) and there is a winnner burger here.

The Glo Lamb burger is good as well check it out here.