Friday, June 17, 2011
about a burger
The Gazette recently put out a list of bests in the city and Downie St. Burgers won for 'best burger'. Now, not that I am debating their win, but, I have to ask...who votes on this stuff? The Chew certainly didn't and neither did my Peter Parkeresque alter ego.
So I have sacrificed money and colon to embark on a red-meat endeavour, the likes of which this city has never seen!
The results, I must say, have been interesting. I thought for sure I would find a burger leader, someone way out in front with a patty so flavourful and delicious, a bun so soft and luscious, and toppings that I could literally 'write home to mom about!'. But I ran into a complex issue, a question if you will, that must first be answered before crowning the king of burgers.
What makes the perfect burger?
This question begs many more:
Am I on a quest for 'the classic' burger topped with merely ketchup/mustard/relish/lettuce/tomato/onion/pickle?
Is the addition of added bacon and cheese cheating?
Does the burger have to be beef?
Do the fries count for added points or deductions?
Does the bun/patty have to be made in-house? (even if there's a great pre-fab burger out there?)
Are gourmet toppings allowed? Guacamole? Caremelised onions? Arugula? Olive tapenade?
I feel bombarded by the questions and there are so few answers, so here I will seek to inform you about great burgers in Stratford and ultimately crown a winner! Please forgive me if my criteria is not the same as yours...
First: the suck! These are the burgers that are not worth eating, don't bother wasting time or money - have something else on the menu or in some cases, avoid the restaurant altogether.
*Big D's: though they claim elements of the burger are made in-house I deny this possibility. Patty is decent but bland and the bun certainly seems from frozen as it is more than a little soggy.
*Backstage: wanted to give the new place a go, but the menu resembles frighteningly the old Othello's menu. I fear burger has been in the freezer since then, though it doesn't taste quite that bad.
*Pour House: lots of options for different kinds of burgers but the kitchen staff don't seem to care much about their product! Only thing memorable were the shrivelled 'pickles' (if you can call them that) that were placed on top - never should have made it to the table!
*Foster's: Don't be alarmed, Foster's re-occurs in the good burgers too but I must say their pork burger is just blah and dry, not worth having when they have far better options.
The runners up: shall we say they have been discredited not because they are bad burgers, instead due to their small size/price/general averageness.
**Down The Street (a set of buns worth squeezing, even if you're not the bun squeezing type)
**Molly's Veggie Burger (if you miss meat, you can imagine this is still beef)
**Boomers (the toppings are imaginative and delicious but it's just not big enough! Add poutine!)
**Erie Drive-In (definitely from frozen, but juicy/quick/cheap nonetheless)
**Bentley's (very average burger, nothing wrong but doesn't wow me)
**Boar's Head (love the wild boar burger but it's always a little dry)
Finally, the burger options that make you tingle and bring you back time and again to shove them gloriously into your mouths! Divided somewhat into categories but in no particular order...
Classic - kind of: (all beef patty with addition toppings accepted)
*** Molly Blooms: $14.99 They would have won over all for the best burger if only they made their own. Their Bloomin' Burger is perfectly messy and topped with all the classic toppings, plus mushrooms, BBQ sauce, peameal bacon, regular bacon, two kinds of cheese and onion rings. Crave burger? 1/2 Price on Monday's!
*** Downie Street Burgers: $8.95-12.95 Certainly delicious all around and so many choices for toppings etc. Potentially their fries lost it for them as they are okay but not fantastic; and I am somewhat concerned for people with peanut allergies (they use peanut oil for frying - tasty, but oh so dangerous!).
***Foster's Inn: $10.99 As stated by two long time vegetarians..."This is the best damn veggie burger we have ever had!!! By a LOOOOONG way!" I can't stress how original and delicious this red bean/mushroom patty is topped with chutney and goat's cheese! If it was beef, it would have won!
NO-beef Patty: (not allowed to win though it was close!)
***Foster's Inn: $15.98 Lamb Burger - go ahead and add the tapenade and Indian spice, you won't be disappointed. Moist and succulent with a combination of flavours that surprises your taste-buds!
The King/#1/Big Kahuna
**** The Parlour $16.00: Not only is the burger itself fantastic and exactly what you want in a classic burger, but the fries are some of the best I've had in a long time (unfortunately hit and miss though as the second sample were just okay)! Everything is made in-house/locally sourced and it shows: the patty has delicious flavour, the bun is soft and fresh, bacon is local, cheddar is aged and it's one of the only places in town that you can get a little pink in your burger ;) For a great burger experience, it's not rocket surgery!
Disclaimer: all of the burgers presented here were eaten by the Chew within a reasonable amount of time, if your favourite was forgotten, let me know and I will re-visit!