Critic’s Picks: The People’s Choice:
Winner: Chinched Bistro Winner: Tie! Chinched Bistro and Magnum & Steins
Runners Up: The Sprout & The Club & Runner Up: Also very close, but The Sprout took Runner Up.
The Critics’ Summary
Last month, The Overcast engaged 10 local restaurants to create temporarily available burgers for the city to feast on, then weigh in on.
They also equipped two writers – Michael Hannaford & Emily Deming – with $550 to go try all the burgers and tell us what they thought. Mikey “can’t find the grocery store” Hannaford has been living off restaurant fare for years as intensive training for this assignment. Emily “why say no?” Deming said “yes” to the Burger Challenge because she believes in sacrifice (of her health) and working hard (at eating). By day six, they were heaps of meat sweat yelling over each other at The Ship.
Moose burger with blueberry-chipotle ketchup
Excellent moose meat. Whoever shot this moose knew how to sweet talk it first. The moose was great, but Mike felt the rest was uninspired. Hard to detect the advertised flavours in the very small smear of homemade blueberry-chipotle ketchup. “For 19$ I shouldn’t feel like I could make it at home.” Verdict: Great meat asking for a bit more accompaniment.
Ginger-garlic loose sausage slider with kimchi and pork belly
This was incredible. The sweetness of the hoisin mayo and saltiness of the kimchi were well-balanced. It was the perfect size: bigger than a typical slider, smaller than a burger, and intensely flavourful. At $11, it leaves you with cash enough to try one of their “best in town” infused booze cocktails – and we’d suggest the jalapeño-cilantro margarita. Their bun contained the burger just enough to be a “cute date” mess. The side of coconut sticky rice ‘tater tots’ are too classy for their name. Verdict: Winner.
Lamb burger stuffed with feta, cranberry-mint relish, and rosemary aoli
Hot gooey yum! Loved the sweet bun with juicy lamb and just the right amount of feta. This is a serious heavy-lifting style burger: The Club knows how to wrestle with bro-meat concepts, I never doubted them on this one. But, please stop killing your delicious fries with too much salt. Verdict: Runner up!
Mixed meat burger with touton buns, thick-cut molasses bacon, beets, and screech aoli
Nice conceptual play on the Sunday Supper by including cabbage, beet, and saltmeat bacon. Happily, they left off the traditional dry as dust dressing. This may have won our hearts completely if the touton bun was less salty. With bacon already in there, the bun’s great texture should have been the standout. Verdict: Impressive cohesion and concept. Leave room for necessary thirst quenching beer.
Southern-fried seal flipper on a buttermilk biscuit with jalapeño cream cheese
Unless you already love this rich, fishy meat, a large seal patty is an overwhelming use of a stridently flavourful protein. Having not had seal before, we had trouble with the size and soft texture especially since the texture was accentuated by the jalapeño cream cheese. If you like seal, the favours worked well. The biscuit bun was fluffy and delicious. The chef also made some battered seal “fritters” on the side with a lovely texture closer to pulled pork which, I believe, were how some of the later burgers were made. Verdict: Cutting edge use of tradition, but clearly not for asshole washed-up, racist sportscasters.
The Texas Twist: pancetta, avocado, 40 creek BBQ sauce, onion frites, and harvarti
With sauces squirting everywhere, this ain’t a date burger. It had good texture with the smooth avocado and crunchy onion frites but the bbq sauce almost drowned the rest and was overly sweet. Verdict: Face and eyes burger. Requires gym membership and a whore’s bath halfway through. Excellent gluten free buns and coleslaw.
Bruscetta-parmesan charbroiled burger on a sourdough bun
Great charbroiled handmade patty. If you can’t serve your burgers rare (cough, Canada) this heavy grilling is the way. Bruschetta-parmesan topping was delicious and right. There were structural integrity issues due to an overly soft bun. If you have to struggle to hold it together, then you’re in a fight. You don’t want to fight the burger; you want to love the burger. Verdict: Burger win/bun fail.
1892 Fire Burger: spicy tomato-pepper jam and 1892 beer battered jalapeños and onions
The burger was classic. Less “out-there” than many on the list, but the addition of fried jalapeños was excellent. Verdict: Not out to impress but would never disappoint. Always recommended and 1892 Fire Burger wins best name.
Cashew, apple, and smoked cheddar burger on molasses bun
Flavourful, saucy, hot and steamy burger that was just a bit too soft for the bun (you could eat it with a spoon). This was comforting food that made you want to live. This burger is six kinds of right. Great gluten free buns and worked well with the side salad. Verdict: Beautiful plate! Also runner up!
Herb & spice lamb burger on ciabatta bun, topped with kalamata tapenade and chevre
Tavola served up a tasty/tasteful burger. Nice structure, fresh Mediterranean themed sauces, perfect house-made root vegetable chips on the side. But there was no background music playing. Only silence and chewing. Verdict: Recommended working lunch to-go.
Chinched, The Club, and The Sprout all the way. We couldn’t shut up about them. We’re not running for office here by picking meat and veg, either. They were both something else and totally different animals, mind the pun.
For a sampling of public poll responses on who made the best burger, pick up a copy of this month’s The Overcast. While there were far more responses than we could print, there is 3/4’s of a page of responses from enthused diners on page 25.