Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bistro 7 1/4 (closed): 3.7/5

Bacon Cheese Burger
Platter: $12
Score: 3.9

BBQ/Peach/Slaw Burger
Platter: $15
Score: 3.4

Fried Egg Burger
Platter: $14
Score: 3.4

It's been almost a year and it was great to get together for lunch again! Geoff put it nicely: “It is good to be immersed back in the Burger Club cast of characters.”

Early in September a marketing company out of Montreal envisioned “Burger Week” and enlisted the help of some local beautiful bloggers to promote the Winnipeg edition. They came up with a very eclectic list of contenders, several of which don’t have a burger on their regular menu. The traditional burger joints that come to mind when you ask a Winnipeger “who makes the best burger?” weren't on the list. I saw this as an opportunity! Several were gourmet restaurants and I was curious to sample their submission - and the most I would be out was $10 because that was a condition of Burger Week. I dined at Bistro 7 ¼ with another burger-clubber alumni (we’ll call him Brett) during Burger Week and today 13 of us reconvened for lunch.

Tastes vary, and with each restaurant we visit, someone loves their burger and someone leaves disappointed. Usually the group rating settles somewhere in the middle. At Bistro 7 ¼, opinions were all over the place. Maybe that’s because we’re a little rusty though – it’s been almost a year since tasting burgers with our brains, not our mouths.

Our server was friendly and fast, quick to get us seated comfortably in a private room, bringing drinks and taking orders. The room was in the back, dark compared to the sunny tables up front by the windows. Apparently I've also forgotten how to use my official burger camera and the low lighting made for some fuzzy pictures. I try to avoid the flash, because flashed meat looks weird.

The patties were large and probably needed 15-20 minutes on the grill. The grill holds 6 burgers. Do the math and it means a large group waits. Geoff commented “Almost 1 hour after arriving, I am getting hungry-grumpy.” He hid it well. All our meals were served together though, which is nice. April must have had a premonition and texted in her pre-order. She wheeled in shortly before her burger and raced out afterwards being the only one of us to pull off a regulation lunch break. She also raised the question - do pickles equate to relish?

Karen observed that the “Burger was very nicely presented. The bun top was just to the side of the massive burger. Decorated with a couple slices of peaches.” Some burgers were served rare, some were well done. Our server assured us they were cooked to a safe temperature (not under-cooked) and freshly ground in-house. Some people really don't like the look of a rare burger, so if you'd prefer your burger well done at Bistro 7 1/4, tell your server. One person sent theirs back. The ample bacon and real cheddar was quite enjoyable. There were thick pieces of bacon on the BBQ burger which added texture to the bacony goodness. I've come to appreciate the Brioche bun and the sweetness of it worked well with the mildly seasoned bacon-cheeseburger. The bun was well sized – a good bun to burger ratio. However, for some reason the bottom of the bun was a bit soggy and I had to use my fork to carefully peel it off the plate.

The Burger Week entry from September was the “burger with spicy bbq sauce, bacon, smoked cheddar, coleslaw and roast peaches.” It looked and sounded delicious. The BBQ sauce was quite zingy and I enjoyed it, but it overwhelmed any flavour the peaches might have contributed and was a little incompatible with the sweet bun. “Individual flavours did not stand out.” The texture of the crunchy layer of coleslaw was quite enjoyable, and of course, it was a big, filling burger! You may want to bring a friend to help you finish it. Karen “loved the bacon chunks on top” of hers. Those that had the BBQ sauce today said it wasn't spicy – but tasty - so maybe the kitchen adjusted the recipe. The patty was quite consistent - back in September and again today, it was thick and juicy and very mildly seasoned with a little chopped onion. Stan said “Expected a bit more complex flavour. A little disappointed there.” In flavor, I'd compare the patty to one you'd get at the Oakwood or Seine River Cafe. Bistro 7 ¼ has an open kitchen and I’d think there’d be more meaty flavor from a cookery with flames painted on the exhaust hood. This was the prevailing opinion, but not the only one. Russ commented “Flavour was awesome and overall I was happy with my burger.” All the ingredients were fresh and made in-house.

I had the shoestring fries during burger week and really, really enjoyed them. Geoff noted “there was an odd white cream sauce that was a bit bland on its own but went well with the fries.” Esther must have had a hunch about the fries because she stole Les’s burger with white potato fries and really liked them. Les got Esther’s yam fries and said “The fries were too small cut, scraps get cold fast.” This time I tried the soup-du-jour which was a cream of cauliflower. It was a fairly tasteless broth. I was sad. This was the general consensus about the soup. A few people had salad and weren't excited by the oil dressing although the greens were plentiful and fresh.

There were two versions of the menu handed out, one with the old pricing and one with the new, so a couple of people were wondering why they were charged more than the menu showed. The menu stated our group would be charged an 18% gratuity. This didn't happen, so we were allowed to choose our own tip and that was nice. Russ commented “Menu looks interesting, but the loose-leaf was a bit minimal.” At Burger Club, we review everything – even the menu paper!

Bistro 7 1/4 on Urbanspoon

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