Thursday, June 19, 2014

Little Bones Wings: 3.5/5

Bacon Double Cheese Burger
Score: 3.3
Platter: $13.00

Score: 3.6

Little Bones Wings, born as a Winnipeg food truck, opened a restaurant in the basement of the Royal George Hotel at 123 Regent Ave in February. In addition to their renowned wing selection, Little Bones has a DoubleBaconDoubleCheeseBurger and a build-a-burger on their menu.  The build-a-burger options are tantalizing!

We had originally planned to check out a nearby burger shack, but yet another monsoon rain changed our plans and we headed indoors to Little Bones. They recommend that you pre-order, but our last minute decision didn’t allow time for that and we showed up en-masse. We were lucky to find them open, as the previous weekend’s three inches of rain had found its way into the basement and LBW needed to mop up. Our waitress rearranged most of the furniture so that we could sit at one long table and that was appreciated.

Chef Alex needed time to prepare more of his secret burger blend from scratch, and our waitress had to make an emergency bun-run. Unfortunately she didn’t come back with the Brioche buns the menu described. Cutlery was delivered in a bucket for us to distribute. Some drinks were handed out, and some were placed on a nearby table for us to self-serve.

When the burgers finally came, they were piping hot and nicely presented in check paper lined metal baskets with an outrigger to dangle the coleslaw. The burger layers were architectural and made an impressive stack. The handmade patties were huge, variable in size and had a nice grill crust. They were quite dry. Interesting seasonings and flavors in the patty intrigued the pallet; sesame seeds added to the visual texture.

Toppings were pretty much limited by your imagination. Choices include an egg, taco beef, chicken pieces, shrimp, calamari, deep fried jalapeños and a selection of cheeses (among many other selections). Today the deep-fried pickles were just .. pickles. I can only imagine all the effort in the kitchen preparing the plethora of customized burger toppings, not to mention their regular fare of wings, wings and more wings.

I opted for calamari rings, deep-fried & crispy onions and provolone. I enjoyed my choices – there was lots of texture and flavour. What the assembly could have used more of was sauces to lubricate the big sandwich.

The burger comes with fries and slaaaww, and an upgrade option to checkered fries. Get the upgrade – the checkered fries were crispy, flavourful and fun – and served  hot. Esther had the checkered nacho fries and said they were awesome. I would describe the slaaaww as shoe-string cut cucumbers in a creamy sauce. Cool and delicious. One person had it on their burger and said it was messy – but they never said the burger was dry so maybe that’s where the moisture comes from.

Little Bones Wings on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tavern United: 4.1/5

Score: 4.0
Platter: $11.99

Ultimate with Chili
Score: 4.2
Platter: $13.99

Ultimate with Mushrooms
Score: 4.0
Platter: $13.99

We’re eating burgers on patios every chance we get, and this week Tavern United at 345 Graham Ave wined and dined Burger Club.

The roof top patio is fantastic. It's big and roomy with plenty of oversized tables and chairs. On a hot day it’s packed with people and we would have had a hard time getting a table together for 12 of us. As it turned out, the patio was quiet with the threat of rain, so there were seats and servers to spare. In the end, there was just a tiny little sprinkle, not enough to make anyone run for cover, and the temperature under the overcast sky was quite comfortable. The small army of propane heaters wasn’t required. It was a little windy though, so the umbrellas were put away lest they carry off our group like a flock of Mary Poppins.

We lucked out with a great sever - the smiling and attentive Brittany.  She wrestled the heavy tables so we could all sit together and took our drink orders right away. There’s a roof top bar so the tasty beverages didn’t have to travel far.

Tavern United just switched to their summer menu, replacing six burger options with two "double smashed" beef burgers. The Ultimate comes with bacon and your choice of mushrooms or chili, the Signature doesn’t. Sandy wrote “At first the double intimidated me, but each patty was thin and flavorful.” It was a big burger, not a huge burger. A couple in our group decided to share, and that worked out just right for them.

The stack was essentially a big diner style burger with processed cheese, but the brioche bun, leathery bacon and delicious, fresh toppings set it well above standard diner fare. That, and the roof top patio, great service and beverages! Sandy wrote “Didn't mind the fake cheese” so I guess it was appropriate for the burger.

The patties were smashed on the grill - crazy shapes sprawling over the bun - thin, soft and juicy. The flavour is in the grill seared crust and a double patty has four sides! April commented “My burger had flavour and it was in the patty instead of relying on the chili.” Karen critiqued “Burger was lightly seasoned, maybe a bit of salt, but it was a thin and fatty burger making it savory. Toppings of bacon (cooked perfectly) lettuce, tomato and condiments made a nice juicy compliment, but not too messy.”

I loved the chili – it was more sweet than spicy, meaty, and there was lots of it. The fresh sautéed mushrooms were also delicious, but given the choice, I enjoyed the chili even more. Nelson wrote “Nice to have grilled onions and mushrooms on the burger. The whole thing melted in your mouth.”

There was some debate as to whether the brioche bun was suited to the double burger. It presented a good burger-to-bun ratio, and was tasty, but perhaps not quite up to the task of containing the double with chili. Cary wrote “REALLY MESSY!” Karen did better with her double with mushrooms: “Bun was nice and soft, but just barely held up for the burger action.” Sandy commented “The bun was nice but my bottom fell apart.“ I caught Chris eating his burger with a knife & fork. Apparently he had a soggy bottom too.

The white potato fries were thick cut, soft inside and plentiful, but the sweet potato fries were the real hit. The only complaint - not enough of them!

Some – but not all - of the food arrived pretty cold. I’m not sure what happened, but they were busy inside and maybe there wasn't enough of us on the roof to have a good elevator turnaround time to the kitchen.

The phrase of the day was: "You can smell mine!" The napkins smelled like fresh laundry. Several diners were sniffing their napkins with faraway looks in their eyes.

One of the perils of outdoor dining is a little fruit fly may find its way into the vinegar shaker. One did, and Sandy wrote a lament:

Dear Fly. Pickled Fly.
In your vinegary crypt.
Lost. Alone.
Until you meet your fry for life.
Or after-life.
Delish fly.

At 8:00 pm the DJ spins up, and security offered to “grandfather” us in with a wristband, but none of us took him up on it. As we left, large security staff were queuing up around the bar ready to maintain law and order during the evening’s festivities.

Tavern United on Urbanspoon