Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bar Italia: 3.7/5

Bar I Double and Deluxe Fries with Bacon & Cheddar Topping

Bar I Burger
Score: 3.7, $5.58

Bar I with Bacon
Score: 3.7

Bacon Mushroom Burger
Score: 3.6, $6.47

This week our mission of burgering in the sun led us to Bar Italia at 737 Corydon Ave. It’s a vibrant location with two patios. The larger faces the side street; its wide and treed and where the action is. The alternate patio faces Corydon and has the option of large roll out awnings.

I was expecting a dozen diners for supper today, so Karen and I got there early to try and grab some tables on the Cockburn side (see this video for pronunciation tip). It was hot and action packed and we had great drink service from Stephanie, but it was quickly evident we weren’t going to get enough seats together. Luckily more forward scouts arrived on bicycles and let us know the front patio was all but empty and in shade. The only downside, it was self-service.

We moved around front and sitting together in the shade made our experience very enjoyable. Dining on the Corydon side provided its own entertainment – the chaotic dance of non-stop almost accidents, meter maids handing out tickets and tow trucks hauling away major offenders.

One by one we headed inside to the bar to place our beer and burger orders. Saskatoon's Great Western Original 16 was on tap - it was cold and hit the spot. Our group grew and we kept adding tables, inching across the patio like a glacier. A lone diner was a good sport and gifted his table to our long line – thanks dude! There were 20 of us; we used up the entire liquor occupancy permit and still spilled over to the Cockburn side.

Our burgers didn't take too long to come out – less than 10 minutes for many people - and a variety of staff helped deliver. It was mayhem and for the most part, people got what they ordered, but there were a couple of mishaps. A server said “Here’s your mushroom burger” to Cathy, but a few minutes later she realized it wasn’t.  She didn't share his sense of humour when he responded “Well, all the orders are out so someone at your table is enjoying your burger." Karen noted “Fairly good service - forgot my boorgur though!” Good thing she had a pound-o-Calamari to distract her or things could've gotten nasty. When a sharp young server noticed the absence of burger, he got her one quickly and comped it, so all was well.

Bar Italia makes up a fresh batch of burgers in-house every three days. It was a very lean, dense patty, I’d say a minimum (if any) of panade or seasonings went into it. They were all cooked pretty much the same – a nice black grill crust with a pink middle. I think the pink was a good idea – if they’d been well done, they would've been pretty hard. At one point the restaurant filled up with smoke and a patron was overheard asking "Why is it smoky in here?" to which a server responded "We're cooking a shit-tonne of burgers for some reason."

The general consensus was the big bun was delicious – Isabel said “it was good for catching mayo-tomato drips”, but the patty under-performed in flavour. The toppings, with the exception of fairly hard tomatoes, were top notch. The stack had real cheddar, crispy bacon, fresh sautéed mushrooms, fried red onions and plentiful aioli sauce. It was definitely a good value burger.

My bacon-mushroom burger was messy – just the way I like it! The big slabs of tomato slid around and there was lots of sauce. Les noted “Good bun holds it all together!” Sandy wrote “I've recently realized that the best food is "in balance" without overwhelming flavours. This burger, even with bacon and mushrooms, had this "balance" - but was underwhelming just the same. My tomato was a little under ripe & was distracting.”

Urbanspoon: WeHungry
I shared Karen’s Calamari and it was fantastic! Big tender rings with a nice light coating you could sink your teeth into. The potato sides also got rave reviews. Sandy scribbled “Loved the fries & old school mozza-poutine.”

Bar I Deluxe Fries with Garlic & Herb Topping
Although we served ourselves, staff visited several times to make sure everyone was happy. Just as we were wrapping up and starting to clear our tabs, the patio waitress started her shift :p

Bar Italia on Urbanspoon

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