Saturday, July 29, 2017

Brereton Lake Resort

Brereton Burger
$14.99 (platter)

Tex Mex Burger
$12.99 (platter)

Deluxe Burger
$12.99 (platter)

$10.49 (platter)

Come for the beautiful Canadian Shield and stay for the burger! Greg and Kim Ftoma bought the Brereton Lake Resort in 2002 and promptly expanded the restaurant. It’s bright and airy with comfy tables and a bar across the double-sided fireplace. There’s a spacious patio, ice-cream stand and beach within walking distance - necessities in the summer. The resort is open all year long including a store stocked with camping essentials, gas station, boat, snowmobile and cabin rentals.

Greg’s a super guy with a great sense of humour. Well staffed in the summer, he draws his labour force from the young cabin dwellers in nearby cottage communities. “They're loyal - I work them like slaves and pay them poorly but they keep coming back” Greg joked. Greg’s background is a Criminology degree which he put to good use bartending for 30 years. He learned to cook with his steel worker father and says they “cook food the way we want to eat it.

The burger is huge with chili the defining feature. The kitchen prepares 30 lbs of the rich, meaty sauce each week – Winnipeg Old Country ground beef, cumin, chili spice and garlic. The line cook ladled not one, not two, but three large scoops onto the flagship burger. They patted scoop #2 flat as a platform for the last dollop. Scott paraphrased 'City Slickers': “If chili were people, my burger would be China.”

Karen reviewed the Brereton Burger: “This was an immense burger with a prodigious serving of first class fries/onion rings. The first bite festooned my Frings with chili spatter. The cheese was lost in all the chili along with the bacon. The patty by itself was firm and fairly plain in seasoning. Quality ingredients. Lots of tomato and lettuce which I love.”

If chili isn’t your thing, the Deluxe Burger is the one for you. What it lacks in chili it makes up for in mayo and comes with all the groceries, bacon and cheese.

For a spicy stack the Tex Mex Burger is topped with grilled onions, jalapenos, green pepper, spicy mayo, BBQ sauce, cheese, bacon and fresh produce. Stan scribed: “I loved the TexMex. Just the right amount of spicy. Still got the flavour of the excellent patty. Bun held together until the last 10% which was better than expected. Really enjoyed it!

The choice of sides is stellar. I *loved* the coating and furrowed texture of the Beer Batter fries. The Frings were popular as well, because, why should you have to choose between fries and rings? If you opt for coleslaw you get a juicy pile and today’s pro-tip is hoist your burger off the plate before the bottom bun gets soggy from the dressing. Little Brown Jug on tap was an unexpected bonus!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Rockwood Urban Grill: 4.3/5

Zeke's Burger: 4.4
$16 (platter)

100 Mile Burger: 4.4
$19 (platter)

Manitoba Maple Burger: 4.4
$15 (platter)

Urban Cheeseburger: 3.5
$14 (platter)

A shiny new Winnipeg ‘burb gets a new franchise – the Rockwood Urban Grill at Sage Creek. Owned by Jeff and Ashlea Street, former cattle farmers out of Moose Jaw, Rockwood is the first chain-child of Rock Creek. It’s bright and airy with plenty of wood features and an open kitchen.

Rockwood Urban Grill’s menu is developed around wood smoke, and the flavour comes from a 1,000 F Champion Tuff Grill. A mixture of pine and oak smoke pairs well with the beef flavours. Rockwood provided: “It’s an 8 oz patty and each burger has something different – the type of sauce, peppercorn coating, etc. We keep our seasoning pretty basic with mostly just salt and pepper to let the meat flavour come through naturally. Our wood fired grill is a big inspiration for most of our items.

Half our group ordered the  Zeke’s Burger  [bacon, caramelized onion, smoked cheddar, provolone and secret sauce]. Karen scribed: “This was an excellent burger overall. The bun held up fairly well - almost matched in size to the huge burger. Fresh tomato and I loved the bacon, cheese, onion combo - it made the burger juicy over every bite.” Sandy rapid fired: “So many flavours. Smokey. BBQ. Cheesy. Charbroiled. Bacon. Onion. So cheesy. The bun is my least favourite part. Dry. Dusty. Unimaginative.” Laura exclaimed “Probably the best burger I have ever had!

The 100 Mile Burger [peppercorn crusted patty, grilled sausage, bacon, provolone, smoked cheddar, caramelized onion, tomato relish, roasted red pepper aioli and pickles] was the other popular choice. Jeff critiqued “I wasn't sure about this burger the first few bites, but then everything came together once I bit into all the toppings. So. Freakin. Good. It was big, but not too big. I could definitely order this again.

Burgers come as a platter and the selection of sides was excellent. People loved the Fire Grilled Caesar and the soups got rave reviews. Other choices include fries or chips and the Little House on the Prairie Salad. Rob wrote “Thai soup was excellent. Large portion and just the right amount of spicy.” Jeff said “the fire-grilled Caesar Salad was brilliant.”

Rockwood has a decent selection of beers on tap, and if you can’t decide, they offer flights of four, 4-oz. glasses. These were popular, and before long our table was covered with mini-Weizen glasses. They ran out and subsequent flights of fancy were denied until the dishwasher could catch up.

Burger Club’s visit to Rockwood started out a hot and sunny day, but a surprise monsoon rolled in right at supper time, leaving patio patrons scrambling to dry off in the lounge. Rockwood ran out of chairs, and as some of our party were tardy, we lost one seat. When the stragglers showed up, our waitress did the only thing she could and brought in a wicker patio chair. Luckily Chris is a hunter who doesn’t think twice about lying in soggy ditches so didn’t mind sitting in a sodden chair!

RockWood- Sage Creek Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Miss Browns: 4.5/5

Aussie Burger: 4.5
$14 (platter)

Mushroom Bacon Cheese Burger: 4.8
$13 (platter)

Jalapeño Cheese Burger: 3.9
$13 (platter)

Miss B's Trio of Brisket Sliders: 4.5
$10 (platter)

What happens when you combine restaurant experience, fine arts, world travels and a smoker? You make Burger Club's Top 5! Miss Browns, the little hot pressed bruncherie, opened at 288 William Ave near the Red River College campus just over two years ago. It’s a popular spot and Burger Club needed to schedule lunch between studying students and a large catering order.

Miss browns is bright and cheery with a big communal table, line of two-seaters and a window counter to accommodate any social situation. It’s an open kitchen and co-owner Jenny assembled and plated the stacks while husband Steve worked the smoker and sliced brisket for the sliders. There was steady takeout action over the lunch hour and enthusiastic servers Taylor and Laura took great care of our group.

Did I mention the smoker? After cooking on the tiny flat-top, the beef patties are finished in a glorious oak smoker adding a dimension of flavour that made my taste buds sit up and take notice. Practically every Burger Club review had the words “Great smoky flavour!” Miss Browns keeps it simple, adding fennel, a bit of chili flake and salt and pepper to the ground round. The local, free range beef is processed in Carman and sourced through The Carvers Knife, so if you like, you could probably go meet your meat beforehand.

The sandwiches are beautiful and you can see Steve’s BFA education in the presentation. I got a chuckle, because although the two different aioli sauces framing the burger are made in house, the open faced sandwich must’ve needed some red and yellow because there’s a squeeze of Mustard and Ketchup completing the colour palette. Jenny commented “We love our burgers and sandwiches juicy and saucy - it can get quite messy.” She added “Steve is the mastermind behind the menu. He has a keen eye and a great talent for presentation. Miss Browns was designed and built by him.

Steve’s an Aussie, so of course there’s a burger of the same name, complete with pickled beets and a fried egg on top. The week Burger Club dined the Mushroom Bacon Cheese Burger replaced the Jalapeño Cheese Burger, but the Aussie still anchored the BURGERS section of the changing menu. Jenny wrote: “Our inspiration for Miss Browns is derived from Australian cuisine using fresh high quality products to create delicious flavours done simply. Aussies know how to do brunch and we wanted to share that with our Winnipeg customers.

The buns are baked at Gunns, glazed and grilled at Miss Browns. “The bun is the champion here” wrote Scott. “I doubt even Tupperware could do a better job containing a huge patty, beets, onion, pickles, lettuce, four sauces, cheese and a fried egg. The bun stayed together and my fingers dry through the whole process.” Russ echoed “They managed to put every condiment I could think of on one burger while still holding together.” Alfalfa sprouts were a seasonal bonus.

The brisket spends 12 hours in the smoker and it's heavenly. Stan scribed “I love brisket and it was very good. The other appealing thing was that each slider was unique, so got a variety of flavours – BBQ, Hot and Herb. All were very good.” Louella added “Sliders were great. Beef brisket was very tender.

All the burgers come with “a side of house made, crispy, warm potato chips, which I thoroughly enjoyed” wrote Dani. Tom added “The soup was incredible.

Miss Browns came to our attention during #LeBurgerWeek 2016. Jenny described the experience as crazy – they have a tiny grill and there was a line out the door for six hours!

Miss Browns Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rae's Bistro: 4.6/5

Big Kildonan Burger: 4.6
$15 (platter)

Not So Classic Burger: 4.5
$13 (platter)

Rae’s Bistro takes silver! Similar to Clementine, last month’s new number one, Rae’s creates a variety of delectable dishes. You can chow down on a fantastic burger with beet chips and Lousy Beatnik beer while your dining partner has rack of lamb, a glass of wine and raspberry planter for desert.

Rae’s Bistro opened the doors in December after owners Zack Clarke and Matt Swirsky met Chef Mike Ozero in the parking lot and the ideas started flowing. Mike already knew his way around the kitchen at 925 Headmaster Row: “I try to learn something new all the time and research trends and flavors, but my favourite food is burgers. 95% of the time when I go out to eat, I get a burger.

Everything about the stack was delicious, but the bacon and Bistro Sauce put it over the top. When asked about the bacon Chef Ozero waxed poetic: “Bacon......lovely bacon. When I first met Matt, I said too bad we didn’t get the smoker from the meat shop so we could do bacon; maybe we should buy one. He had a box so we built a smoker. We do a dry rub with brown sugar, curing salt, maple and pepper, rub down a few bellies and let them sit for a time. After smoking a few hours with a wood chip blend, we put the bellies into the oven to bring them up to temperature, chill and slice. It took a few tries but I think we got it down.”

The 6.5 oz. beef patty is good ‘ol medium ground chuck. “We form into balls and drop a big heavy can on them” said Mike. “We let the meat do the talking and season with just salt and pepper. They are cooked on the flat top then the broiler.”

The Bistro Sauce added some complex flavours that some of us were mistakenly trying to identify in the patty. It raised questions and it was good. Mike joked about the Bistro sauce: “The first chef at 925 left the recipe; I changed the mustard and type of pickle to something more to my liking. I can drink the stuff. I suggest getting a side of it with fries.

Where Chef Ozero took a chance was with the bun – but it paid off. While many burger herders go with a softer Brioche style bun, Mike opted for a pretzel bun. “I wanted a bun that held up to grilling with a good dense chew, but small enough for the rest of the burger.” His design was sound. Geoff wrote “The pretzel bun held up with aplomb, wasn't dry like I find most.” Jeff added “I’m a huge fan of pretzel buns, and toasting this one made a great thing even better!” The pretzel bun isn’t for everybody though, and may be all that separated this burger from perfection for some.

April critiqued: “I ordered the Kildonan with extra mushrooms and it was heavenly. It's been a while since I had a nice flavourful burger and this one hit the spot! The bacon was amazing and the meat and sauce balanced well with the rest of the burger. Nom Nom. Burger!” Sandy added: “The patty was charbroiled perfectly and held together. Not well seasoned, but the Bistro Sauce and Arugula added plenty. The mushrooms on their own were amazing, but got lost on the burger.” Brian was succinct: “This was a great burger. The patty was flavourful with nice grill marks. The tomato and lettuce were fresh. The bacon was perfect.

Geoff threw down the gauntlet with “The Big Kildonan burger has surpassed the Big Khanuja as my favourite Jalapeno topped burger.” I see a Kings Head vs. Rae’s Bistro burger-off in our future.

The sides were good too. Tina wrote “I loved the fries - tasty & shoestring - no need for gravy or Ketchup.” Jeff added “I had the roasted vegetable bisque on the side – delicious, and thick. You could eat it with a fork.” Dani commented “The beet chips looked like a side of bacon! They were very yummy.

The soups and deserts are really something. Chef Ozero cooked his way across the country since graduating from Red River in 2002 and was at the MTS Centre under Roger Wilton when he passed his Red Seal exam. “I spent a few years at Desert Sinsations as Barbara O'Hara's sous chef. I didn't work on deserts, but you'd be surprised how much you learn from observation. I have a good day cook that is learning soups and surprising me with his creations.”

You can’t beat the service either. None of us went thirsty and the line of local craft beers was impressive. Two servers took great care of us, and it wasn't long before the parade of burgers came out of the kitchen in the sequence they were ordered. Brett commented “Tanika offered to drive us home to Charleswood even though she lives in Selkirk.” Rae’s Bistro is a bit of a trek for some – but totally worth it!

We came for the burger and stayed for the characters. Esther hasn’t burgered for a while and commented “Had a great conversation about visiting grave sites of famous people and where they met their demise. Burger Club is always entertaining.”
Rae's Bistro + Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Clementine: 4.6/5

Hamburger: 4.6, $12

Clementine was a surprise entry for #LeBurgerWeek 2016; they didn't have a burger on the menu but the “Southern Affair” took the Judges Choice Award. Four months later the understated “Hamburger” appeared on the lineup and was as near to perfection as any juicy stack we’ve feasted on. Nineteen Burger Clubbers voted to make Clementine #1.

Le Burger Week 2016
The underground restaurant opened at 125 Princess in May 2016. "We wanted a brunch space first and foremost, a place in the Exchange" said Chef Chris Gama. "The big draw to this location was the beautiful beams and exposed stone walls. We worked with Dutch East Design and they did an excellent job highlighting the existing features." Clementine is a partnership between Chef Adam Donnelly and his wife Carolina Konrad, sister Raya Konrad and Chris Gama.

Photo: Adelina Wong (
The subterranean location is reminiscent of a Quebec City cellar pub. The space felt roomy with a high timbered ceiling and open kitchen - lighting up one end of the dining room like a window into burger heaven. A variety of wooden surfaces and rich wall treatments present plenty of eye candy. There were sparkling bottles of water on the tables and an “Eat this it’ll help” neon sign near the kitchen. Stephanie exclaimed“Super cute restaurant!” and Brenda echoed “Very much enjoyed the ambience.

The burgers arrived quickly, served fully assembled and unaccompanied. They were beautiful to look at. The hand formed patty is an 85:15 mix of beef chuck and bacon, simply seasoned with salt and pepper, coarsely ground in-house and lightly handled giving it a fluffy texture. It’s a thick 5-6 oz. round prepared to perfection – cooked through and very juicy.

The pillowy soft sized-just-right Japanese milk dough bun was baked in-house and then grilled. Chris described how “a portion of the flour is pre-cooked limiting the amount of gluten that forms during mixing and providing a more tender crumb. We add dill and top it off with crushed dill pickle potato chips.” The stack was an easy bite and held together to the end. Many restaurants outsource their buns and when I asked Chris about it he said “The decision to bake in house was easy, we do all our baking in house!

The made-from-scratch zucchini refrigerator pickles provided vinegary tang and crunchy texture to the sandwich. The patty was nestled on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce and pimento cheese sauce. The sauce was fairly bold, and if your sandwich received a large dollop in the kitchen, it could dominate the otherwise well balanced flavours. Between the juicy patty and pickles it was drippy, but it's a well known fact that messy burgers taste better. To coin a phrase from Breakfast Connoisseurs, there was slurge.

  • Russ: A return to my happy place. The bite and flavour were both perfect, if a bit unconventional. The homemade bun was the ideal consistency and complimented the lightly packed bacon and beef patty. I will be back.
  • Les: Super simple construction with minimal additions. No tower of added this-and-that to impress, just a real burger with lettuce, sauce and zucchini pickle. The patty was thick, juicy and tasty with the added bacon infused. Sauce made it drippy (which is always good) and the bun held together!
  • Brett: I usually prefer a crispy patty but this was soft and quite flavourful.  Liked the tangy sauce. I love green relish and the sweet zucchini pickles satisfied that with a crunch. Bun was soft, tasty and held up well.

In the spirit of sharing, one of your table friends should order the Potato Home Fries ($5). The tasty morsels are buttery soft on the inside with a light crispy crust giving a pleasing texture. Artistically drizzled salsa negra and lime mayo add the flavour punch.

They don’t take reservations and Clementine is a popular destination. Most of us got there around 11:30 and were seated in two areas. There were lots of smiling and efficient service and kitchen staff and we were served quickly. I asked the kitchen folks if they’d like to pose for a photo and heard “No posing, only action shots!” It was the lunch rush and they were busy. By the time our group left at about 12:20 there were a number of people in line to be seated.

At $12, the unaccompanied burger seemed a little pricey, but it’s created from fresh, quality ingredients (as are all their menu items). The designed space is beautiful, staff are plentiful and well trained so I guess you get what you pay for. Andrew commented “For $12, it would be nice if a side was included, but this won't stop me from coming back.”

Clementine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato