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