Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Johnny G's - McDermot: 3.8/5

Bacon Burger $10.45  - Score: 3.8

Cheese Burger $9.95  - Score: 3.4

Fatboy Burger $9.45 - Score: 3.9

Mushroom Burger $10.45 - Score: 4.6

All burgers come as a platter with fries or a salad

177 McDermot Ave

I usually refer to UrbanSpoon when researching our next BurgerClub contender and Johnny G’s had the worst reviews I’d ever read. It was like people were going out of their way to tell the world just how bad it was. Well, it wasn’t that bad. We were greeted right away and moved around some tables so all ten of us could sit comfortably together. The hostess (owner?) met us with a smile and our waitress took our orders and brought us drinks quickly. Most places we’ve been to are counter service so it was a treat to be seated at real tables with real cutlery. Johnny G’s was at the higher end of the burger price range though. The food seemed a little slow coming out, but it pretty much all came out at once so maybe they were just trying to serve us all together. The burgers only come as a platter with either fries or a salad and were served “bun open”.

Bacon Burger - the Rockabilly

When the plates were set down three things happened at once. Some burgers had a full slice of red onion on top and some only had one thin ring so there was a flurry of activity as diners redistributed the onions more equitably. Most BurgerClubbers went for the “Rockabilly” which is Johnny G’s bacon burger and which the menu proudly proclaims comes “crowned with two slices of bacon”. Well, they all had one stubby slice of bacon (1/2 a slice really) so people felt shorted. The waitress said that’s the way it was supposed to be. Now I don’t know about you, but I would think the bacon should feature pretty prominently on a bacon burger. You pay extra for it. This also brought into question whether they should really be called “Johnny’s Honest Burgers." Most people ordered fries and the third thing that happened was there were a bunch of exclamations that “the fries are cold!” One diner’s fries were “tepid” so I guess hers were closer to the heat lamp.

Cheese Burger - Johnny Says Cheese

The menu stated the burgers were “freshly lean ground beef” which I’m sure was true before they were factory pressed, frozen and put in boxes. The patties were thick and juicy – there was definitely a lot of meat – but didn’t have any real flavour like you get when a restaurant makes the patties and blends in their own secret seasoning recipe. I had a Rockabilly and the see-through slice of Mozzarella cheese looked like a postage stamp in the center of the burger. I sure couldn’t taste it. The burgers didn’t come with any condiments – no chili sauce or anything else for that matter. It was supposed to come with “burger sauce” but I didn’t find any. I guess if you’re familiar with Johnny G’s you would know this and ask for ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and relish but we weren’t and the waitress didn’t offer up anything. There was a bottle of ketchup on the table for the fries. It was a strange looking bottle so my recommendation was to "Just squeeze it until something happens." My bun was large, doughy and cold. How hard is it to warm up the bun? There was a nice large slice of tomato and some shredded yellow lettuce on the bun. All in all, the burger reminded me of a large family fall picnic with uncle Fester cooking burgers out of a large Costco sized box of prefabbed patties, and a bag of buns sitting on the cold picnic table nearby. It wasn’t a bad burger, it just wasn’t good. It was large and filling though. One dainty diner set the tone with her comment "I don't know if I can fit this in my mouth."

(Magic) Mushroom Burger
I opted for the salad and was offered a variety of choices (tossed, Greek or Caesar) and a choice of dressing which was nice. However, my house salad came with an overabundance of large chunks of celery – including those 3” wide yellowy-white bits near the base – and large chunky slices of green pepper.

A couple of diners opted for Poutine which they said was yummy. “Brett was impressed with my ability to only eat the gravy + cheese off my poutine, but then again Brett is impressed with everything I do!”

We try and include an educational element in BurgerClub as well and this week I learned that hot yoga makes you turn purple and get all drippy. Also Jo-Ann suffers from CFS…no…yeah…never mind. Maybe it was CFR … There was also something going on between Brett and Russ’ monkey but thankfully I was at the other end of the table. Nelson so admired Jo-Ann’s nails that he’s getting his done Tuesday.

Johnny G.'s on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Great Burger & Fry Co (closed): 3.7/5

Bacon Burger $3.42  - Score: 3.6

Cheese Burger $2.75  - Score: 3.4

Fatboy Burger $2.88 - Score: 3.9

290 Henderson Highway
I’ve read many favourable reviews for the Great Burger & Fry Co (GBF) but this was my first visit. In a nutshell – GBF is good and cheap! It seems most of the good burger joints are counter service or take-out only. GBF is counter service with all the ambience of a recycled donut shop. So far we’ve only received table service at Original Georges.The booths were comfortable and roomy enough and all eight of us were able to sit together.  The GBF cash register-person took our orders quickly, but apparently their grill can only handle one or two burgers at a time so our burgers came out in a parade - still pretty quick though. Like Daly Burger, there were no plates for dine-in and you had to eat off the foil and paper wrapper. Word of BurgerClub is spreading and this week we were joined by two visiting burger dignitaries - AngelFreak and CaptainConquest. There are 100’s of people clamoring to get into to BurgerClub so we’ve had to limit the team to people with funny names.

Bacon-Double Cheeseburger
I had my usual Bacon-Double-Cheeseburger and quite enjoyed it. I’m having a hard time being critical of the burgers we’re evaluating - I really like eating hamburgers and feel bad saying anything mean about them. The BurgerClub started with some of Winnipeg’s best burger joints, so maybe we'll visit one of the big-four burger chains to be reminded of what a low-end burger tastes like.
The GBF meat patties were big and free formed (visions of “free-range” burgers came to mind), well spiced and juicy. The ground beef texture was nice and evident, but the burger was soft and a little fall-aparty. People that like their burger well done might find it a little undercooked for their tastes. There was some variation in chili - it was the first thing I tasted when I bit into my burger but another diner didn’t get enough. There was one slice of bacon (other places we’ve visited have put two on the double burger) so bacon flavour did not dominate. There was one decently thick slice of processed cheddar cheese that tasted pretty good. The bun seemed a little underpowered for the job and broke apart for some. “Soft & messy” and “Nice and crispy on the outside, juicy sweet on the inside” were both used to describe the burgering experience. Burger is now a verb.

Cheeseburger Platter
Some other comments were that the fries were quite stubby in stature and the milkshake was very small. The Fatboy’s were a bit messy (not messy enough according to one diner) and the cheeseburger was quite plain. The restaurant charges an Interac fee and they don’t take credit cards so cash is king at GBF!
GBF - Great Burger and Fry on Urbanspoon