Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rudy's: 3.9/5

Bacon Burger (Max Cheese)
Platter: $13.95
Score: 4.0

Mushroom Burger
Platter: $11.90
Score: 4.6

Cheese Burger
Platter: $11.90
Score: 2.8

The service was great. We were greeted and seated comfortably. Our orders taken quickly and the drinks - including water which came without having to be asked - were brought out fast. It didn't feel too long to me before our burgers started coming out, but others pointed out it was about 45 minutes. Multiple wait staff came by several times during our meal, topping up waters, taking away dishes and making sure everyone was happy.

The very pleasant patio at Rudy's has a small park between it and the street so you're not overwhelmed with noise and smells, and at a distance from some of the characters walking by. It's overshadowed by a 40' high canopy that kept us out of the direct sun, but was still open and breezy. The patio furniture is new and quite comfortable. I should mention I’m a little tardy on posting this blog - we visited Rudy’s on a hot, sunny day in August.

Rudy's told us that all the ingredients they can make fresh, are made fresh, including smoking their own bacon and curing their own beef. Rudy's even prepares their own beverages - including the water that they're so proud of and - soda! I had a cherry soda which was the perfect accompaniment to my burger on the patio while listening to beach tunes over the speakers. The soda's were served over ice in tall glasses and made colourful displays on our two tables.

I went for the "Max Cheese" burger - how could I not? The patty was a ball of beef in between two regulation sized grilled cheeses. It came nowhere near to the edges - which in some ways was good because it was easy to leave half the bread on the plate. There was a beautiful bone handled knife stuck through the burger - the effect being a top heavy grilled cheese platform balanced on top of a round ball of beef. I had a bobble burger! The top of my burger actually bobbled lazily back and forth just like the Ozzie Osborne action figure I have at home. There was a long cocktail stick - with a little Rudy's flag - keeping the tall assembly in check. I opted to use the knife to cut my burger in half and that made handling it a lot easier. As I looked around at the rest of the burger crew during lunch there was a lot of serviette action going on.

April lamented “It was tasty for a heart attack on a plate. I could not eat the whole thing.” Sandy also had the Max Cheese and said “Wow. I didn't know what to expect … this was, well, oddly delicious. The patty was juicy and well flavoured. The egg bursting when I cut the sandwich was the perfect binding agent. The bacon was crisp and the grilled cheese was not over grilled.” Tazz mused “The sandwich I had was obviously created by a death row inmate asked what he wanted for his last meal.”I want a hamburger, some grilled cheese sandwiches and, oh yeah, an egg & bacon."”

The grilled cheeses were two full sized sandwiches. Very fun. They were lightly buttered and lightly grilled with a thin slice of very light motza cheese. I thought I might get a very rich, heavy burger with the grilled cheeses, but it wasn't. There was a *lot* of bread - but not a lot of flavour from the grilled cheeses. I modified the design though by asking for the egg to be left off - others said the runny egg worked well with the grilled cheese. Mike wrote “The egg blends well with the crisp of the GCS, the patty & mayo.”

The meat was a nice grind - not too fine and not too coarse. The patty hadn't been overworked and was quite tender (not soft and fall-aparty) and juicy (not fatty). It was very mildly seasoned though. Not much flavour to the patty at all - except authentic beef taste. The flavour in this burger came from the zingy special sauce, the generous coarsely chopped grilled onions and the leathery bacon. There were even fresh refrigerator pickles on the burger.

The "Forest Mushroom Soup" was absolutely delicious. It was dark and full of fresh mushrooms in a rich creamy broth. I loved it.

I tried Stephanie's French fries. They were shoestring dimensions but tasted like little curly fries that had been straightened. There was lots of seasoning and they were a nice accompaniment to the burger.

When I made the reservation I was told they would add the gratuity to our bills. I requested they not do that, and when it came time to pay our bills, we were allowed to decide what tip to give. I never understand the automatic gratuity - but I probably don’t appreciate the restaurant business in Winnipeg. If it's added onto your bill automatically then it's not a tip, it's just a surcharge. The intent of a tip is to reward good service. I would think that servers would come away with a bigger tip if left up to the diners than the automatic 15% added to the bill.

April observed “The bathrooms were very fancy, so fancy in fact that they are hard to find and blend into the wall. State of the art, but I had trouble making things work.” Christie backed her up: “I do admit that the washroom set-up both puzzled and delighted me.”

Rudy's Eat and Drink on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Burgerbend (Scoops): 3.9/5

Fat Boy
Score: 4.0

Bacon Burger
Score: 3.8

Cheese Burger
Score: 3.5

After retiring, Dennis Schwartz built Scoops for his boys to run, and not too long after that, added on the Burgerbend. They're clearly big sports supporters with Bombers and Jets memorabilia on the walls and both Dennis and his son Matthew were wearing their Blue Bombers t-shirts. Dennis just recently opened a second Scoops-Burger Bar on Main at Jefferson and now each of his sons has a restaurant. Dennis is a great entertainer and had lots of stories for us. April exclaimed “Dennis keeps popping out from behind counters in both the burger and ice cream shop!

Burgerbend (and Burger Bar) use the "original" Fat Boy secret recipe developed by Dennis's good friend "Jimmy". Jimmy created the Fat Boy 40 years ago, and according to Dennis, Greek restaurants tried to copy it, but now he has the original recipe taught to him and his boys by Jimmy.  Dennis told us how the patties are made from fresh ground and the potatoes cut daily.

The Burgerbend has a little vestibule across the front where you go in one door, order and pay for your burger, then exit out the other end and wait for your number to be called. A couple of other patrons came in while we were there and they were treated like old friends. It was a beautiful day and eleven of us sat comfortably outside at the nice clean picnic tables under than shade of umbrellas.

The burgers came wrapped in checked paper and served on a tray with Ketchup on the side. The burger patty was steaming hot, had a real grill crust, and was cooked thoroughly - quite a firm texture. That may in part have been because we were chatting up Matthew and distracting him from flipping burgers at the grill. Several people said their burgers were moist so there was likely just some variable time on the heat trying to cook a dozen patties at once on an eight patty grill. My bacon-cheeseburger didn't have a lot of juicy toppings on it (it's all about the bacon and beef) but people who had the Fat Boy said it was quite moist. The meat had no filler and was nicely seasoned - I thought a flavourful seasoning salt mixed in with the beef. My double was delicious and quite filling. A single would've probably done.  The bacon was cooked very crispy. I'll definitely take that over soft, soggy bacon any day; it's a real trick to be able to get perfect "leathery" bacon especially when cooking for a crowd at lunch and sharing the hot grill with the burgers. The processed jalapeno cheese is unique – it comes from Mexico - via Dennis's place in Arizona. I enjoyed the taste and there was a good flavour balance with the rest of the ingredients. I asked for my onions fried and they were able to accommodate. Nothing kills a burger for me like a pile of hot, white onion and the fried onions tasted great!

Brett summarized the burger nicely “Great chili. Great crust on the patty, well seasoned burgers + chili, bun stood up.

Karen commented “The patty was very nicely seasoned. Crispy fried on the outside and still moist on the inside. Toppings complemented the burger - not too many and not sliding apart. The bun was a bit dry but perfect size.” Karen had the Bullseye Bacon Burger and it was all about the BBQ sauce!

The buns are baked especially for Burgerbend by Kub Bakery. They were nice and big - easily encapsulating my double burger. There was a good burger-to-bun ratio but the buns were perhaps a little dry and crumbly. They were warmed on the grill though which is always a good thing. The perfect bun seems to be elusive among Winnipeg burger restaurants, but Burger Club recommends a Kaiser.

I *loved* the fries! The potatoes are freshly cut each day, deep fried soft and brown and seasoned. Cary tried the Taco Fries, and wow, they looked good. He wouldn't share with the rest of us though, so we'll have to take his word for it. Dennis told us the Taco Fries are the big seller. Cary said “The Taco fries are a meal in themselves”.

What's the best way to finish off a burger and fries? With ice-cream of course and Dennis invited us to sample the wares at Scoops next door - his treat! Best ice-cream ever! Thanks Dennis - you're a great host and a stand up guy :) People of Riverbend - you are lucky to have Burgerbend in your neighbourhood!

Burger Bend Home made burgers n fries on Urbanspoon