Thursday, July 17, 2014

Peasant Cookery: 4.1/5

Peasant Burger
Score: 4.1, $9.00

Peasant with Cheese
Score: 4.0, $10.50

Peasant with Bacon and Cheese
Score: 3.6, $12.00

Feature Burger
Score: 4.3, $10.50

A couple of Burger Club forward scouts first tasted the beef at Peasant Cookery during “Burger Week” in 2013. The challenger for Winnipeg’s Best Burger took the form of the Peasant Burger topped with fried green tomatoes, aged cheddar, and sauce gribiche. It was something special and I knew Burger Club would be returning en-masse.

In 2013 our server described the ground in house short rib, brisket and chuck as “lovingly cradled from the grinder and gently laid down before cutting into patties.” He even performed the hand motions. When Burger Club visited this week it was the same mouth watering Peasant Burger patty, but this time the feature burger was topped with spicy tomato jam and St-André cheese.

I hadn't heard of St-André cheese before and our waitress described it as “Gorgonzola and Brie have a lovechild.” That was a perfect description; it had the powdery white skin and soft buttery texture of Brie – practically a sauce on the hot burger – but packed the flavour punch of Gorgonzola. The fat content of St-André is about 75%.

Peasant Cookery has a great patio in a prime location – this week it was looking across at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival free stage in Old Market Square. The music was wonderful and the Fringe crowds were lively. When I phoned to make a reservation, Peasant Cookery was quite happy to seat us on the patio, and there were two tables of eight laid out for us. Our waitress “Adrienne - like in Rocky" was fun and efficient and handled our large, chaotic group like a pro. There wasn't room for the sidewalk umbrellas and it was a hot and sunny day. My table (I’ll call it Table #1) sucked shade from our neighbor’s umbrella, but Table #2 was lobstering in the full sun.

I ordered the special - of course I wanted to try the custom creation - and didn't wait too long for my burger to be delivered. The beef patty was tender and quite juicy. As you devoured it you could still see the tracks from the grinder. Karen “tried a piece of burger meat all by itself and it tasted like beef brisket, it was so tasty!” Brian wrote “The beef patty was the main attraction and it tasted great.”

The good sized dollop of spicy tomato jam complimented the patty, brioche bun, and cheese perfectly. Peasant Cookery is known for their fresh, home grown ingredients, as evidenced by clear jars of vegetables displayed in windows and along counters. Cary had the special (there was some debate as to whether he stole Brian’s burger) and commented “That was the best burger patty EVER. And the topping was good too. It didn't need bacon (gasp!)” Sandy commented “All the flavours were very complimentary and very well thought out.”

The brioche bun did a great job of absorbing all the runoff, although one or two diners ended up with soggy bottoms. Geoff had the Peasant Burger and described the aged cheddar as “copious and melty - a couple chunks actually dripped off the side.” He also said the bacon was “done just the way I like - a bit leathery.”

I thought it a good sized and filling patty, but there were some diners in our group that thought it smallish. I didn't get a good look at their meat, so I can’t say for sure whether patty size or appetites varied. April thought her bacon-cheese Peasant Burger with Aioli sauce was small and wrote “Ironically a peasant would not be able to afford this burger. The patty and thick, juicy bacon were good quality, but I expected more for $12.”

Karen noted “They have the simplicity of peasant cooking down pat.” Simple didn't work for everyone though. Bill would have liked more sauces and thought it a plain burger. Geoff said the “Fries were okay - a bit nondescript. The spicy mayo dip was good.” Karen wrote “Salad was yum. Fresh crisp lettuce with a light dressing.”

Our waitress had help delivering food and was right there with her flip book to make sure people got what they ordered, but the system seemed to break down, or the kitchen got behind a bit for Table #2. A number of people waited for their food or had burger mix-ups. Chris wrote the “Only issue I had, it seemed they confused as to who ordered what. Others ordered well after me and they gave them their drinks and food first.” We were a large group on a very busy patio, all ordering slight variations of the same thing, so all in all, I think Peasant Cookery did very well.

When Burger Club rates their burgers, I ask people to think about the various attributes of the burger (quality, flavour, quantity, assembly and presentation) to help keep the review more objective and less subjective. We also rate the restaurant experience (service, price and comfort) separately so diners are less inclined to judge the burger by their service experience. I thought this worked fairly well, but our large group at Peasant Cookery turned out to be a bit of a psychology experiment. Table #1, who by and far got their burgers quickly and sat in the shade, gave the burger a 4.55, which would have put it in our top 5. A few people at Table #2 waited a while in the hot sun for their meal and  rated the burger at 3.63; 59th on Burger Club’s list. When the two tables are combined, Peasant Cookery landed in 25th place.

Peasant Cookery on Urbanspoon

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