Friday, August 21, 2015

Mon Ami Louis: 4.2/5

The Louis Burger

Score: 4.2

$12 (sides a-la-carte)

Update: New menu includes fries or salad for $15

It didn’t take long for WOW Hospitality to get Mon Ami Louis up and running after the unique Esplanade Riel bridge location became available in the spring of 2015. The view from the cantilevered plaza halfway between St Boniface and The Forks is quite stunning. Boats navigate the Red River under the side stayed, asymmetric suspension bridge beneath you, and the 69 m pylon rises through the skeletal roof structure above.

Our group was set up at one long table along the windows - with a little exit isle in the middle in case one of our number needed to escape to try out the million dollar facilities. We arrived shortly before the lunch rush, which meant our multiple servers had time to show us around the restaurant. Faye was very enthusiastic, and after seeing me Instagraming, told me all about SnapChat and filmed a short vignette of us grinning at her phone. Our principle server, Megan, did a great job getting us settled in and Brandy helped serve drinks.

They only have one burger on the menu – The Louis Burger. Megan described it as a straightforward burger that was “all about the meat”. Mon Ami Louis creates their own signature BBQ sauce - the dominant flavour on the burger. The secret to the great tasting fries - they’re cooked in duck fat.

Chef Luc Jean – winner of the Winnipeg 2014 Gold Medal Plates – described how they bake their own buns. The fresh roll got rave reviews from our group and put Mon Ami Louis on a short list of Winnipeg restaurants that bake bread in-house. All the more impressive with the limited space they have. To work in Chef Luc Jean’s kitchen, you need to know how to dance.

The bun was amazing, moist on the outside and crispy inside. Love toasted buns. The meat was very flavourful with the right amount of seasoning. I would have enjoyed more sauce though. The chippers were crispy-great and the goat cheese dip was creamy, warm and tasty.” – Mireille

The poutine was perfect! Cheese curds and homemade fries.” – April

The burger was excellent with a serious thick crust. Its flavour was top notch, juicy and lightly seasoned. Lettuce and tomato with BBQ sauce were great accompaniments, however the tomato was hard in the middle. Nicely presented with side salad topped with croutons and beets.” – Karen

Loved the bun. BBQ sauce made the burger. Was overpowering, but a good overpowering flavour. Beautiful view!” – Stephanie

The flavour of the burger shined through without the need for condiments. BBQ sauce was tasty yet not overpowering the flavour of the meat.“ – Tim P
Presents great for a fairly plain burger. Sauce all over the place.” – Russ

I did not get BBQ sauce on my burger so I might have missed out on the flavour.“ – Cary

Sitting on top of the Red River, looking down on the tour boats, imagining the winter skating trail. Opening mouth WIDE to take my first drooling bite, special BBQ sauce dribbles down my trembling fingers, the aromas of spicy burger and special bun dough wafting up my nose. All my senses crashing in on ... burger. Mmmm.” – Les

Mon Ami Louis Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Velvet Glove #BackdoorBurger: 4.4/5


Score: 4.4

Platter: $13 (Fries, drink and tax included)

Burger Club took to the streets to enjoy a fantastic Backdoor Burger from the Velvet Glove kitchen at the Fairmont Hotel. The box lunches were served from a side door, opening onto the courtyard adjacent to the Richardson Building. A different burger happens every Thursday between 11:30 am and 2:00 pm, but only until the beginning of September so get there soon! This week’s creation was the Caprese which came with fries and drink all-in for $13.

When Chef Palmer passionately described the burger earlier in the week, he started with the locally grown tomato from Harms Farm near Ste. Anne, MB. “The creation of the weekly burgers is a collaboration of all the cooks and chefs in the kitchen, we love what we do and love food.” The Velvet Glove is synonymous with fine dining and every layer of the stack embodied quality ingredients and a carefully designed flavour balance.

Buffalo mozzarella with a smear of basil and olive oil pesto topped the patty. The beef was nestled on a bed of arugula and a good spread of parmesan mayo.  The large short rib, prime rib, and chuck patty was flattened and well seasoned. Hand forming was evidenced by the fjords forming the coastline of this mass of meat. It was cooked through, juicy but not drippy with a soft texture. The grilled, shiny brioche roll from Gunn’s Bakery was an easy bite and the whole assembly held together to the end.

It was an extremely hot day, a humidex of 34 c when the seventeen of us ate, but the wide walled planters in the shade made for comfortable seating 80 metres away from iconic Portage and Main. The coated cardboard containers were good lap trays, and caught the drips from the mildly messy burger. Chef Palmer and Rachel had music playing next to the back-door table, but on this day, the calm of the normally quiet courtyard was disrupted by the soft-dig truck working beside us. I got a chuckle at the bowls of condiment packets lined up on the table – perhaps emulating hot-dog carts found around downtown Winnipeg – but I didn't see anyone spoiling their gourmet creation with the yellow or green.

In case you were wondering, the flavour packed buffalo mozzarella cheese really is made in Italy from Water Buffalo milk. The pungent arugula, or salad rocket - also sourced from Harms Farm - held its own amongst the flavours of the assembled stack. A little history on arugula: “Grown as an edible herb in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, it was mentioned by various classical authors as an aphrodisiac, most famously in a poem long ascribed to Virgil, “Moretum”, which contains the line: et veneris revocans eruca morantuem – “the rocket excites the sexual desire of drowsy people.” Some writers assert that for this reason during the Middle Ages it was forbidden to grow rocket in monasteries."

Burger Clubbers had a lot say about the VG #BackdoorBurger

Juicy burger that held together well when dining al fresco. Nice shady spot to enjoy eating outside. Fries were good too!” - Jessica

What a great combination: a haute cuisine kitchen with a burger shack front end. And really, burgers are best enjoyed outdoors.” - Stan

Fresh bun, juicy patty, perfectly ripe tomato - every aspect was very good. Each ingredient complimented the Italian flavour of the Caprese burger concept. Thick handmade patty and generous toppings and a moderate number of fries left me perfectly full.” - Greg

Awesome burger, aka meaty Caprese salad. A little messy, but incredibly held together considering how huge it was. The bun didn't fall apart - it wasn't dense, and not too squishy soft - it was just right. I like that it was served in a little box like a little present. It was worth the effort getting lost in Winnipeg Square. Wish they would open Portage and Main!” - Isabel

All the toppings were evident from the first bite to the last. The cheese was gooey hot and tasty, and the tomato was ripe and sized nicely to the burger. Overall, this is one of my favourite burgers to date. I would sit in traffic for this one.” - Karen

It was fast, and good. A combination that rarely occurs in the burger business.” - Brian
Once I unhinged my jaw to get the burger in my mouth, it was a non-stop burger bonanza.” - Maureen

This burger was a great deal! It had top-end ingredients, the quality of the meat was high and even though it was large, you wanted to make sure you ate the whole burger.” - April

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Marion Street Eatery: 4.3/5

Certified Angus Beef Burger

Score: 4.3

Platter: $12.75

The Marion Street Eatery caught Burger Club's attention with their “Tickle My Pickle” entry for #LeBurgerWeek 2014. The big, beautiful patio at 393 Marion St was calling and the sun beamed down for our visit in June.

They don’t take reservations, but we got there early for lunch and were lucky to find four open tables. A steady stream of customers quickly filled up the patio and overflowed into the comfortable indoor seating.

The service at Marion Street Eatery can’t be beat starting with front-of-the-house manager, Ellissa, who greeted us at the door, got us settled in and found a moment to introduce me to Laneil, whose family owns the hotel, and her restaurateur-partner Chef Melissa - creator of the menu and plating in the kitchen today. Friendly and fun Chelsea did a great job serving our large group on what turned out to be a very busy lunch hour.

There are five burgers on the menu, but at Burger Club we’re all about the beef so had the Certified Angus Burger. It’s their only beefy stack, but comes standard with bacon, cheddar and mushrooms, so really, what other options do you need? We tried all the sides, except, strangely, the Poutine that they’re known for.

The burgers were served bun-open in a sumptuous display of ingredients. A generous portion of cheddar cheese, two full slices of criss-crossing bacon and a little heap of fresh, sautéed, mushrooms crowned the large patty on the hot side. Bright red, ripe tomatoes on a bed of fresh green leaf lettuce waited to be brought together on the cold side.

Brian wrote “Great burger, the patty was moist but not too juicy. Bun was soft and fresh and held up while eating. Toppings were fresh and the cheese and bacon very noticeable.” Dani agreed “Big patty, big bun. A very enjoyable burger.” Chris commented “Awesome burger, bacon was nice and smokey. The roasted garlic aioli sauce was fantastic.” *Everyone* raved about how good the garlic sauce was.

There were differing opinions on the Kaiser bun. Like Goldilocks, some thought it too small, some too large and some said it was just right. Cary scrawled “It would be PERFECT if they replaced the soft Kaiser bun with something a little sturdier.”

Chris exclaimed “Fries are the best I've had in the city.” Karen was happy with her upgrade “Sweet potato fries were crispy on the outside, soft and yummy on the inside. Nice garlic dip.” Stan had “potato wedges for my side and they were nicely spiced.”

Nelson’s bun bottom was bigger that his top which caused him to break into song:

I was just a skinny lad.
Never knew no good from bad.
You make the rockin' world go 'round
It's a fat bottom burger....
lettuce all hang out.

Ooh yeah, them fat bottomed burgers

Fat bottomed burgers, yeah, yeah, yeah
Fat bottomed burgers, yes, yes.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dwarf No Cachette: 3.9/5

Kawaii Moe Moe
Special Beef Burger

Score: 3.9

Platter: $15.95

There’s a new restaurant in town with Dwarf No Cachette opening in the heart of St Boniface at 157 Provencher Blvd in the former Step'n Out location. At The Dwarf Hideout you can enjoy Japanese street food with a heaping side of Kawaii.

I was intrigued by the handmade scrapbook menu listing half-a-dozen burgers with unique toppings like egg salad and teriyaki sauce, but Maid Café night clinched the deal – Burger Club had to go! Taken from Japanese subculture, on Tuesdays servers wear maid and butler costumes to wait on and entertain the “masters of the house.” Your evening includes games  and dance performances - all for a $2.50 advance ticket. If you enjoy anime and Cosplay – you'll want to put Dwarf No Cachette on your list. Upcoming events and special menus are listed on their Facebook page.

The Maid Café night menu doesn't list a burger - it’s different from the regular Dwarf No Cachette menu. Of course we're Burger Club so owner Yasuko offered to prepare us the “Kawaii Moe Moe Special Beef Burger“ with two topping choices. Our group of seventeen pre-ordered so our two hour seating wasn't rushed.

Hello Kitty reigns supreme in the gift shop with a collection of all that is Kawaii. At one point in the evening there was a door prize draw and lucky Dani won a watch. Ashley (aka Ichigo) asked if we'd “like our food to taste better” and offered to perform a magic trick. Of course the answer was “Yes!” and she taught us a rhyme that ended with hands forming a heart.

The highlight of the evening was the dance performance when the two maids performed their carefully rehearsed choreography. Kitten battle was the best! It was a unique experience for me – I confess I am not part of Cosplay culture, but our group was made to feel welcome and invited to play along. You can watch the dance performance here.

The meals were beautifully presented on a variety of rectangular dishes. The burgers were wearing their bun-hat tilted so you could admire the toppings along with the two colourful sides. The beef patties were gigantic – easily 12 oz. and ball shaped. I haven't had their regular menu burger so this may have been generosity for our group with the off-menu burger. The patties were well cooked – moist, not dry – and seasoned with onions and herbs. Not salty or spicy – more of a home-style patty.

Geoff summarized nicely “I can't say I've ever been to an evening such as Dwarf No Cachette offers with the servers dressed up as maids. Very kitchy décor, gnomes galore. The experience was full of firsts for Burger Club: first meal with Edamame beans as a side, first burger with chopsticks as the only utensils, first burger with teriyaki sauce as a topping, definitely the first meal augmented by Manga-style dance routines. The burger was hefty, 1 2/3 inches thick in the middle but cooked throughout. It didn't stay together very well, the sesame seed bun was tasty, but woefully unprepared for its duties.”

It didn't take many bites – no matter what your grip - before you were juggling the broken remains of your sandwich. The store bought sesame seed bun just didn't hold up. Iceberg lettuce, slices of tomato and mayo made a slippery base for the burger ball to roll around on. If you asked for cheese, your stack included a slice of processed American cheese ($1). April handled her burger like an athlete: “There was a condiment landslide happening as I ate. The tomato escaped completely, but I was able to rebuild it from pieces to finish the meat.”

There was just the right amount of teriyaki sauce on my patty to add sweetness without dominating the flavour. The mild tomato salsa was flavourful and added moisture to the assembly. Nicole noted “Burger was really tasty! Patty was huge and cooked/moist all the way thru. Spice mix was great. Bun was a little flimsy and fell apart halfway thru. Patty could have been squished a little to better fit the bun and my mouth. Edamame was unsalted - it was nice. Yam tempura fries were delicious!

Some people were expecting a fried egg (Aussie style) and were surprised at the dollop of egg salad. Nadia wrote “Egg salad on burger is really interesting, also the teriyaki sauce. Meat patty is very soft, mixed with onion. Lovely. Meat patty is too big for me though.” Brad scrawled: “Had egg salad on burger - most unique flavour ever. Yam fries with teriyaki sauce was to die for. Burger patty was huge and juicy, almost too big.

The potato salad side was a scoop of fine mashed potato served in a ramekin. It was cold (as expected with a salad) with just enough cucumber to conjure up memories of a summer picnic. The Edamame were fresh and bright on the plate. Everyone loved the tempura coated yam fries. They were light, crispy and delicious. Maureen observed “Yam fries fabulous with tempura coating. Edamame were refrigerator cold with no salt.”

Dwarf No Cachette's dessert menu lists Parfaits for $55, $66, $77 and $88. We asked our butler what you got for $88 but he couldn’t tell us. I opted for the $6.95 “Berry Berry”. It was spectacular and lined with  … corn flakes of course!

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