Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Stella's on Sherbrook: 4/5

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Choego Burger: 3.9
- LeBurgerWeek Special
$11.95 (platter)

B & E Burger: 4.6
- Regular Menu
$14.35 (platter)

The newly renovated Stella’s at 116 Sherbrook is bright and roomy. There’s an open kitchen and interesting artworks. A plethora of personnel took turns greeting our group with sincere smiles and conversation. They’re a happy bunch and the service can’t be beat.

It was LeBurgerWeek – the greatest week of the year – and we were at Stella’s to feast on their homage to Asian/Latin/Caribbean/LA street cuisine boldly named the Choego (the best).

I had the Grass-Fed Beef Burger a few years back at Stella’s @PlugIn when the patty consisted of a collection of tasty morsels in close association, perhaps held together by some strange beefy magnetism, but not “pattyfied.” Today’s beef round took on a more traditional form but was quite a departure in flavour.

The Choego patty had good texture, not too soft and not to dense, but it was lean and dry. The seasoning was complex – cilantro, and opinions varied from caraway to thyme. The grilled ring of pineapple added some moisture. As you’d expect from Stella’s, all the ingredients were fresh and healthy, evinced with the generous pile of Arugula. Although present, neither the smear of avocado mayo nor the cheese was evident. The house baked fun was fresh, fluffy and did a great job wrapping the stack.

Photo Credit: Jeff
It's burger week! It's burger week!” exclaimed Geoff. “I had the Stella's special entrant into the ever-expanding burger week roster. The Choego wasn't a bad burger but there were aspects that could have been improved. The Arugula had a bit of conflicting taste with the rest of the creation, but the pineapple had a good flavour and added some moisture. Overall the burger was a bit dry, meaning there was no burger detritus left on the plate afterwards - a rarity for me!

The burger had everything going for it, but some of the flavours did not work for me” critiqued Karen. “Perhaps it was the Arugula because I like pineapple on a burger. Overall a nice burger - good potential for the patty - but too many special ingredients made for complex flavours that didn't appeal to me.”

Hmm … conundrum. Love the grilled pineapple and I love Arugula on a burger but something there was amiss” pondered Sandy. “Did the cinnamon change the chemistry of the pineapple? Nope, it was great on its own. I suspect the Arugula was extra peppery. A flavourful patty, albeit a little dry in spots. Love the Ally McBeal bathroom!

Every burger is someone’s favourite, and the Choego was Maureen’s. “Not the flavour of a normal burger, but wow, absolutely delicious in its uniqueness. Burger held together really well and didn’t have to lick elbows!” Jeff liked it too: “Delicious! I was a little worried when I read the description that flavours would be too overpowering, but they worked together in perfect harmony. The bun was amazing - perhaps best I've ever had - in perfect proportion to burger and held together perfectly to the last bite.

There were differing opinions over the Choego bun; some thought it perfectly sized to the patty, with bun and beef in every bite right to the end, but others thought it a little too ample. “Burger held together like a champ” jotted Brad. Les scribed "I like a bun you can pick up and eat! The bun held together for the whole experience so kudos for that!” The regular menu bun didn’t fare so well. Dani wrote “My burger came with a Focaccia bun. Although it was good, it didn't hold its load well and disintegrated. Decided to eat it with a knife and fork. Hopefully I won't get kicked out of burger club for introducing cutlery.”

A few people opted for the B&E Burger and enjoyed it. April exclaimed “My burger was a great choice! The B&E burger (with the addition of cheese and Avocado) was very yummy. The first half was relatively mess-free, however the second half (when the egg yolk broke) was running down my arm as I ate it.” Jacques wrote “I was curious about the combination of egg and burger and it did not disappointThe bun was trouble from the get-go. Do not trust Focaccia buns to hold your burger. It was an eggcellent burger.”

Stella's Cafe & Bakery Sherbrook Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tot Wheels:4.1/5

Double Bacon Burger
Score: 4.1

$9 (tax inc), $13 Including Tots

You’ve probably heard about the habit forming Tots, but did you know Tot Wheels also makes a great burger? Owner and chef Scott Moffat tweeted the Double Bacon Burger special and I double timed it to 275 Broadway to be first in line at the flashy food truck.

Scott makes the patties in house – a blend of beef, pork and Italian sausage with his own recipe of herbs and spices. They were juicy and delicious – the star of the stack. They cook each order fresh and the two thin patties cook faster than one thick one with twice the flavourful grill crust.

The bacon is fried up fresh and wrinkly; it’s usually cooked soft, on the brink of undercooked for some diners. “It takes a little longer but ends up being worth the wait. People don't complain as long as the quality is there” says Scott. The assembly is completed with grilled onions, Havarti cheese, ripe red tomato and shredded lettuce. It’s capped with a grilled sesame seed bun that’s up to the task if you need to one-hand it. “All of our products and ingredients are local and organic as much as possible.”

Dani wrote “The burger had two smallish patties and three slices of bacon with sautéed onions. The flavour was nice, just enough spice. The Dijon added a tanginess to the whole package.” Mat added:“Really rich in flavour. Italian sausage in patty is excellent.” Les scribed “The Havarti cheese was a classy touch! All held together nicely & the bun was good.”

Of course, the burger is accompanied by heavenly tots. The combo comes with Sriracha or garlic aioli for dipping. Like everything else in the truck, the Tots are made fresh and they’re crispy-golden on the outside, soft and cheesy-gooey on the inside. The mashed potato blended with herbs, spices and cheese is rolled and dropped into the fryer per order. You can watch Shaw TV’s spot to see Scott in action.

Jeff exclaimed: “Excellent burger - plenty of beef & bacon, and a huge bun (almost too big) that was nice and soft, but held together nicely. Patty was cooked just right. Perfect amount of tots to compliment - spicy aioli was excellent.” Karen’s a fan: “I love the Tot Wheels truck! The tots were terrific - big and crunchy.

Scott plans on keeping the burger on the menu and adding an additional sandwich.  Word is the next creation may be a Mac ‘n Cheese grilled cheese with pork belly. Tot Wheels will be at Many Fest – Food Truck Wars again this year from Sept 9-11, 2016. “Many Fest is our - and most truck's - busiest time of the year, I'd like to serve the burger at the festival but it might not be possible with the volume of people.”

Scott took over the truck from Darryl Crumb in March, 2016. Scott was the lead chef at the Exchange Restaurant for two years where they worked together and he learned about running the food truck from Darryl. Tot Wheels also caters events - and surprisingly - weddings! “We have done wedding dinners and late night snacks.  This saves the bride and groom a ton of money and has turned out excellent every time.

Tot Wheels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pete's Place Family Restaurant: 4/5

Chili Burger: 3.6
$11.95 (platter)

Bacon Cheeseburger: 3.5
$10.95 (platter)

$10.95 (platter)

Cheese Burger: 4.2
$9.95 (platter)

When we arrived at Pete’s Place owner Samantha had us setup at one long table in the middle of the restaurant. There was a photo of the five patty Fatboy and she challenged me to finish one – but I’d need a lot more training before tackling that behemoth. As it was I could barely finish the double I ordered. I’m pretty sure their claim of a 5-oz. patty is grossly understated.

Pete’s Place is on top of their game, winning several community choice awards. True to popular opinion, it's nothing fancy, but serves up good food at reasonable prices. Some restaurateurs take the opportunity to expound at length about their creations, but when I asked Samantha she responded with “Burgers are prepared fresh daily, and on busy days twice“ and “Chill is prepared using 100% certified Angus beef and Pete’s own custom blend of spices.“ Plain and simple.

Samantha kept our drinks topped up while patiently waiting for all of our group to arrive so she could put in the orders together. They were well staffed with three in the kitchen including namesake Peter Vlahos on the grill and son Dean prepping and plating. It wasn't much of a wait before Samantha was bringing out all of the meals at once. Impressive!

It’s a classic diner patty. Lean and fairly dry, dense and cooked with a solid grill crust. I thought the burger seasoning salty, but a few diners said the saltiness was from the chili sauce. It's Greek-style - not too spicy. I liked it on the burger and loved it on the fries. Chili sauce is like beer – tastes vary and so did opinions. The Brioche-style bun wasn’t sweet, but light and fluffy with a shiny top. It held up well.

The Fatboy was topped with a heap of shredded iceberg lettuce – easy to bite through. The pickles were spears laid across the patty – admired by some with others pining for the disc form. The tomato was bright red and ripe. Karen wrote “This was a really decent burger. Good taste overall. The patty was firm, great tasting and fairly juicy. I liked their chili sauce, not too salty with a nice mild seasoning. Tomato was fresh and juicy, lettuce chopped fine so not too sloppy and didn't make the burger all slippery. The fries were excellent hot. Caesar salad was super! Lots 'o garlic.”

Mireille had the chili burger – which is a stack doused in chili – all the more impressive as her white dress was still white afterwards. “The meat was a little dry but the chili helped moisten it. It had a little heat - I enjoyed it. The burger held up very well even though it was smothered. Bun was delicious.”

Sandy had a cheeseburger: “The pickle spears were a nice surprise! As was the flavourful patty. Some might find it salty, but salt is my weakness. I'm not always a fan of chili on my burger but this wasn't smothered and helped cut the saltiness - I need to practice balance - begrudgingly. Great garlicky Caesar salad too!

Loved the bacon cheeseburger” wrote Jeff. “Chili and full pickle spears on the burger was a nice surprise. One of the best burger buns I've ever had - held together right to the last bite, and bun:burger ratio was bang on. Crazy amount of fries too!

Burgers come as a platter with soup, salad or fries & coleslaw. All three choices were delicious. The bowl of fresh mushroom soup was thick, flavorful and *huge*. The fries were a hit - crispy outside, soft inside and hot. I had half Caesar salad and half fries. The salad had an enjoyable dressing and a big crunchy crouton for every piece of fresh Romaine.

Burger Clubbers came from far and wide for Pete’s Place. One couple parked their camper across the street and a family drove all the way from Regina stating: “I'd come here again and order the same burger!” Their kids had chicken fingers and fries - a deal at $6.95. The boy said the fries tasted like a burger. The short kids were given colouring books to keep them entertained while the tall kids were amused finding the *four* Pokemon in range of our table.

Pete's Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Denise's Blue Moon: 4.1/5

Blue Moon Burger
Score: 4.0

Country Burger
Score: 4.4

$8 (tax inc)
$12 Combo (fries and drink)
French cuisine has rolled onto Broadway in the form of Denise’s Blue Moon. Denise (née Lebleu) grinds the grass fed beef in her dad’s butcher shop, stuffs it in a sausage casing, and hangs the beef for ten hours in a smoker. There's a depth of flavour from the smoking and it's our favourite food truck burger! You can usually find the truck on the south side of Broadway near Edmonton; there’s plenty of seating and shade on a hot, sunny day.

The food is rich and delicious and portions are large. Denise chops up the fresh bacon to form a layer on the Blue Moon Burger, and a crumbled topping on the Blue Moon fries. The bacon has all the flavour without the trouble of biting through a rasher. The crispy Blue Moon Fries are covered in cheese sauce, and I want them every time, but I need a fry-buddy to share with.  I highly recommend the apple rings for dessert. The fresh apple is cooked soft – on the brink of being apple sauce -  battered, deep fried and sugared like a mini donut from your dreams.

The menu offerings keep growing and there were four burgers to choose from. The Country Burger was the crowd favourite, with plenty of crispy onions adding texture, and zest from the double smoked BBQ sauce. The Blue Moon Burger is rich and all about the bacon, loaded with cheese and toppings – lettuce, chopped dill pickle and white onion. The bun was fresh and soft – most of our crew thought it perfectly suited, but some thought it didn’t hold up as well. This may come down to burger handling technique, requiring refresher training for Burger Club’s reviewers.

Roxanne wrote: “The Country Burger by far, would be the best food-truck burger that I’ve ever had. The patty was fresh made (I could tell by the first bite). It was well flavoured – toppings were very yummy! All of this on the perfect, soft yet firm bun that did not fall apart – even up until the last delicious bite! Fries were fantastic too!

Dani had the Blue Moon Burger: “The patty was flavourful and moist and I like that the bacon was crumbled on top.  That meant you could have a bit of the burger with bacon, and didn’t pull a whole bacon strip out of the sandwich.  The bun was nicely matched to the burger.  It was soft, yet didn’t fall apart.”

Russ: “A lot of care went into making this burger Just Right. From the soft grilled bun, to the perfect crunchy crisp, to the finely chopped condiments held together with homemade sauces, the right amount of crisp lettuce, to the cooking of the burger. Many sensations around a patty with a great bite. I loved the finely chopped bacon and pickles and they helped the burger hold together with a softer bun.

Stephanie: “Very tasty burger. The best food truck burger I've had all year. Could've gone for seconds!

Mat: “Apple rings were heavenly.”

Denise's Blue Moon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Extreme Fries: 3.6/5

Bacon Cheeseburger
Score: 3.6, $6 (tax inc.)

There's a new food truck in town called Extreme Fries any they make a good burger! Well, the truck’s not new but the wrap is and you can’t miss it – owner Bobbie Mack calls it the “hot pink bomb.” Bobbie found the truck for sale in October and jokingly texted her husband "what would you think if I quit my job and bought a food truck? Over the next couple weeks I couldn't get the idea out of my mind and I took the leap!

Bobbie loves to cook but didn't want to put in a chef’s long hours so the truck seemed like a good fit. “I cook food how I like to eat. You won't find anything on that truck that isn't my favourite. I have been making and selling my own home made sweet pickle relish for 10 years every summer Saturday at Pine Ridge. That's where my love of working with the public started. I just wish I had a little more time to chat from the truck. It gets kinda crazy.”

Most days you can find Extreme Fries parked on Broadway near Edmonton. Check their Facebook page for up-to-date info. This year the City of Winnipeg (COW for short) implemented a food truck parking spot lottery. Another favourite – Burgers R Us – were drawn for the western end of Broadway, but thought they’d be too far from the action and have a hard time making a go of it, so opted out of Broadway this year.

The flavourful burger had a slightly charred patty, crispy fried cheddar cheese, sautéed onion, chili sauce, bacon and fresh groceries. Everyone loved the chili sauce. “The chili sauce is my recipe" said Bobbie. "I started out making a hot dog sauce but my kids found it too spicy. It was just meat and chili powder. Then I tried a Greek style sauce and to me it had flavour but was tame. I mixed the two together and boom!  Bobbie Mack's chili sauce.

Bobbie added “Good bacon is essential and finding the right way to hot hold your bacon without incinerating it is very important. Grilled onion is the way to go on a burger. Hot dogs need raw onion. I also include a favourite in my condiment bar - Awesome Sauce, which is a cousin’s creation.” Cary wrote “A good food truck burger at a decent price. It’s  all about the toppings, so use the plethora of condiments provided and add a little bit of the Awesome Hot Sauce if you like a little bit of zing.” Stephanie exclaimed “Perfect day for a food truck burger! The Awesome  Sauce had a nice amount of spice to it.”

The uniformly shaped beef patty was a good size, fairly dense and filling. You can taste all the toppings with the copious quantities of cheddar cheese, fried onions, and of course the chili sauce, making it messy – but not too drippy to carefully eat over your lap. On my second visit I tried a double and it was good, but I think tilted the designed flavour balance too much towards beef. Bright green leaf lettuce and red, ripe Roma tomatoes crowned the cold side of the open faced presentation in the combo.

Of course they wouldn't be Extreme Fries without great fries, and they were. The potatoes are hand cut and the fries were dark, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. There were lots of them! The combo container was bursting. Roxanne noted “the fries were awesome and toppings very fresh.”

There was no shade on Broadway so we took our burgers across to the Woodsworth Building picnic tables. There was *one* table in the shade and the first shift of Burger Clubbers crowded around it. The second shift had to melt under the sun. Winnipeg set a record with the temp reaching a scorching 36 c.

Extreme Fries Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato