The first rule of Burger Club: Burgers are made of beef. The team of sandwich eating professionals that brought you Winnipeg’s Best Club House, Reuben and Gyro, now embark on a life long quest to find Winnipeg’s best burgers. Yes, burgers – we’re going to rate the best Bacon, Cheese, Chili, Fatboy, Greek and Mushroom burgers. I know what you’re thinking – there are already several lists for Winnipeg’s Best Burger – but we bring the science – we have spreadsheets!
Shoulda, woulda, coulda. The burger at Rae and Jerry’s could’ve received a good rating if it hadn’t taken an hour for the food to come out only to have it served cold. If the slow food was because they were trying to serve our large group all at once, it would’ve been understandable – but that wasn’t the case. Some diners were finishing their meals while others were still twiddling their thumbs in anticipation. The last to arrive were served first and the first to order were served last. The high price tag should’ve resulted in a better dining experience. Rae and Jerry’s reputedly serve Winnipeg's best steak, but you wouldn't go there just for a burger. Then again, Rae and Jerry’s target patrons are the old-money crowd, not burger eating riff-raff.
We were a group of 24 and they didn’t bat an eye at taking the large reservation. A big point in Rae and Jerry’s favour is they don’t apply a “group gratuity” to the bill that is so irksome at some restaurants. They had set up a very comfortable private room and the hostess was waiting to great us and seat us when we arrived to an empty restaurant before the lunch rush. By the time we left, the large restaurant was full and new arrivals were being shown to the lounge. I think the waitresses are expected to show quiet deference to the clientele here and are not to smile and banter. They were brisk (one table of diners felt brusque) and efficient. The old pros in red dresses were gone – replaced by the next generation in collared white shirts and black pants with their hair pulled back. The room and furniture was still the famous dark wood and red Naugahyde seating that transports you back to the ‘60s. Tazz said “feel the wall!” and sure enough, it was red velour. Awesome!
Drink orders were taken promptly and my glass was never empty as refills came quickly. We had four tables set with silverware and cloth napkins, and once the waitrii made the determination that most of our group had arrived, four of them appeared and took everyone’s orders simultaneously. I remember thinking “this bodes well.”
It was an expensive burger, but it was large with an 8 oz. patty. My bacon cheeseburger with fried onions and mushrooms was $17. The patty was fairly dry but had a nice texture. There was a subtle spice to the meat. Discussion around the table concluded it to be garlic, pepper and perhaps Oregano. Russ exclaimed “Huge tracts of bacon!” There was bacon galore and the three slices of bacon draped over the burger were crispy fried and very tasty. The large quantity of sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions were perfectly prepared and very enjoyable. The romaine lettuce and tomato slices were fresh (if not ripe). The cheese was a slice of processed cheese. Mike quipped “Today's burger was big. Like a big piece of meatloaf that was full of beefy flavour. I know where Clara Pellar's beef is! It was stuck back in the 60's with the décor. Many cows were sacrificed in the making of this review.”
A couple of things we could all agree on was the pickle was huge and the egg bun fairly hard and dry. I thought mine had sat out for a while, another diner thought hers had sat under the heat lamp for too long. It held together well though.
I think depending on the temperature of your burger, reviews were either good or poor. Some thought the burger was plump and delicious; others commented it was big on size but short on overall taste. Several of the burgers - and fries - were cold and most of the buns were cold. The burger was comparable to the Park Tower, except at the Park Tower they were served steaming hot for half the price. We had a large group at the tiny mom-and-pop shop, Sonya's, as well, and received our burgers steaming hot so I’m not sure why Rae and Jerry’s couldn’t manage a hot meal.