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!
Big Khanuja (Bacon) Burger
The Kings Head knows how to make a burger! I’ve had many good meals there, but today was the first time I've had the burger – and it was great. It was a cold day with a -36 wind chill, and as soon as I’d removed enough layers of clothing to speak I told them there were fourteen of us coming and we were all having a beef burger. The bar staff leapt into action! Two of them put tables and chairs together while the third phoned down to the kitchen to warn them. The chef came upstairs a few minutes later to gaze at our now setup and partially occupied table as if to convince himself of the incoming storm of burger orders. I shouted out "only put ten on the grill just in case" and he disappeared back downstairs. Sure enough, three people cancelled in the cold and we were eleven. I told the barkeep we were only going to be ten so he removed a table. I miscounted though, so we had to add a table back again. Good thing it was a relatively slow day. We all ordered our burgers and didn't have to wait long for the platters of food to start streaming in. We ordered around 11:40 and were writing our reviews by 12:20.
The burger did everything right. It was served open faced and came standard with fries on the side (you could substitute soup or salad for an additional charge). The Kaiser bun was fairly soft and toasted; there was real cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon cooked to perfection – easy to bite through. I ordered the cheddar, but you could also have mozza or Swiss. The burger was hand formed and thick – I thought you could still see the outline of the cook’s fingers – it was like they’d shaped it once and not overworked the beef. The patty was pleasantly seasoned with a nice texture leaning towards dry and more firm than soft. The Big Khanuja (not Kahuna as we all kept saying) came with softly sautéed white onions and fresh mushrooms as well as jalapenos and the usual romaine, tomato, mustard and mayonnaise. “Jalapenos added just the right zip!” said Brett. The romaine was bright green and fresh - the tomato was a little thin. I guess it’s getting hard to find garden fresh tomatoes in Winnipeg in January. The regular burger came with raw red onion. I almost forgot to mention the pickle because I gave mine away, but it was a large wedge served straddling the tomato. Russ observed “A pickle wedge on a burger is hard to eat. I think half ended up on the floor.”
I had the Big Khanuja and didn’t make any substitutions – it was a perfect lineup of condiments for me! The burger had a great flavour balance. In my mind, there really wasn’t much that separated this burger from perfection – maybe a slightly better bun (a couple of diners noted the bottom squished down to almost nothing or broke apart) and a smidge more flavour – either seasoning or sauce.
If you’ve been to the Kings Head in the evening you know it’s usually mayhem and you line up at the bar to order food and drinks. Not so at lunch! The always entertaining barkeeps provided service and witty banter right at our table! Tazz described our server as “laid back happy.”
Today was a special day because it was Kari’s birthday! Cary presented her with a flashing Tiara. Her burger came out last ... and it came with sparklers! We all cheered happy birthday as the smoke drifted across the table. My gift to Kari was my pickle. She gave me a fabric burger for her birthday - I love it! I'll be using to carry our burger reviews from now on :)