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!
Who doesn’t enjoy a Build-A-Burger?!? There’s just something satisfying about being able to specify your own perfect burger. Choosing a long list of toppings doesn’t make it a huge burger though - at least not at Sandi’s. She balances flavour against quantity and delivers a perfectly packaged little burger that the bun envelops adoringly and doesn’t all end up in your lap.
The cozy little restaurant attached to The Pembina Hotel is Sandi’s by day and House of Pizza by night. House of Pizza is also excellent (and cheap) so that’s a win-win situation! I didn't let her know our group of 14 were coming, but her waitress and Sandi set us up quickly in the VLT lounge. We would've filled the restaurant proper and patrons already in the lounge offered to move around so we could push some tables together. Sandi threatened to put one of us to work in the kitchen helping prep if we ever showed up without warning again. The waitress looked a little alarmed at the inrush of diners but pulled it together quickly and set us up with cutlery and napkins, got us started on our Build-A-Burger checklists then started bringing out drinks.
Burgers came out fast, but one at a time. The first burger only took 10 minutes after the last form was submitted. Okay, it was my form. I was having a difficult time with the pressure of making good topping choices and didn’t realize how long I was taking until the waitress “ahemed” and I looked up to everyone staring at me. The only service complaint was that the first people to hand in their checklist ended up being the last to receive their burgers. I think the papers got shuffled as they were gathered and more people joined the mêlée. The presentation was an assembled burger on a small white ceramic plate with a frilly cocktail stick holding it together.
It’s my favourite tasting patty so far. It just tasted really beefy and was nice and juicy. Several others thought the patty fairly plain though, so I was outvoted. Tastes vary and that's why we team-rate! Stan commented “Meat patty was handmade and had a nice texture. It was not overly salted or spiced which was good. Knowing that, I'd probably add the Jalapeno's next time.”
It wasn't a big burger - the hand formed patty was thick enough to keep it from drying out, but it was a fairly small diameter. Sandi adjusted the toppings so it didn't result in a humongous burger. I had two cheeses which meant a sprinkle of two different kinds of shredded cheese. I had three sauces - they were all there, and the flavour balance was good, but it wasn’t messy. Stan observed “Burger was nice & neat. No sloppiness. I liked that.” All of my toppings were from good quality, fresh ingredients. I think if you're expecting a gigantic burger with all the additional toppings you might be disappointed though. Cary wanted a fried egg on his burger that wasn’t there so he was a little sad. Dani observed “Maybe the cook realized that eggs on burgers are really gross and saved Cary's taste buds.” April tried to beat the system by asking for her Salt & Vinegar chips on the side, but all she got was the tablespoon of chip-bits that would’ve gone on her burger but didn’t. The toasted sesame seed bun was tall and fluffy and perfectly sized to the patty. Omega Russ commented “Bun to burger ratio was spot on with little spillage (one mushroom escaped).”
I really enjoyed Liz and Esther's fries too. As always though, some people liked the fries, and some didn’t. They were soft and dark and potato-y. I didn’t hear any complaints about the gravy so I guess it was good. The poutiners were happy. “O' rings were standard fare.” according to Stan.
We sat in the VLT lounge so I didn’t have time to appreciate the chalkboard menus and illustrations in the restaurant until we were leaving. The “flashing” hotdog was the best. The Build-A-Burger was fun, but they also have regular menu burgers for cheap. A Fat boy is just $4.25.
A couple of the Burger-gurls wrote on their review slips that “Russ needs to put out more”. Better take your vitamins Russ! The quote of the day came from Liz: “Small buns make a pickle look bigger.”