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!
Burger Club hit the street for our 52nd and last week of our year long quest. I was waiting for a warm sunny day and it finally happened – right before and after lunch. During lunch it clouded over and a strong north wind blew in making it very cold, and tricky to keep your burger out of your neighbor’s lap. “Expect one hand on your burger and the other on a napkin” advised Stephanie.
One of Burger Club’s readers suggested the Sis & Me burger truck. Some of you may know Sis & Me from their restaurant, The Moonlight Inn, at Victoria Beach. I had a test burger a few weeks ago and decided it was worthy of a visit. On a sunny warm lunch hour Broadway is crowded with long lines at all the street vendors. It didn’t occur to me to let Sis & Me know we were coming en masse, but I should have. We arrived at 11:30 to beat the rush and caught Sis with her burgers half thawed. Only four of us got bacon on our burgers before it ran out, and after ten orders they were out of beef patties. They had more frozen, but no way to defrost them except on the grill which meant a long wait. A Burger Club first timer, Claire, even rated the server “Cute boy working! And fast service, but they can't get any service credit because they ran out of burgers!”
Scott observed “As in communist Russia, the first of the comrades in line get the freshest portions. The first rations to expire were bacon. Then they ran out of burgers. Much further down the line it may have come down to squirting condiments in each other’s mouths.”
For those of us that were lucky enough to get one, it was a pretty good burger. The first thing to catch your eye though, was the unusual visual texture of the patty. Dani observed “obviously the meat wasn’t worked much as you can still see the tracks of the meat grinder.” It was a coarse ground, thick and tasty beef patty. Mine was cooked a little to dryness today – my test burger was juicier. The cheese was a slice of processed, and if you wanted more, there was squeeze-cheese on the condiment counter. Bonus points right there! The fried onions were delicious and the bacon was leathery good. The bun had sear marks on top, but was still cold. That might have been the freezing wind though, that was sucking the heat out of everything. Stephanie had the chili burger and commented: “Messy, but what do you expect from a chili burger? Not too spicy, but had a nice zing.”
For some, this was a guilty burger and discussions of ethics arose. Mike, who took the last bacon cheese burger, is now known as the "Hamburgler." The first few got bacon and beef, sometimes double, while the last in line got an empty plate. Is it better to ration the available food, or make the burgers as they were intended but leave some diners hungry? A couple of restaurants we’ve been to, like the Jolly Friar Café obviously spread out what ingredients they had.
Five people headed off down the street to find a burger from another cart. They ended up at Mikky’s, another fairly well known cart on Broadway, but the official Burger Club rating system requires a minimum of six reviews before producing a rating. Unofficial results had Sis & me well out front of Mikky’s though.
April burgered at Mikky’s, but had the Sis & Me Poutine. “It was good. Came back to get it because they have cheese curds.”
The Yellow Dog has several good menu items, but look elsewhere for a burger.
I made a last minute reservation as our original plan was rained out. They set us up in the bar at tall tables, but when our group grew, they moved us to the restaurant proper where we were comfortably seated. We waited a while for our burgers to come out, but then they all came at once. Les liked the décor; “Nice funky place.”
The ingredients were sparse - burger patty included. The patty might have been tasty enough, but there wasn't enough to tell. The bacon was extra crispy and only one stubby slice. A little reminiscent of Johnny G’s. The cheese was real marble-cheddar. The Romaine lettuce was a little wilted and I could hardly find the caramelized onions. Cary commented “Only one strip of bacon and not much flavour.” Dani took matters into her own hands; “I didn't seem to have much taste from the burger. I put my French onion dip on my burger. It's a little better. I have to say the best part of lunch was the chips & the best part of the burger was the bun.”
Burgers tasted better before I started really paying attention to what I was eating. Esther noted “I have been in Burger Club too long. I am having trouble enjoying burgers now. I am no longer eating with the mouth part of my head. Unfortunately this burger would not avoid my wrath if I was eating with the mouth part of my head. I had to lower my rating on the price ‘cause my burger patty thickness rival Gondola's thin crust pizza. How chintzy!”
The Kaiser might have been a nice change except it was cold. I had a hard time cutting it because the dough was so elastic. It dwarfed the tiny burger patty. Stan summarized “Whole wheat Kaiser bun was very nice. Lightly toasting it would have improved it. Meat patty was homemade and very good. But it was too small for the bun. Tomatoes were nice and ripe.”
The house salad was quite nice and would have been even better with fresh Romaine.
The birthday girl got some bling and a sparkly candle from Cary. “It's my birthday! Hooray! Cary brought me birthday candles for my burger and a birthday glo-Mohawk! Nice!”