Hamburger: a sandwich consisting of a patty of hamburger in a split, typically round, bun.
Sounds damn boring if you ask me. Unless you know how to spruce it up, that is.
Along with croissants, burgers are an otaku of mine. The way they smell, the way they taste, the fact that I can eat them with my hands, and their symbolism for BBQ season aka spring. I love them!
I also love the search for that wonderful burger that hits the spot: perfect meat to bun ratio; patty juicy enough to run down your arms, and flavourful enough to eat on its own (ideally medium rare); and a fresh, lightly toasted bun basted with the appropriate condiments to match the patty and the toppings. I’m salivating just writing about it.
Alas, this “perfect” item that I have just described is hard to find.
Like a romantic partner, it can be found in the most unsuspecting neighbourhoods and establishments. However, if you search too hard and redundantly break down its characteristics before trying it, you’ve destroyed the element of surprise. Its allure and charm is lost. I suggest stumbling upon it on a menu (so many choices!), allowing it to hold your gaze, making the leap, and simply relishing in the moment, enjoying what’s been handed to you. If it doesn’t tickle your fancy as you thought it would, move on to the next; there is certainly no shortage of supply, and there may even be an adjacent option. Each specimen is unique and may really get you going, but you don’t know until you sink your teeth in.
That’s one of my favourite things about burgers: how many variations of one seemingly simple item there are. From ground beef and chicken, the usual burger suspects, to lamb, venison, bison and chorizo, the more “exotic” burgers on the market.
During a recent food tasting event – the inaugural BurgerPalooza – I joined a group of sopping wet Vancouverites (it was raining, of course) with a hunger waiting to be quashed by sliders at five different restaurants. Giving the Chefs the benefit of the doubt because they were producing sliders, rather than regular size burgers, I was impressed at what each of them offered. I’m looking forward to returning to the restaurants to order the full meal deal.
Being a slight hypocrite, I will tell what I liked and what I didn’t like about each of them.
Our first stop of the day was at Milestones on Robson for registration. Here we enjoyed a “stacked” burger and a taster of Howe Sound’s King Heffy.
MILESTONES ROBSON @MilestonesRBSN
Stacked Burger (bacon, beef patty, mushrooms, onions, cheddar) with a side miniature tuna taco.
Stacked indeed. For a slider this had some height to it. It was cold when we ate it (not from taking photos, but because it was sitting on a table as we arrived) so it was hard to truly gauge how good it was. You could tell it had potential though. On a side note, the tuna taco was delicious.
Served with a tasting glass of Howe Sound Brewery’s King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen.
Great for spring, but if you prefer darker beers I just had the Bay Ale (Amber) recently and liked it. I also just bought the Cloudburst Lemongrass White IPA and am keen on seeing what it tastes like on a sunny, spring day.
BUCKSTOP DENMAN @BuckstopDenman
Venison burgers stuffed with blue cheese and mushrooms with housemade potato chips and horseradish aioli.
A little too much bun for my liking, though it was beautifully “glazed” and sparkling in the sunlight. The patty was juicy and made to order, the cheese and mushrooms oozing out with each bite. I’m a sucker for stuffed burgers. And I’m also a fan of Buckstop.
YAGGER’S DOWNTOWN @yaggersdowntown
Yagger’s Famous Cowburger: organic beef & pork patty seasoned with chipotle peppers, peppercorn mayo, & topped with aged white cheddar & double smoked bacon.
How can you not opt for something that’s coined “famous”?!? I liked the bun. I liked how generous the bacon portion was. I loved how messy it was. I loved how this has been on their menu for over a decade. The patty itself wasn’t extremely flavourful, but the toppings and condiments made up for it. I’ll be back to try the chorizo burger topped with apple herb slaw, which was the second option on the tour.
The side for both was a “Mac & Not So Blue Cheese” with white cheddar & gorgonzola cream sauce on jumbo mac noodles, garnished with fresh bruschetta.
The mac and cheese was pretty bland. I liked the jumbo noodles, but it’s hard to showcase anything brilliant in a soufflé cup.
THE BISMARCK BAR @TheBismarckBar
Bismarck Chorizo Prawn Slider: Chorizo Patty, Tiger Prawn, Goat Cheese, House Pickled Red Onion, Iceberg Lettuce, Paprika Aioli on a Brioche Slider Bun.
Many enjoyed the prawn topper but mine slipped out as I went to take a bite, so I ate it separately; it didn’t want to be in there, so I didn’t force it. This was the first time that I had had a chorizo patty and, I must say, it was chock-full of flavour. The goat cheese mellowed out the hint of spice from the patty and the aioli, and the iceberg lettuce, though having no nutrients, added a touch of “freshness” to the bite size burger. Will be back to try the big guy.
Served with a side of their signature Stadium Fries.
Citrus on fries? It works. Crispy and seasoned nicely, this side definitely earned them some bonus points. Also to be noted, they have $3 pints (unheard of) on Tuesday and the selection doesn’t look too shabby.
KOBOB BURGER @KobobBurger
Mini Bulgogi (marinated pork with veggies) rice burger. Served with a piece of Korean pancake and Kimchi.
Hands down the most unique “burger” on the tour. It didn’t hold its composure very well, but would probably do better in a full size portion because it could be more compact. Either way, the flavours worked well together and it seemed to be a crowd pleaser. Even the pancake with pancake sauce was tasty. I enjoyed everything about this shop: their unique product, the fact that they shaped the “buns” without any tools, their quirky signs, their YUM wall, and their timid but friendly service.
And for our palate cleanser or dessert…
DeeBee’s Organics at Whole Foods @DeeBeesOrganics
Our choice of one of these TeaPops flavours: Berries and Cherries or Southern Iced Tea
These are the healthy alternatives to Popsicles, a popular summer treat. I like the idea of them, but it feels like something I could make it home. I mean, couldn’t I just make tea, add some honey, and freeze it myself? Just a thought. Berries and cherries was apparently more flavourful than the Southern Iced Tea.
So what’s your hamburger flavour? The choices are endless…
Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss or Goat?
Veggies or no Veggies?
Mayo, Aioli, Mustard, or Relish?
Beef, Poultry, or Game Meat?
Bun Toasted or Not Toasted?
Well-done or Pink in the Middle?
Good read for burger lovers: Medium-rare burgers are taboo in Canada but may not be as perilous as thought [National Post]