Thursday, January 21, 2016

Oscar's Deli: 4.4/5

Score: 4.4
Platter: $14

Score: 4.3

Oscar’s Deli is not just about Rubins and Clubhouses – they also make a 5 star burger! Top 10 on Burger Club’s list. The north end delicatessen opened in 1929 and moved to 175 Hargrave Street in 1982 where they still pack in the lunch crowd every day. Oscar, aka owner Larry Brown, is a funny guy – evidenced by the framed GQ magazine cover of daughter Rachel and him overlooking the deli counter. When I booked in 18 of us and told Larry we’d all be having the #dirtryburger, he responded “Okay, we’ll kill another cow.”

Very popular for sandwiches and breakfast – and great service - the menu has grown to include ribs and burgers. Oscar’s Deli extended their hours to 7 p.m. on weekdays and now offer dinner service. The #dirtyburger, their entry for LeBurgerWeek, was such a hit they extended the special, and 4 months later, the slightly faded handwritten sign taped to the bottom of the special board is still there. Oscar’s is licensed for beer and wine, and in summer you can enjoy your meal on the patio.

Oscar’s has conventional hamburgers and cheeseburgers on the menu, but Burger Club was all about the #dirtyburger with its 2 beef patties, bacon, pastrami, salami, American cheese, an egg, lettuce, tomato and fried onions dressed with hot mustard and horseradish sauce on a sesame seed egg bun. It’s $14 and comes with fries. The kitchen could only cook five at a time because that’s how many the grill would hold. They had us setup at two tables and our server Lisa was very quick and friendly. Our large group was in and out in under an hour even with the lunch rush.

The diner style patties are 4 oz, hand formed, unadorned ground chuck, flattened thin and wide so they cook fast while staying juicy with a nice grill crust. The piles of pastrami and salami – and of course the egg – are also fried on the grill and the whole stack is served piping hot. Chef Hary chose the Gunn’s Bakery bun “because it's like candy, as in its sweet and adds that element to the burger. As you may have noticed, it holds the #dirtyburger very well.”

Photo: NB
There’s plenty of cheese, fried onions and groceries along with their signature beet horseradish sauce. The assembly is speared through and topped with a couple of thick slices of pickle. It was daunting and I couldn’t take it in one bite – I nibbled from bottom to top. The overall flavour was balanced and I could taste every ingredient. The horseradish sauce and pickle are popular so Oscar’s sells jars at the deli counter.

April commented “Best buns in town! Great flavourful burger. I really enjoyed the taste! I feel that the price was great for the amount of food. The fries were also very tasty.” Karen critiqued “I loved the crispy crust on this burger. It was a handmade patty, fairly plainly served. Toppings were good. Fried onions added a great grilled flavour. The tomato and lettuce were fresh and lots of it which added a little extra juiciness to the whole mess. I could even taste the cheese throughout. Love Oscar's quality stuff. Oh, and the bun is brilliant, soft but resilient.”

The #dirty burger was juicy and messy; Roxanne scribbled “Definitely needed a fork! Overall - great food & great company!” Nelson was exuberant: “I had little bits of meat all over the place when I was done. Very messy, but very good. I was worried about the horseradish and hot mustard but the flavours worked well together. Time for a nap.” Russ jotted “I was amazed how well it stuck together. Even the patty which seemed fairly lean. So HOT inside. Amazing fries.”

Some of our group opted for the cheeseburger. Depending on your appetite, a double wouldn’t be out of the question. Tonia had a single and wrote “Bun was good! Patti flavourful - but could be a bit thicker. Great service & value.” Stan enjoyed his: “An excellent burger. Very nice bun and patty. The condiments are my favourite basics: mustard and relish. Raw onions option put it over the top for me. Wonderful pickles and fries too!

Les, as always, saw the art in his food: “Very nice bun that rose up like a tower, and with the big chunky pickle slice nailed to the top of the swirly shiny surface, it became the Leaning Tower of Pisa burger!

Photo: Instagram\OscarsDeliWinnipeg
Photo: Instagram\OscarsDeliWinnipeg

Photo: Instagram\OscarsDeliWinnipeg
The Oscar's Marantz Burger 2000 Challenge

Legend has it that a man named Marantz went to Salty’s at Winnipeg Beach and asked for a quadruple patty burger with a piece of chicken on top. He then proceeded to eat it in 2 minutes, 50 seconds. Oscar’s Chef Hary Haidau has created the #MarantzBurger2000 and has a challenge of his own.

The rules are:

  • The challenge runs January 25 to 29, 2015, from 5 to 7 pm. If no one beats the challenge, it will be extended.
  • The newly created #MarantzBurger2000 ($16, glass of water included) is 4 quarter pound all beef chuck patties, bacon, schnitzel, honey dill, hot mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and comes with fries.
  • If you finish the burger in under 2 minutes and 50 seconds, Oscar’s will buy you the burger.
  • The best time under 2:50 during this challenge will be the winner. It may be that by the time you get here the burger is called something else and the time challenge is even shorter.
  • Finish the burger and fries under the same time (2:50) and Oscar’s will not only buy it for you, but will also give you a $5 gift card towards your next visit to Oscar’s Deli. Not just that, they will also rename the burger after you and enter it with your (the winner's) name in this year’s LeBurgerWeek competition.
  • The burger has to be kept together and no cutlery is to be used.

May the best burger eater win!

Oscar's Deli & Catering Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, August 21, 2015

Mon Ami Louis: 4.2/5

The Louis Burger

Score: 4.2

$12 (sides a-la-carte)

Update: New menu includes fries or salad for $15

It didn’t take long for WOW Hospitality to get Mon Ami Louis up and running after the unique Esplanade Riel bridge location became available in the spring of 2015. The view from the cantilevered plaza halfway between St Boniface and The Forks is quite stunning. Boats navigate the Red River under the side stayed, asymmetric suspension bridge beneath you, and the 69 m pylon rises through the skeletal roof structure above.

Our group was set up at one long table along the windows - with a little exit isle in the middle in case one of our number needed to escape to try out the million dollar facilities. We arrived shortly before the lunch rush, which meant our multiple servers had time to show us around the restaurant. Faye was very enthusiastic, and after seeing me Instagraming, told me all about SnapChat and filmed a short vignette of us grinning at her phone. Our principle server, Megan, did a great job getting us settled in and Brandy helped serve drinks.

They only have one burger on the menu – The Louis Burger. Megan described it as a straightforward burger that was “all about the meat”. Mon Ami Louis creates their own signature BBQ sauce - the dominant flavour on the burger. The secret to the great tasting fries - they’re cooked in duck fat.

Chef Luc Jean – winner of the Winnipeg 2014 Gold Medal Plates – described how they bake their own buns. The fresh roll got rave reviews from our group and put Mon Ami Louis on a short list of Winnipeg restaurants that bake bread in-house. All the more impressive with the limited space they have. To work in Chef Luc Jean’s kitchen, you need to know how to dance.

The bun was amazing, moist on the outside and crispy inside. Love toasted buns. The meat was very flavourful with the right amount of seasoning. I would have enjoyed more sauce though. The chippers were crispy-great and the goat cheese dip was creamy, warm and tasty.” – Mireille

The poutine was perfect! Cheese curds and homemade fries.” – April

The burger was excellent with a serious thick crust. Its flavour was top notch, juicy and lightly seasoned. Lettuce and tomato with BBQ sauce were great accompaniments, however the tomato was hard in the middle. Nicely presented with side salad topped with croutons and beets.” – Karen

Loved the bun. BBQ sauce made the burger. Was overpowering, but a good overpowering flavour. Beautiful view!” – Stephanie

The flavour of the burger shined through without the need for condiments. BBQ sauce was tasty yet not overpowering the flavour of the meat.“ – Tim P
Presents great for a fairly plain burger. Sauce all over the place.” – Russ

I did not get BBQ sauce on my burger so I might have missed out on the flavour.“ – Cary

Sitting on top of the Red River, looking down on the tour boats, imagining the winter skating trail. Opening mouth WIDE to take my first drooling bite, special BBQ sauce dribbles down my trembling fingers, the aromas of spicy burger and special bun dough wafting up my nose. All my senses crashing in on ... burger. Mmmm.” – Les

Mon Ami Louis Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Velvet Glove #BackdoorBurger: 4.4/5


Score: 4.4

Platter: $13 (Fries, drink and tax included)

Burger Club took to the streets to enjoy a fantastic Backdoor Burger from the Velvet Glove kitchen at the Fairmont Hotel. The box lunches were served from a side door, opening onto the courtyard adjacent to the Richardson Building. A different burger happens every Thursday between 11:30 am and 2:00 pm, but only until the beginning of September so get there soon! This week’s creation was the Caprese which came with fries and drink all-in for $13.

When Chef Palmer passionately described the burger earlier in the week, he started with the locally grown tomato from Harms Farm near Ste. Anne, MB. “The creation of the weekly burgers is a collaboration of all the cooks and chefs in the kitchen, we love what we do and love food.” The Velvet Glove is synonymous with fine dining and every layer of the stack embodied quality ingredients and a carefully designed flavour balance.

Buffalo mozzarella with a smear of basil and olive oil pesto topped the patty. The beef was nestled on a bed of arugula and a good spread of parmesan mayo.  The large short rib, prime rib, and chuck patty was flattened and well seasoned. Hand forming was evidenced by the fjords forming the coastline of this mass of meat. It was cooked through, juicy but not drippy with a soft texture. The grilled, shiny brioche roll from Gunn’s Bakery was an easy bite and the whole assembly held together to the end.

It was an extremely hot day, a humidex of 34 c when the seventeen of us ate, but the wide walled planters in the shade made for comfortable seating 80 metres away from iconic Portage and Main. The coated cardboard containers were good lap trays, and caught the drips from the mildly messy burger. Chef Palmer and Rachel had music playing next to the back-door table, but on this day, the calm of the normally quiet courtyard was disrupted by the soft-dig truck working beside us. I got a chuckle at the bowls of condiment packets lined up on the table – perhaps emulating hot-dog carts found around downtown Winnipeg – but I didn't see anyone spoiling their gourmet creation with the yellow or green.

In case you were wondering, the flavour packed buffalo mozzarella cheese really is made in Italy from Water Buffalo milk. The pungent arugula, or salad rocket - also sourced from Harms Farm - held its own amongst the flavours of the assembled stack. A little history on arugula: “Grown as an edible herb in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, it was mentioned by various classical authors as an aphrodisiac, most famously in a poem long ascribed to Virgil, “Moretum”, which contains the line: et veneris revocans eruca morantuem – “the rocket excites the sexual desire of drowsy people.” Some writers assert that for this reason during the Middle Ages it was forbidden to grow rocket in monasteries."

Burger Clubbers had a lot say about the VG #BackdoorBurger

Juicy burger that held together well when dining al fresco. Nice shady spot to enjoy eating outside. Fries were good too!” - Jessica

What a great combination: a haute cuisine kitchen with a burger shack front end. And really, burgers are best enjoyed outdoors.” - Stan

Fresh bun, juicy patty, perfectly ripe tomato - every aspect was very good. Each ingredient complimented the Italian flavour of the Caprese burger concept. Thick handmade patty and generous toppings and a moderate number of fries left me perfectly full.” - Greg

Awesome burger, aka meaty Caprese salad. A little messy, but incredibly held together considering how huge it was. The bun didn't fall apart - it wasn't dense, and not too squishy soft - it was just right. I like that it was served in a little box like a little present. It was worth the effort getting lost in Winnipeg Square. Wish they would open Portage and Main!” - Isabel

All the toppings were evident from the first bite to the last. The cheese was gooey hot and tasty, and the tomato was ripe and sized nicely to the burger. Overall, this is one of my favourite burgers to date. I would sit in traffic for this one.” - Karen

It was fast, and good. A combination that rarely occurs in the burger business.” - Brian
Once I unhinged my jaw to get the burger in my mouth, it was a non-stop burger bonanza.” - Maureen

This burger was a great deal! It had top-end ingredients, the quality of the meat was high and even though it was large, you wanted to make sure you ate the whole burger.” - April

Click to add a blog post for The VG Restaurant on Zomato

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Marion Street Eatery: 4.3/5

Certified Angus Beef Burger

Score: 4.3

Platter: $12.75

The Marion Street Eatery caught Burger Club's attention with their “Tickle My Pickle” entry for #LeBurgerWeek 2014. The big, beautiful patio at 393 Marion St was calling and the sun beamed down for our visit in June.

They don’t take reservations, but we got there early for lunch and were lucky to find four open tables. A steady stream of customers quickly filled up the patio and overflowed into the comfortable indoor seating.

The service at Marion Street Eatery can’t be beat starting with front-of-the-house manager, Ellissa, who greeted us at the door, got us settled in and found a moment to introduce me to Laneil, whose family owns the hotel, and her restaurateur-partner Chef Melissa - creator of the menu and plating in the kitchen today. Friendly and fun Chelsea did a great job serving our large group on what turned out to be a very busy lunch hour.

There are five burgers on the menu, but at Burger Club we’re all about the beef so had the Certified Angus Burger. It’s their only beefy stack, but comes standard with bacon, cheddar and mushrooms, so really, what other options do you need? We tried all the sides, except, strangely, the Poutine that they’re known for.

The burgers were served bun-open in a sumptuous display of ingredients. A generous portion of cheddar cheese, two full slices of criss-crossing bacon and a little heap of fresh, sautéed, mushrooms crowned the large patty on the hot side. Bright red, ripe tomatoes on a bed of fresh green leaf lettuce waited to be brought together on the cold side.

Brian wrote “Great burger, the patty was moist but not too juicy. Bun was soft and fresh and held up while eating. Toppings were fresh and the cheese and bacon very noticeable.” Dani agreed “Big patty, big bun. A very enjoyable burger.” Chris commented “Awesome burger, bacon was nice and smokey. The roasted garlic aioli sauce was fantastic.” *Everyone* raved about how good the garlic sauce was.

There were differing opinions on the Kaiser bun. Like Goldilocks, some thought it too small, some too large and some said it was just right. Cary scrawled “It would be PERFECT if they replaced the soft Kaiser bun with something a little sturdier.”

Chris exclaimed “Fries are the best I've had in the city.” Karen was happy with her upgrade “Sweet potato fries were crispy on the outside, soft and yummy on the inside. Nice garlic dip.” Stan had “potato wedges for my side and they were nicely spiced.”

Nelson’s bun bottom was bigger that his top which caused him to break into song:

I was just a skinny lad.
Never knew no good from bad.
You make the rockin' world go 'round
It's a fat bottom burger....
lettuce all hang out.

Ooh yeah, them fat bottomed burgers

Fat bottomed burgers, yeah, yeah, yeah
Fat bottomed burgers, yes, yes.

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