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!
Le Garage Café - the place to be in the French quarter full of patrons cheering on Canada to beat Norway 3:1 in Olympic men’s hockey. CBC television arrived to film the fans and caught Burger Club in the act. I only hope my boss didn't see the news as I’d slipped out of a meeting for this important lunch. The fun continues this week with Festival du Voyager starting Feb 14th. Le Garage Café is an evening entertainment venue as well as catering both the Franco Manitoban Centre and Fort Gibraltar.
In 2008 the tiny café at the front of 166 Provencher Blvd expanded into the old Eagle Bus Line service bays in the back of the building. It’s a wonderful intimate music venue and I remember well my visit after the stage was built to see the Good Lovelies perform.
Despite being quite busy, our waitress Kaylynn was spot-on greeting us and taking our drink orders. The table was already set with cutlery, glassware and menus so they were ready for us. I think she was surprised when we all ordered burgers. The plates all came out at once and each of us received our own unique combination of toppings and sides as specified. When it came time to settle up, Kaylynn made payment quick and easy by passing out individual bills then waiting for us by the till.
The burger patty was large and served open faced. The first thing you noticed was it had been nicely seared on the grill. A bite confirmed it – moist with a crispy crust – it was delicious. The patty was fairly dense but not hard. I’d describe it as home-style – savory vs. spicy with just the right amount of salt and pepper. “Really flavourful“ Stephanie commented. Les, our roving reporter, spoke to owner Ray Beaudry, and he told the story of how they had a competition to come up with the best burger. Chefs and staff entered, cooking up their specials in the kitchen. One of the serving ladies won with her mother’s secret recipe.
There was lots of wrinkly crispy bacon and real cheddar cheese on mine. I asked for fried onions and received a generous portion and a ring of fresh red onion as well. There was a nice thick slab of tomato and iceberg lettuce topping the burger. Condiments were simply mayonnaise. The bottom half of the toasted sesame bun seemed to be soaked in delicious grease. The burger wasn't dripping, so not sure if that’s because the bun soaked it up, or it was from being grilled, but it was tasty. Stan wrote “the patty and bun made a perfect match.”
Les summarized “One of the best burgers ever. Nicely done, crispy outside, tasty, zesty – and a very good bun too.” Les topped his burger with fresh, fried mushrooms. Mike’s patty came in a heart shape just in time for Valentine’s Day. “Bonus points!”
Cary had the Poutine and enjoyed the real cheese curds. He was also taken with the pulled pork Mac & Cheese on the menu and plans to come back and try it. Nelson liked the skinny fries and noted there was only “One choice of burger on the menu, but it was a good choice.” I had the potato-cheddar-bacon soup and it was very hearty. Mildly seasoned and the fresh potato taste came though – I enjoyed it.
Photo: Constance Popp
After lunch some of us ran across the parking lot to Popp Chocolates next door. I was in a panic to make sure I had heart shaped chocolates for my sweetie for Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Just walking into the shop was dessert for the olfactory senses. My taste buds waited until the next day and I can say with feeling, Constance Popp is the le chocolatier extraordinaire!