Friday, September 13, 2013

Festivals and Events for the Food-Obsessed: Montreal Burger Week

“The great American hamburger is a thing of beauty, its simple charm noble, pristine. The basic recipe – ground beef, salt, and pepper, formed into a patty, grilled or seared on a griddle, then nestled between two halves of a bun, usually but not necessarily accompanied by lettuce, a tomato slice, and some ketchup – is, to my mind, unimprovable by man or God.”

-Anthony Bourdain from his book Medium Raw       

We know a few people that  have been training for fall marathons and after Montreal Burger Week and Oyster Fest, more than just oysters  folks, we will need some serious training for the first week of September next year.  On second thought we might just buy some stretchy pants. We managed to fit in 5 Burgers for Montreal’s Burger Week where cheese was the theme ingredient. Since Burger Week is a competition we feel safe in commenting on the offerings we ate. Since we are on the soapbox we just want to remind people to have a milkshake with their burger. The perfect pairing leaves us wishing for some special Burger Week shakes next year because it only makes burgers taste better.  

Burger Week!!!

iBurger: Burger week tends to get us out of the kitchen and to places we have never been. Last year we tried Diablo’s, that was the top Burger Week earner this year, so the event is really about going to discover some great new places and trying burgers you might never order.  You also get some great food ideas for your burgers at home. We were iBurger newbies and felt scared about putting our hands on the table that is in fact a tactile (iPad type) touch screen, used to place your order, because who knows what might unexpectedly arrive. 

iBurger’s offering was the Wagyu Burger that, in addition to the Japanese beef, consisted of milk bread bun, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, pickle, homemade sauce and purple onion. The Burger Week website described the burger as "so simple but so good, " and this is definitely not false advertising.  Simple and classic is a good way to go, this was really like a nice homemade burger. On top of the sweet tasty bun we thought the steaming hot meat added to the experience. Our only criticism is that the purple onion was a bit heavy handed so there was a sharp taste causing onion burps for the rest of the day. We will go back to iBurger to order the sushi burger, seen at a neighboring table, because it looked really good.

McKibbins: Behold the Titanic Burger that begs the question is naming your burger after a tragedy tempting fate? Big burger story short this was definitely one of our Burger Week favourites. The behemoth burger clocks in with ½ pound of meat, cheese, Guinness BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, pickle, bacon, beer battered onion rings, spicy mayo and corned beef. The Titanic went down surprisingly easy considering its size and toppings. We joked with our waitress about not ordering the soup because after squashing the burger, eating logistics, a lot of liquid came gushing out. Be advised you might ruin a shirt and I swear the stain on my pants was from the burger. The burger juice and BBQ sauce is not a bad thing, the bottom burger bun can get a bit soggy if you put it back on the plate, but made for nice dipping with our fries that were outstanding. Tip, rest your burger on the fries to avoid soggy bun. Big burgers tend to scare us as being gross out time, less/simple is what we like, but after tasting how well everything worked together, corned beef on a burger is amazing, we definitely enjoyed the Titanic.

Titanic: “All right Charlie, Broil the Biggie!”

m:brgr: The Zak Attack Burger. It took us a while to warm up to m:brgr because it was one of the first chic décor burger bars in Montreal. We noticed other joints opening up and jumping on the fancy burger bandwagon in addition to the closing of some iconic old-school diners. We saw the whole trend as a gentrification of something soulful. We feel kind of silly going to a burger joint and paying 15 bucks for a bacon cheeseburger and fries. Several visits and a few years we have come to appreciate m:brgr. We loved their Poutine Week offering, so much so that we have been using fried beef salami in our poutines at home. You can try this at home by buying Levitts beef salami that you cut into allumettes (French fry cut) and fry. Come to think of it fried beef salami might be a good burger topping. We are also and always really impressed with the amazing service and staff at m:brgr. In the customer service area m:brgr is a model that others should emulate and part of their recipe for success.

The Zak Attack Burger is built with a beef patty, mozzarella fried cheese hash brown, cheese curds, pulled pork, BBQ sauce, Zak sauce and tomato and seemed as though it was approaching Titanic proportions. We found the bun to be a little big and bready and sort of overwhelmed the other flavours. Not sure if it was the neutral tasting hash brown and cheese curds that contributed to this tasting experience but perhaps a little more sauce or some seasoned breadcrumbs on the hash brown would have taken it over the top. 

Decca 77: Speaking of gentrified burgers, located in the same office tower that houses impressive law firms like Heenan Blaikie you get an idea of their regular clientele this is not just a burger joint. The Decca 77 burger consisted of homemade brioche, mozarella, ketchup, aioli, easy over egg, red onion, house pickles, rocket and tomato. After our first bite we noticed stretchy melted cheese strings and thought this is a good sign. We also are also of the school that says egg yolk makes everything tastes better so hamburgers are really no exception. What knocked us out with the Decca burger was the house pickles. Thick cut pieces of cucumber with a strong dill taste, they were seemed more like quickles, which are another one of our favourite things.

Burgers & eggs

Blackstrap BBQ: The Kroc rocks! We guess this is just another case of a great burger being named after tragedy.  The Ray Kroc, the man behind McDonalds (that’s the tragedy), Blackstrap burger had a simple formula, bun, brisket, special sauce, pickles, lettuce and cheese and left us, if not for the fact it was our 5th burger of the week, wanting more. Small in size, just the way we like our burgers, the nice soft fluffy bun and brisket were perfect.

--See you in the New Year for Poutine Week.