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Best of the burgers

 

A real meat treat at Armview  (Sam Vlessing photo)
A real meat treat at Armview (Sam Vlessing photo)

 

Le Bistro’s haddock in beef’s clothing. (Sam Vlessing photo)
Le Bistro’s haddock in beef’s clothing. (Sam Vlessing photo)

Burger week came, it saw and it conquered. And oh my, I’d better start going to the gym again.  Halifax’s first burger week (Mar. 21 to 27) showcased 21 restaurants battling for the illustrious title of “best burger in town”. In order to avoid chronic itis, I decided to focus on the five dollar burgers.

Over the span of four days (I had to cut my quest short because of Passover), I ate eight burgers—which, according to my completely unscientific calculations, adds up to well over 7,200 calories. You may now officially call me ‘fatso’, ‘chubster’ or whatever else your creative  university minds can come up with. For you poor souls too busy to enjoy a ridiculously cheap burger, here is a graded summation of my expedition.

 

Ace Burger Co. (Inside Gus’ Pub, North and Agricola)  A+

WOW. OMG. CYFTLT (can you feel the love tonight, for those of you outside my circle of friends). I was planning to save the best for last, so naturally, this is where I ended up. And boy was I right. The North End institution serves up one hell of a grass-fed patty with back bacon, P.E.I. cheddar, and frizzled onions. In addition to a perfectly moist patty, their Dijon mayonnaise sauce is nothing short of sorcery—Professor Snape would be proud. This place understands exactly what you need. If you’re in the market for a delicious burger, a good vibe, and a fair price, Ace Burger Co. is the place for you.

 

Le Bistro (1333 South Park Street) A

For all of you pescetarians out there, Le Bistro’s haddock burger is nothing short of superb. I know what you’re thinking, a fish burger? Really? My answer to all you skeptics is a resounding yes. They took a risk with this and boy oh boy did they hit a grand slam. In keeping with Maritime tradition, the fried-to-perfection fish is topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a homemade tartar sauce that will kick the shit out of anyone. Don’t be shy, step out of your comfort zone and try this festival of fish.

 

The Armview Restaurant and Lounge (7156 Chebucto Road)  A

This retro-style diner, located next to the Armdale rotary, combines the two best things a cow can produce: a classic burger and a mind-blowing milkshake.The homemade patty is perfectly cooked and served with mustard, ketchup, and sautéed onions, and as a dear friend of mine once said: sautéed onions should be a prerequisite for every burger. Not only do the condiments accompany the natural flavours of the beef beautifully, the dill pickle is so well-seasoned that eating it requires Morgan Freeman narration. This place does it right. Well done, Armview, well done.

 

Darrell’s Restaurant  (5576 Fenwick Street) A-

Rather than offer its famed peanut butter burger, Darrell’s served locally farmed lamb burgers dressed up as Moroccan or Mediterranean. I’m pretty sure Morocco is actually a Mediterranean nation, so whoever named the burgers should spend some time with a map—but the sandwich was terrific.  The Moroccan was topped with spinach, fried onions, banana and curried mayonnaise, and the Mediterranean came with spinach, feta cheese and tzatziki sauce.  These combinations epitomize the sight and smell of a gourmet burger.

 

Rockbotton Brewpub  (5686 Spring Garden Road) B+

I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular from this cozy little Spring Garden hangout, but as tends to be the case, I was very, very wrong. (Don’t tell my girlfriend I said that—oh, who I am I kidding, I don’t have a girlfriend.) The locally-sourced beef patty is flame grilled to perfection and accompanied by lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. This classic hamburger is a true feel good meal. Sit back, relax and enjoy some of Rockbottom’s micro brew. You don’t really have a choice—this place doesn’t offer take-out.

 

Bearly’s House of Blues and Ribs (1269 Barrington Street)  B+

Nobody should take a Texas Burger lightly. Although it has become almost impossible to find a perfectly cooked patty, Bearly’s comes close. Smothered in thick cheddar cheese, jalapeños, an onion ring and salsa, the taste of the south is so fiery that it distracts from the actual burger. On a perfect burger, the condiments should be minimal and well proportioned. Some of you might love the salsa, but for me, it made the bun slightly sloppy and overpowered the other flavours. I mean, the idea behind it is great, but as Jerry Seinfeld once said, “What do you need salsa for?” One last thing—the ketchup came in little packets. This grinds my gears. What’s wrong with allowing us to determine our own levels of liquid tomato goodness?

 

The Chickenburger (Dalhousie Student Union Building) C

Is it a triple cheeseburger or a triple bypass? You tell me. No lettuce or tomato here—all you get are some sautéed onions and the standard condiments. There are two prerequisites for any cheeseburger: the patty needs to fit inside of the bun and the cheese needs to melted.  This may be asking a lot, but please, just make sure that the bun and burger are the same size and the cheese is melted. The patty itself was so well done that it reminded me of my trip to the Atacama Desert.

 

Your Father’s Moustache (5686 Spring Garden Road) C-

Your Father’s Moustache… yup, that’s exactly what it tastes like. This is a bar, so I guess if one’s blood-alcohol level is high enough, it doesn’t really matter what the food tastes like. ‘Nuff said.

 

Honourable Mention: The Dawgfather, PhD

Located in front of the Student Union Building since the industrial revolution, this legend serves up flame-grilled burgers for much less than five dollars. Whether campus has turned into a sea of Canada Goose jackets in -20 degree weather or everyone is out and about in beautiful spring weather, he’s here for you—all year round. Don’t have enough cash on you for a quick fix? The Dawgfather lets you pay it forward.

 

You can’t fool this guy. The meat is good, or it isn’t; no blanket of condiments and gourmet cheeses can hide it from me. I promise I’m not really that cynical, but nonetheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed – probably more than I should have – filling the role as your burger villain. So get out there and stuff your faces. You know you want to.

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