Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Miss Browns: 4.5/5

Aussie Burger: 4.5
$14 (platter)

Mushroom Bacon Cheese Burger: 4.8
$13 (platter)

Jalapeño Cheese Burger: 3.9
$13 (platter)

Miss B'S Trio of Brisket Sliders: 4.5
$10 (platter)

What happens when you combine restaurant experience, fine arts, world travels and a smoker? You make Burger Club's Top 5! Miss Browns, the little hot pressed bruncherie, opened at 288 William Ave near the Red River College campus just over two years ago. It’s a popular spot and Burger Club needed to schedule lunch between studying students and a large catering order.

Miss browns is bright and cheery with a big communal table, line of two-seaters and a window counter to accommodate any social situation. It’s an open kitchen and co-owner Jenny assembled and plated the stacks while husband Steve worked the smoker and sliced brisket for the sliders. There was steady takeout action over the lunch hour and enthusiastic servers Taylor and Laura took great care of our group.

Did I mention the smoker? After cooking on the tiny flat-top, the beef patties are finished in a glorious oak smoker adding a dimension of flavour that made my taste buds sit up and take notice. Practically every Burger Club review had the words “Great smoky flavour!” Miss Browns keeps it simple, adding fennel, a bit of chili flake and salt and pepper to the ground round. The local, free range beef is processed in Carman and sourced through The Carvers Knife, so if you like, you could probably go meet your meat beforehand.

The sandwiches are beautiful and you can see Steve’s BFA education in the presentation. I got a chuckle, because although the two different aioli sauces framing the burger are made in house, the open faced sandwich must’ve needed some red and yellow because there’s a squeeze of Mustard and Ketchup completing the colour palette. Jenny commented “We love our burgers and sandwiches juicy and saucy - it can get quite messy.” She added “Steve is the mastermind behind the menu. He has a keen eye and a great talent for presentation. Miss Browns was designed and built by him.

Steve’s an Aussie, so of course there’s a burger of the same name, complete with pickled beets and a fried egg on top. The week Burger Club dined the Mushroom Bacon Cheese Burger replaced the Jalapeño Cheese Burger, but the Aussie still anchored the BURGERS section of the changing menu. Jenny wrote: “Our inspiration for Miss Browns is derived from Australian cuisine using fresh high quality products to create delicious flavours done simply. Aussies know how to do brunch and we wanted to share that with our Winnipeg customers.

The buns are baked at Gunns, glazed and grilled at Miss Browns. “The bun is the champion here” wrote Scott. “I doubt even Tupperware could do a better job containing a huge patty, beets, onion, pickles, lettuce, four sauces, cheese and a fried egg. The bun stayed together and my fingers dry through the whole process.” Russ echoed “They managed to put every condiment I could think of on one burger while still holding together.” Alfalfa sprouts were a seasonal bonus.

The brisket spends 12 hours in the smoker and it's heavenly. Stan scribed “I love brisket and it was very good. The other appealing thing was that each slider was unique, so got a variety of flavours – BBQ, Hot and Herb. All were very good.” Louella added “Sliders were great. Beef brisket was very tender.

All the burgers come with “a side of house made, crispy, warm potato chips, which I thoroughly enjoyed” wrote Dani. Tom added “The soup was incredible.

Miss Browns came to our attention during #LeBurgerWeek 2016. Jenny described the experience as crazy – they have a tiny grill and there was a line out the door for six hours!

Miss Browns Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rae's Bistro: 4.6/5

Big Kildonan Burger: 4.6
$15 (platter)

Not So Classic Burger: 4.5
$13 (platter)

Rae’s Bistro takes silver! Similar to Clementine, last month’s new number one, Rae’s creates a variety of delectable dishes. You can chow down on a fantastic burger with beet chips and Lousy Beatnik beer while your dining partner has rack of lamb, a glass of wine and raspberry planter for desert.

Rae’s Bistro opened the doors in December after owners Zack Clarke and Matt Swirsky met Chef Mike Ozero in the parking lot and the ideas started flowing. Mike already knew his way around the kitchen at 925 Headmaster Row: “I try to learn something new all the time and research trends and flavors, but my favourite food is burgers. 95% of the time when I go out to eat, I get a burger.

Everything about the stack was delicious, but the bacon and Bistro Sauce put it over the top. When asked about the bacon Chef Ozero waxed poetic: “Bacon......lovely bacon. When I first met Matt, I said too bad we didn’t get the smoker from the meat shop so we could do bacon; maybe we should buy one. He had a box so we built a smoker. We do a dry rub with brown sugar, curing salt, maple and pepper, rub down a few bellies and let them sit for a time. After smoking a few hours with a wood chip blend, we put the bellies into the oven to bring them up to temperature, chill and slice. It took a few tries but I think we got it down.”

The 6.5 oz. beef patty is good ‘ol medium ground chuck. “We form into balls and drop a big heavy can on them” said Mike. “We let the meat do the talking and season with just salt and pepper. They are cooked on the flat top then the broiler.”

The Bistro Sauce added some complex flavours that some of us were mistakenly trying to identify in the patty. It raised questions and it was good. Mike joked about the Bistro sauce: “The first chef at 925 left the recipe; I changed the mustard and type of pickle to something more to my liking. I can drink the stuff. I suggest getting a side of it with fries.

Where Chef Ozero took a chance was with the bun – but it paid off. While many burger herders go with a softer Brioche style bun, Mike opted for a pretzel bun. “I wanted a bun that held up to grilling with a good dense chew, but small enough for the rest of the burger.” His design was sound. Geoff wrote “The pretzel bun held up with aplomb, wasn't dry like I find most.” Jeff added “I’m a huge fan of pretzel buns, and toasting this one made a great thing even better!” The pretzel bun isn’t for everybody though, and may be all that separated this burger from perfection for some.

April critiqued: “I ordered the Kildonan with extra mushrooms and it was heavenly. It's been a while since I had a nice flavourful burger and this one hit the spot! The bacon was amazing and the meat and sauce balanced well with the rest of the burger. Nom Nom. Burger!” Sandy added: “The patty was charbroiled perfectly and held together. Not well seasoned, but the Bistro Sauce and Arugula added plenty. The mushrooms on their own were amazing, but got lost on the burger.” Brian was succinct: “This was a great burger. The patty was flavourful with nice grill marks. The tomato and lettuce were fresh. The bacon was perfect.

Geoff threw down the gauntlet with “The Big Kildonan burger has surpassed the Big Khanuja as my favourite Jalapeno topped burger.” I see a Kings Head vs. Rae’s Bistro burger-off in our future.

The sides were good too. Tina wrote “I loved the fries - tasty & shoestring - no need for gravy or Ketchup.” Jeff added “I had the roasted vegetable bisque on the side – delicious, and thick. You could eat it with a fork.” Dani commented “The beet chips looked like a side of bacon! They were very yummy.

The soups and deserts are really something. Chef Ozero cooked his way across the country since graduating from Red River in 2002 and was at the MTS Centre under Roger Wilton when he passed his Red Seal exam. “I spent a few years at Desert Sinsations as Barbara O'Hara's sous chef. I didn't work on deserts, but you'd be surprised how much you learn from observation. I have a good day cook that is learning soups and surprising me with his creations.”

You can’t beat the service either. None of us went thirsty and the line of local craft beers was impressive. Two servers took great care of us, and it wasn't long before the parade of burgers came out of the kitchen in the sequence they were ordered. Brett commented “Tanika offered to drive us home to Charleswood even though she lives in Selkirk.” Rae’s Bistro is a bit of a trek for some – but totally worth it!

We came for the burger and stayed for the characters. Esther hasn’t burgered for a while and commented “Had a great conversation about visiting grave sites of famous people and where they met their demise. Burger Club is always entertaining.”
Rae's Bistro + Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Clementine: 4.6/5

Hamburger: 4.6, $12

Clementine was a surprise entry for #LeBurgerWeek 2016; they didn't have a burger on the menu but the “Southern Affair” took the Judges Choice Award. Four months later the understated “Hamburger” appeared on the lineup and was as near to perfection as any juicy stack we’ve feasted on. Nineteen Burger Clubbers voted to make Clementine #1.

Le Burger Week 2016
The underground restaurant opened at 125 Princess in May 2016. "We wanted a brunch space first and foremost, a place in the Exchange" said Chef Chris Gama. "The big draw to this location was the beautiful beams and exposed stone walls. We worked with Dutch East Design and they did an excellent job highlighting the existing features." Clementine is a partnership between Chef Adam Donnelly and his wife Carolina Konrad, sister Raya Konrad and Chris Gama.

Photo: Adelina Wong (
The subterranean location is reminiscent of a Quebec City cellar pub. The space felt roomy with a high timbered ceiling and open kitchen - lighting up one end of the dining room like a window into burger heaven. A variety of wooden surfaces and rich wall treatments present plenty of eye candy. There were sparkling bottles of water on the tables and an “Eat this it’ll help” neon sign near the kitchen. Stephanie exclaimed“Super cute restaurant!” and Brenda echoed “Very much enjoyed the ambience.

The burgers arrived quickly, served fully assembled and unaccompanied. They were beautiful to look at. The hand formed patty is an 85:15 mix of beef chuck and bacon, simply seasoned with salt and pepper, coarsely ground in-house and lightly handled giving it a fluffy texture. It’s a thick 5-6 oz. round prepared to perfection – cooked through and very juicy.

The pillowy soft sized-just-right Japanese milk dough bun was baked in-house and then grilled. Chris described how “a portion of the flour is pre-cooked limiting the amount of gluten that forms during mixing and providing a more tender crumb. We add dill and top it off with crushed dill pickle potato chips.” The stack was an easy bite and held together to the end. Many restaurants outsource their buns and when I asked Chris about it he said “The decision to bake in house was easy, we do all our baking in house!

The made-from-scratch zucchini refrigerator pickles provided vinegary tang and crunchy texture to the sandwich. The patty was nestled on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce and pimento cheese sauce. The sauce was fairly bold, and if your sandwich received a large dollop in the kitchen, it could dominate the otherwise well balanced flavours. Between the juicy patty and pickles it was drippy, but it's a well known fact that messy burgers taste better. To coin a phrase from Breakfast Connoisseurs, there was slurge.

  • Russ: A return to my happy place. The bite and flavour were both perfect, if a bit unconventional. The homemade bun was the ideal consistency and complimented the lightly packed bacon and beef patty. I will be back.
  • Les: Super simple construction with minimal additions. No tower of added this-and-that to impress, just a real burger with lettuce, sauce and zucchini pickle. The patty was thick, juicy and tasty with the added bacon infused. Sauce made it drippy (which is always good) and the bun held together!
  • Brett: I usually prefer a crispy patty but this was soft and quite flavourful.  Liked the tangy sauce. I love green relish and the sweet zucchini pickles satisfied that with a crunch. Bun was soft, tasty and held up well.

In the spirit of sharing, one of your table friends should order the Potato Home Fries ($5). The tasty morsels are buttery soft on the inside with a light crispy crust giving a pleasing texture. Artistically drizzled salsa negra and lime mayo add the flavour punch.

They don’t take reservations and Clementine is a popular destination. Most of us got there around 11:30 and were seated in two areas. There were lots of smiling and efficient service and kitchen staff and we were served quickly. I asked the kitchen folks if they’d like to pose for a photo and heard “No posing, only action shots!” It was the lunch rush and they were busy. By the time our group left at about 12:20 there were a number of people in line to be seated.

At $12, the unaccompanied burger seemed a little pricey, but it’s created from fresh, quality ingredients (as are all their menu items). The designed space is beautiful, staff are plentiful and well trained so I guess you get what you pay for. Andrew commented “For $12, it would be nice if a side was included, but this won't stop me from coming back.”

Clementine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Silver Heights Restaurant: 4.3/5

Los Bad Hombres: 4.5
Mmmm-Heighty Memphis: 3.7
Angus Sirloin4.7
Blue & Gold: 4.5
Saucy St. James: 4.6

The Silver Heights Restaurant made Burger Club’s Top-10 list! The neon landmark of 60 years is famous for ribs, so it comes as no surprise they also make a 5-Star burger. We were lucky enough to sample new creations coming soon to an updated menu.

Silver Heights is family owned and operated now in its 3rd generation of Siwickis. It's a popular destination for those looking to nurture the soul. The restaurant and bar were full on a Tuesday night, and our servers Shelly and Leah had no problem taking care of our large group. A grinning Tony kept sticking his head out of the kitchen to make sure we were happy.

The new ‘Los Bad Hombres’ was the popular choice with Burger Club. It made a striking presentation topped with shredded mozza and cheddar cheeses, pico de gallo and colourful tortilla crisps. Grilled jalapenos and chipotle mayo filled out the flavours. The only distraction was the bottom bun got soggy for some people. Karen wrote: “60 years of practice in the kitchen really shows as Los Bad Hombres was a really good burger. The patty was crisp and flavourful with a full-beef flavour. I loved the texture of the Tortilla crisps on this burger. My only complaint was the patty was huge and I couldn't finish mine.  9/10 messiness factor equals 9/10 in flavour." Jeff scribed: “The burger was done to perfection, and the flavours complimented each other perfectly - just enough heat to not overwhelm everything.”

The ‘Mmmm-Heighty Memphis Ribber’ tantalized with a cherry tomato on top. It had a Cajun dry rub, smoked Beaman BBQ sauce and zingy coleslaw and will be a great addition to the regular menu. Russ commented: “A great blend of flavours! Spices on the ribs and sauce on the slaw went well together and the bun was perfect.” During #LeBurgerWeek back in September, Tony joked that the cooks were annoyed at him for his popular creation – they were madly ‘shucking’ a mountain of rib bones back in the kitchen.
The straight up ‘Angus Sirloin Burger’ from the regular menu was the highest rated creation and that says a lot about how well the patty stood on its own. Nat exclaimed “A solid burger! Moist & meaty with nice grilled surface. Nice warm bun and great beef ratio. Good flavour.” Geoff penned “A rather basic sounding burger with no bells and whistles but it came through with flying colours; a good sized patty and a good collection of fresh toppings. It was nice and juicy, and the tasty bun held up pretty well." Sleemans makes a beer just for Silver Heights and Geoff went on to say "The SHeights lager is a treat, like Original Draft but with a local flairThe Silver Heights is a true Winnipeg institution and one of my favourite neighborhood bars/restaurants."

The ‘Blue & Gold Stuffed Burger’ took Les to new heights: “It was a top-notch crispy done to perfection tasty zesty mouth watering bliss! Onion rings, hints of blue cheese swirling over the 10 yard line, the bun was tackled, SHeights beer pushed us over the end zone. Touchdown!” I found the burger wasn’t so much stuffed with blue cheese, pickles, bacon and mushrooms as blended, but all the flavours came through in the mix. I enjoyed it, but I liked the spicy flavour of Karen’s Los Hombres patty even more.

The last of the five stacks we feasted on was the ‘Saucy St James’ with smoked ham, spicy jalapenos, banana peppers, mushrooms and chipotle cheese gravy. Isabel wrote “Loved the crusty burger. Had nice bits of crunchy beef bits. Can't say I noticed the ham. The cheese sauce was tasty and the crispy onion bits on top just made it super extra tasty. I would get it again.”  Jacques liked his too: “I was a bit leery with a name like Saucy St-James that I would be wearing half of my burger, but it held up exceedingly well. I want to come back to try all the others. Very meaty and great flavour.”

The fries met with mixed reviews, but Brad said the “Chili cheese fries were to die for.” I had a big bowl of meatball soup and it was delicious.

The Heights is having a big 60th birthday party in June and you can play along to win a VIP pass. Western Restaurant News recently wrote a great story on the history and operation of the Silver Heights Restaurant and Lounge (5.5 MB).

Silver Heights Restaurant & Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Shannon's Irish Pub: 4.3/5

Shannon's Burger: 4.3 

$11.99 (platter with fries)

If you think of Shannon’s more for great Celtic music than a dining destination, you may need to change your tune. They make a great burger! Shannon’s lies beneath the streets at 175 Carlton; out of sight, but not out of mind. When Winnipeg turns into Winterpeg you can get to the bar from the downtown indoor walkway. The Japanese Gardens - commemorating our sister city status with Setagaya, Japan - grow over Shannon’s.

Owner and Chef Gerard Fletcher is no stranger to the kitchen. Papered through the culinary apprenticeship program at George Brown in T.O., Chef Fletcher cooked his way from Field, BC to Halifax, NS before buying the Shannon’s Irish Pub in 2007. “When we took over Shannon's Pub, it wasn’t necessarily known for its food. I think now, after all the years, we have gathered a bit of a reputation that the food is another reason to stop in for a visit.”

The Shannon’s Burger is masterfully designed and executed. “The seasoning is a proprietary recipe that I have been tweaking since we took over the pub and this particular blend has been in use for the past four years. Inspiration is taken from of the fact that I love a good burger, which is why the recipe has been morphing for so many years.” The stack is assembled from perfect parts with the Brioche bun prepared by Gunn’s Bakery and the cheese a Bothwell Monterey Jack.

They pushed two large, carved wooden tables together in the centre of the bar for our group. Server Hailey confirmed our count so the kitchen could get the patties cooking while we were still arriving. It’s a *big* 8-1/2 oz. patty so takes some time on the grill. On game days (the MTS Centre is nearby) the ‘Burger and Beer’ special is $15. The Shannon’s Burger is $11.99 (with fries) and for a ‘nominal charge’ you can add cheese for $1 and bacon for $1.50. For another $2 you can have soup, and the soups are *amazing*. Three choices the day we went. “I highly recommend the mushroom & Guinness soup” said Tina.

Despite the size of the stack, the burger and bun handled well and held together to the end. Chef Fletcher used a revolutionary assembly technique with the melted cheese, groceries and bacon all on the bottom. The patty was cooked through, but juicy and a nice bite. The Brioche bun, brushed with a wash, made it shiny and attractive. The smoky bacon was cooked to leathery perfection.

Chris critiqued: “I really like these traditional pubs. Shannon’s has a comfortable homey feel. Staff were attentive and made sure I had everything I needed. The patty was nice with a little bit of charcoal on the outside while the bacon was smoky. The bun kept the burger all together; never got my hands messy. The fries were homemade and I liked the potato skins on the ends.”

Paper Poutine Separator
Karen wrote “The Brioche bun held up nicely while not adding too much bread. The burger, as a result, stood out. The patty was 3/4" thick and seasoned pleasingly. I enjoyed my side of flavourful French onion soup.” Stan echoed “The patty was happily the main component. It was a nice healthy size, perfectly cooked.”

Brett recently returned from a pub crawl in Dublin and scrawled “Better than any burger I had last month in Ireland!” High praise.

Les enjoyed his: “One of the biggest, juiciest tasty burgers ever. The juicy-squishy done-to-perfection burger dribbled out of the corners of my mouth when I took a bite through the well oiled, shiny bun, which held that big monster burger surprisingly well.”

Underground Windows
Chef Fletcher left us with a teaser for 2017: “Stay tuned for the Lamb and Bison burger on the new menu starting in the New Year.”

Shannons Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato