Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tot Wheels:4.1/5

Double Bacon Burger
Score: 4.1

$9 (tax inc), $13 Including Tots

You’ve probably heard about the habit forming Tots, but did you know Tot Wheels also makes a great burger? Owner and chef Scott Moffat tweeted the Double Bacon Burger special and I double timed it to 275 Broadway to be first in line at the flashy food truck.

Scott makes the patties in house – a blend of beef, pork and Italian sausage with his own recipe of herbs and spices. They were juicy and delicious – the star of the stack. They cook each order fresh and the two thin patties cook faster than one thick one with twice the flavourful grill crust.

The bacon is fried up fresh and wrinkly; it’s usually cooked soft, on the brink of undercooked for some diners. “It takes a little longer but ends up being worth the wait. People don't complain as long as the quality is there” says Scott. The assembly is completed with grilled onions, Havarti cheese, ripe red tomato and shredded lettuce. It’s capped with a grilled sesame seed bun that’s up to the task if you need to one-hand it. “All of our products and ingredients are local and organic as much as possible.”

Dani wrote “The burger had two smallish patties and three slices of bacon with sautéed onions. The flavour was nice, just enough spice. The Dijon added a tanginess to the whole package.” Mat added:“Really rich in flavour. Italian sausage in patty is excellent.” Les scribed “The Havarti cheese was a classy touch! All held together nicely & the bun was good.”

Of course, the burger is accompanied by heavenly tots. The combo comes with Sriracha or garlic aioli for dipping. Like everything else in the truck, the Tots are made fresh and they’re crispy-golden on the outside, soft and cheesy-gooey on the inside. The mashed potato blended with herbs, spices and cheese is rolled and dropped into the fryer per order. You can watch Shaw TV’s spot to see Scott in action.

Jeff exclaimed: “Excellent burger - plenty of beef & bacon, and a huge bun (almost too big) that was nice and soft, but held together nicely. Patty was cooked just right. Perfect amount of tots to compliment - spicy aioli was excellent.” Karen’s a fan: “I love the Tot Wheels truck! The tots were terrific - big and crunchy.

Scott plans on keeping the burger on the menu and adding an additional sandwich.  Word is the next creation may be a Mac ‘n Cheese grilled cheese with pork belly. Tot Wheels will be at Many Fest – Food Truck Wars again this year from Sept 9-11, 2016. “Many Fest is our - and most truck's - busiest time of the year, I'd like to serve the burger at the festival but it might not be possible with the volume of people.”

Scott took over the truck from Darryl Crumb in March, 2016. Scott was the lead chef at the Exchange Restaurant for two years where they worked together and he learned about running the food truck from Darryl. Tot Wheels also caters events - and surprisingly - weddings! “We have done wedding dinners and late night snacks.  This saves the bride and groom a ton of money and has turned out excellent every time.

Tot Wheels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pete's Place Family Restaurant: 4/5

Chili Burger: 3.6
$11.95 (platter)

Bacon Cheeseburger: 3.5
$10.95 (platter)

$10.95 (platter)

Cheese Burger: 4.2
$9.95 (platter)

When we arrived at Pete’s Place owner Samantha had us setup at one long table in the middle of the restaurant. There was a photo of the five patty Fatboy and she challenged me to finish one – but I’d need a lot more training before tackling that behemoth. As it was I could barely finish the double I ordered. I’m pretty sure their claim of a 5-oz. patty is grossly understated.

Pete’s Place is on top of their game, winning several community choice awards. True to popular opinion, it's nothing fancy, but serves up good food at reasonable prices. Some restaurateurs take the opportunity to expound at length about their creations, but when I asked Samantha she responded with “Burgers are prepared fresh daily, and on busy days twice“ and “Chill is prepared using 100% certified Angus beef and Pete’s own custom blend of spices.“ Plain and simple.

Samantha kept our drinks topped up while patiently waiting for all of our group to arrive so she could put in the orders together. They were well staffed with three in the kitchen including namesake Peter Vlahos on the grill and son Dean prepping and plating. It wasn't much of a wait before Samantha was bringing out all of the meals at once. Impressive!

It’s a classic diner patty. Lean and fairly dry, dense and cooked with a solid grill crust. I thought the burger seasoning salty, but a few diners said the saltiness was from the chili sauce. It's Greek-style - not too spicy. I liked it on the burger and loved it on the fries. Chili sauce is like beer – tastes vary and so did opinions. The Brioche-style bun wasn’t sweet, but light and fluffy with a shiny top. It held up well.

The Fatboy was topped with a heap of shredded iceberg lettuce – easy to bite through. The pickles were spears laid across the patty – admired by some with others pining for the disc form. The tomato was bright red and ripe. Karen wrote “This was a really decent burger. Good taste overall. The patty was firm, great tasting and fairly juicy. I liked their chili sauce, not too salty with a nice mild seasoning. Tomato was fresh and juicy, lettuce chopped fine so not too sloppy and didn't make the burger all slippery. The fries were excellent hot. Caesar salad was super! Lots 'o garlic.”

Mireille had the chili burger – which is a stack doused in chili – all the more impressive as her white dress was still white afterwards. “The meat was a little dry but the chili helped moisten it. It had a little heat - I enjoyed it. The burger held up very well even though it was smothered. Bun was delicious.”

Sandy had a cheeseburger: “The pickle spears were a nice surprise! As was the flavourful patty. Some might find it salty, but salt is my weakness. I'm not always a fan of chili on my burger but this wasn't smothered and helped cut the saltiness - I need to practice balance - begrudgingly. Great garlicky Caesar salad too!

Loved the bacon cheeseburger” wrote Jeff. “Chili and full pickle spears on the burger was a nice surprise. One of the best burger buns I've ever had - held together right to the last bite, and bun:burger ratio was bang on. Crazy amount of fries too!

Burgers come as a platter with soup, salad or fries & coleslaw. All three choices were delicious. The bowl of fresh mushroom soup was thick, flavorful and *huge*. The fries were a hit - crispy outside, soft inside and hot. I had half Caesar salad and half fries. The salad had an enjoyable dressing and a big crunchy crouton for every piece of fresh Romaine.

Burger Clubbers came from far and wide for Pete’s Place. One couple parked their camper across the street and a family drove all the way from Regina stating: “I'd come here again and order the same burger!” Their kids had chicken fingers and fries - a deal at $6.95. The boy said the fries tasted like a burger. The short kids were given colouring books to keep them entertained while the tall kids were amused finding the *four* Pokemon in range of our table.

Pete's Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Denise's Blue Moon: 4.1/5

Blue Moon Burger
Score: 4.0

Country Burger
Score: 4.4

$8 (tax inc)
$12 Combo (fries and drink)
French cuisine has rolled onto Broadway in the form of Denise’s Blue Moon. Denise (née Lebleu) grinds the grass fed beef in her dad’s butcher shop, stuffs it in a sausage casing, and hangs the beef for ten hours in a smoker. There's a depth of flavour from the smoking and it's our favourite food truck burger! You can usually find the truck on the south side of Broadway near Edmonton; there’s plenty of seating and shade on a hot, sunny day.

The food is rich and delicious and portions are large. Denise chops up the fresh bacon to form a layer on the Blue Moon Burger, and a crumbled topping on the Blue Moon fries. The bacon has all the flavour without the trouble of biting through a rasher. The crispy Blue Moon Fries are covered in cheese sauce, and I want them every time, but I need a fry-buddy to share with.  I highly recommend the apple rings for dessert. The fresh apple is cooked soft – on the brink of being apple sauce -  battered, deep fried and sugared like a mini donut from your dreams.

The menu offerings keep growing and there were four burgers to choose from. The Country Burger was the crowd favourite, with plenty of crispy onions adding texture, and zest from the double smoked BBQ sauce. The Blue Moon Burger is rich and all about the bacon, loaded with cheese and toppings – lettuce, chopped dill pickle and white onion. The bun was fresh and soft – most of our crew thought it perfectly suited, but some thought it didn’t hold up as well. This may come down to burger handling technique, requiring refresher training for Burger Club’s reviewers.

Roxanne wrote: “The Country Burger by far, would be the best food-truck burger that I’ve ever had. The patty was fresh made (I could tell by the first bite). It was well flavoured – toppings were very yummy! All of this on the perfect, soft yet firm bun that did not fall apart – even up until the last delicious bite! Fries were fantastic too!

Dani had the Blue Moon Burger: “The patty was flavourful and moist and I like that the bacon was crumbled on top.  That meant you could have a bit of the burger with bacon, and didn’t pull a whole bacon strip out of the sandwich.  The bun was nicely matched to the burger.  It was soft, yet didn’t fall apart.”

Russ: “A lot of care went into making this burger Just Right. From the soft grilled bun, to the perfect crunchy crisp, to the finely chopped condiments held together with homemade sauces, the right amount of crisp lettuce, to the cooking of the burger. Many sensations around a patty with a great bite. I loved the finely chopped bacon and pickles and they helped the burger hold together with a softer bun.

Stephanie: “Very tasty burger. The best food truck burger I've had all year. Could've gone for seconds!

Mat: “Apple rings were heavenly.”

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Extreme Fries: 3.6/5

Bacon Cheeseburger
Score: 3.6, $6 (tax inc.)

There's a new food truck in town called Extreme Fries any they make a good burger! Well, the truck’s not new but the wrap is and you can’t miss it – owner Bobbie Mack calls it the “hot pink bomb.” Bobbie found the truck for sale in October and jokingly texted her husband "what would you think if I quit my job and bought a food truck? Over the next couple weeks I couldn't get the idea out of my mind and I took the leap!

Bobbie loves to cook but didn't want to put in a chef’s long hours so the truck seemed like a good fit. “I cook food how I like to eat. You won't find anything on that truck that isn't my favourite. I have been making and selling my own home made sweet pickle relish for 10 years every summer Saturday at Pine Ridge. That's where my love of working with the public started. I just wish I had a little more time to chat from the truck. It gets kinda crazy.”

Most days you can find Extreme Fries parked on Broadway near Edmonton. Check their Facebook page for up-to-date info. This year the City of Winnipeg (COW for short) implemented a food truck parking spot lottery. Another favourite – Burgers R Us – were drawn for the western end of Broadway, but thought they’d be too far from the action and have a hard time making a go of it, so opted out of Broadway this year.

The flavourful burger had a slightly charred patty, crispy fried cheddar cheese, sautéed onion, chili sauce, bacon and fresh groceries. Everyone loved the chili sauce. “The chili sauce is my recipe" said Bobbie. "I started out making a hot dog sauce but my kids found it too spicy. It was just meat and chili powder. Then I tried a Greek style sauce and to me it had flavour but was tame. I mixed the two together and boom!  Bobbie Mack's chili sauce.

Bobbie added “Good bacon is essential and finding the right way to hot hold your bacon without incinerating it is very important. Grilled onion is the way to go on a burger. Hot dogs need raw onion. I also include a favourite in my condiment bar - Awesome Sauce, which is a cousin’s creation.” Cary wrote “A good food truck burger at a decent price. It’s  all about the toppings, so use the plethora of condiments provided and add a little bit of the Awesome Hot Sauce if you like a little bit of zing.” Stephanie exclaimed “Perfect day for a food truck burger! The Awesome  Sauce had a nice amount of spice to it.”

The uniformly shaped beef patty was a good size, fairly dense and filling. You can taste all the toppings with the copious quantities of cheddar cheese, fried onions, and of course the chili sauce, making it messy – but not too drippy to carefully eat over your lap. On my second visit I tried a double and it was good, but I think tilted the designed flavour balance too much towards beef. Bright green leaf lettuce and red, ripe Roma tomatoes crowned the cold side of the open faced presentation in the combo.

Of course they wouldn't be Extreme Fries without great fries, and they were. The potatoes are hand cut and the fries were dark, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. There were lots of them! The combo container was bursting. Roxanne noted “the fries were awesome and toppings very fresh.”

There was no shade on Broadway so we took our burgers across to the Woodsworth Building picnic tables. There was *one* table in the shade and the first shift of Burger Clubbers crowded around it. The second shift had to melt under the sun. Winnipeg set a record with the temp reaching a scorching 36 c.

Extreme Fries Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Planit (closed): 4.1/5

The Ultimate Burger
Score: 4.1
Platter: $14.50

Mushroom Swiss Burger
Score: 4.1
Platter: $15.00

Ashley Meilleur opened The Planit at 285 Portage Ave in August 2015 upsizing from her 12 seat Vinyl Diner in the Garrick Hotel. It’s a great location in the heart of downtown Winnipeg’s burgeoning Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District (S.H.E.D.) The buildup of condominium high rises and nearby MTS Centre should mean plenty of Planit patrons for Ashley and partner Sandra Soares for years to come.

Our table was presided over by a painting of Ashley. She told the story of how the portrait went for auction at a fundraiser, and that she felt funny at the thought of it hanging in someone’s home so bought it herself. The second floor kitchen is shared the Creating Opportunities & Rewarding Experiences (C.O.R.E.) culinary training program that “provides skills for those transitioning from the streets back into the workforce”.  As their website proclaims, The Planit is “Proudly gay owned and operated and we are all about culture, diversity and supporting our community.” There are live entertainment events in the evenings and starting May 1, Planit will open a patio on Portage Ave.

The Planit Burger (RIP)
Interior colours are from La Bamba (and briefly Reuby's Gastropub). Diners are greeted by an upright piano soundboard leaning against the wall and a bright and cheery space. I took one bite of The Planit Burger on a previous visit and knew Burger Club had to dine here. On the day we visited there was a new menu and new chef (Ashley) with The Planit Burger replaced by two new beef offerings – The Ultimate and The Mushroom Swiss Burger. Sadly, the Brioche bun delivery didn't make it on time for Burger Club's lunch.

Sandra and server Brittany were great hosts and Ashley prepared ingredient platters so we could see and taste the individual components of our stacks. Along with the Red Thai Chicken and Rice soup, Ashley surprised us with a “cheeseburger” soup for anyone (like me) who wanted to make it all about the burger. Both soups were a large serving, hearty and delicious. “The soups are an adventure” wrote Cary. Have the soup!

The two Angus chuck beef burger assemblies are similar, but with cheddar cheese and onion rings on one, and Swiss cheese, bacon jam and mushrooms on the other. Both come with flavourful Sriracha aioli and fresh groceries. The planned Brioche would have raised Burger Club’s rating from the substitute bun.

The home-style patty was soft and airy but held together well. Dani commented “Love the flavours of the patty! All of the food had such a wonderful variety of spices and flavours.” “Great burger, nice little bit of spice” wrote Chris. Cary also had the Ultimate Burger and scribed “Burger was FRICKEN TASTY!” The fries were delicious and consensus was they had a light dusting of cinnamon.

I had the Mushroom Burger and the mushrooms were fresh, thick sliced and sautéed to perfection – the highlight of my sandwich. “The hand battered onion rings made the burger for me! OMG - so flavourful” wrote Stephanie.

Photo Credit: The Planit
The Planit also makes a vegan Earth Burger with 14 grams of protein – more than the beef offerings! April wrote “I will have to come back to get the protein-packed veggie burger. Sounds like a good pre-roller derby meal ...” Russ liked the music “Bonus points for playing Grimes the whole time.

The Planit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Diner's Grill: 4.3/5

Diner's Burger
Score: 4.1
$9. Special: $13 inc. fries and a beer

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger
Score: 4.4
$7. Lunch special: $10 inc. fries and a canned drink

Reuben Burger
Score: 4.4

What better setting to celebrate Burger Club’s 100th review and 5th anniversary than a family owned diner with no less than 10 beef burgers on the menu. The Diner’s Grill, in its out-of-the-way location at 405 Turenne, has been a favourite destination since it was the Riviera and later Mark’s the Spot. In June, Chef Joshua and partner Yang started their own restaurant, and the first thing Josh did was replace the 4-burger grill with a 20-burger model.

When I contacted Josh to make a supper booking - Friday is the only evening they’re open - I told him there’d be about 30 of us. "Well, we only have 38 chairs, so if you get much more than that it’s going to get a little cozy." Josh thought it would be better to give us a private booking for the evening and dutifully let his regular patrons know through The Diner’s Grill (TDG) weekly newsletter and Facebook page.

The 4 person tables were arranged into two long rows, complete with little placards welcoming Burger Club and describing the specials. Yang was our server for the evening and she made the rounds taking food orders and bringing drinks as our group continued to arrive. By the time all of us had gathered, Yang could definitely have used some help. Her parents lent a hand in kitchen. “They’re free labour!” she joked.

Hot ‘n Spicy Burger
Prices are quite reasonable and the Friday (and Saturday) deal is the namesake Diner’s Burger with fries and a beer for $13. “Great value!” Most of our group went for the special, and a few ordered the popular BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger - often the Wednesday lunch feature with fries and a drink for $10. Some of us perused the regular menu and ordered the Reuben Burger - the real star of the show. Josh joked that when Yang and his baby arrives this summer, prices will need to jump 25% :)

The Harvest bakery buns were “soft as a baby's derrière”, fresh and delicious, but were a little challenged to keep their structural integrity with the juicy assemblies. For the Reuben, the stack of patty, grilled corned beef and sauerkraut made a mockery of the bun. Napkin ratings spontaneously appeared on the little review slips with the Diner’s Burger getting a 3 and the Reuben a 6.

When we arrived Josh had just finished cooking a mountain of bacon and I was salivating before reaching my seat. It was like walking into a bakery for a carnivore. Everything’s made fresh at TDG, and the fries are cut from Russet potatoes, par-cooked, chilled, then deep fried. They were soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, brown and delicious.

The 4 oz, Angus chuck beef patties are fresh with nothing mixed in. They’re squashed thin, cooked and seasoned on the grill with a nice crust. The very definition of a diner burger patty. In a trend we’re seeing more and more of, a number of the beef patties had some pink in the middle. If this isn't for you, be sure to let your server know. Just about everybody commented on how good the beef patty tasted and that the seasoning was just right. Now, a 4 oz. patty may be big enough for some, but if you come with an appetite you’ll definitely want to make it a double and as any burger lover knows, two thin patties are better than one thick one. It’s twice the crust! Pro Tip: If you order the special, ask to make it a double.

Geoff scribed this review for the Diner’s Burger: “The Diner's Grill is a pretty innocuous looking store front in an industrial park, but the food inside was worthy of notice. Only enough seating for 3 dozen and we filled 3/4 of it for the special 100th review\5th anniversary. The fledgling rock 'n roll memorabilia on the walls is neat, like a hard rock cafe light. The burger was the signature, copious bacon and melted cheddar with a nicely seasoned patty. Wasn't the biggest, but a double would've been too much for my plate, especially with the size of the poutine that came on the side. Real curds! Very good.

Dani customized her Diner’s Burger with extra bacon: “When my burger arrived I had 5 strips of bacon. It looked like a bacopus!

The Reuben was a very juicy, messy burger but had good flavour balance. Russ scrawled “Every component was filled with flavour. The bacon, the patty, the corned beef, the sauce... Didn't hold together very well. It presented as a tower of Swiss.” Cary added “Very tasty burger, with a napkin count for how messy. Tons of corned beef DRIPPING with BACON!

Karen had the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger and wrote: “The bacon was crisp and super tasty. The burger was crusted on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside, while the BBQ Mayo complimented perfectly lending juicy deliciousness to the burger overall.

TDG offers 4 different poutines and they’re *huge*. Thick beef gravy and mounds of real Quebec cheese curds accompany the fries and you can get bacon, pulled pork, or corned beef & onions on top. Cary wrote “The bacon poutine is WONDERFUL however, you should share it. Friends do not let friends poutine alone!

Newbie Bernhard enjoyed TDG: “Nice they closed the shop for us. This gave a much better experience than the industrial location suggested. I liked the beer\burger deal. Chef takes pride in his burgers, and provided an above average diner experience.

The Diner's Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato