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!
All burgers come as a platter with fries or a salad
177 McDermot Ave
I usually refer to UrbanSpoon when researching our next BurgerClub contender and Johnny G’s had the worst reviews I’d ever read. It was like people were going out of their way to tell the world just how bad it was. Well, it wasn’t that bad. We were greeted right away and moved around some tables so all ten of us could sit comfortably together. The hostess (owner?) met us with a smile and our waitress took our orders and brought us drinks quickly. Most places we’ve been to are counter service so it was a treat to be seated at real tables with real cutlery. Johnny G’s was at the higher end of the burger price range though. The food seemed a little slow coming out, but it pretty much all came out at once so maybe they were just trying to serve us all together. The burgers only come as a platter with either fries or a salad and were served “bun open”.
Bacon Burger - the Rockabilly
When the plates were set down three things happened at once. Some burgers had a full slice of red onion on top and some only had one thin ring so there was a flurry of activity as diners redistributed the onions more equitably. Most BurgerClubbers went for the “Rockabilly” which is Johnny G’s bacon burger and which the menu proudly proclaims comes “crowned with two slices of bacon”. Well, they all had one stubby slice of bacon (1/2 a slice really) so people felt shorted. The waitress said that’s the way it was supposed to be. Now I don’t know about you, but I would think the bacon should feature pretty prominently on a bacon burger. You pay extra for it. This also brought into question whether they should really be called “Johnny’s Honest Burgers." Most people ordered fries and the third thing that happened was there were a bunch of exclamations that “the fries are cold!” One diner’s fries were “tepid” so I guess hers were closer to the heat lamp.
Cheese Burger - Johnny Says Cheese
The menu stated the burgers were “freshly lean ground beef” which I’m sure was true before they were factory pressed, frozen and put in boxes. The patties were thick and juicy – there was definitely a lot of meat – but didn’t have any real flavour like you get when a restaurant makes the patties and blends in their own secret seasoning recipe. I had a Rockabilly and the see-through slice of Mozzarella cheese looked like a postage stamp in the center of the burger. I sure couldn’t taste it. The burgers didn’t come with any condiments – no chili sauce or anything else for that matter. It was supposed to come with “burger sauce” but I didn’t find any. I guess if you’re familiar with Johnny G’s you would know this and ask for ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and relish but we weren’t and the waitress didn’t offer up anything. There was a bottle of ketchup on the table for the fries. It was a strange looking bottle so my recommendation was to "Just squeeze it until something happens." My bun was large, doughy and cold. How hard is it to warm up the bun? There was a nice large slice of tomato and some shredded yellow lettuce on the bun. All in all, the burger reminded me of a large family fall picnic with uncle Fester cooking burgers out of a large Costco sized box of prefabbed patties, and a bag of buns sitting on the cold picnic table nearby. It wasn’t a bad burger, it just wasn’t good. It was large and filling though. One dainty diner set the tone with her comment "I don't know if I can fit this in my mouth."
(Magic) Mushroom Burger
I opted for the salad and was offered a variety of choices (tossed, Greek or Caesar) and a choice of dressing which was nice. However, my house salad came with an overabundance of large chunks of celery – including those 3” wide yellowy-white bits near the base – and large chunky slices of green pepper.
A couple of diners opted for Poutine which they said was yummy. “Brett was impressed with my ability to only eat the gravy + cheese off my poutine, but then again Brett is impressed with everything I do!”
We try and include an educational element in BurgerClub as well and this week I learned that hot yoga makes you turn purple and get all drippy. Also Jo-Ann suffers from CFS…no…yeah…never mind. Maybe it was CFR … There was also something going on between Brett and Russ’ monkey but thankfully I was at the other end of the table. Nelson so admired Jo-Ann’s nails that he’s getting his done Tuesday.