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!
No Bacon!?!? That was the first exclamation most BurgerClubbers made. V.J.’s does not put bacon on their burgers. Their advice was, if you really want bacon, go next door to Johnny G’s. One diner stated “I didn't think it was possible to score lower on the bacon scale than Johnny G's 1/2 slice” I’ve always thought V.J.’s made a fabulous burger but I guess I’ve gone with rose coloured glasses - all caught up with the charm of eating at V.J.’s and not really paying attention to the burger. Analytical eating has removed the flavour from V.J.’s for me. It’s a decent burger, but disappointing after some of the others we’ve tried. Zax still comes up every week for how good it was.
Somewhere along the way most burger clubbers stopped ordering fries, and the V.J.’s order-taker was a little surprised that only a couple did. That’s because their fries are awesome - one diner said “The fries are their own food group” - but the burgers, not so much. One of the things that makes V.J.’s special is their chili sauce - and they put on lots of it. Its messy eating so don’t wear a white shirt.
It was hot and brilliantly sunny - perfect weather. We’ve been waiting for this day to come so we could dine outdoors. The only tricky part was the wind so you had to guard your serviette/burger wrapper/skirt (as appropriate). Some of the folks who got there early grabbed two of the picnic tables so all twelve of us could sit together - well except Dani who wisely chose to sit in the shade up against the burger shack. If you’ve never been to V.J.’s they have a system. There is a covered walkway across the front. When you come in there’s an order-taker (with impeccable memory) standing in the doorway to the kitchen. She finds out what you want while you’re standing in line. You have to be ready for this because you probably can’t see the menu in the kitchen and the menu over the pickup window doesn’t have any prices on it. She relays the info to the burger flipper and assemblers, and you shuffle up to the window to pay the money person, take your food and exit out the other end of the corridor. It’s very efficient.
The burger patties were thinish, hand formed and kind’ve soft and squishy. They didn’t have any particular flavour. I’m glad I ordered a double because a single wouldn’t have cut it. People that had the V.J.s special with lettuce and tomato observed that the patty got lost on the burger. This may not be such a slight to the burger as testament to the piles of shredded lettuce and layers of ripe tomato on V.J.’s version of the Fatboy. The bun was nothing special - it was squishy and small, but it did do the job and held together despite all the chili sauce. One diner said the bun sucked, but I think she must be very particular about her buns.
One of the burgerettes wrote this dramatic tale on her patented BurgerClub rating slip: “I asked for a plain cheeseburger with bacon (No bacon?!), cheese and ketchup only … I received a nice crispy and tasty cheeseburger with two slices of cheese but no ketchup, and attempting to pull the cheesy burger apart failed so I had to resort to adding ketchup along the bite line instead.”
There was a hand printed sign for Lime Milkshakes in the window and one diner tried it. He said it was “drinkable”. Another diner had the strawberry-banana shake and said it was awesome and took her back to high school. She must’ve liked high school. I’ve really enjoyed chili dogs at V.J.’s in the past and I’ll likely pick a dog over a burger when I go back.