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!
This week Burger Club evaluated a Winnipeg institution - Salisbury House. The burger was surprisingly good, but more about that later. The main topic of discussion was how incredibly slow the service was at the Provencher location on the Esplanade Riel. It was a two hour lunch - but the view was great!
There were 14 burgerers so I phoned Sals to see if we could make a reservation. “We don’t take reservations, but we can set up tables for you” and when we arrived, sure enough, the tables were set and they were waiting for us - a lot like a reservation. So, Sals had fair warning, but our server sure wasn’t up to the task. At one point he brought out 4 plates - and then went off to finish off another table’s bill, greet some people at the door, seat another group ... Finally at one point when he was walking by I flagged him down and said “See those 6 plates sitting on the kitchen pass thru? Those are ours. Go grab them!” It didn’t get any better. Mike commented “Our server who described "spillsies" in reference to juice spilling kind of scared me.”
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The plan is to visit the seasonal burger joints during the summer months and save the indoor venues for when it’s cold. The Sals-Provencher location meets this criterion because they close in the winter. What drew us to Sals this week was their recent promotion of the “Build-a-Nip.” What a great idea! So, somewhat in our server’s defense, all the orders were elaborate - and no two burgers were the same. Most of the burgers came as specified - I think only a couple of diners were missing items.
Bacon Double Cheeseburger
With the Build-a-Nip you specify your own burger - which means you get it just how you like it - but it also puts the responsibility back on the diner to choose items that work together. Cary lamented that he didn’t make good topping choices. I don’t think he made any choice - he checked everything off! I specified a bacon-double cheeseburger and I gotta say, it was great! I’ve had Nips before and they’ve been disappointing - mainly due to the tiny little burger patty hidden in the bun. The Build-a-Nip burger came with a nice large, beefy tasting patty that filled the bun to its edge. It was coarse ground and quite juicy - more watery than fatty. Word on the street is that the burger meets the grill as a ball of beef and then the cook squishes it with a spatula. The grill must’ve been hot because there was a nice crust on the patty while it was still tender on the inside. A couple of comments about the toppings are that the mushrooms are canned and the “cheddar” cheese is a processed cheese slice. It wasn’t bad tasting for processed cheese, but disappointing if you’re expecting a slice of real cheddar. The bacon was delicious though - crispy to perfection! It was also a good deal - the additional toppings on the Build-a-Nip are all 50 cents - to keep the math simple I suppose - including the bacon. I also had the chili, which I quite enjoyed, and the chipotle mayo sauce which had a nice zing without competing with the rest of the flavours in my burger. The buns are baked fresh in the centralized commissary (where all the food served at Sals comes from) and then toasted at the restaurant. It was a nice soft bun and held up to the end. It was a messy burger though - mostly from the juice coming out of the patties - two in my case.
April commented “My burger tasted fantastic … Even though the cheese was not melted over the canned mushrooms.”
Bacon Bacon Burger
Another diminutive female diner commented that “My nip was incredibly tasty & the bacon was super crispy but I'm still hungry!! It was so small!!” She went for a single burger. Rookie :)
Meat! Meat! Meat!
Kari wrote on her rating slip “I came ready to slag the burger and was only showing up to see the view and meet up with friends. While coleslaw was lacking in flavour, burger was tasty, the flavours worked and I enjoyed the whole thing.”
Christie stated “Love the build a nip concept! My creation was ok, with the bacon and onion rings adding a wonderful crunch.”
Christie noted the “Yam fries were very yummy.” April echoed her sentiment with the “sweet potato fries and dip tasted fantastic.” Also that the “Red Velvet cake is plate-licky good - better then Dessert Sinsations, not as good as Cakeology.” Jo-Ann commented that “The fries are perfectly tasty and the coleslaw is yummy too! I also love the bottomless glass of pop”, but Kari said the “coleslaw was lacking in flavour.” Dani noted that the “Coffee was a dark roast so ordered hot water with my second cup.”
Bunless Brett - the Bacon Arrived Later
When the group is this big I can’t hear all the conversations going on and read about them on the rating slips later. Usually without any context though so I get to imagine what I want. For example Brett wrote “Dani's mind projector is hand cranked” and Mike noted “Sandy commented to Brett "I'll have your buns!" Wonder what she meant by that!?” Brett remarked “She was the best Tim ever had” and Sandy wrote “Later, the conversation turned to topics of which Brett has no experience in ... Tim might have to school him later.”
Christie wrote that she “Enjoyed modeling my Little Red Riding Hood themed outfit.” Her t-shirt had an image of a hot air balloon and as she pointed out, sky should be over land so Christie’s skirt was covered in little trees - and of course - Little Red Riding Hood buttons moving through the forest. Awesome!
Of course the Sals is in the middle of the bridge so the first quandary you face is which side of the river to park on. With construction at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, parking on The Forks side is far away - but there’s a golf cart running back and forth ferrying people from their cars to the Sals. Sandy commented “I suppose the highlight of today's burger club experience was getting "picked up" on the way to the restaurant.” She might have been talking about the golf cart. Dani noted “Rating this low on service and comfort due to the 30 km hike from the nearest parking spots. Otherwise, it's a great location! I like that a golf cart will take me back to my car.”
I so enjoyed reading this review by the Breakfast Connoisseurs I’m going to plug it here. This is brave of me because it’s so much better than this blog that Burger Club readers will probably jump ship.