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!
You can always count on a good dining experience at the Oakwood Café. The table they had set for us was festivity decorated with mini Christmas trees – and there was plenty of elbow room for the twelve of us. The waitress started taking our drink orders immediately and waited politely for our entire group to arrive before taking food orders. The menu offered six different gourmet burgers and you have your choice of a hamburger, chicken or a veggie patty. In Burger Club though, burgers are made of beef. They also offer a list of topping customizations to rival the Salisbury House’s Build-a-Nip and a selection of side dishes to equal Original Joes.
My ice tea came in a vase. I was momentarily flummoxed what to do with it and was contemplating stealing my neighbors glass when I spotted the straw sticking out of my tall drink. Cool! It took a little while for our food to come out but when it did we were all served at once. There was only one error – regular fries instead of yam fries on one plate – and that was quickly fixed. All in all the service was quite friendly and attentive.
The burgers were presented open-faced and the bright colours of the fresh ingredients stood out. The mushrooms were fresh and burgers were topped with real cheddar cheese! The burger patty was hand formed, a good size and nice and juicy. There were two full slices of perfectly cooked bacon on my “Oakwood Burger”. The sautéed onions were raw on my (and a few others') burgers, but sautéed on some. The bun was a largish Kaiser – quite tasty but a little high on the bun to burger ratio. As one diner put it “Everything looked poised to make this a delicious burger, but alas the taste was just not there. There was a lack of chili or seasoning.” It really was a good burger, just a little bland, but as the Oakwood’s clientele seemed to include a lot of silver manes, they were probably in tune with their customers tastes.
I had a bowl of chili for my side. It looked beautiful. My neighbors wanted to know how it tasted but food must be eaten sequentially and I started with the burger. The finely grated cheese sprinkled on top, partially fused from the warmth of the chili, would've had a nicer texture broiled. The chili was thick and had a good kidney bean flavour, but was otherwise fairly pasty and bland. A couple of burger clubbers had the mushroom soup and said it was delicious. “I wish I had ordered the poutine. It was yummier than salad. Never hesitate on bacon, never second-guess poutine.” Our team expert said her beautifully constructed shake was “very chocolately.”
It was a fairly pricey burger – most of the burger platters were $12.99 - but good quality ingredients cost more and as one diner put it “worth every penny.” A Burger Club voyeur (we'll call him Thomas) commented in an e-mail "The old folks home across the street is apparently filled with high rollers who frequent this place."
I overheard one side of a cell phone conversation down the table but all I caught was “Put some jam in it!” They tried to explain but I didn’t want to hear - "Context spoils everything!” Another comment heard round the table was “Brett's moustache is frightening. I think he may now be doing undercover work for WPD.”