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!
The Seine River Café is a popular spot and they don’t take reservations. 11 Burger Clubbers showed up at 11:30 thinking we’d beat the lunch rush but instead caught the tail end of the breakfast crowd of shiftless seniors. As dawdling diners finished up, the team of waitrii assembled tables for us like Lego. There was much consternation among them as they pushed tables around before grudgingly settling on an L-shaped configuration. I ended up in the bushes and Cary got the corner leaving his back exposed to attack from the rear, but as he put it “I enjoyed being molested, repeatedly, by April. I usually have to pay extra for that.” It’s a nicely decorated restaurant and Jo-Ann “enjoyed the interesting artwork while waiting for food.”
The service really was great – even at the tail end of breakfast when the waitresses were probably expecting to have a few minutes to catch their breath before the next wave of diners arrived. They set us up with cutlery and sundry table items and did it smiling and conversing. Drink orders were taken, followed by food orders a few minutes later. The team of waitrii were very attentive - the drinks came out fast and glasses were refilled as soon as they were half empty. The burgers seemed to take a while, but when they arrived we were all served together - I guess that was their plan. The burgers were presented open face so it was readily apparent that mine was missing the bacon and tomato. Our waitress finished setting down the rest of the meals then promptly brought a plate with four; count them, four slices of perfectly cooked bacon and two wide slabs of ripe tomato for me to add to my burger. I win! Kari’s had the best presentation - her side-by-side buns had a large dill pickle projecting out from between them.
Burger Clubs’ newest recruit summarized the burger nicely: “A juicy patty topped with fresh veggies and thick bacon (2 strips) as juicy as the burger all trapped well (i.e. minimal spillage) in a wonderfully soft bun.”
The bun was very nice; a right-sized Kaiser buttered and grilled that, as Kari put it, had a “good bun to meat ratio.” The lettuce was bright green, the tomato bright red and all the produce fresh as could be. Condiments (routine squeeze relish, mustard and ketchup) were on the table and many people liked adding their own. For me, the sauce is pretty key and can set one burger apart from another - I like to taste the restaurant's own creation. The cheese looked impressive but I didn't notice it. Almost all burgers we’ve tried have had processed cheese (the White Star being a notable exception) so we’ve come to expect it. Like Sals though, when the menu says “cheddar” it sets up an expectation for, well, real cheddar cheese not an extruded slice. The patty was large, a fairly fine grind and moist. Somehow though, even with all these great ingredients, the burger didn't stand out. It was less than the sum of its parts. The meat had negligible seasoning, and with the absence of a tasty sauce, it made for a pretty routine, but good quality and filling burger. Burger Club rated the Seine River burger as a five star burger, but for me, it was a four star. Try the Charlee’s Peppercorn Bacon to experience what a really delicious, well seasoned burger tastes like!
The mozza mushroom burger was heaped up with real, fresh mushrooms. April was the happy recipient of one and I’m such a fun-guy I exclaimed "are those real?" I probably should have been more specific. Yes. They are. Thank you.
Strangely enough nobody commented on the fries on their rating slips – but afterwards I heard they were awesome – crispy and flavourful. Karen ordered a side salad but the iceberg lettuce was watery and tasteless. The oil and vinegar dressing she ordered was served in a little vinegar shaker bottle – but filled to the brim so no way to shake it – so really just an oil dressing.
What were you trying to illustrate, Brett?
Things you learn at Burger Club: Cary has a taser proof suit and knows how to make pepper spray, but has retired from making explosives. CSIS blog scanner alarms are going off now.