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!
After retiring, Dennis Schwartz built Scoops for his boys to run, and not too long after that, added on the Burgerbend. They're clearly big sports supporters with Bombers and Jets memorabilia on the walls and both Dennis and his son Matthew were wearing their Blue Bombers t-shirts. Dennis just recently opened a second Scoops-Burger Bar on Main at Jefferson and now each of his sons has a restaurant. Dennis is a great entertainer and had lots of stories for us. April exclaimed “Dennis keeps popping out from behind counters in both the burger and ice cream shop!”
Burgerbend (and Burger Bar) use the "original" Fat Boy secret recipe developed by Dennis's good friend "Jimmy". Jimmy created the Fat Boy 40 years ago, and according to Dennis, Greek restaurants tried to copy it, but now he has the original recipe taught to him and his boys by Jimmy. Dennis told us how the patties are made from fresh ground and the potatoes cut daily.
The Burgerbend has a little vestibule across the front where you go in one door, order and pay for your burger, then exit out the other end and wait for your number to be called. A couple of other patrons came in while we were there and they were treated like old friends. It was a beautiful day and eleven of us sat comfortably outside at the nice clean picnic tables under than shade of umbrellas.
The burgers came wrapped in checked paper and served on a tray with Ketchup on the side. The burger patty was steaming hot, had a real grill crust, and was cooked thoroughly - quite a firm texture. That may in part have been because we were chatting up Matthew and distracting him from flipping burgers at the grill. Several people said their burgers were moist so there was likely just some variable time on the heat trying to cook a dozen patties at once on an eight patty grill. My bacon-cheeseburger didn't have a lot of juicy toppings on it (it's all about the bacon and beef) but people who had the Fat Boy said it was quite moist. The meat had no filler and was nicely seasoned - I thought a flavourful seasoning salt mixed in with the beef. My double was delicious and quite filling. A single would've probably done. The bacon was cooked very crispy. I'll definitely take that over soft, soggy bacon any day; it's a real trick to be able to get perfect "leathery" bacon especially when cooking for a crowd at lunch and sharing the hot grill with the burgers. The processed jalapeno cheese is unique – it comes from Mexico - via Dennis's place in Arizona. I enjoyed the taste and there was a good flavour balance with the rest of the ingredients. I asked for my onions fried and they were able to accommodate. Nothing kills a burger for me like a pile of hot, white onion and the fried onions tasted great!
Brett summarized the burger nicely “Great chili. Great crust on the patty, well seasoned burgers + chili, bun stood up.”
Karen commented “The patty was very nicely seasoned. Crispy fried on the outside and still moist on the inside. Toppings complemented the burger - not too many and not sliding apart. The bun was a bit dry but perfect size.” Karen had the Bullseye Bacon Burger and it was all about the BBQ sauce!
The buns are baked especially for Burgerbend by Kub Bakery. They were nice and big - easily encapsulating my double burger. There was a good burger-to-bun ratio but the buns were perhaps a little dry and crumbly. They were warmed on the grill though which is always a good thing. The perfect bun seems to be elusive among Winnipeg burger restaurants, but Burger Club recommends a Kaiser.
I *loved* the fries! The potatoes are freshly cut each day, deep fried soft and brown and seasoned. Cary tried the Taco Fries, and wow, they looked good. He wouldn't share with the rest of us though, so we'll have to take his word for it. Dennis told us the Taco Fries are the big seller. Cary said “The Taco fries are a meal in themselves”.
What's the best way to finish off a burger and fries? With ice-cream of course and Dennis invited us to sample the wares at Scoops next door - his treat! Best ice-cream ever! Thanks Dennis - you're a great host and a stand up guy :) People of Riverbend - you are lucky to have Burgerbend in your neighbourhood!