Friday, January 3, 2014

Danny’s BBQ (closed): 4.6/5


Buck's BBQ Burger
Platter: $14
Score: 4.5


Danny's Whole Hog Burger
Platter: $16
Score: 4.9


The Big Daddy Tazz Burger
Platter: $16
Score: 4.9
There’s been a shake up in the burger-verse! Danny’s BBQ did everything right to become Winnipeg’s new #1. Our Top 5 burgers have remained unchanged for so long, I was starting to think we’d already found Winnipeg’s best, but we hadn't been to Danny’s BBQ & Smokehouse yet.

Danny’s BBQ opened in the summer of 2012 in the former Hu's Asian Bistro and Grapes location at 1747 Ellice. Many Manitobans will be familiar with Danny’s Whole Hog catering whole hog roasts for many years. Danny Kleinsasser and Buck Pierce opened the new restaurant together so you can come for Danny’s BBQ & Smokehouse and stay for Buck's Sport Lounge. The large venue is also home to the Big Daddy Tazz's Social Emporium 140 seat theatre. This week we were lucky enough to have Big Daddy Tazz and mini-Tazz burgering with us and captivating us with ghost stories.

There was a blizzard going on outside, but that didn't keep anyone from showing up for Burger Club! I booked ahead - I knew we were going to be a large group for our holiday burger - and without being asked, Danny's created a "Winnipeg Burger Club" menu just for us. How fun is that! The choices included the Buck’s BBQ Burger off the regular menu, as well as a new Danny’s Whole Hog Burger with pulled pork on top, and The Big Daddy Tazz Burger that was a double with a lot of extra’s including Guacamole sauce. We preordered to save time, and pretty much every one of us made modifications to our burger. The platters came out shortly after we arrived, and with one exception, everyone got exactly what they ordered. The erroneous burger assembly was returned to the kitchen and quickly corrected.

I can't say enough about the service. Each of us were greeted at the entrance and shown to our dining room. We were setup in the 35 seat VIP room and that worked great for our group of 17 - we were in a U-shape so could all see and converse with each other. The VIP space is quite inviting and noise baffled from the main dining room (we’re the noisy ones!) We had a great waitress - Terry - and she was assisted by Maddy when delivering the plates. Terry was friendly with a big smile, but she was no-nonsense efficiency when it came to serving our group. The kitchen manager, Ty, and chef, Dom, both came out to make sure they'd got it all right and everyone was happy. We were.

The Burgers

Most weeks some of our group love their burger, and some not as much. This week everybody seemed to really enjoy their burger and the consensus was the charbroiled flavour made the patty. Yes, Danny’s flame broils their burgers. I remember having a discussion once with another diner that a flat top grill is better because you’re not losing the juices, but for me, you can’t beat the flavour of an open flame. The beef was quite delicious all on its own. It was moist but not juicy, firm but not hard, a nice thick patty, cooked to perfection and deliciously seasoned.

I don’t know how they did it, but the onion rings on the Buck’s BBQ burger were still crispy and I really enjoyed the texture.  The bacon was thick and cooked to leathery goodness. As Andrea put it, the “combination of the patty and the bacon gave the burger a nice smokey flavour.” The cheese was plentiful and the taste came through. I opted for the Monterey Jack on mine; Sandy had the cheddar and said “I loved the cheese/onion ring combo.

Every burger had two thick slices of juicy, ripe tomato - loved it! I don’t know where Danny’s found all the ripe tomato this time of year, but I’m glad they did. The romaine was fresh and bright green and served to grip rather than making a burger torpedo like Iceberg lettuce does. Andrea verged on poetic when she wrote “Freshness of the lettuce and tomato was a clean, crisp contrast to the texture of the meat.“ The flavour balance was great - it made my whole mouth happy.

If there was any room for improvement, it would be in the bun. The sesame seed - egg bun had the right density and girth to support the big burger, but was a little dry and crumbly. This was the prevailing opinion, so the bun was probably the only thing between the burger and perfection. Brett wrote “Bun was fine but not quite up to the duty.” It was a very well designed burger and stayed together for me, but I always cut mine in half. Some mock me for this, but I think I’m the clever one.

April summarized nicely “My burger was just the right size, tasted great, had all my requested exceptions and was set in front of me as I arrived.” Karen was even more concise “OMG! What a stellar burger!

Most of our group had the Buck’s BBQ Burger and it was a winner. Brett had The Big Daddy Tazz Burger and wrote “The patties had a charbroiled flavour with a nice crispy outside, well seasoned, moist, and not too dense. Nice bite from the hot sauce and could taste the guacamole. Not too many onions.” Jeff had the Danny’s Whole Hog Burger and wrote “This made my 4-mile run this morning totally worth it!! The burger was excellent, and the pulled pork on it was sheer brilliance!” I also had the pulled pork on my burger, it was succulent but the smokey flavor comes from the selection of delicious sauces. A couple of burgerers bought bottles of Danny’s BBQ sauce to take home. The only one you couldn't seem to buy any more was the "Danny and Buck's Jerk Sauce" - apparently they took that one off the menu. 

All the Danny’s burgers come as platters and you choose two sides from a wide selection. Today, the clear winner was the garlic mashed potatoes and gravy. Sandy wrote “As great as the burger was, the garlic mashed potatoes were divine! I think we need a mashed potato club next!!” Dani noted “The gravy had a nice savory kick to it.” The fries were also a favourite as Karen wrote “Liked the fries and gravy was super tasty.” Also getting good reviews were the coleslaw which was a creamy mix, and the baked beans with pulled pork mixed in. The beans were mildly flavoured so don’t expect a strong BBQ smoke experience. Mike commented that the “Jambalaya had nice flavour”. Russ said “Great fries and chili.”

Danny’s BBQ & Smokehouse also got a high “Restaurant Rating.” That’s where we rate the Service, Price and Comfort. Danny’s was second only to Sonya’s and that’s because you can have four Sonya’s burgers for the price of one Danny’s. I guess that’s the difference between running a small mom and pop shop like Sonya’s and operating a large, well provisioned restaurant like Danny’s.

Danny's BBQ & Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

10 comments:

  1. Can you objectively rate a place that created a menu just for your visit? This is not what the average consumer would receive. This review doesn't seem to match up with the general consensus on urbanspoon

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    1. You make a good point about the custom menu, and I hemmed and hawed about including the “special” burgers in the review, but Danny’s will make either one on request so I left them in. Most (11/15) diners had the Buck’s BBQ Burger off the regular menu and it rated quite well. If the additional burger’s ratings were dropped, Danny’s would still be in Burger Club’s Top 5. All I can say about the disparity between Burger Club’s rating and UrbanSpoon, is several UrbanSpoon reviews seem to refer to the smoked meats and prices. We were entirely focused on the burgers. Of course it’s all very subjective and this is just the collective opinion of 15 diners. I sure enjoyed mine and I’ll be quite happy with a Buck’s BBQ Burger when I go back!

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  2. I appreciated many of your other reviews as I've had a chance to travel the country dining on many fine local haunts. I make a point of it searching them out and these type of reviews can be helpful.
    This review though, I don't know. The whole VIP treatment and special menu and such. I'd say as bias goes, should be taken with a grain...or a spoonful or salt. They might as well paid for your dinner and paid you a monthly stipend for "Voted Best Burger by".
    Please keep up the good eating and work but consider the approach as it devalues the review.

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    1. Hello anonymous. Thank you very much for taking the time to provide comments. I’ve no doubt you’re correct, that receiving such great treatment at Danny’s informed my writing. I do appreciate the reminder to stay unbiased and I’ll try and take heed. I hope the following helps restore your value for Burger Club’s reviews:

      I’m comfortable with the group numeric rating and ranking as being relatively unbiased - at least as unbiased as something so subjective can be. I try and separate out the burger rating from the restaurant experience. I ask Burger Club reviewers to rate the Quality, Flavour, Quantity, Assembly and Presentation of the burger. I find this makes people fairly analytical and less subjective. Diners rate the restaurant Service, Price and Comfort separately, so hopefully this removes those experiences from the burger rating. I then toss the restaurant numbers out (shhh – don’t tell Burger Club!) Well, I don’t actually toss them out, but they do not form part of the burger rating. Of course it doesn’t completely unlink the restaurant experience from the burger rating – but I think it helps.

      There were one or two other restaurants that went the extra mile to make sure Burger Club had a good time, but it didn’t result in a top-10 burger rating. Danny’s made a really good burger. We visited the Kings Head twice – the second time as part of our “Top 5 Round Up”. It was after that that Jay Khanuja invited us back a third time and made us his “special” stuffed Khanuja. It was delicious, and would have moved the Kings Head up a couple of spots, but I didn’t use it in the ratings because we all had the special burger that’s not available on the regular menu (yet). I keep waiting for Jay to expand his burger menu so I can have the stuffed Khanuja again!

      Danny’s took the initiative to develop the Winnipeg Burger Club menu - after I’d made the reservation. I usually do make a reservation – especially if we’re a big group like we were at Danny’s– and let them know we’re all having a burger. We’ve surprised a couple of restaurants in the past by not making a reservation, and they either didn’t have seating, weren’t staffed up enough or ran out of burgers! I want our experience to be enjoyable too, so I let them know we’re coming. Danny’s did their best to make sure our service experience was a good one and we all paid for our burgers (as we always do). I say Kudos to Danny’s for seeing our booking as an opportunity and making the extra effort. Any restaurant could’ve made the extra effort with a large reservation - not all could back it up with a great burger though!

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  3. Well I'm at Danny's now and I was so excited to have an awesome burger. But just looking at the menu made me very disappointed. There is only one real burger in this menu!!! This isn't a burger joint. Womp.

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    1. That's too bad you missed out Sarahdelle :( They'll make you a Danny's Whole Hog Burger and a Big Daddy Tazz Burger as well as the regular Buck's BBQ Burger. The two new beef burgers aren't on the menu (I guess it costs $$ to print new menus). You need to ask for the "Burger Club Menu" and maybe not all the servers remember to tell people about the new additions. They've got copies of the Burger Club menu at the front and they had them stuck up by the tables as well. There was also a BBQ Smokehouse Chicken Burger and Southern Fried Fish Burger on the extended menu.

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  4. Very interesting and insightful.

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  5. Shouldn't the point of judging a contest be to award a superior product from contestants competing on a level and "fair" playing ground? If a contestant has time to pre print a specific menu and create a dish that isn't even on the menu prior to a judging, (and still not on the menu to this day), a little fishy? I would think that a local greasy spoon restaurant that has been on the corner for 20 plus years and gives you something off the menu when you sit down to judge deserves a lot more respect than a place stacking the deck in their favour. For true credibility one should judge anonymously.

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  6. A Garlic Mashed Potato club indeed! Mmmmm, Big T would be in for that!

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  7. Please check out Hatricks; west Portage by the Perimeter....Great Food and Great Burgers!!!!

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