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!
Muddy Waters has a patio at The Forks which is basically a license to print money in summer months. We finally got some hot weather and when I made our reservation a week ago, I said we’d like to move outside if it was nice. When I confirmed our reservation on burger day, they reaffirmed on the phone we could move outside if there was room. We got there a little early to find lots of room on the patio but the manager said we could not sit there. Apparently they like to keep a few tables free on the patio to attract walk-ups. They already had our indoor reservation so they didn't need to let our group take up valuable outdoor space and it was evident they just said whatever they needed to say on the phone to get our reservation.
It was bright and roomy inside and they setup tables so we could all sit together. One side of our group was walled by a stack of beer, kegs framed the other end of our table. We had a very pleasant waitress, so that was a treat. She was quick with the drinks, although one or two people had to remind her to bring theirs. The menu sported a pretty good burger selection which was part of the reason we thought we’d try Muddy Waters.
A diner goes to a restaurant for good food and ambience, but of course the restaurateur is in business to make money. I think the Muddy Waters operators are quite savvy. The burgers are designed to attract add-ons. None of the standard burgers come with cheese, so most of our group added a slice of plasticy processed cheese to their burger.
The burger was described as “charbroiled” and they really took that to heart. If I’m BBQing at home and I go for a beer and forget about the burgers engulfed in flames for a while, the result is exactly what Muddy Waters served us. The burgers were burnt. Of course, the char was the overwhelming flavour of the burger – other flavours did not stand out. Most diners, myself included, thought the char flavour was pretty tasty on the first bite, but that wore off quickly.
I went for the Muddy Burger – a double with bacon and cheese – and the cinder sat very heavily in my stomach after lunch. I can't imagine this is how they always cook their burgers, but maybe it is. A couple of diners described the burger as salty, one thought it extremely salty, so I’m not sure what happened there. One diner thought it was the sauce.
The Muddy Burger comes with chili, but mine didn’t. I can live without a forgotten tomato, or even a slice of cheese, but I really enjoy the chili. I pointed the absence of chili to our waitress, and she was quick to carry it back to the open kitchen so they could pour some chili over the open faced burger. Apparently I wasn't the only one who needed their burger corrected. The chili was quite good. It was “real” chili with kidney beans and a pleasant balance between spicy and sweet.
The lettuce and tomato were nice and fresh, but the lettuce was standard iceberg. The bun was pretty good, although quite cold. It held up for most people and was sized appropriately to the patty. Pretty much everybody that had the potato fries said they lacked flavour.
One diner had the Greek salad and said it was delicious.
As I was taking a couple of pictures around the empty restaurant, our waitress asked me if I knew about the “lower patio” that was along the river with reggae music – kind of a vacation vibe. I didn't and I’m sure that would've been a nice place to sit and enjoy a burger on a beautiful day.