For last year's first-ever Burger Week, we only visited a favorite of ours, M:BRGR, and were impressed with the creativity on display. For this year's "Avec Fromage" edition, we decided to do something different; we hit up as many participating restaurants as our busy schedules can accommodate, and our stomachs can handle, in one week.
The rules for participating restaurants are simple; create and serve a $10 burger with cheese as a mandatory ingredient. The offerings were very creative and ambitious, ranging from reinvented classics to obscene, over-the-top monsters. Here is our ranking, from least to most favourite:
"AAA beef, fried Chèvre Noir mac n' cheese, bacon, confit tomato, caramelized onions, arugula, extra cheese sauce". We can generally describe this burger as dry. The beef patty was somewhat overcooked, and while the mac n' cheese one was tangy and cheddar-y, it was so dry that it crumbled and made eating the burger very hard. The highlight was the confit tomato, which was sweet and garlicky.
"two 120g beef hamburger patties, curly lettuce, melted cheddar, pickles, onions, special sauce, in a sesame bread". Think of this as a fancy glamorous Big Mac, without the nausea that follows. The sweet tangy special sauce (very close to a Thousand Island dressing) worked perfectly with the thin, beefy and crispy brown patties. The pickles and sesame bread completed this upgrade on a "junky" burger.
"Angus, smoked meat, provolone, kale salad, pickled onions, house mustard with pineapple, on brioche". Well-assembled and the easiest to eat of the bunch (also the best bread). The patty could have used a little more seasoning, but the flavors were definitely there from the toppings; the pineapple added a delicate, sweet touch.
"beef cooked on wood charcoal, sun dried tomato pesto, smoked gouda, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, arugula, tomatoes, in a freshly baked brioche bun". Best burger we sampled. The patty was moist and perfectly seasoned with that charcoal flavor that everyone –should– like. The pesto took the burger to another level with its sweetness. The rest of the ingredients had supporting roles not to be missed.
Burger Week has been all over the media, blogosphere and twitterverse (terms we hate) recently, and for a good reason. When else can you eat so many burgers over a few days and not feel too guilty about it? The few burgers we got to try were excellent for the most part, and we had a good time pitting them against each other. We are looking forward to next year's edition, and so should you.
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.