As you hopefully remember, it was Mother’s Day on the weekend just gone. To be precise, it was on Sunday.
I had made reservations at one of our favourite local eateries (not A&W this time!) but, seeing as the weather was hot and sunny and we had just got our backyard pool set up, we decided to cancel our reservations and stay home for burgers grilled at the poolside.
So my grilling skills were to be put to the test. I started with a pound of lean ground beef and a pound of ground pork. I added in about a tablespoon of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce. Mixed it up.
Added about half a cup of bread crumbs – except I didn’t have any bread crumbs so we used the mortar and pestle to grind into crumbs a half cup of whole wheat Cheerios. That’s your “Dad in the Burbs” food hack for today! Using what we have.
Added one beaten egg, and mixed.
The most effective mixer is your hand. Get in there and mix it up. Just be sure to wash really carefully before AND after hand mixing the meat.
Again using your hands, form the burger mix into patties. I prefer thick patties so that they stay juicier while getting grilled.
I also find it is easier to get an accurate measurement of the internal temperature on thick patties because the thermometer doesn’t as easily go right through the burger.
On the grill. I’m testing out these silicone grill mats – they work really well to prevent flare ups but the “downside” is that they don’t get the grill tracks on the burgers the same way that you do if grilling without the mat.
Keep on the grill until the burgers reach an internal temperature of 160°F. I try to limit the amount of messing around I do with the burgers – this is a personal struggle I have.
I need to develop my trust in the grill. Place the burger on the grill and leave it alone until it is time to flip it. I still don’t trust myself and tend to find myself flipping the burgers three or four times. That’s one of my goals for this grilling season – I’ll develop my trust.
Once the burgers are done, like I said I like to go to 160°F to have a medium well done burger, plate them and let them rest.
After the burgers came off the grill I put the buns face down on the grill get a bit of a crisp toasty side going.
And then serve them!
Overall, we all liked the burgers (except Picky Pants) and it was a lovely poolside dinner with the family.
On the weekend I happened to be downtown Vancouver and seized upon the opportunity to visit one of the restaurants that I follow on Instagram – Timber Gastropub.
From Timber’s website –
Timber is Chef Chris Whittaker’s second West End Restaurant. Timber pays tribute to British Columbia’s rich timber history and the tough people who built this ‘True North Strong & Free’, one two-by-four at a time. The menu reads like a roadmap of Canadian comfort food. Looking for a place to grab a mug of local craft beer and a bison burger while you curse the hockey refs on TV? This is the joint for you.
And I have to say, for a joint on Robson Street, just down from where all the high end fashion shops are located, Timber is a very cool and casual place to eat.
I started my lunch experience with a smoked pickled egg. Now before you go “EWWW” I have to admit that I was a feeling a little of the “EWWW” myself.
When I was a young man, a buddy and I traveled around BC visiting small towns. We often ended up in the local watering hole wherever we were and the one thing I remember about bar we visited was that there was a gallon jar of pickled eggs on the jar. I never had the courage to try one back then. So my Saturday visit to the Timber Gastropub was my day to finally confront the pickled egg.
Holy crap. They taste great! A good balance of smoke and pickle flavour and an egg that is cooked just safely past a soft yolk but not into the green yolk realm. I liked it. I am still not sure I would take one from a jar in a small town bar though.
Pascal, the server who helped me choose my lunch was very helpful with the menu. He advised me on the strengths and weaknesses of the menu while giving me confidence in the kitchen’s ability. He is a true professional who clearly demonstrated how important the front of the house staff are to a restaurant’s success (or failure).
But enough about Pascal; back to my lunch. I opted for the Bison burger and fries. I was assured that it is one of the top three burgers in the city. Well, it is definitely on my top five list of burgers.
One of the factors that works in this burger’s favour is that they cut and chop the burger meat in-house. Therefore, they ask the customer those magical words; “how do you want your burger cooked?”
The truth is, there is no comparison between a burger in any other joint and a burger cooked medium rare. If you do not cut and chop the burger meat in-house you have to cook it to well-done. Once well-done there is no moisture left in the burger and you may as well be eating a charcoal briquet.
But a burger, especially a bison burger cooked to medium rare, with a thick slab of real cheddar cheese and three thick pieces of ultra-crispy and a sort of sweet bacon like my Mom makes…burger heaven at Timber Gastropub.
And the fries…swoon. Super crisp on the outside with the texture of real potatoes inside – obviously cut in house. Beautiful. Truly beautiful.
I didn’t have time or room for dessert. But you can bet that when I return to the west end of Vancouver, I will be stopping at the corner of Robson and Jervis for more good eats.
The bison burger and fries with a starter of a smoked pickled egg and a glass of beer came to just under $30.
This summer I am making a point of exploring some of the classic eateries in Metro Vancouver. First was the Ovaltine Cafe, and now I can say that I have also visited another classic, the Hilltop Diner in Langley.
I can also say that although it felt like I was on a very long day trip to get out to the Hilltop Diner, the drive out to the far reaches of Langley, almost into Aldergrove, was definitely worth the drive.
Seeing as I made it out to the diner after breakfast hours were over, my brekkie choices were limited, so I went for the lunch menu. I asked the server what their most popular burger is and she pointed me to the Hilltop Burger.
The Hilltop Signature Burger has a 5 oz, hand formed beef pattie with crumbled double smoked bacon, fried mushrooms, fried onions and a thick layer of melted cheese. It is served on a bun with mayo and their Signature Hilltop sauce and topped with crisp lettuce, and a thick slice of tomato.
I have to admit that when the burger was brought to my table I thought it looked small. And then I started eating. My goodness, it is a very filling meal! I was barely able to finish eating the burger and the fries (the fries were phenomenal – crisp on the outside and potato-like inside without any mushy mouth feeling. Really nice.)
One thing that surprised me was that the cheese on the burger was a slice of processed cheese and not cheddar.
Seeing as I had driven to the eastern edge of my world to eat at the Hilltop Diner I felt it was imperative that I at least try one of their desserts. So I asked which one of the MANY pies that they have was the “lightest” and least filling.
The server told me that the Flapper Pie was probably my best choice because it is the lightest pie they serve.
Their Flapper Pie has a graham cracker crumb crust with a very thick layer of vanilla custard and a meringue cover. Honestly, it was an amazing experience. And be aware, they do not serve small slices of pie – they are very large. However, I would drive back to the eastern edge of my world for a slice of that pie.
I told the server, after I had eaten a little of the Flapper Pie, that it is “light” like a 5 ton truck is “light” when compared to an 18 wheeler. Oh my. I didn’t even come close to finishing the pie.
I will definitely be returning to the Hilltop Diner – when I can. If you want to make the drive out to the diner, it is located at 23904 Fraser Hwy in Langley. It is worth the drive.
I was in New Westminster yesterday and jumped at the opportunity to go see what the New West waterfront/Front Street looks like now that the multi-level parkade has been taken down from Begbie Street over to 6th. My first impression is WOW. So much sunshine can now pour onto Front Street.
Of course I also had to eat while I was near the foodie’s paradise we call the Rivermarket.
I had the Banh mi – a Vietnamese style sub sandwich. The sandwich – inside the sandwich – spectacular. Loaded with roasted chicken, crisp cucumber slices, a sprig of cilantro, paper thin carrots and just enough lightly pickled jicama to add a snap to the taste buds. Lovely.
My only complaint was that the bread was not as crisp on the outside as a traditional french baguette. A minor complaint.
The other place I stopped to visit while in the Rivermarket was the classic burger joint, Wally’s Burgers.
Of course since I was having a sub sandwich from Freebird I didn’t need a burger so I ordered a bacon poutine. Oh my.
Ultra crisp strips of smoky bacon lay on top of the cheese curds which hid the very crispy and wonderful fries. There was enough gravy on the poutine to keep them moving but not a slopping mess.
Two wonderful eats on my quick walk through New West’s Rivermarket.
Yesterday afternoon I took my little bears up to SFU for a walk about and a burger at the SFU location of Big Smoke Burgers and I’m sad to say, while the walk about was fun, we were not impressed with the burgers.
First off, perhaps I am getting to be a grumpy old man but I did find the music in that location of Big Smoke Burgers to be far too loud. Yes, it is a burger joint on a university campus but there were more than a few families with little kids in the place and the music was actually so loud that it was difficult to hear the conversation at our table.
As for the food, well, let’s just say that my little bears said they would prefer to go back to our usual Friday afternoon burger joint – A&W.
I will admit that while my kids did not like the burgers, I did like the beef in the burgers. It tasted good and although a little too lean, it was a generous portion (I got the 6 ounce beef) and had the look and feel of a hand formed beef patty.
I asked the server which burger best represents their burger place. I added in that I was planning to write a blog post about the food blog. She told me that the Big Smoke Burger is probably the best. So that’s what I had.
It was skimpy on the caramelized onions but had a great chunk of lettuce and tomato in it. I asked for the pickle slice to be added inside the burger.
The smoked Canadian cheddar melted onto the beef patty was too thin to have any impact on the flavour of the burger.
Anyway, my bears are at a point in their lives where they don’t want anything green or resembling “salad” in their meals so they each had a cheeseburger without lettuce or tomato or pickles. I combo-ed the kids burgers, adding fries and a fountain drink to one burger and onion rings and a drink to the other. Side note, they don’t have root beer as a fountain drink option.
Both kids asked for mustard on their burgers. And wow did they get mustard!
The burgers were oozing mustard. Even from picking it up the mustard dripped out of the burger. There was mustard smeared on the paper the burger was served on and there was mustard all over my kids hands from the start. Ugh.
While very visually appealing, when we bit into the onion rings, we found the coating to be crisp but then the entire onion came out of the coating in one molten hot ring of onion. The onion part of the onion ring was not cooked well enough and the batter had a strong bitter after taste. The kids would not eat any of them after one bite.
The fries were good. Probably the best part of the meal and there was a generous serving of them for a side dish.
It is very unlikely I will return to Big Smoke Burger on the SFU campus. Three burgers with fries, onion rings and two fountain drinks for $33…not good value. As my bears said, everything about the A&W burger experience is superior. I tend to agree with them in this case.
There are a bunch of new places that have recently opened in the burbs and I need to get to and try out!
Port Moody has become a “go-to” location for craft beer. Parkside Brewing will be the fourth brewery on the strip along Rocky Point and they will be opening up on June 8th-ish.
I snuck inside Parkside Brewing today and I have to say, they are going a step above with this brewery and tasting room. It is AWESOME. The front wall that is papered over in the picture above rolls to the side opening the room up to allow in all the sunshine and a bit of a view of the North Shore mountains.
The decor inside is also very cool with an emphasis on the classic white porcelain look. It really is a sweet looking room. I am very much looking forward to their opening and will be reporting back on that event.
As for food services at Parkside Brewing, the folks at Parkside Brewing have arranged to have food trucks on site EVERY DAY!! They have some of the big Vancouver trucks in line to serve up food on location – Tacofino, Vij’s food truck and of course my local favourite, Cheese St Grill.
Another place I need to get into, Big Smoke Burger opened up a couple of months ago up on Burnaby Mountain near the SFU campus. I have heard that they have had some growing pains as they settle into their new location but I will be venturing in to see how the burger experience is going with them.
Romer’s Burgers has also recently opened a location out here in the burbs. The Onyx Steakhouse closed up and Romer’s Burgers opened in their location. I was not overwhelmed by my experience at Romer’s Burgers when I visited their Yaletown location but I am ready and willing to see how they are doing out here in the burbs.
And finally, Spacca Napoli has opened in Port Moody next door to my favourite butcher shop, Meat Craft on the corner of St John’s and Moody. I have been trying to get a seat in Spacca Napoli but they open at 4pm and get hammered by customers almost immediately!
A colleague managed to get a seat inside and she reported back that the pizza she had from Spacca Napoli was very good.
As you can see, I have some eating to do out here in the burbs!!