Out and About

Date Night

For the fijim-jeffriesrst time in months, Darren and I decided to venture out in seek of refuge from our daily, winter routines. We were going out on a date.

Months ago, my hubby had surprised me with tickets to see one of our favorite comics, Jim Jeffries. His was the first show we attended together, shortly after we were married.  Going to see him at this point in time was again significant because I just received my legal permit to work here in Canada. Another new beginning!

So, after getting all dolled up, out into the bone-chilling, night air we went. There is just something about the Winnipec4edda8a4cd997151d380b2c3cf62346g air, when it drops to a certain temperature, that polishes every surface of the city to a point of crystalline clarity. On a clear night, that lucidity rises up to the heavens and out into infinity. It is quite a sight to behold. As long as your eyelids don’t freeze shut.

If you ever come to visit our fair city, regardless of season, you’ll notice that parking downtown is at a premium. Luckily, we found a decent lot across from the Manitoba Museum on Rupert Avenue, which is open to the public, but like parking downtown in any major North-American city, one needs to be prepared for the steep toll.

We then huddled together for warmth as we strolled down the few blocks toward our destination. We arrived just in time to ward off the icicles that began to grow on Darren’s beard.

pantagestheatre1 Tonight’s romantic interlude was brought to us by the historic Winnipeg Pantages Playhouse on Market Street. A prestigious plaque marks this theater’s long history of playing host to some of North America’s greatest performers. Vaudeville acts like Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy embedded the essence of their talents into the floor boards of the stage. The structure of the playhouse itself is alive with the reminiscence of music from some of the greats such as Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie. Every light fixture could tell a story for they have seen it all since 1914.

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In the mid-1990’s,  the cost of upkeep on this now historic sight was deemed impractical by the presiding city council and the sight was considered for demolition. In an effort to keep such a monument to the creative prowess of Winnipeg intact, the Performing Arts Consortium of Winnipeg was formed by the leaders of several local performing arts organizations who assumed fiscal and physical responsibility for the playhouse in 1998.

Over the past two decades, the consortium has lovingly restored this temple of talent to its original appearance while upgrading it with modern technical components. The best of the past and the present in one beautiful structure.

Naturally, Jim Jefferies did not disappoint. His take on current American politics provided some much needed comic relief to the very serious business at hand allowing Darren and I to enjoy ourselves without a care if only for one night.

My advise to all those partners out there, is to make “Date Night” sacred and required. A chance to look into each other’s eyes and really see each other. Remember each other. In partnering, our joined lives branch out in many different directions, (ie. children, grandchildren, careers, life goals..) yet we must remain aware that all those beautiful branches will have nothing to bind and stabilize them if the trunk of the tree is not strong.

I’m very romantic, I’m extremely romantic. I date my wife.  – Alice Cooper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Out and About

Burger Week – Winnipeg (Chapter 3)

Hola!

Welcome to the final installment of our adventures during Le Burger Week here in The Peg! After a total of 29 burgers in 7 days, Darren and I are now ready for a water and air diet for the next month, lol. Below are the last 9 burger offerings that we sampled from some of the best culinary establishments in town. Bon appetit!

The Perogy Burger
The North Star Drive In

A juicy all beef patty topped with homemade fried Perogies and a generous dollop of sour cream, finished with fried onions, bacon, an onion ring, Cheddar Cheese, and our homemade Chili.

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Darren’s critique: Not a bad burger by any means, but the chili didn’t belong here. Bacon, yes. Fried onions, of course. Sour cream, definitely. Who pairs their perogies with chili though?

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The Thanksgiving
Oakwood Cafe

House made beef patty, pulled turkey, stuffing, cranberry mayo & gravy on a brioche bun.

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Darren’s critique: Thanksgiving on a bun, minus the annoying relatives. Now it all depends if those are the tastes you’re looking for. Unfortunately this is one of the few we weren’t able to have fresh, so it does skew the taste results having to eat it reheated. I’ll give it 3 1/2 stars but it was more likely a 4 eaten fresh.

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Salsiccia Burger
Pizzeria Gusto

Italian sausage patty, goat cheese, San Marzano tomato jam, arugula, romesco aioli, olive oil bun.

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Darren’s critique: Not bad. The meat was unique to what we’ve had so far. I thought everything worked well together. Keeping it fairly simple meant that there wouldn’t be much of a clash with anything, but it didn’t really knock it out of the park either. Small size for the price. Best part of this dining experience was finally meeting up with our friend, Chito! 4 out of 5 stars. (Chito gets 5 out of 5).

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Inferno’s All Canadian Classic
Inferno’s On Academy

Ground Bison Patty, okanagan pear relish , smoked tomato ketchup, baconnaise , honey crown royal mustard , St. James pale ale battered onion ring, Bothwell truffle cheese, Maple bacon, iceburg lettuce, local tomatoes from greenland gardens, house-made brioche bun and topped with a deep fried pickle.

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Darren’s critique: Interesting combination of bites here, as having one in the middle was a very soft experience, but biting through the outer layer added the crunchy, and very tasty, onion ring into the mix. I couldn’t find much wrong with this other than the use of bison in the patty. I could still taste that for quite a while afterwards and didn’t care for it. Higher marks had they gone with a different meat. 3 3/4 out of 5 stars.

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Super Delicious Fried Chicken Burger
Bernstein’s Deli

Deli-style fried chicken, house coleslaw, pickles, special sauce, on a fresh challah bun.

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Darren’s critique: Where to start? Well, the title of the burger did have some true words in it like “fried”, “chicken” and “burger”. This is one of those things that looks like a good idea on paper and may have been tastier if constructed out of paper as well. I didn’t like this combo at all. The challah bread was nice but didn’t go with it. Jen liked it more, but then she’s a challah back girl. 2 out of 5 stars.

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The Flamburger
The Grove Pub

Cheddar and jalapeño stuffed patty, jalapeño relish, crispy jalapeños, habanero jack cheese, habanero-Asiago cheese sauce on a charcoal bun.

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Darren’s critique: Very tasty, very nice heat to it. The black bun (which didn’t differ in taste and got it’s colour from the addition of powdered bamboo charcoal) was a nice addition in presentation. The Grove tends to put out a steady contender and this one can go with the others in the upper echelon with a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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Kyu Burger
Kyu Bistro

First we Start with a house-made, crisp chicken patty using a blend of chicken breast and chicken thigh, garlic miso butter, spicy honey mustard, crispy pork belly, pickled carrots, arugula, okonomi sauce, cucumber, mozzarella cheese, sweet chili aioli all on a soft, pillowy cloud bun to bring it all together.

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Darren’s critique: An interesting take. It was a chicken burger with obvious Japanese flavours to it. The bun was unique but did lose it’s size quickly when chowing down. Much better than the deli’s version of the chicken burger (although the chicken itself on both burgers was good). It didn’t knock my socks on their ass though. 3 3/4 out of 5 stars.

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Peg Forno Burger
Peg Beer Co.

Oven roasted ground chuck on a house made ISA onion bun, with balsamic tomato sauce, cappocollo, bocconcini cheese, pesto aioli and arugula.

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Darren’s critique: I’ll turn this review over to Louis Litt… or maybe it’s Tobias Funke…

“What can I say about this? I don’t know if I’ve had a more pleasurable experience putting something in my mouth. You take it in both hands, close your eyes and slip it in there. The meat hitting the back of your throat is exquisite. The more you take in, the more you want. I need a cigarette.  4 1/2 out of 5 stars.” (Jen’s note: This critique is clear, forensic evidence of the comparison between “This is your brain.” and  “This is your brain on 29 burgers in seven days”.)

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Choego Burger
Stella’s on Sherbook

A 6 oz grass-fed beef patty, grilled brioche bun, coconut avocado mayo, caramelized cinnamon pineapple, cheese, arugula, and cilantro.

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Darren’s critique: (Jen’s note: By the time we reached the end of our Burger Week adventure, Darren’s brain had shut down in need of burger detoxification thus unable to critique this offering. To me, it was decent. I’m not used to pairing pineapple with red meat, usually with pork or chicken. But because Stella’s was one our first haunts together when I first started visiting Darren here in The Peg, I’ll give it 3 1/2 stars.)

Thanks so much to all those who followed us on this adventure. So stay tuned and follow this blog for many more!

Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale. – Elsa Schiaparelli

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Out and About

Burger Week 2016 – Winnipeg (Chapter 2)

Bonjour! Ca va?

Welcome to chapter two of our Burger Week 2016 adventures here in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Below are the next ten offerings that we sampled from the 29 restaurants we patronized during this event, with a total of 59 establishments participating. For those of you who followed chapter one of this story, after consuming 10 burgers in a just a couple of days, you’ll notice in this post that Darren’s critiques are beginning to get a bit cheeky. Too much of a good thing sometimes has that effect. Hahaha…. Enjoy!

 

The Kahn Kebab Burger
Shawarma Kahn

A Freshly Toasted Ciabatta Bun with a light spread of Hummus. Our Local Fresh Beef and Lamb Kebab Patty, Melted Mozzarella, Pickled Turnip Sauerkraut, sliced Cucumber dressed with a Harissa infused Garlic Sauce.

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Darren’s critique: I like shawarma meat when I have it, but I only like to have it maybe once a year, like nutmeg at Christmas or anise at any point. I’m not a fan of chickpeas as I figure any food that has to try to trick you into eating it by claiming another cool name, like garbanzo beans, wasn’t good enough to begin with. (See also: eggplant/aubergine).

This was well done. Light soft bun, even though toasted, great patty and cheese and a sauce that brings the heat but with the coolness of the cucumbers for balance. Their best entry of the years they’ve been in it. 4 out of 5 stars.

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The “Bite Me” Burger
The Velvet Glove Restaurant

Beef, chorizo and shrimp burger glazed with gochujang with pickled carrot, jalapeños and radish, sriracha mayo, arugula and crispy onions.

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Darren’s critique: There was some heat to this, though not as much as the shawarma. I honestly didn’t pick up the flavours and textures as much as their description of the burger suggested. After analyzing the burger, the radish and crispy onions were nowhere to be found, so I’m not sure if I can trust other parts of it. It was tasty though. I’d say 2 1/2 out of 5 stars, but the mini-bottle of ketchup supplied raises it to a 3. Yes, I can be easily bribed.

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Soul Burger
Toukie’s Lounge in Club Regent Casino

Grilled 100% Manitoba ground beef and pork on a brioche bun topped with chili, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and house-made pickles. Includes your choice of two additional toppings: Thick cut local bacon, Bothwell cheddar cheese, Bothwell Swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms, fried egg, or jalapeno peppers.

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Darren’s critique: A decent burger. I always have to take off points for giving options on how you want it since there isn’t a standard experience for everyone to judge the burger by. There was some kind of spice on here that I still can’t place… or decide if I liked it. 3 out of 5 stars.

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The ‘Got to get you into my life’ Burger
The Diner’s Grill

Fresh CAB chuck patty, signature sauce, Bothwell marble cheddar, thick cut bacon, sunny side up egg, house pickled beet relish & sesame chimichurri all served on a savoury beer bun with smoked butter.

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Darren’s critique: I quite liked this one. The bacon was done excellently, the beet wasn’t overwhelming but helped cut the salty and savoury of the bacon. The egg wasn’t very noticeable but gave a little creaminess to the burger. No particular ingredient was overwhelming, instead they worked as a cohesive whole to give a pleasurable experience. 4 1/4 out of 5 stars.

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The Frenchie
Le Garage Restaurant

8oz Juicy beef patty grilled to perfection and covered in melted Brie cheese. Topped with a mushroom duxelles for a hint of red wine and cream. Crispy lemon onion strings, lettuce and tomato all served on a fresh warm bun.

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Darren’s critique: A good burger from a perennially solid contender. The brie and mushrooms worked well together. While there wasn’t anything wrong with this burger, I’m not sure there was anything that really put it over the top either. 4 1/4 out of 5 stars.

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The Bison Trail Burger
Nobside Cafe

5 oz bison patty topped with cheddar, crispy fried onions, lettuce, tomato and bacon served on a garlic toasted kaiser bun.

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Darren’s critique: I actually wasn’t looking forward too much to this burger as I’m not a fan of bison meat in general. I’ve had it a couple of times before and not been too impressed. I was pleasantly surprised by this one though as it didn’t have the off-putting quality of previous bison burgers I’ve had. 4 out of 5 stars for me.

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The Triple Eh Burger
The Canadian Brewhouse

This handmade patty influenced by a Quebec specialty meat pie, uses both ground beef and ground pork and is seasoned with thyme, green onion, dijon mustard, allspice, celery salt, savoury, and cinnamon, garlic Sriracha sauce. Complemented by Jalapeño Mac and Cheese topped with fried onions

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Darren’s critique: I like what they were trying to do here with making the burger into a kind of Manitoba-style tourtière. It came with a hot mustard to dip it in. The mac and cheese seemed very superfluous and deducted points for me. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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The Purple People Eater
Nuburger – Kenaston

Red Angus Manitoba Beef, Pickled Purple Cabbage, Spanish Red Pepper and Almond Romesco, Fresh Avocado, Creamy Feta Cheese, Roasted Pepper and Basil Aioli.

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Darren’s critique: I was only able to have one bite of this when it was semi-fresh and thought on that bite that it was better than the other Nuburger location’s entry. Reheating this one made it absolutely inedible. 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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Le Grand Gourmet Nip
Salisbury House

A classic cheese Nip, doubled in size, with a 8 oz locally farmed, 100% Manitoba beef NIP patty, homemade roasted garlic and onion aioli, 2 slices of natural cheddar cheese, 3 slices of maple bacon, perfectly seasoned crispy onions and topped off with classic SALS sauce.

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Darren’s critique: I was kind of expecting to just be tasting a larger sized Nip. Anyone worth their salt who lives here has tried a Sals’ Nip at least once. It had some of the nip taste (the bun, patty and sauce) but veered into a bit of a different direction that I thought wasn’t as good as a regular nip. The bacon was a little more to the chewy side than crisp, but that was offset by the crispy onions on top. You don’t want to overcrunch your burger. A solid 4 out of 5 stars. (Jen’s note: Not having been tainted by apparent memories of the “after last call” munchies at Salisbury House in the wee hours of long ago Saturday mornings, I thought this burger was FABULOUS!) 

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The Greek Burger
Santa Lucia Pizza

Our half-pound handmade ground beef patty flame broiled and layered with a creamy blend of feta cheese, sun-dried tomato, artichoke, spinach, and tzatziki sauce. Topped with cucumber slices, roasted red pepper, lettuce, and red onion.

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Darren’s critique: This burger tasted exactly how I thought it would taste. It’s Mediterranean springtime on a warm day. Ingredients that I use in a Greek pasta salad (red onion, cucumber, tomato and feta) along with a bun, patty and the great tzaziki sauce. I enjoyed it. Points off for it being a regular item on the menu. 4 out of 5 stars.

 

 

Out and About

Burger Week 2016 – Winnipeg

Hello!

Welcome to my first of three posts about our adventures during Le Burger Week here in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Burger Week is a competition of sorts which is participated in by many notable restaurants around town from all over the culinary spectrum.

My husband Darren, (in the above pic) being an amateur foodie, looks forward to this tournament of the taste buds every year and its one of the first city events that we enjoyed together after I moved up here last year. It gave me a great opportunity to get acquainted with my new city and its epicurean delights!

This year’s event did not disappoint in the least. From September 1-7, 59 different restaurants convened to offer up their finest burger creations but due to the limits of one’s digestive system, we unfortunately couldn’t try them all. Diners got a chance to rate each burger on a scale between 1 and 5 stars on the Le Burger Week website. We invite you to take a look at the first 10 of 29 entries that we thoroughly enjoyed with more to follow in future posts.  Perhaps they might tempt your palate enough to join us next year!

The CC Burger
Confusion Corner Bar & Grill

In house ground sirloin/chuck beef patty, caramelized onions, smoked cheddar, pickled slaw and roasted red pepper aioli on a fresh brioche bun. Comes with house cut fries.

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Darren’s critique: A solid effort. Love a charbroiled burger. It had some flair without overwhelming with too many scattershot tastes. I tend to grade high, but I gave this a four out of five stars.

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The Ron Swanson Burger
The Cornerstone Bar & Restaurant

Ground brisket and chuck burger patty,
caramelized onion, cheddar, on a buttered soft, white bun.

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Darren’s critique: Minimalism. Bringing it down to the basics of just being a very well done burger. A 60/40 brisket/chuck split, onions, cheese and bun. The key thing to bringing something down to basics is that they must be good. And it was. Also 4 out of 5 stars.

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The Knife and Porker Burger
Black Rabbit Bistro & Lounge

Half beef and pork patty on a water bagel, house cured Canadian back bacon, swiss cheese, and spinach topped with a slow poached egg and hollandaise sauce.

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Darren’s critique: Now, the first two had good ideas with great execution while this burger was a great idea with only decent execution. This was the most expensive burger of the day (and while that does not weigh heavy on the ultimate rating, it is a factor). The major flaw that came with this one was that the egg should have been done over easy or cooked a little longer. You know how when you do a sunny-side up you kind of have to take care of that runny snot bit around the yolk? Yeah, that. I liked the hash brown style fries as an alternative to the usual. This would have gotten five stars otherwise, but earned four stars as well.

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The Orange County Burger
NuBurger Restaurant

Red Angus Manitoba Beef Barbecued in a Ginger Soy Glaze, Fresh Orange and Grape Salsa, Candied Bacon, Balsamic Onions, Creamy Goat Cheese, Artisan Lettuce, and Sweet and Spicy Chili mayo.

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Darren’s critique: Wow, where to start. Nothing worked together in this. The goat cheese was too creamy, pretty much like cream cheese with the heat of the burger pressing down upon it. I get what they were trying to do, pairing pork and citrus can be a great combo, but it just didn’t work right here. The tastes of this burger seemed confused to me, trying to be unique but not really bonding towards a common goal. One thing Nuburger always has going for it are good and fresh ingredients. A disappointment from a perennially good contender: 3 out of 5 stars.

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The Jekyll and Lays Burger
Jekyll and Hyde’s Freehouse

6.5 oz 100 % ground chuck patty topped with Bothwell’s smoked cheddar,toasted Frito Lays corn chips, sirloin and turtle bean chipotle chili, and beefsteak tomato and greens.

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Darren’s critique: Possibly the best burger of the night. While we had to get this one to-go, I made sure I had at least one bite of it in all it’s fresh glory. A cohesive plan well executed, a distinctive taste with a good combo of both flavours and textures. Well done. 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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The Chopped Cheese
Deer & Almond Restaurant

Ground beef grilled chopped with peppers, onions, and seasoning, covered with cheese slices, and dressed with lettuce, tomato, hot sauce, and mayo, served on a toasted hero roll.

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Darren’s critique: Apparently the chopped cheese is New York’s response to the Philly Cheesesteak. There was definitely some prominent cheese going on with this one, but there were some things going on in here that I still can’t exactly place. There was a tiny bit of heat, but that may have been nothing more than some black pepper. The sauce had hints of a pizza sauce without actually being pizza-y. The shredded lettuce was a nice touch. This gets 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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The Double Banger
Miss Brown’s Pressed Sandwich & Coffee Co.

Manitoba beef patty, filled with house pastrami mozza, sitting on creamy coleslaw, local baby arugula, topped with melted provolone, house tomato ketchup, mustard, pickled onion, pickles, hoy mayo, all between a sesame & poppy seed brioche bun.

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Darren’s critique: This one was definitely loaded. The first stuffed burger we’ve encountered. It gave off a real ham and mustard vibe even without any porcine involvement. Quite delicious though they should have shortened the arugula. A solid 4 stars if not slightly better.

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The Drive-In
The Peasant Cookery

3 beef patty with chorizo sauce, cheese sauce, chow chow and a white bun.

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Darren’s Critique: The first bite of this made me doubtful immediately but it did get better on subsequent mouthfuls. While I do like the taste of chorizo, I found that the combo of these ingredients gave a more dark and foreboding experience than I was looking for in a burger. I liked the toasted bun. I gave it 3 1/2 stars but the wife really liked it so I kicked in another 1/2 on her behalf for a total of 4 stars.

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The River City Brisket Burger
King + Bannatyne Restaurant

A House-Made Ground Chuck and Brisket Patty topped with River City Brisket, Gruyere Cheese, House-Made Sauerkraut and King + Bann Pickles all doused in Special Sauce and served on a warm Pretzel Bun.

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Darren’s critique: Delicious. Nice choices all around for ingredients. Although if you were to see their picture of the burger versus this one, mine looks more like the ironic version of “Nailed It!”. The only detraction on here is their slaw or beet or whatever that red shit is was just a tad too sweet with some bites. A solid 4 stars.

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Angry Tuna Sushi burger
Chosabi Asian Eatery

Rice bun, spicy ahi tuna patty, guacamole, tempura flakes, shredded lettuce, furikake
seasoning, spicy mayo, seaweed and asian love.

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Darren’s critique: I was looking forward to this one as being off the beaten path from the rest. The rice bun was an interesting touch as were the tempura flakes adding a nice crunchy texture along with the lettuce. Seasonings were nice but, still, there’s only so much you can do with a slab of raw fish. 3 out of 5 stars.