Burger 116: Jack Astor's Bar & Grill | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

3051 Des Sources
Dorval, Quebec

Bus:  STM 208, 209, 215, 409

Visit:  October 11, 2011

http://www.jackastors.com/

After a string of big time burgers, I am happy to go back to a more normal establishment in the middle of a suburb.  Jack Astor’s fits that bill.  It may be located in the middle of a highly commercial part of Dorval, but it’s still highly suburban to me.  For this latest burger expedition, I was to be accompanies by my very trusted colleague.  I was actually surprised at his reaction when I mentioned where I wanted to go this week.  He was actually looking very much forward to coming here for his very own personal steak search.  For our purposes, they had burgers and steaks.  The first criteria has been met.

Sorry, We’re OPEN!

Sorry, We’re Open (In French, as to not annoy a certain group)

The first thing I noticed can be seen in the above pictures.  I find it really cute to see signs like this in a restaurant.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a fine dining kind of person and to see these signs makes me feel right at home.  On the other hand, a person can really literally read into what the signs mean.  Perhaps they are ashamed of what they are creating in their restaurants.  I choose to believe it’s a light-hearted approach to welcome their customers.

The seating process at this restaurant is something else.  We enter the establishment and the greeter has this chart in front of him.  After having to really show our desire for a table, because he wanted us at the bar really badly for some reason, we were assigned a section.  The restaurant was actually more crowded than I would have ever expected.  So, after the greeter marked his chart up, telling the server that her section was full, we were taken to our booth.

At the table was the biggest thing that struck me.  The table is covered with a large paper-like cover.  The person who seated us marked down 12:16 in crayon.  She leaves and we hardly ever hear from her again.  Then, another person shows up to the table and asks us if we want something to drink.  But, before leaving, he marks his name down on the table.  Now, apparently, this is not a unique system, as a former restaurant known as Montana’s used something very similar.  What strikes me here is my wonderment of who this information is for.  If it’s for the table, does is serve as a constant reminder of how long we were waiting?  Or, since we have a name, do we know who to get really angry at if we had a problem?  This was definitely a Burger Search first.

12:16, In case you didn’t believe me.

And I wasn’t making this part up either.

The last interesting thing of note was what the restaurant does when it is someone’s birthday.  It’s not the fact that they bring out a cake.  It’s not even that the cake has sparkling candles.  Even more shocking than that is the fact that the birthday singing didn’t really catch me off guard.  The thing that did it was when the staff had the “birthday girl” or fully grown adult, in this case, stand on a chair for everyone to see.  If it isn’t clear by now, I’m not a big celebrator of my birthday.  As a matter of fact, that’s kind of why I like to spend them by myself, doing whatever I want to do.  Singing happy birthday is a nice touch, placing the subject on a pedestal is a bit much if you ask me.

For a restaurant that has to compete with no less than a dozen others surrounding it, the service is something that would make anyone come back.  As you’ll find out later, their patience in dealing with issues impressed me for the most part.  They were quick and prompt at clearing tables, which is always a nice and happy thing.  I never felt out of place at any particular time during this visit, compared to some other places where you’re made to feel like an imposition on the staff.

Caesar Salad

My colleague’s meal started off with a salad.  If you notice to the left, you’ll see a rather large piece of lettuce.  After I took the picture, he preceded to take out a knife and fork to cut this into smaller lettuce children.  He was not impressed.  We also both noted and liked the size of the croutons.  I’m not too wild about big croutons, but he didn’t mind them at all.  Am I still talking about croutons, or something else?

Steak

For the purpose of this description, I’m going to ignore the type of cut this steak is because it’s not the main issue here.  This is a fresh AAA Canadian steak, butter brushed and rubbed with seasonings.  That sounds all nice and well.  For this visit, this was my colleague’s choice of lunch meal.  He’s a big steak person who goes out of his way and price range to eat steak.  I don’t blame him one bit.  If I trust his opinion on pizza, Greek food, and ice cream, I trust his opinions on one of my favorite types of food.

The big drawback of this cut of beef was that it was too dry.  Having taken a look at is myself, it looked to me a little small.  He ordered is medium well, but it still came out dry.  This is where the servers come to play.  The one who sat us down seemed a little clueless when it came to asking for some kind of sauce.  That person had to go to the back to inquire.  That individual came back with one bottle, which didn’t really do the job.

This is where our order taker comes in.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the person who wrote their name on the table.  His dealing with the dry steak issue seemed a whole lot more constructive.  He first came back with two other bottles of steak sauce.  When those didn’t work, he suggested a BBQ sauce, which finally did the trick.  I’m mentioning this because he could’ve easily of washed his hands with the whole situation, but he didn’t.

The sauce did the job it was supposed to do, but I don’t think it did enough to save the steak for my colleague.  It improved the taste a bit, but the steak was nearly done that it didn’t really matter anymore.

Deluxe Bacon Cheeseburger

This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and bacon.
Going into this location, I didn’t have that high of an expectation.  If I were to compare it based on the last 5-6 burgers I’ve had recently, I might as well not even go further.  But, then again, I try them all.  So, coming to a more average place is something that I always like doing.

The first thing I’d like to get out of the way are the french fries.  To best describe these fries, it would be best to go really simple.  If you ever had french fries at Kentucky Fried Chicken in the last 2 years, these taste and look identical.  That’s not a good thing.

The burger itself is somewhat of another story.  The first second I laid eyes on this thing, I was a little surprised.  I wasn’t expecting anything plated like that or even looking like that.  The aesthetic qualities of the burger, at first glance, really had me expecting more than I thought.

The elements that caused me the biggest concern were the various things that kept falling out.  I’ve never seen cheese place on a burger that way.  It didn’t look like one slice, but plenty of smaller pieces placed on the burger.  The lettuce also kept falling out as well.  As you can see, they were shredded pieces of lettuce that kept on falling out as well.  It was more of a nuisance than a detriment.

The other thing that worried me was the size of the burger patty compared to the bun.  The meat seemed a little too small.  Luckily for me, with a few very strategic bites, I was able to render this a non-issue.  So, on the road to finishing this burger, I didn’t have very big structural issues.  Only after a so many burgers worth of experience have I learned how to make the most of each bite.

During the meal, I was asked about the bacon.  That’s funny because I’m sitting here right now, hours later, unable to say anything about the bacon in this burger.  Normally, I could go forever about bacon, good or bad.  Here, I’m stuck.  Even after being prompted about it during the eating process, I was stuck.  I took a bite and it still didn’t hit me.  If I can’t remember bacon, it’s presence was definitely not effective enough.

Despite what I’ve said thus far, the burger’s taste was above average.  When the components all go together and stay put, it’s a decent showing.  If I didn’t have so much stuff fall out, it would probably be that much better to me.  Going in, I had low expectations and at least the burger beat that.


Final Verdict

Why go to Jack Astor’s?  It’s a question that I’ve had for a long time.  I’ll answer it by saying that if you want something quick in a decent atmosphere, it’s the place to be.  I wouldn’t trust a place like this for a Chinese fix or for other specialty items.  I’d go there for group foods like burgers.  That’s casual food.  The fact that I saw so many burgers come out of the kitchen at least shows that there is a clientele for their product.

Jack Astor's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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