Burger 126: EM Cafe | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

5718 Du Parc
Montreal, Quebec

Bus:  STM 46. 80, 160, 435, 935

Visit:  January 10, 2012


2012 is a brand new year for the Great Burger Search.  For a moment, looking back on 2011, I have to be reminded of the 51 burgers, 5 cities, and many milestones that this provided me.  With all that being said, the past is the past and it is time to move forward.

I’ve been changing my mind a lot in the last few days about which burger would be the first of 2012.  This morning, I decided to pick a place and EM Cafe was the lucky selection.  The first thing I have to note is that it is located at the corner of Avenue Du Parc and Bernard.  For those of you who know the area well enough, you’ll know that restaurants like Nouveau Palais, Cafe Souvenir, and Les Enfants Terribles are all located within walking distance.  This neighbourhood, a combination of Outremont and Mille-End, like the Plateau, is becoming a place rich in burger locations.  That only makes me quite happy.

A reason this location was sent to the front of the queue was its menu.  Normally, I tend to stick to the burger section of the menu.  The rest of the menu, in this case, caught my eye because of the variety of things that I would not normally eat.  Things like quesadillas and sandwiches rarely find themselves on my lunch menu.  So, it was my surprise that there were 4 distinct burgers offered on the menu.  With that being said, it seems to me that the burgers are the most complex items to create, something that’s a little out of place for a cafe.  So, I was half-eager and half-doubtful about my impending decision to have the burger.

Upon entering the place, I noticed two big things.  The first thing was that it was quite full.  Just from a glance hat lasted a moment, you can quickly ascertain that it’s the type of place where you can have a seat with whatever work you have and spend a good amount of time relaxing.  There aren’t too many good places where you can do that, in my opinion.

The second thing I noticed bothered be a little bit.  Normally, as soon as you walk into the restaurant, you take that moment to figure out how the entry works.  There some places where you wait to be seated or there are places where you seat yourselves.  On this day, I walked in right behind someone.  Once I took a few step into the cafe, I took a quick look around.  I don’t think I saw one person working inside the entire place.  Having no direction, I just took the first table that seemed suitable to me.  It was a few moments later when I looked down and saw the staff out back.  I don’t want to sound grumpy or anything, but there should be at least someone inside.  That particular fact led to something quite awkward a little later on.

If you know where to sit, you can have quite a decent view of Avenue Du Parc.  I don’t know about you, but it’s one of the most important streets in the entire city.  You see all kinds of people walking in the streets, a true representation of Montreal.  My seat was directly facing the front door.  For me, it’s a good way of people watching and seeing what goes past you on the street.  Now, you’ll have to admit that we all people watch.  With the amount of sunshine that day, I was seriously contemplating having to put on sunglasses to continue eating.

Once the patron of the establishment showed up, it just confirmed to me why this place is a notch above the rest.  I was quietly observing as they were interacting with each of the customers.  They took the time to make each and every customer feel welcomed.  Whether it be someone sitting studying or someone coming in to get a quick coffee, it was a hassle-free situation.

It was when I received my order where the most awkward happening took place.  The other staff member, a server came in from their “break.”  After catching up with the proprietor, the server went about their duties.  A heard a bell ring, the server went to collect the dish and it was deposited on my table.  Me, not completely realizing what just happened, said thank you and I thought that was that.  I looked down and saw quesadillas.  I didn’t order that.  I exchanged glances with the proprietor and it was quickly rectify.  Needless to say, it was my only interaction with the server, who’s name happens to be on the bill.  Things like that just happen and I can’t blame anyone for that mishap.

EM Burger

This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, avocados, aged cheddar, and bacon.  The dish is accompanied by organic tortilla chips and salsa.

Before I get to the burger, I have to mention a Burger Search first.  You’ll notice the tortilla chips.  It was either that or things like coleslaw.  It’s refreshing to not be forced to eat fries.  So, this opportunity was one I wasn’t going to give up on.

The tortilla chips themselves weren’t that bad, organic or otherwise.  I’m not normally a tortilla chip person, but these were quite good for my experiences with them.  It’s inclusion is something that I hoped would provide a lighter option so that I wouldn’t feel so stuffed and I think that was mostly the case.  The salsa was interesting as well.  The cut up pieces of cold tomatoes and onions went perfect with the chips.  In a way, I’m split on whether the chips were better with or without dip.  Definitely, it was an interesting accompaniment for the burger.

My only concern with the burger going in was the inclusion of the avocado.  Today’s burger would only be the second one I ever had with avocado.  The last time was Burger 22 at Elixor in December of 2009.  That burger didn’t work with me because they decided to give me one giant piece of avocado and let me fend for myself.  Suffice it to say, the avocado fell out in 2 seconds flat.  I was hoping that my 2 year wait would be enough time to attack this ingredient again in a burger.

Like I mentioned above, the place being a cafe might affect the quality of the burger.  I was worried that I would start off a new year with a whimper instead of a bang.  However, I would like to take this moment to remind everyone that I try all burgers, regardless of what previous people have said about it.  So, doing my diligent role of burger eater, I forged ahead.

When I first laid eyes on the burger, I knew I was about to have something above par.  I didn’t even take a bite yet and I had a good feeling.  I can’t tell you exactly what it was about the burger, I was ready to make a judgment early in the game.  Unfortunately, the Burger Search doesn’t work that way and I have to do the stressful task of eating the burger with bacon in it.  How will I ever find relief for such a difficult task?  Who am I kidding?  Eating burgers is an awesome thing.  With that mindset, I was ready to see what the EM Burger was made of.

I’m going to start with the slight issue with the burger because we’re only going up from here.  Like I predicted, about 2 pieces of avocado fell out during consumption.  The difference with the last time is that it wasn’t a deal breaker.  The size of the burger made it quite difficult to keep everything neatly placed in.  But, since not too much fell out, I was able to taste everything the way it should be.

The meat of this particular burger was a little bigger than I’m used to.  For a split second, I was thinking to myself that someone with a camera would come out and yell, “you’re on Candid Camera and that burger isn’t beef.”  It was too good to be true.  It might of been lacking the juices that I preferred, but it stayed warm and the tasted remained until the final bite.

The overall taste of the burger was above my expectations.  I know there were some times where I was thinking Big Mac, but that’s understating things.  The combination of all the ingredients, avocado included, created a taste that was far above Big Mac standards.  The bacon was cooked well and wasn’t overly crispy.  With the meat, I didn’t have to fight this thing at all.

Final Verdict

What EM Cafe is, is a place where you can take a long, relaxing lunch.  For my purposes, they delivered an above average burger.  Throughout the meal, I had 2 thoughts.  The first thought was that we may have an early contender for the 2012 GBS Year in Review.  The second and last thought was that I may have to rethink my Fave 5.  With that being said, you should all give this burger a try, you might be surprised.

EM cafe on Urbanspoon

  1. mrlewburger posted this