Burger 134: Griffintown Cafe | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

1378 Notre-Dame O.
Montreal, Quebec

Metro:  Lucien-L’Allier
Bus:  STM 36, 57, 107, 178, 410, 420, 430, 715

Visit:  February 29, 2012


You’ve probably heard of my latest location a lot in the last few months and years.  The Griffintown Cafe is one of those Montreal brunch hot-spots that people just flock to get into.  I, on the other hand, have other very valid reasons to show up to the Griffintown Cafe.  This place has been on my radar ever since I started my Burger Search.  I’ve been waiting for the right moment and on this 2012 edition of Leap Day, it has finally arrived.

In 2012, when you mention the name of the Griffintown Cafe, you’ll probably get a response having a lot to do with brunch.  It reminds me a lot of a story I was told by fellow bloggers Foodie Date Night about 4 months ago.  When you show up to do brunch, you best be early or extremely patient.  From what I hear, you’ll be in for quite a wait.  There’s always a reason why people are willing to wait at a restaurant and those reasons are always mostly because the food is worth it.

My take on brunch will probably be a lot less popular for you.  I’m not a brunch person whatsoever.  The closest thing I get to having brunch is when I buy a Bacon McCrepe at McDonald’s.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole concept of brunch, but I just don’t have the time or willpower to get to it.  Plus, I think the blogs that are already covering brunch are doing a fine job as it is (Montreal Breakfast Review and Le Breakfast Blog).  They don’t need someone else cutting into their audience, mostly because I already did that with burgers.  Then again, anything that involves bacon needs my attention.

After all, I am a burger blog and the quest must continue with a burger that, for me, was highly anticipated.  Over the last 2 and a half years, I’ve heard mostly good things about the burger I was about to have.  If it wasn’t for timing issues and the doubting of bacon’s presence, I would’ve been there so much earlier.  Since things these days are a little different scheduling-wise and the bacon has been spotted, Mr. Lew made it a point to show up sooner rather than later.

Griffintown Cafe is located on Notre-Dame O., which happens to be one of my childhood stomping grounds.  Being located on the same street as big names such as Joe Beef, Jane, and Le Boucan, you just know that you’re in good company.  So, when I passed by the window and saw both tables occupied, it was a good sign that I arrived.

Upon entering, you pass through this rather large curtain.  As a matter of fact, this was the first time ever in Burger Search history where I was able to capture one in a photo.  These things intrigue me so much.  I don’t know why, but they just do.  When you pass the curtain, you see the rather large room, with tables in the front, a bar in the back right corner, and the open kitchen in the back left corner.  It was a nice, simple set-up.

Any place that touts their burger is a place I want to go to.  That can either end in one of two ways.  The first way is that it doesn’t end well because someone was too desperate to push their sub-par burger.  The other way is the way I prefer.  When someone pushes their burger, it shows pride and confidence.  To me, burgers aren’t meant to be left to the back recesses of a menu.  They are a staple of North American culture and should be treated that way.  I really appreciated seeing the burger as that day’s special.

The service was kind and cordial.  My server was able to deal with me in perfectly acceptable French.  Then, when I overheard them a bit at another table, I got to take in some darn good English.  I tend to start all my outings in French until it becomes overwhelmingly clear that English is the language to push.  The first half of my service interactions were handled by the server who greeted me, but the second half were handled by the other server working.  I got to say, they were both extremely cordial.

There’s one thing people were probably thinking outside of the food.  Was the place full?  For brunch, it’s probably jam packed to the rafters.  During this quiet Wednesday Leap Day afternoon, it was about half full when I entered.  There was a rather large group and about 3 smaller tables outside of mine.  As we passed 1 p.m., the place emptied.  I was getting ready to say that I was the only person left in the place, when 2 more parties showed up, keeping the flow going.

I’m including 2 pictures here that I normally don’t put.  The first one is the bottle the water came in.  As you can see, it’s a see-through bourbon bottle.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.  You’ll also notice the chair in the background.  The pillows at each and every chair in the restaurant was a nice touch for me and extremely comfortable.

The second picture is one of the iced tea I ordered.  When I first saw it, I noticed it was a lot more orange than I was used to.  The taste is iced tea fine, but the color caught me off-guard a bit.  For 3 dollars though, well worth it compared to places that charge 4 dollars for worse.

Potato Salad

For those of you who read about my visit to Klondike for Burger 131, you’ll know that I’m a rookie when it comes to potato salad.  So, I was more than eager to have this as my side dish.

I’ll be honest, when I first saw this, I thought I had eggs on my plate.  When you take your first bite, you know you’re having potato salad.  The big feature of this one was something that took me completely out of the blue.  I’m not a hundred percent sure on this and I’m sure someone will chime in this, but I detected some sort of meat in the potato salad.  So, until someone corrects me, and even then, I’m going to say that there was bacon in the potato salad.  You know what, no matter what people say or how wrong it may I might be, there was bacon in it.  When it comes to bacon, there’s no talking me out of it.  Whatever it was, it made my second experience with potato salad, a good one.

Griffintown Cheeseburger

This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and bacon.  The main feature of this burger is the fact that the meat is half beef, a quarter duck, and a quarter lamb.  You can add bacon for an additional 2 dollars.

My first impression of this burger was a little underwhelming.  It’s just the way it came out and the hype that I put into it, I was probably expecting fireworks or something.  The placement of the meat was a little crooked for my taste.  In retrospect, I probably should have taken the picture after I fixed it and not before.

This burger had high expectations for 2 very big reasons.  The first reason was the fact that the bacon, which is highly touted by the restaurant, was a necessary add-on for me.  The restaurant goes out of its way to claim that it is probably the purest bacon known to man.  I just had to try that for myself.  Even though it was a little crispy, it tasted great.  You can definitely tell the difference when you take non-bacon bites of your burger.  It’s everything bacon should be, but one step up.  Just looking at it right now in picture form makes me salivate.

The second reason that I couldn’t wait to try this burger was because of the unique blend of the patty.  Beef is normally something that most burgers are made of, so that’s no surprise there.  While I never had a lamb burger before, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched to me.  I’m not a big lamb eater either, but for a burger, I’ll bite that bullet.  The part of the blend that really intrigued me was the duck quarter.  I know you can put foie gras in a burger and I have a short list of places that do it, but using duck meat itself is something that I never really thought of until I came across Griffintown Cafe.  For that reason alone, I had to come here, even though it took me a while.

The best way for me to describe the taste is to bring you back to Burger 124 at Le Comme Chez Soi.  There, I had a burger made of bison meat.  When I took a bite of the Griffintown burger, I was taken back to that moment in December when I tried bison for the first time.  I’ll tell you what, in both cases, I liked it.  I don’t have the most refined of palettes or a bountiful culinary repository, but I know what tastes similar to me.

The meat was cooked well and was never a big issue to get through.  I even took the time to put in through the Mr. Lew Squeeze Test.  That’s the fanciest name I could come up with to describe me squeezing the patty a bit to see if any juices came out.  To my excitement, a nice little drip formed and we struck burger gold.  That, in combination with the unique elements, made this burger a pleasure to have from opening to closing.

Final Verdict

While a lot of you will probably want to go to the Griffintown Cafe to enjoy their bacon for brunch, I’m going to give you another valid reason to go.  If you’re in the area and are looking for a place to have lunch or a burger, you have to add this to your list.  The unique beef-lamb-duck combination may put your off at first, but it doesn’t really taste that different from your normal run of the mill burger.  While it might not be my all-time favorite burger on the planet, it’s one that I’m going to remember and cherish for some time to come and you should at least try it once.

Griffintown Café on Urbanspoon

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