Burger 173: Cornichon | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

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1291 Mont-Royal E.
Montreal, Quebec

Metro:  Mont-Royal
Bus:  STM 11, 14, 97

Visit:  January 5, 2013

http://www.facebook.com/BistroCornichon

2013 is already upon us and we’re all probably ready to really get this year going.  This is also the case when it comes to burgers.  There’s not going to be any more time wasted as I’m looking forward to seeing what the new year has in store when it comes to having burgers.  To begin the year, I look to a very crowded burger street in Avenue Mont-Royal and relative newcomer, Cornichon.

This time last year, or even 3 months ago, I had absolutely no idea that this place existed.  Normally, I would see a trace of a new place on the internet, but here, I literally stumbled upon Cornichon at random.  It was when I was going to try Estia, a few blocks down, that while walking there, in the corner of my eye, I noticed a place with a unique name.  After doing a routine quick scan of the menu, I was pleased to find that all my needs were met.  When doing a further online search, I noticed some more elements that necessitated my visit here as soon as possible.

On a cold Saturday night, I once again made the trek from the Mont-Royal metro station to hopefully get a table on a busy evening.  My group was actually worried that we would need reservations, but I wanted to risk it.  To my delight, the restaurant had plenty of room for the 4 of us.

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Cornichon is like every other relatively new restaurant that opens up in this fair city.  Located on one of my favorite streets, it has a fair share of competition.  So, seated at a banquette, we actually had a pretty good view of the snow-filled Plateau boulevard.  Since it was an evening, the room was pretty dark, but that problem was quickly remedied by the introduction of a candle on our table.

The room, for the most part, was about half full.  It wasn’t so jam packed, but I wouldn’t call it dead empty either.  The service was assured by two individuals.  When it came to serving our table, the person assigned to us was faced with some of the special people I tend to keep myself around.  Their patience was extremely appreciated and they were professional at all times, though we wished that we weren’t waiting so long, especially since there weren’t many tables during those times.

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The menu at Cornichon is pretty much bistro like.  For those people who would like to feel like they’re dining at an elaborate restaurant without paying the high prices, this might be the place for you.  For those people who have tastes more like mine, simple at best, there is a nice selection of sandwiches and burgers.  What caught my attention was what the rest of the diners were ordering and a heck of a lot of burgers came out of that kitchen.  Based on that, my hopes were rising somewhat.

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Normally I take pictures of things that I find interesting enough to share for these posts.  This picture should serve more as a warning.  I really like the idea of the outdoor menu.  The warning is for those of you who intend on partaking from the alcoholic beverages menu.  You better make sure that you don’t drink too much or your first steps out of the restaurant will take you right smack dab into this giant menu board.  That’s the only friendly advice I’m giving in 2013, as the rest of the tips I give will just lead you to an early coronary.

APPETIZERS

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Nachos

This includes cheese, kalamata olives, red onions, and pepper.

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The first dip you see here is a combination of jalapeno and cheddar cheese.  I’m not 100% sure about that, but that’s what the menu says.  This was hardly touched by our table.  I actually took one try of this at the late stages of the nacho platter and found that there wasn’t any real discernible taste.  I’m not going to mention what the rest of my group said about this.

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The second dip is a salsa, which by now, everyone should know what this is all about.  There were no complaints about this dip.

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For the second time I had a nacho platter in a restaurant, I was actually quite happy with this.  The quality of the cheese used on the nachos was top notch.  The only downside is that when you got to the bottom, you had to scrape to find more cheese because it was just that darn good.

Scraping for cheese and not finding much gave me a chance to try the nacho chips without much of anything on them.  The chips were incredibly salty.  That might please some people while others might be turned off by such a thing.  In all, I was quite happy with the end result of that appetizer to a point where I didn’t know if I had room for much else.

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Calamari

This plate of calamari includes a mesclun salad and a horseradish dip.  The group was generally happy with this.  I didn’t have any since I’m not a fan.

MAINS

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Chicken Burger

This chicken burger contains onions, sauteed mushrooms, mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, and a pickle.

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Burger de Boeuf Double

This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, cream cheese, and bacon.

When you take a look at the original picture of my burger open-faced, you’ll notice that the bacon is missing.  I spent a good few moments trying to find the bacon and it plainly wasn’t there.  I was getting ready to say something to the server when something completed unexpectedly showed up.

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Yes, my extra bacon arrived on a separate plate.  Normally, the bacon doesn’t come with the burger and there’s no indication of if you can get it as an extra.  I was bold and just asked if it was possible and the server was more than happy to accommodate me.  So, after 172 burgers, I never in my wildest dreams would expect to see the day where I would have to see my bacon arrive late.  At least, I didn’t have to ask for it.  I would like to know what happened to make this history making occurrence take place.

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I had such high hopes for the burger, but I knew I was defeated within the first few seconds.  I took a look at the patties presented to me and we can all surmise, just by looking at the pictures, what it was going to taste like.  These weren’t burger patties anymore, but something close to hamburger steak.  I like hamburger steak, but not between two buns.  I wish the pain stopped there.

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Before taking my first bite, despite seeing the others next to me struggle with the same issue I was about to face, I decided to proceed.  Within seconds, I burnt my tongue as the burger was hotter than that place below us.  I had to let the burger sit for a bit and it took a while before I was able to pick it up again.  We all know how eating with a burnt tongue feels.

The second issue in the burger patty comes to the taste.  Three of the four of us ordering beef burgers.  Two of us weren’t able to notice a real flavour to the meat.  I, on the other hand, picked up on something that didn’t sit well with me.  There was an overwhelming pepper taste in mine.  So, with the mix of heat and pepper, the meat was a big time bummer.  Even with the rest of the ingredients coming to play, a beef patty that’s clearly not warmed up for the game will sink the rest of the team.

At this point and after discussing the topic minutes prior to the burgers arriving with the group, I had to think about the sending it back debate.  For me, there’s not chance that I would send food back unless something was extremely wrong.  For a moment, during that burger, I was thinking about where my line was on the issue.

I wish the problems were solely found in the meat, but we’re talking about a double patty here.  Double burgers are notorious for being very hard to keep together.  There aren’t very many double burgers in the Montreal area that are strong in that category.  On top of that, when you factor in the icy characteristics of the cream cheese, you have a recipe for disaster.  Let’s just say all it was a very tricky and sticky situation trying to keep this large burger together.

I really wanted to like the entire burgers.  I chose it to be first because I was really looking forward to it.  The end result is disappointment.  The only reason I can say disappointment because it was capable of being so much better.

DESSERT

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Chocolate Fudge Cake with Traces of Orange

This was the main reason why I fast-tracked a visit to Cornichon.  The chocolate cake with orange in it.  That alone was enough to pique my interest.

When taking a bite into the chocolate fudge part of the cake, I was quickly redeemed.  I was going to finish my night on a good note.  The cake was quite good and went down rather easy.  I’ve had similar cakes that were way too hard.

The only thing I’m not sure about when it comes to this cake was the faint taste of orange.  It’s either that or I got the wrong cake.  Regardless of that, the cake was quite good.

Final Verdict

Being in operation for the last 6 months in the Plateau, I would say that Cornichon still has some growing pains.  The menu and the ideas have a lot of solid concepts.  With time, it will probably get better.  The majority of the people there that night ordered burgers, so take that for what it’s worth.  The courtesy of the service and the cozy decor make it a place that I wouldn’t mind returning to.

Cornichon on Urbanspoon

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