Bus: OC Transpo 1, 9
Visit: November 17, 2013
In the last 4 years of doing this search, I’ve always cherished each trip to the nation’s capital, Ottawa. Since 2011, I haven’t had the chance to make it to Ottawa and that was something that bothered me because I had so much left to do over there. On a random Sunday in November, I found that moment to attempt, not one, but two burgers. The first stop was at The Smoque Shack.
In early October, I took advantage of another one of Via Rail’s sales and there was only one place I would consider doing. Ottawa has been a big part of the search, as 3 previous burgers are part of the over 4 year history. This time around, I scheduled it in such a way where I would be able to try 2 burgers in one day. The next decision was to choose the places that I wanted to try.
There were two main challenges to picking places in Ottawa. The first was the fact that I had to pick wisely, as I would have to eat twice in the space of 7 hours. The second challenge was to find a place that was open on a Sunday. There were a few places that I wanted to try that were closed. I also had another place that I’m currently saving for a later date. With that being said, I had about 3 places in mind, with back-ups in mind.
It was a rainy day in Ottawa. I made my way from the Rideau Center to the first location for the day. As I approached the front door of that place, it looked like it wasn’t opened. Since the weather wasn’t cooperating, I wasn’t going to wait around. Remembering that The Smoque Shack wasn’t too far away, I made my way directly there and I entered as it was just opening.
Since the restaurant just opened, it was pretty much empty, with the exception of just one table. I was allowed to seat myself and we were underway. From my vantage point, I was able to see every single table in the dining area. In the front of the restaurant, there’s a bar and a few other tables. Eventually, there were a few people there, but the bulk of the diners were placed in the dining area.
The quality of the service was quite acceptable. When I came in, there was only one server on duty. The interactions with that server were more than cordial and they knew the menu quite well. For one person taking care of all those tables, there wasn’t a point where anyone was waiting for anything that long.
What’s also interesting about getting the chance to observe the happenings is the chance to overhear some interesting things. The table that arrived before me was quite charismatic with their conversation. The most interesting thing that I got from it all was the fact that they found The Smoque Shack through Urbanspoon. Urbanspoon happens to be one of my main sources for anything related to restaurants. So, I just found that something unique to hear that I wasn’t the only one.
Mashed Potatoes ($6)
I knew what I was having and I was pleased to see mashed potatoes as an option for a side dish. But, there was this option to ‘shaq’ up your side. The menu directs you to ask your server and that’s exactly what I did. The second I heard what was added to the mashed potatoes, I knew that I made the right decision to come here. So, the mashed potatoes you see above also has cheese and smoked bacon pieces. I think you saw that one coming.
For mashed potatoes, it was quite the portion. The actual mash itself was free of lumps, which is exactly how I like it. The cheese was there, but it wasn’t that obvious, unless you’re looking at the orange color. It was the bacon that was harder to not notice. The chunks of bacon mixed in really well and it seemed like it belonged.
The Shaque Burger ($15)
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheddar, and bacon.
The unique feature of the burger was the fact that the burger was seasoned with various blended spices, charbroiled, and glazed with BBQ sauce.
In the past, I have been very tentative when it comes to having BBQ sauce. The thought of the sauce leaking was the turn-off for me and I didn’t really need that. The reason this burger sets itself apart is the fact that the patty is glazed in the stuff, which limits any kind of liquid leakage.
When it comes to the traditional burger elements, the burger does well. Nothing falls out and everything stays together. What’s also notable was the freshness of the lettuce and tomatoes. I could have gotten more from the cheese, but there were other elements that made up for that.
The patty was the most interesting part. Even though the meat came out a big dry, the taste of BBQ sauce was a constant presence in each bite. The size of the patty itself is quite imposing and you’ll feel full if you manage to finish the whole thing. It was a little disappointing to have something that was closer to well, but the taste of that sauce was a little bit distracting. All I know is that, by the end, it was quite a big burger to finish.
Peach Cobbler ($6)
This is a peach cobbler with two scoops of bourbon vanilla ice cream.
In the last thirty years, I have never had a cobbler in my life. I figured that this would be a good time to try one. There wasn’t a bad part about this cobbler. The peaches were cooked just nicely and the mix of ice cream did the trick.
The Smoque Shack might have been my back-up plan for my first Ottawa burger in over 2 years, but it left me with a pretty good feeling. The comfort food did what it was advertised to do and that’s more than what you can ask for.