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Bus: STM 11, 14, 27, 30, 46, 47, 51, 97, 427
Visit: August 16, 2011
In August of 2011, the competition in the Montreal burger landscape is fierce and growing rapidly. Places open and they either thrive or fall by the wayside. I am starting to get genuinely concerned about the sheer amount of places that have opened up in the last year. art:brgr is one of two places that have opened up at virtually the same time, but in vastly different locations. Smack dab in the middle of the Plateau, this location is going to be competing with a lot of very well known and frequented Montreal restaurants.
Now, I have a little bit of guilt when it comes to visiting this place. This was not the intended location for the evening. This was also a night that was slotted for the latest guest review. The initial location did not completely appeal to the other participants. For me, I don’t really ever have a preference because I have to go everywhere. art:brgr ended up being the place we ended up at. Now, the restaurant has been opened for all of two weeks and I am always hesitant to show up at this point in the life span. I would rather show up later when things are more stable. Then again, I was reminded over and over again during the night that certain places may not last that long.
Before the evening began, I took a quick walk past the front of the restaurant which included a fully equipped terrasse. Even though all the equipment was on site, there was one vital thing missing, people. I looked inside and couldn’t see a soul, other than the staff working there. That worried me. Either they’re not getting the word out or something else could be going on.
The decor of the restaurant is quite interesting. I’ve heard that it is a design firm project. Once you enter the red door, you’ll notice nice cozy chairs and a nice bar. The thing that really caught my attention was the pool table to the left as you enter. If I had more time, I wouldn’t of minded using the table. The tables and chairs in the dining area are comfortable, which is a nice plus.
The service was strange, but I really have to attribute it to the fact that the restaurant has been opened for a short two weeks. The server we had was quite personable and tended to our every need. What bothered me a bit was during the burger consumption period. We were checked on quite a bit. Alright, I lied when I say we were checked on quite a bit, it was more closer to the fact that only I was checked on quite a bit. We were three people in all. My two guests ordered the pre-fabricated burger and I decided to build my own. At one point, a chef came out to give me something to complement my chosen burger, but more on that later. The big red flag came at the moment I took the equivalent of half a bite. Apparently, half a bite was enough to get the whole landscape of the burger I ordered. I was asked how the burger was after half a bite. Inside, I was dying a bit.
The restaurant has a very unique feature on its menu to complement its array of burgers and signature hummus. For the sum of 65 dollars, you and you alone, can have as many burgers as you want during your visit. Now, this is tempting. Very tempting. Back in the day, when I ate like a vacuum, I would’ve seriously considered trying this option, but now I’m more normal. I would personally like to meet the person who ever decides to try this option. Perhaps this is the curiosity factor that may draw people in.
I would’ve preferred to come here later on in the restaurant’s history. But the question is whether or not the place would be around when I decided to show up. A new restaurant has a lot of kinks to work out. I’m sincerely hoping that they work out some of the problems that we’ve encountered. I’m more of the mindset that everyone can co-exist. Unfortunately, restaurants have to stand out, much like this one does. Every restaurant can’t survive, only the very best can.
Build Your Own Burger
This burger contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cream cheese, pineapples, and bacon.
I had a little time before the visit and during the visit to study the menu. I wanted to choose a bigger option, but I was concerned about the sheer amount. Looking at the other options didn’t really inspire me at all. When I look at a vast burger menu, I tend to go for the burger that calls out at me, not the one that is recommended. Building a burger seemed like the best option to go for. So, in that case, I’d be the one to blame if I didn’t like the taste.
My first impression of the plate was decently positive. I’ve seen so many burger platters at this point that it does not really overwhelm or underwhelm me anymore. This one had promise mainly due to the fact that I prefer simplicity.
The big unique feature of this burger was the fact that I chose the ingredients. The one component that really stood out and yearned to be chosen for the burger was pineapple. This was the best moment to have an ingredient that I’ve never had on a burger before. The pineapple brought a sweetness that actually went really well with the rest of the burger. It’s something that I would strongly consider doing again on a regular basis.
I mentioned before that during the consumption, a chef came out with a small dish containing a sauce that was meant to complement what I chose. Now, a customer can look at this in two different ways. The first way is that the chef really cares and wants my experience to be that much better. The second way is that they think I’m an idiot who has no clue 110 burgers in of what I’m doing. I’m not going to mention what was going through my mind, but what I’ll say is that this has never really happened to me before. The sauce itself was good and had a little kick to it. I placed about half of it on the burger and finished. It was then when I was asked for my opinion on the sauce by the server. Sauce in or out, to me, it made no difference whatsoever. In my personal opinion, I would’ve preferred to of had no sauce. I tend to avoid ketchups, mustards, or barbeque sauce when choosing burgers because I want what I choose to stand out on its own.
The burger meat was highly touted by our server as being steak, finely ground up to make a patty. I won’t doubt it for an instance because I’m not a meat expert. I’m more of a meat eating expert. This isn’t the first time that I’ve had something similar. Honestly, I couldn’t really tell the difference. I felt that the meat was underwhelming due to the other stronger ingredients, such as the pineapple and the cream cheese.
The cream cheese was probably one of the biggest stars of the burger. Even though there was a little too much of it, it was the perfect cheese to use for the pineapple. Over the last two years, I have come to really enjoy every burger with cream cheese in it.
The other ingredients were your normal fare. The bacon was a little lost in the shuffle but still played an important role. The lettuce was a little too abundant for the burger as it hid what the burger looked like.
The last major issue was the bun. This was an issue for two main reasons. The first main reason was that the bun was too large for the burger. That fact, most of the time, leads to huge structural issues. My first grasp of this burger filled my hands, but it was then and there where I knew I was going to have problems. When the meat is about half the bun’s size, something wasn’t going to work. The second issue is plainly seen in photo above. You can see two burger halves. Well, the left half is strongly different from the one you see on the right. The first thing you should know is that I didn’t purposely break the burger apart. I was so appalled by this that I had to take a picture. I normally don’t like taking pictures of half-eaten burgers, it actually disgusts me a bit to see images like that. That left half contained absolutely no meat in it. The size of the meat was so small that the bun didn’t want to cooperate. So, as you’re holding the burger, with no patty to support the open space, the bun just gives way. It’s not rocket science.
This is the salad that was included with the burger. We didn’t choose fries because of a concern that it would’ve overwhelmed us due to sheer amount. Serving-wise, we made the right choice, but after downing the salad, I wonder. The lettuce was way too big and needed to big cut into smaller pieces. The small tomatoes and onions were just there. I don’t really know what the powder was, nor do I want to know. My main concern was the funny taste the lettuce had. I could’ve done without the salad.
As I mentioned above, a new restaurant needs time to breathe a bit. Unfortunately, with so much burger competition, that time is very short. The burger ingredient combination that I chose worked really well, sauce or no sauce. If the bun was smaller, the burger would’ve stayed together a whole lot better. There’s nothing wrong with the taste at all, but the structure really sank the experience. The burger has potential and I am hoping that it will be around for another visit.