Valley Vittles in Slocan Park
$12 and change
I had to go up to the Co-Op in Slocan Park to order some oil for heating my home. When I was almost there I noticed the 'Open' sign lit up at Valley Vittles just before the Co-Op when driving up the Slocan Valley.
"Sweeeeet! I'm gonna finally get to crack into one of those fuckers!"
Amie told me about it when I was doing my burger tour thing last summer. Every time I went there it was closed though. I was either too early, too late or came on a Monday when they were closed.
I don't get up there too often, but it just wasn't workin' out for me when I did. It was just a spontaneous thing, so I wasn't prepared with my camera or laptop to write about it properly. It was nice to just sink into a burger normally though.
I went through the door and looked around quick. It's a quaint little place. Home-y! I was welcomed with a friendly hello. I smiled and said hello back, and that I was sent there for a burger.
I was checkin' out the board and seein' what they had. I ignored most of it 'cause I was only interested in a burger as I had been jonzin' for one for awhile, but never really acted upon fixing that urge.
I went with the "Loaded too" burger. It had bacon, cheese, banana peppers and avocado...among other stuff. The regular "Loaded" burger had BBQ sauce instead of avocado. I'm not really a big fan of BBQ sauce on a burger. The only exception to that is if I am at backyard BBQ kinda thing and the patty is basted in the sauce while on the grill. That's the only time I am interested in that sauce.
After I ordered I went and sat down. Even though I didn't have my glasses and couldn't read shit, I flipped through the Nelson Star just for something to do. I did see Marion's obituary. That made my heart sink, but I felt glad that Tara and Justine had told me about her passing last week so I didn't find out from the paper. That would have been a crushing blow to have found out that way. Good gawd I loved her!
When the girl brought my burger she asked me who sent me. I told her that Amie had. (Amie is her sister.)
"Oh my gawd! You're the burger guy!"
That made me laugh.
"Yup, that's me!"
She asked my name, and we got to talkin' from there. She is a super nice person. Her name is Melissa.
Melissa pointed to the can of Coke I had on the table and told me she had a Ginger Ale stashed for me for months. I was flattered. I told her that I don't get up the Valley at all too much, and every time I did she was always closed, but that I had to go to the Co-Op to order some oil for my home and noticed that she was open.
She told me she was afraid of me, which kinda made me curious as to what Amie had told her. Seeing that she had specially had some ginger ale on the stash for me, and knowing myself how honest and merciless I am when I write about food, I pretty figured out the basic gist of what Amie might have told her.
I said wasn't prepared like I usually am when I go out to eat now...that I usually have a camera and laptop. This was spontaneous. I also said I don't announce myself, I just order normal like anyone else and give my honest take on things. When I write, I never say if I know the owner of a place or any of the servers, and I'm honest. It's the only way to be objective, and most importantly, fair to everyone.
The first thing I noticed about the burger was the square bun. That was definitely a stand-out from every other place. I like things that stand out because they make it memorable. "Off to a good start," I thought to myself.
I asked her about the bun. She said it was from the Pass Creek Bakery. "Sweet! Local! Nice one!" are the words that fell outta my face when she told me that. We talked a bit more, and then Melissa left me to it and went back behind the counter.
I wasted no time diving into it. She had prepared me that it could be a bit sloppy. I don't always like that, but sometimes I really love it. It made me think of food at El Taco. I embrace the full tilt sloppy there. No matter how hard I try, I seem to get that shit all over myself and love every second of it.
Sinking into this burger I felt the same way. I was like a warm juicy flavour overload of chaotic harmony. I was shovin' that bastard in my face kinda like Homer Simpson at the all you can eat seafood place where the Sea Captain Guy was lookin' out from the kitchen as he said, "Aye..Tis a remorseless eatin' machine!"
That is the roll this burger reduced me to. A remorseless eatin' machine!
I barely even noticed so much of it in ways. It was too good to take the time to dissect. I remembered seeing a piece of bacon sticking out when I grabbed for a sip of my Coke. I looked at it and said, "Oh no you don't you lil' fuck! You ain't escapin' my wrath!" I pulled the rest of it out and ate it on its own. "Nice try yuh bastid!"
There was sauce and pieces of avocado, banana peppers and lettuce falling on the plate. I'd push 'em into a pile with my hand and then pick up the mess and stuff it into my face too...then shove more of the burger in my face.
Even while ravaging the fucker I took mental pause a few times to laugh at her being afraid of me. The was definitely nothing to be afraid of! The Valley Vittles "Loaded Too" burger kicked total ass!
When I was done, my hands were covered in yummy, gooey slop! It took three napkins to get them mostly clean. I renamed it in my head, "The Three Napkin Burger!"
What a nice surprise this was. Super friendly service, and a kick-ass burger. I absolutely recommend stopping into Valley Vittles for a bite. It seems kind of inconspicuous when passing by on the road, but over the years I have found that those can often be the best places with the best food.
The Valley Vittles Three Napkin Burger was packed with love. I can tell you that much!
I'll be going back for sure...probably later in the spring. Next time I'll be packin' my camera to take a few photos.
10 – rel-ish bistro – August 16, 2017
$18.90 After tax, before tip
I was having another one of those super sleepy feelin’ nights at work, so it was pretty stylin’ to walk outta there into a bright sunny day. It was so bright that it took me a couple moments for my eyes to adjust, and I was diggin’ it! "Sweeeeet!" I had only one thing on my mind...to get home and get in the water for a swim.
As I was rubbing my eyes from the bright sun the thought of how starving I was came along and punched me in the face. My starvingness knocked out any thought of swimming in that moment which left me in a short conversation with myself.
"Daaaamn maaan! I gotta sort this shit out right here and now!" The light bulb clicked on in my head instantly, and said to me:
"It's burger time again, go to rel-ish mutha-fucka!"
I promptly answered myself,
"Ooooh shiiit, that's a freakin' great idea!"
That was it, rel-ish's tractor beam grabbed a hold of me and didn't let go. I could resist no longer. That shit was pullin' me in right then and there! I couldn't wait!
The location of rel-ish has always had a special draw for me because of my love affair with the Rice Bowl stemming from the first summer I lived here in 1999. (I’ll write about that - and my introduction to wasabi, sushi, and Pad Thai – at another time.) I’d go eat there and then stroll over to the Co-Op and grab some food as a routine 2-3 times a week.
I was sad to see the Rice Bowl go. With the Co-Op recently moving as well the dynamic of that end of Baker Street has changed from a time that was. No place has changed more than where rel-ish is it seems. It is nice to see them holding things down nicely.
I don’t eat out too often, and I have my certain places for certain things. For rel-ish, that has been their Baked Cheese Bread appetizer. H-O-L-Y FUUUCK is it ever good! Daaaamn… It’s like a quick junkie fix of pure awesomeness! If it was liquid I would swim in it all day long, laughin' and gigglin' all the while.
I’ve never had their burger at rel-ish, but I’ve definitely heard a lot about it. I was one hungry, super starving bastard too, so I couldn’t freakin’ wait to get at it. Shiiit maaan!
The patio was full, so I went inside. I didn’t care that it was such a nice sunny day, inside was good for me. I'm not much of a big crowds kinda guy anymore anyway.
I got myself really, really psyched up because of how hungry I was. That resulted in me walking in there with very high expectations.
I went to the back to find a seat. There was a little triangle-like booth that seemed a bit around a corner, but really wasn’t. Perfect, I’ll sit there. It was my own little world.
The hostess came to give me some water and bring me a menu. I smiled and told her I didn’t need a menu because I knew what I wanted. She smiled back, said some kinda somethin’, and then went to get my server.
In the time between the hostess leaving and, my server returning, I took pause to enjoy the simplicity of the plain water in my glass.
"Water, the nectar of the gods!"
I always prefer plain water to water with fruit, and would rather it come that way 100% of the time. Fruit, or vegetables in the case of cucumbers, should be offered as a choice, not given with no choice.
Plain water at a meal is important for pallet cleansing. Adding fruit to the water leaves a slight flavour residue that may, or more importantly, may not go with the food being eaten. Plain water every time for me please!
When my server arrived I ordered my usual: A burger with cheese, bacon and hopefully jalapenos…and a ginger ale that comes with the food.
She said they have one called “The Uncle Buck,” which came with Sriracha Mayo, Swiss Cheese, Capicola, Tomato, Red Onion, Lettuce, Hot Peppers, and Crisp Sweet Potato. I didn’t hear anything she said past “Uncle Buck” though, because I instinctively started thinkin’ of John Candy and started gigglin’.
I had to get her to repeat it to me, so she grabbed a menu as they were only about two steps away. She opened it up to show me the Uncle Buck, and also so I could also see the option of Building My Own. She did tell me that it could get expensive that way though with the add-ons I wanted.
As I scrolled through what was in The Uncle Buck I thought about it. It looked good, but even though it might cost more, I was going with the usual so I could keep things consistent and a fair with the rest of the restaurants.
Since I had the menu in front of me I could actually see what was in the Build Your Own, but I didn't bother reading it as the foundational toppings were irrelevant to me. It just had to have bacon, cheese, jalapenos, and come however else it comes.
She did explain to me that the fries had to be baked as their fryer was down at the moment. I didn’t care ‘cause I felt baked might be a nice break from fried.
I didn’t think too much about anything at all, and reading the ingredients of the Uncle Buck was kind of a waste of time because there wasn't any real doubt that Build Your Own with Bacon, Cheese, and Jalapenos is what I was goin' after.
A few stops ago on my burger tour I started taking notes during the experience. One of the reasons for that is that it gives me something to do while waiting for my food to be prepared. I pulled out my paper and pen to start scribbling down as soon as my server left my table.
The hostess showed up with some ketchup, a water fill up, and everything else I might have needed. Sweet. After a couple places lacking in that simple area, it has now been something I pick up on more…the littlest things as simple as S&P, and ketchup when serving a burger and fries. It seems odd that plain normal shit has at times become a luxury.
Part of the reason I didn’t bat an eye at the thought of baked fries was because they made me think of Hoanie from when we were roommates on Saltspring Island. She cooked baked potato wedges all the time. She cut them a bit bigger than thick fries and always seasoned them nicely.
Even all these years later she’s still rockin’ ‘em to the point where it makes me smile to see them if I have randomly stopped in. (I don’t see her enough anymore and it makes me a bit sad at times. Hoanie is a really special person.)
(Savanah on her way to Texas)
The thing that I thought about most while I was waiting for my food was another person who randomly appeared in my mind. Savannah!
For those who know me really well…Savannah is Sierra’s younger cousin. I’ve known both their mom’s virtually their whole lives. Totally kick-ass sisters raising totally kick-ass kids!
Savannah is 13 years old and already a very accomplished gymnast. Watching her and her progression over the past bunch of years has been quite incredible. The photos and videos her mom (Shannon) puts up are insane. I’m not shy about telling both of them how seriously bad ass Savannah is.
The reason she came into mind from outta the blue is because she was down in Texas on her own for a bit for some gymnastics stuff. I thought it was for a week or two for a camp, but it turns out it was way crazier than that. Savannah will be staying in Texas for a year for intensive gymnastics training and competing while she’s in school.
I’m so excited for her ‘cause I know how much she loves it, how hard she has worked, and what it means to her. Go Savannah Go!
I was gruuuvin’ on that thought when my food arrived.
When my food came I looked up to thank my server. I also asked for a steak knife, which made me feel like, by now, I should just be asking for it when I first order my food.
This was definitely the hungriest I have been on this burger tour yet! I’d been awake for about 18 hours and hadn’t eaten anything, so it felt like my insides were starting to eat my insides.
Because of how much I had heard about this burger and how freakin’ hungry I was I really couldn’t wait to get at this fucker!
It was served open faced. I never really thought too much about an open faced burger other than it’s like a build-your-own. Sometimes I’m into that and sometimes I’m not.
Looking at this burger, and then getting into it, I really liked that it was served that way. Being able to really see the extent of the bacon smothered in cheese was nice.
Having the perfectly cooked bacon right on top of the patty and sealed in by melted cheese was a thing of beauty. It definitely was a burger’s version of gorgeous looking. I mean, shit maaan…it was one sexy mutha-fucka!
I also liked that the peppers were staring me right in the face. Knowing that they were gonna get merged in with the cheese when I put the burger together, it led me to say to myself, “Lookkit you, you lil’ fucks! I hope you bring the heat ‘cause I’m gonna eat the shit outta you!"
The salad-y side was very vibrant with the way the variety of colours stood out. I was definitely eating with my eyes before my meal started. I took a couple photos, then put it together, and took a couple more.
I started thinking about how much I can’t stand cutting open my burgers. Absorbed in that thought for a moment made me want this tour to come to a close so I could eat a burger like it was meant to be eaten...grab the whole thing and shove it in my face!
Somehow, thinking about the end of the tour made me anxious to get back to the Best Western…my burger home court! Eating at all these other places made me feel like I was cheating on the BW…whoring myself out to all the burgers in town. I really miss having a shake with my burgers. Shakes’r the perfect touch, and they barely exist in this town!
(As I typically only go for a burger once every 3-4 months, all the ones I have been eating made me start thinkin’ about doing a vegetarian dish tour of Nelson. Once I had that in my mind, I thought about a chicken dish tour and a curry dish tour as well. I think I’m gonna keep going with this food touring thing of Nelson.)
As much as I am fed up with cutting these burgers in half before I eat them, an aspect of that has become one of my favourite parts of the burger tour experience that I never saw coming. After I cut it in half there is always a little coat of the juice from the patty on my right thumb because of the way I open it up.
When I lick my thumb I get a first faint preview of what the patty is going to taste like. It gives an advance on the level of moisture as well as how the spicing is. (How much or how little there is, and a good sense of the flavour.) It builds the anticipation even more. It makes the next few photos a pain in the ass to get done ‘cause I just wanna get on with it. It has become like the first test to pass, and rel-ish crushed it!
The first bite is never the best one, but it is my favourite one. I’d say the third bite is the best one ‘cause that’s the first real bite when you’re hitting the middle of the burger where the main event of the party is.
The first bite is my favourite though because of all the anticipation finally manifesting in a single moment. From the time I decide to go for another burger, picking a place, ordering, having the food hit my table, and then the whole photos and opening it up thing…shit…it just seems like forever! Add in the little tease with the juice on my thumb…fuck maaaan!
I did admire this one opened more than the rest for sure. The way the bacon was done under the blanket of melted cheese…it was captivating to me. Also, the peppers standing out and sayin’, “Hey mutha-fucka…let’s do it!” had my full attention! I was ready to destroy this sexy lookin’ bastid!
Even being my favourite one, the first bite doesn’t really count ‘cause it holds the initial rush of endorphins or whatever from magik in your mouth. It wakes up and kick-starts your taste senses. I always like to take a little drink after the first bite to somewhat cleanse my palate now that my taste buds are awake and ready to party.
As I was about to take a sip of my water I was put on notice that the peppers were comin’ out swingin’. They were making their presence known ‘cause I could feel the heat from the peppers emerging and sayin’ they were here to mess me up! “Sweeeeet…I love a good battle you lil’ bastids!”
Two bites in was very validating and the difference maker right off the bat! The second bite confirmed my anticipation was as I suspected it, that the way the bacon was served was the best by far.
I embraced my captivation even further. I just couldn't get over having the bacon served under that thick blanket of melted cheese like that. It is way better than having the bacon sitting on top of the cheese on the patty, or on top of the salad toppings.
The cheese holds the bacon in place, even pulling it down a bit into the patty. The juices from the bacon start seeping into the patty and mixing with the juices of the beef. It seems to have added this sense of potency to both of the flavours, so that when you bite into it, the juiciness of the two mixed together washes over all your taste buds in a pretty wonderful way. It’s a profound flavour explosion with a euphoric rush.
The patty itself had a great texture to it. It was perfectly moist and so nicely cooked. The sear lines were beautiful. The spicing was great, and it held amazing flavour. The star of the meal lived up to its purpose.
The addition of the way the bacon juices mixed with the beef, and what happens when you bite into it all, seemed to have the same effect as what happens when Popeye scarfs down his spinach. It just turned it into this ultra ass whuppin' burger that was ready to punch out anything in its way.
Rel-Ish is by far my favourite place for the way the bacon and cheese aspects of the burger were approached and served. No other place comes remotely close.
The salad part of the toppings was fresh and quite enjoyable. The peppers held their heat true with every bite from start to finish. I don't care much for caramelized onion and would choose raw ones every time. That raw crunch and the sweet juicy pop with bite is such a natural accent to a burger.
The balance of the fresh toppings vs patty (with cheese and bacon) was perfect. As I have stated before, I can’t stand when places put this mountain of salad between the patty and top bun. It doesn’t make any sense. It makes it harder to eat, and buries the patty in the process…which is a total shame
(*I did a shitty job at holding this and taking a photo at the same time.)
Each bite of the rel-ish burger brought such a variety of flavours, textures, and sensations washing over my taste buds. It was a great size of a burger, and it was easy to eat. As a burger is meant to be, every bite had a bit of everything in it.
The bun was great too. Fresh, soft, and the perfect size for the balance of the patty and toppings! It wasn’t soggy or greasy either. It was just right.
Before I had finished my first half I understood why I had heard so much about this burger. It was fuckin’ good!
One thing that drove me a bit nuts was a particular spice that really stood out and was amazing, but I couldn't place it. I know it, and I love it, but I was drawing a blank, so I couldn’t identify it. I likened it to seeing one of your good friends who you have known for years but totally blank on their name like a dumb-ass when you randomly run into them. (I have no chance on identifying that spice now as I am at home writing this. Bummer!)
The baked fries asserted themselves right from the start. Their aroma stood out in a very familiar way. They were nice cut fries, but as I never deep-fry foods at home, the smell of them being baked felt surprisingly comforting to me.
I enjoyed the difference of baked vs deep fried. I liked the texture. I also simply liked that it was different from regular routine of a burger served with deep fried fries. By a surprise default, the fries really spoke their piece and I dug it!
The ginger ale?? Nice and crispy…no fruit!
The burger was so good that I made a point of it to finish my fries before I started into my second half. I didn’t want them disrupting the flavour flow of the burger, and did not want them to be the last thing my taste buds that I walked out of there with.
There was a moment I really took pause as I was going through the second half. It was one of those moments of perfect content-ness. It was like everything around me went silent as I got filled with a peaceful sensation and all was calm and right. The burger was a great size, but I didn’t want it to end.
I didn’t realize how busy the restaurant had gotten til I got up from my table. It was virtually full. All but one table and a little back bench table were gone. It half blew my mind that it was that busy at that time of day in the middle of the week. Totally crushing it! It’s easy to understand why though.
This was a great experience for something as simple as a hamburger, fries and soda. This burger at rel-ish is a great example of how to do a traditional burger with your own take, but staying true to the simplicity. It was beautiful. I loved it! I loved it! I loved it!
I was curious what this one would cost after my server telling me it could get expensive when I ordered it. When I got my bill I was happy. It was a full $3.00 cheaper than the most expensive one, was on the low end of the average pricing. Score another point!
I just wrote this long-ass thing about rel-ish, but here’s the four worded version:
Rel-Ish?? Fuck yeah maaaannn!
#7 - Old World Bakery – August 7, 2017
$12.81 After tax, before tip
It feels a tad strange goin’ for burgers between 10:30 – 11:00am in the morning. As I am just getting off work though, having started just after 2:00am, I look at it like that is the evening in a time equivalent, so I figure it is OK.
I wasn’t too sure if I was really up for a burger today. I decided to go for it just to kinda get on with things. I did a few quick chores when I got off work, then I was gonna go for a bite. I wasn’t too sure where I wanted to go. I decided I didn’t want to go back into downtown, so I was leaning towards the Old World Bakery. When I was almost there I started thinking about Amanda’s across the bridge. I went with my first instinct.
The Old World Bakery wasn’t a place that was on my radar even a little bit until a friend suggested it. “What the hell, might as well give ‘er a shot,” said the voice in my head.
I had no idea what to expect when I pulled in there. I had never been in there since they moved into the building they’re in across from the Hume School. When I walked inside it started giving me the feeling of one of those seasonal burger stands even though it is a year ‘round place.
I looked at the menu board just to make sure they had burgers as was suggested to me. Sure enough they did. Perfect!
I asked for my usual thing, a burger with bacon, cheese and jalapenos. The girl told me she wasn’t sure if they had jalapenos, but would check, and offered me alternative suggestions if they didn’t. I couldn’t order a ginger ale of any kind as they didn’t have fountain drinks, nor did they have it in a can, so I just got a can of coke. I wasn’t overly psyched on that as it is pretty hard on me. I pretty much reserve cola to have with popcorn at movie theatres.
After I put in my order, she rang me in. The total came to $12.81. Having just spent $21.91 for a burger, fries, and soda two days ago, I was happy about that. The price indicated a different thought of expectation though…café style vs full restaurant. I was OK with that. I just like a good burger.
When I paid for my order I went into the little side room that had more tables and the tunes were the loudest. Right when I walked in Uncle John’s Band came on the stereo. Of course that was the perfect thing because it is the Grateful Dead and I am me. The better part of that on this particular day though was that I was just thinking of the studio version of that song a few hours earlier at work
I worked at Whitewater for fun during the 2008-2009 ski season as the night cleaner. As soon as most of the guests were gone I would roast a spliff with the last of the staff, and some of the regular skiers. I brought in a small cd player and always played the Grateful Dead every day. It was a routine thing to do.
On one day, after we roasted and I got to work, rather than a show, I put on the Workingman’s Dead studio record of theirs. When the last bit of staff were leaving, Tasha got all psyched that I had that tune on. Ever since then I have remembered that moment with an image of Tasha’s excitement every time I have heard the studio version of Uncle John’s Band.
That thought went through my head randomly through the night at work, and it painted a smile on my face when I thought about Tasha. She’s a pretty kick-ass girl from Vermont. (Her twin sister, Dusty, is just as kick-ass! Amazing sisters!)
With that thought fresh on my mind, it only seemed fitting that as soon as I went to sit down close to the speakers, that Uncle John’s Band came on. The same smile painted all over my face again with that image of Tasha. Sweeeeet!
After that, The Beatles tune, “Something” came on. I was diggin’ it. That made me think of a new friend who digs The Beatles like mad which also made me smile. After that, “Shelter From the Storm” by Bob Dylan came on. When it did I immediately grabbed a napkin, pulled out a pen and wrote this:
“Shelter From the Storm. Easy way to trigger a flood of emotion within me. Bob Dylan maaaan! A security blanket of the most glorious kind. The guy that turned the world on its head with a pen, two chords & a beautifully raunchy voice. Too many riveting songs to count. This is one of those that when you hear it it just rings out something special.”
Bob Dylan does something to me and takes me to that place. It made me glad to stroll into the bakery in this moment on this morning. Bobby D & Jerry G…Hot Daaamn maaaaan!
Right when I was done writing that on the napkin my food arrived. It came in a burger stand kind of basket, which made it match up to the burger stand essence I was already kinda feeling. I like those places. They have a certain charm to them.
The first thing I noticed wasn’t the burger, but rather the fries. They had a rich colour to them and were fatties for sure. I took a bite of one quickly, and then got up to go ask for a steak knife so I could cut it in half.
I sat down, pulled out my camera and took a few photos. When I cut the burger in half, and opened it up, I loved how gooey the cheese was as it stretched across the gap and the two halves seemed to to refuse to separate from each other. Totally kick-ass! You can see that in one of the photos I took.
The burger was a smaller one, but that was to be expected if the price was any indication. The fries almost overshadowed the burger itself, but it still looked pretty good.
It was nicely cooked. I didn’t overly inspect it or anything, I just got at it. It seemed more like it was cooked on a flattop rather than a grill. It was juicy kind, not dry or soggy. I could taste the heat from the peppers nicely too. There didn't seem to be any fancy spicing to the patty, but it was still good. (The fries were the place with the nice spicing to them.)
With the size of it, needless to say, it disappeared quite quickly. It kinda felt like it was gone before I had a chance to savor it, and inspect it with my taste buds. That didn’t bother me ‘cause I liked it, and that’s all that mattered. I guess that is a good sign though as if it was a shitty burger I would likely have somewhat struggled with it and taken a bit longer to get through.
It was good value for what it was. It was like a deluxe backyard burger or something, with some fatty spiced fries. A comforting burger. Happy stuff.
I didn’t have anything bad to say about it. If you’re lookin’ for a quick, cheap, but yummy burger stand type bite to eat I say go for it. It was simple, yet stylin’.
**In the quick amount of time it took me to fly through my food, I did take several moments to reflect on the only other time I was in that building. It was July of last year when I met Dylann at her casual show she played there. She was pretty hilarious…pregnant with baby-brain as she put it. Gorgeous voice and talented on the guitar! I was happy to have gone to that and to have developed a friendship with Dylann and her mama, Kendall. Both are truly kind people…the kind of people you feel fortunate to be able to know.
Mike’s Place Pub – August 5, 2017
$21.91 after tax, before tip
I had a surprise trip to work on my day off to do a couple things. At one point I needed to talk on the phone with one of my co-workers who wasn’t gonna be available for an hour, so I decided to punch out, and go to the next stop on my burger tour.
I started walking along Baker Street not knowing where I was gonna go. I thought about Jackson’s Hole, but after quick consideration I passed because of what a couple people had said about it recently. I was gonna save it for another time. I decided on the Hume Hotel, so when I go to Ward Street, I took a left and headed down.
When I was about to walk around the corner to go into the main entrance of the building I decided I felt like staring at sports on TV on a Saturday, so I turned around and went into Mike’s Place Pub. I was pretty sure they had the same menu from the same kitchen, so it didn’t really matter to me.
It was minutes before 11:00am, so I walked straight to the bar and asked the girl behind it if it was too early to get a burger and fries. She smiled and said, “It’s never too early to get a burger.” In my mind that made me want to test that notion of rolling in as soon as they open and orderin’ one up. I was sure that was the case with the pub, but possibly not with the restaurant as it is open earlier, but I wasn’t in the restaurant, so I passed on my own silly challenge to myself.
She asked me if I wanted to see a menu to decide on what burger. I said, “Nope. I just want whatever your regular burger is in whatever way you serve it, but can I please have jalapenos, cheese and bacon on it?” She smiled again and assured me that I could absolutely have that. I responded simply with, “Excellent! May I also have a ginger ale too please?” Then, with a smile on my face, I asked for the ginger ale to be brought with the food. She smiled again, and said, “Of course.”
I’ve never liked when drinks are brought way before food. Even since I was a little, little kid, it has never made sense to me…especially with shakes. I guess that’s a restaurant’s way of trying to get you to order more drinks, because by bringing them before food, of course you’re gonna dig into ‘em, and inevitably not have enough to ride out your meal. It’s either that, or you wait and they end up goin’ flat, watery, and warm. (Those sneaky restaurant fucks! :) )
After I ordered, she asked me where I was gonna sit. I did a quick scan for where table’s vs TV’s were, and pointed at the first level up, and said, “Probably right there. Thank you.”
I went to that first little level up, and I picked the table and my chair so I could best see the big-ass screen and the smaller screen to its left without really having to move my head. The Cubs – Nationals game at Wrigley was on the giant screen and the smaller screen had a NASCAR race on it.
Typically I couldn’t care less about cars driving around in a circle as I find that some boring-ass shit, but over the past few days I had picked the movie ‘Talladega Nights – The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ as the movie I pass out to, so I didn’t mind at all. It actually made me giggly thinkin’ ‘bout Ricky Bobby. (The reason I pass out to movies is directly related to my pain…one more story for another time.)
The NASCAR race wasn’t the typical oval track though. It was one that was more like an Indy or F-1 track. That reminded me of when I was a little kid and watched Formula-1 on the limited TV available on the weekend. My favourite guy was Alain Prost. That guy dominated like a mutha-fucka! The along comes Ayrton Senna and started whuppin’ everyone’s asses. Tragically, Senna died in a crash, and thinking about that today at Mike’s Place, even all these years later, I still took pause to acknowledge his passing.
The NASCAR was still all about Ricky Bobby though. I mean, how could it not be?! Ricky Bobby is freakin’ amazing! If you don’t like him you definitely have problems.
When I saw some of the baseball game I started feeling like the biggest armchair athlete loser on the planet again. This of course derives from being a die-hard Toronto Maple Leaf, Philadelphia Eagles, and team England in world football sports team’s guy.
Until last fall, I always had the Cubs to make me feel better about my loser-ass self, but not-no-freakin’-more dammit! Those fuckers just had to go and win a World Series after 108 years…reaffirming that I am, in fact, the biggest loser on the planet!
I do have a close connection to Chicago though. I have only been there a few times, but every time has been a magikal experience with some really great people. (Well…the last time I was there was totally fucked, but it wasn’t Chicago’s fault. ;) )
When I sat down I realized that it was the same table Chibby and I sat at when we had lunch at Mike’s. It was the last time I was there, and was quite some time ago. …Haven’t seen Chibby in awhile, so it was good to think about him.
The song, ‘The Muse’ by the Wood Brothers rang out through the speakers. I had never heard it before, but as acoustic music is what really speaks to me, the feel of it kind of struck me, so I wrote down some of the lyrics to try to figure it out what it was when I got home. After that it seemed like a string of 80’s Depeche Mode crossed with Talking Heads tunes came on. Not really my thing, but was easy enough to block out with Ricky Bobby chargin’ around my imagination while watching the NASCAR on TV.
Three different servers were takin’ care of me. That’s like ultra service. Saying that leads me to the thought that I don’t really like the term ‘server’ though. Something doesn’t feel right about that to me. It seems waitress isn’t the right one either apparently, as that is sometimes looked at like calling a flight attendant a stewardess, or a massage therapist a masseuse…one of those stupid politically correct things these days. (The term ‘server’ makes me think of rich pricks with servants who they look down on, and I don’t think anyone deserves to be looked down on.) They are serving your food to you though, so I guess that’s the term to use.
It was like rapid fire service with three of them all over it. When one of them walked past me I asked if I could have a steak knife with my food. She said, “No problem!”
When she brought my food and placed it in front of me, she asked if I wanted some ketchup. I said, “Yes please,” so she left to go get some for me.
It was the first burger on my little tour that was served open faced. It gave me a better look at what I was about to get into. At first glance you could tell it was playing at a whole different level than the last one I had at the Prestige when I took the top off of that one to put on the side jalapeno.
Just from the sight of this burger, we were talking the difference from big-league top player compared to minor league grinder. There is a certain romance in the minor league grinder, but when it comes time to throw down, you want the big-league bad-ass on your crew. That’s what Mike’s was in a visual battle with the Prestige. No contest!
I gave it a bit of a visual inspection, and it looked good. The bacon slices were nice ones, and the jalapenos were ample too. There weren't many, but I was happy for raw onions over caramelized ones for that crunch and pop-splash of flavour when I bite into ‘em.
I don't really like those style of pickles...the accordion cut lookin' round ones. Lengthwise slices of dills are where it's at. Of course, just like every other burger, it came with mayo. Gawd damned maaan! As per usual though, I was more into getting’ down to business rather than just looking at my burger, so I took out my camera and started taking some photos of how it was served, so I could get on with it.
After my server dropped off the ketchup, and left, I went to grab some salt to put on my fries. I looked where I thought the S&P were behind the little display thing on the table advertising drinks or whatever, but nothing was there. In a way I was kinda surprised by that as it always seemed automatic that S&P shakers would be on a table, or at least offered…especially when having something like French fries. I thought about asking for some, but then I felt that I’d just roll with what was simply offered. I didn’t really mind though ‘cause it is kind of a crazy notion to have something that is deep fried, and then feel the need to add salt to it. It’s actually quite freakin’ insane if you understand anything about health. I was hopin’, that rather than not offering what every other restaurant/bar does with fries, that they were just trying to save us from ourselves regarding extra salt.
One of my servers walked by and giggled when she saw me takin’ photos of my food, and then asked me, “Did it come the way you wanted?” I told her I’d let her know after I started eating it.
I know the whole deal with the presentation of food, and eating first with your eyes. I can really appreciate a beautifully plated serving of food for sure. Even having said what I did about the difference between the visual look of Mike’s vs the Prestige, when it gets down to it, and comes to a burger, I don’t really care. Pick it up…stuff that fucker in my face, and let the burger do the talkin’ from there.
As it was served open faced, it had to be put together to be able to be eaten properly. As I was doing that it kinda seemed a bit odd to me to take an open faced burger, put it together, and then cut it in half to eat. (I really don’t like this cuttin’ a burger in half shit. I can’t wait for my burger tour to be over just for that reason alone.)
It took a moment to balance the thing once put together so it would stand on its own without toppling over so I could take a photo of it. I got it sorted by positioning some fries and propping it up against them. I took my quick few photos, and then grabbed my knife to slice ‘er up. When I did that I had to open it up and then balance it again for a few more photos of the inside. I got that sorted too though.
The one thing I do like about cutting a burger in half is seeing what’s inside. The reveal!
When I picked it up, I could feel the freshness of the bun. Nice and soft! As the patty was cooked properly the bun wasn’t soggy at all. Score another point. I like sesame seeded buns, so I was happy about that too.
Aside from looking at it, when I bit into it I could tell right away that there was a healthy amount of bacon and jalapenos. Saying that though, is there really such a thing as a healthy amount of bacon? I know many in the chefing world have referred to bacon as the perfect food, and anyone I know who eats meat loves the shit outta that stuff, but let’s face it, bacon is like some little flat slippery heart destroyin’ missiles…that just happen to taste yummy as fuck! Let’s not kid ourselves though…there ain’t nothin’ healthy about bacon. Bacon is possibly the ultimate betrayal of your taste buds to the well being of one’s body. You tasty lil’ bastids!
(Personally, I much prefer turkey bacon on top of baked boneless skinless chicken breast with smashed up avocado smeared on a bun as my choice of burger-ish food.)
Just as a burger should have, it had a nice sear on the outside of the patty, but not burnt. You could tell it was done properly because even though it had the nice sear and char lines on the outside, it was still moist and juicy on the inside. At the same time, while holding its nice moisture it wasn’t greasy. The easiest, straight ahead way to say it was that it was a burger done right. As simple as that!
It was good too. I didn’t want any bite to end. The bun, the patty, the right amount of bacon, jalapenos & cheese, raw onions rather than caramelized…it was some yummy-ass shit!
It was a tad below the average size of the string of burgers I have had so far, but each bite made me want to have more. Unlike the burgers where they stack that mountain of salad between the buns, making it kind of a pain in the ass, and uneven to eat, the Mike’s Place burger had that balance of being eatable with every bite having some of everything.
Back to the fries…they were a nice size side of fries simply served on the plate. That’s definitely become my much preferred way for fries to be served rather than a chintzy amount of fries disguised to look good in one of those awkward upright containers. The fries were pretty good ones too, so that was OK. Yes fries are an afterthought next to the burger, but they still count for what they are, and these weren’t too bad.
Overall, it was really great…fuckin’ awesome even! The only drawback was that it was that tad bit below average size. I was happy, and that was the feeling I was leaving with.
I got up and walked down to the bar to get my bill and pay for it. When I got rung in and handed my bill my happiness quickly took a turn. It was nearly $2 more than the most expensive burger so far. Now, considering that it was a tad under size of average, and that it was by far the most expensive, the cost vs size didn’t overly do it for me.
I do recognize and appreciate that it is hormone-free grass fed local beef, and a local organic sesame bun, and really fuckin’ good; but the thought that a burger, fries, and a fountain drink could cost 9 cents below $22.00 before you drop a tip is kinda crazy. (As far as I'm concerned, local ingredients should never cost more than far away ones.) That’s really my only hesitation with it as far as a repeat visit goes, but it was really done well and very tasty.
West Coast Grill at the Prestige Lakeside Resort
August 2, 2017
$17.85 after tax, before tip
This was a spontaneous one today. One of my friends has mentioned a couple times that she wants in on one of my burger tour stops…aiming towards the Dam Inn because she lives not too far from the Organic Mechanic in the no man’s land where Krestova and Pass Creek collide. I only say it is no man’s land because it doesn’t really seem to fully be one or the other places.
Rather than my usual off work time of somewhere between 10-11am, I felt lazy today and had a short day, so I started it a bit later around 6am rather than 2:30am, and was gonna work til 12:00-12:30ish.
Since I was in town a bit later, and she works close to the lake, I asked if she wanted to go to the Prestige to have a spontaneous burger with me. Totally into it…100%!
As I was pulling into the parking lot I saw her walking towards the entrance, so I pulled up beside her, rolled down my passenger window and with a big smile I yelled out, “Hey mutha-fucka!,” and then I kept drivin’ to park. She definitely saw me, but I’m not sure if she heard me. I know for sure she’d’ve dug me sayin’ that. She’s just that bad-ass! I parked my van, got out and she was walking toward me.
(I’m not saying her name ‘cause she didn’t wanna be posted on the internet…shouldda seen her when I faked that I was gonna take her photo. Totally excellent! I‘m tellin’ yuh…she’s just a bad-ass cool chick! She was the first person I met when I moved as she lived in the cabin I was moving into on May 1, 1999. She took me on a tour of the place and told me some shit. We were instant friends, and have stayed that way.)
We went inside and stood at the “Wait here you fucks!” sign at the front entrance. (Because of so many whiners these days, I feel I must mention that it didn't actually say that, but it is how those signs have always made me feel.) Our server was super nice. She asked if we wanted to be inside or out on the patio. My friend deferred every decision to me ‘cause it was my little tour she was hitchin’ a ride on for the day. I said patio…100%!
Nothing comes close to the patio at the Prestige Lakeside Resort in Nelson. Literally nothing! It’s right on the water. No traffic. Nice and mellow. Spectacularly beautiful! The patio at The Savoy Hotel (The Falls Music Lounge and Farm Fresh Café) is by far the best downtown. Nothing touches it, but when you are on the patio at the Prestige looking up or down the lake, or simply at the mountains across the water it is like a little oasis, even in this gorgeous town.
The three of us walked out onto the patio and our server asked us where we would like to be seated. I suggested the corner. The patio was busy, but the corner felt like our own little slice of the place, so we sat there.
The service was a bit slow, but the patio was very busy…especially for a Wednesday at 1pm. None of the patios downtown are busy like that at that time of day in the middle of the week…none that I have seen when walking along Baker Street. The speed of service didn’t matter ‘cause it wasn’t that bad. I’m not that much of an idiot either…I know if a place is kickin’ off busy, things won’t be necessarily as fast…that’s only common sense. Our server was super nice, so everything was all good.
(I’m sick of saying, “my friend” here so I am gonna call her Tazzy)
A bit after we were seated and chillin’, our server came back to take our order. Tazzy went first. I don’t know what kinda burger she ordered, but she absolutely despises ketchup and wanted it nowhere near plate or food. She told our server as much.
When it was my time to order I said I feel the same way about mayo that Tazzy does about ketchup. I fuckin’ haaate that shit! Our server asked me if I wanted her to take it off the burger I ordered. I said, “No…I want it however you guys make and serve them, except I would like it to have cheese, bacon and jalapenos as well if possible, please.” I ordered a ginger ale to come with the food…and a water to start, and also asked if she could bring a steak knife as well.
Tazzy looked at me and said she could never do what I did with the mayo in regards to how she feels about ketchup…just eat it anyway ‘cause it was served with it. I told her I wanted an even playing field for every place I go to. I don’t look at the menu, I just ask for a burger with bacon, cheese and jalapenos…fries and a ginger ale. Same thing every time! I figure that is the only way that is fair.
Once we put our order in, Tazzy and I just blabbed about whatever. We’ve always had easy conversation about anything…where time just becomes a non-factor. Most everything is always light and casual, but we did take a moment to both come completely unglued about the pieces of shit who stole the fire hoses and pumps at the Harrop firefighter’s site.
With all the fires raging, and smoke filling the air, even the stupidest piece of shit out there would know that is a wrong thing to do when the gawd damned mountain is burning down. That leaves one wondering what level their dumb-fuck brain is on. (That’s the kinda shit that makes you think mankind is doomed and deserves to go down in a ball of flames. Who in their right freakin’ mind does something like that?!) Other than that rant we shared, everything else was light and fluffy…cotton candy-ish.
Despite all the smoke, it was a beauty day. It was the first time in all the smoky days in all the years that I have lived here that the smoke messed with my eyes a bit. That wasn’t a big deal. Our conversation distracted me from really noticing or caring about what the smoke was doing to my eyes.
Tazzy and I watched helicopters continuously fly by with their water bomber bags hanging on the long lines beneath them. (Hence the rant about those hose thieving bastids!) Even watching that, you still can’t help but to get sucked into the beauty of this place. We talked about the redwoods in California, and the Oregon Coast, as well as the Sunshine Coast here in BC, and other places. As amazing as they all are I still think the West Kootenay is the best place ever. I never forget how lucky I am to be able to call it home. (Yup…we talked about that too.)
It’s easy to get lost in good conversation and forget about what you’re doin’, which is kinda where I was at when our food arrived. “Oh yeah…sweet…burgers!”
I’m starting to get interested in how each place presents their burgers. I mean, it’s a fuckin’ burger and fries maaaan, how different can it really be? Well, the West Coast Grill is the first place on my burger tour to serve theirs on a wooden cutting board, so that was a little different. Outside of that, though it was pretty straight forward.
Three of the five places so far have served their fries in a little round upright metal container. When I see those it seems like it is a restaurant’s way of trying to distract you with a sense of fanciness so they can chintz out on amount of fries they give you. I don’t understand that ‘cause fries are just potatoes…which are cheap-ass for a shitload! (That’s if they even use hand cut fries…boxed ones from suppliers are even cheaper). Tazzy was with me on that too.
The amount of fries was definitely on the short side. Although they are supposed to accent the burger, they are just the afterthought at best. Even if they’re shitty I don’t overly care ‘cause it is the burger that matters. The burger was the smallest so far…by quite a bit.
When our server handed Tazzy hers, with a smile she said, “No ketchup.” Then she placed mine down on the table in front of me. She told me she put the jalapenos on the bottom, but took off the tomatoes and pickles. As an instant reaction, the same way you would jerk your hand back if you burnt it on a flame somehow, I blurted out, “Why’d you do that?” I wasn’t shitty about it, but I wasn’t subtle about it either.
We were all gigglin’…me, Tazzy, and our server, so it wasn’t a harsh thing at all. Our server said because I asked for cheese, jalapenos and bacon. I said, that’s great, but I just meant all that on top of what you regularly serve on a burger. When I said that, she said she was gonna go get some for me. I told her she didn’t have to. She was awesome though and brought me a plate of sliced pickles and tomatoes with my ginger ale. She was a total sweetheart.
After she left, Tazzy started diggin’ in and I busted out my shitty camera to start takin’ a few photos. Just because I’m a jack-ass, the first photo I took was of one of the chairs at our table that we weren’t using. That was because it had a tiny splat of bird shit on it and made me think of my battle with some little fucker birds that get my deck chairs. (Haha…yuh lil’ bastids!)
The top of the bun was pretty shiny greasy. That did not escape my eye, nor Tazzy’s either. Since there were two of us, who are both lil’ fuckers, it did turn into a giggly conversation. I had her laughing when I said it was nothing like the chorizo burger from Louie’s ‘cause “…that thing made my throat to my belly feel like a freakin’ Slip-N-Slide!"
After I took a few photos I picked up the knife to cut the burger in half. (Tazzy distracted me as I forgot to film the video of it that I know I would never watch :) ) That led to the short conversation of how much I didn’t like cutting a burger in half and her agreeing that it is a wrong thing to do. Once again, we both agreed on our own stupid meaningless burger policies…outside of our polar opposite black and white different takes on shit-ass mayo and kick-ass ketchup. (Haha…suck it Tazzy!)
Our server said she put jalapenos on the bottom, but I couldn’t really taste them, so I took the bun off the first half to put some on it. I was kinda hesitant though because I wanted to eat it as served and no different.
The first thing I noticed when I took the burger off was the lack of an obvious bacon presence. I had to kinda search for it, and found a tiny bit of it tucked under the lettuce. It was definitely a stark contrast to Louie’s, who definitely had every restaurant so far crushed with quality and amount of bacon.
It was a weird conflicting thing. I hate wasting food, but for my little tour I wanted to be fair to all restaurants and give the straight take on the burger they put in front of me…not having to add things in the aftermath. Because of that I only put one tiny slice of jalapeno and the smallest tomato slice on my burger.
Before I put the bun on, Tazzy and I started talking about caramelized onions. She freakin’ loves them, but I am the opposite. I love raw onions…the crunch, and the little pop of juiciness while it is grabbing you with some bite. I will always prefer raw onions over cooked ones. (How we liked our onions was our only other disagreement of the day!)
As I have stated, for me a burger is all about the patty. It is the showcase of the event. (When I was a kid, so often of the time I would eat a burger with absolutely nothing on it…plain as fuck…and loved it. I remember Gavin McLeod crushing down plain burgers too way back in the day at ours, or our dad’s hockey tournaments.) Despite the mayo, caramelized onions, and removed pickles and tomatoes, I bunned up and dug in.
I always look forward to the first bite of a burger the most. It’s like pulling back the curtain and seeing the prize hiding behind. The first bite of this burger was pretty good. I liked the spice and seasoning to the point where I was consciously aware of it. After a couple more bites I was still kinda waiting to taste the little burn that jalapenos typically bring. That never came though.
I flew through the first half because it was quite small in comparison to all the other burgers so far. I chose not to put any of the side toppings on the second half…just eating it completely as is. I was flying through the second half too, only to stop to nourish my suspicion that the patty was somewhat dry. As I slowed down to think about that, I mentioned it to Tazzy after I swallowed the bite I was on. She was in 100% agreement that hers was dry too.
We were done our food pretty quickly after that. When we were, we had our quick little recap. The size of the burger was smaller than your usual restaurant quality burger. Despite that the bun was quite greasy on top, and the patty was a tad dry, it was pretty good. Hit and miss I’d say. I mentally scored it at a lone number three on my list of five so far. It was far ahead of the bottom two, but far behind the top two. A solid average little burger on a fuckin’ kick-ass gorgeous patio!
As the side note that they are, the fries were dry, kinda tasteless, and there were a very small amount of them. They earned their title of afterthought. As I was eating I started noticing I kept moving the little container of fries around. The way they are presented like that they always seemed to be in the way, and posed the risk of being knocked over. Tazzy observed the same thing. We both came to the conclusion that serving a tiny amount of fries in a little upright container is a shitty way to do it.
The ginger ale was ok. So far, the ginger ales at all places haven’t had the crispness in the fizz you like…a tad flatty-dull. This ain’t a ginger ale tour though…this is a burger tour.
It was the cheapest by $2.00 so far, so that was good. I felt that fell in line with the size of it.
On a nice sunny day, when you want a simple, cheaper, yet solid burger, the patio at the Prestige Lakeside Resort is a good place to kick back. It was a nice little spontaneous lunch break with a kind old friend. Yaaay for that!
701 Lakeside Drive
Finley’s – July 28, 2017
($19.75 after tax, B4 tip)
Before I start...July 28th is Watkins Glen Day to me... In 1973 The Grateful Dead played a show at the Watkins Glen Speedway with The Allman Brothers to a crowd of something like 600,000 people before that shit really happened (outside of Woodstock of course). Together they played 23 minute Mountain Jam at the end of the show...the only time The Grateful Dead played it. Daaaamn! :)
I went into work at around 9pm last night and put in a grind shift til just before 10am or some shit. I was gonna get some groceries before I left town for the weekend. Despite it being the mid-morning, to me it was end of long-ass day, and I had been thinkin’ about Finley’s burger all night because of the massive letdown in the Adventure Hotel building at Louie’s and The Uptown Tavern. I needed to get back on track on this freakin’ burger thing, so I said, “Fuck it…I’m goin’ to Finley’s to see if they’re firin’ up their burgers!”
It was about 10:45 when I rolled up. Their door was open and their open sign was lit up. “Fuck yeah! This is encouraging.” Step one…check!
I only plugged one quarter in our newly “even-shittier –parking-scene-in-Nelson-meter.”
(The chintzy fucks at the city decided to drop the time that those things are good for. First they get rid of dimes and nickels, and now a quarter ain’t even worth 15 fuckin’ minutes! Daaaaamn! They’re like hawks with those things too. Parking meters are literally the only thing that gets enforced by Bi-Law officers around here, and as far as I’m concerned we should call Bi-Law Officers for what they really are: ‘Meter Maids.’)
I walked across the street and straight up to the bar inside their door. I asked the girl behind the counter if they were serving burgers yet. She said they were, and I said, “Sweet…Can I have one of those please?” She said, “Of course.” I asked if I could get jalapenos, cheese, and bacon. She smiled more and said, “Of course-er,” only in her words of that sentiment. :)
I ordered that with a ginger ale to come with the food. She set me up, and then I went back across the street to feed that hungry bastard meter I was parked at.
When I went back inside Finley’s I wandered around. For some reason, every time I have been in there I still think about The Civic. I saw some great music there back in the day, but it always seemed dingy in there. It’s why each time I have been in Finley’s over the years I get a little more impressed. You can tell they’re puttin’ some love into the place…breathing new life into it.
I know it has been Finley’s for a bunch of years now, but even still, when I was walking around the back patio area while waiting for my food I was kinda taken aback. Admittedly, I hadn’t been back there in a long time, but I was like, “Shiiit maaan…it’s fuckin’ nice back here! They did a great job.” It made me happy for some reason, even though I don’t go there too often. I guess I like when you see people who care about what they do and then seeing it show through the way they carry themselves. That’s kinda the best way I can describe why I’d feel happy about the patio the way I did.
I wandered around lookin’ for a spot to sit. There were only maybe two other people in there at that time, and I was still wanderin’ in circles trying to find the spot I felt like sitting at. I recognized I was bein’ a bit of an idiot makin’ that big of a decision out of sitting down to eat a burger, but you know…we can’t always hide from who we are. I chose to sit in the middle facing out to Juice FM, or whatever they call their radio station now. (It has changed a few times and I don’t listen to the radio, so I never know what it’s actually called.) A good friend of mine works there, so it made me think of her and painted a smile on my face.
The Uptown Tavern and Louie’s were such a let down for my burger tour, but it felt like everything was goin’ in the right direction to make this train get back on track this morning.
I was watching a bit of golf for the last little bit of my short wait. It made me think of the comedian Bill Burr. He and I share the same opinion on one aspect of sport…unless someone’s trying to stop you, it’s not a real sport, it’s just an activity. I mean, look at elite athletes in other sports like hockey, basketball, football, MMA...they’re ripped in shape; but in golfing you can be obese while smokin’ cigarettes or cigars while you’re playing and still be crushing it. Activity!
(I had some hilarious conversations about that with my friend I worked with up the lake who lives and breathes golfing. Anyone who knows Reg Clarkson in the Balfour area knows how that conversational debate would go. :) )
I was kinda staring into space bouncing back and forth between thinkin’ of the Bill Burr/Reg Clarkson thought, and my friend who works at the Name of Many FM radio station. It was a smiley moment.
My server brought a burger & fries tool kit to my table. It was a wooden mini handled crate thing that had ketchup, HP Sauce, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and vinegar. No other place had done that yet. I even thought that was a nice touch, ‘cause they just bring you everything you need in a tight little set-up.
I asked for a steak knife so I could cut through the burger to open it up. She grabbed the knife and dropped it off, and then my burger & fries were up, so she got those too.
I got right at it. Busted out my shitty camera and took a few photos of the burger as served. Then I clicked on video to take the video of cutting it open. (I’m not sure why I do that ‘cause I doubt I’ll ever care to look at a video of me cutting a burger in half, but I do it anyway.)
While I was slicing through I started looking forward to whenever I finish this little tour so I didn’t have to cut these bastards in half anymore. Burgers aren’t meant to be cut in half. You’re just supposed to pick ‘em up and cram ‘em in your face. I think it’s insulting to the burger to cut it in half.
Still tainted by the grease from Louie's, I was conscious to look at the plate after I sliced 'er in half and opened it up kinda like a Pac-Man the way I do. Clean plate! See for yourself! I was psyched! I then licked the little burger shrapnel off my finger before I picked up my camera again.
Daaaaamn…there was a mini little flavour rush just from licking my finger. It had a bit of a peppery bite. That made me psyched. Just had to take the freakin’ photos first! After getting that taste I felt time was of the essence even though it was anything but that.
I put the camera down, made sure the long toothpick thing was stuck through the bigger half so it wouldn’t fall apart, then I picked the small half and shoved that fucker in my face.
Inside my head: “Ooooooh Shiiiiiiiit!!!”
Outside: calm, casual and engaged in ultra face stuffin’!
This thing was fuckin’ good. The patty was perfectly cooked without asking for it to be cooked any particular way. It was moist and juicy. (All you dumb bastards who don’t like the word ‘moist’ for some reason…that shit is critical for so much properly done food in the culinary world, so you can suck it! :) ) The spicing was amazing too.
Just as impressive as the patty was the bun. It was the perfect bun. Perfect texture and size! It wasn’t crunchy like a grilled bun, but the softness didn’t turn into a soggy piece of undesirable mess like some soft buns can do when holding a burger.
The size of it was perfect too. It was a big fatty, but not over the top so it was a pain in the ass to eat. I don’t like when some restaurants try to be fancy by piling so many toppings that it’s virtually impossible to eat as a whole burger…you kinda have to eat it in stages. To me, that doesn’t make much sense. Every bite is supposed to have a bit of everything. Also, the patty is supposed to be the showcase of a burger…not a salad between the buns where the patty disappears as a little meat disk on the bottom.
(LOOKKIT THAT FUCKERRR!!!)
Everything was right with this Finley’s burger. The way I knew that was the reason alone… I didn’t even make it through the small half before I had the term, “The Perfect Burger” floating consciously through my mind. Once the thought was there it played over and over. I don’t really know what else to say about it. I mean, what more can you say than that?!
The second half seemed even better. Maybe that was because the smaller half brought me to a place of happy perfection, and now I got to eat the bigger half. Fuck yeah!
As yummy as it was I didn’t take time to savor it or anything, it was still business as usual…shove that shit in my face! It felt like I was cramming happy in my face. (Things like burgers, tacos, burritos, pizza, etc are designed specifically to be eaten in a face stuffing fashion. :) )
When I was done, I got up, grabbed my camera, and walked to the bar to pay my tab. It was $19.75 after tax and before tip. “Sweet…not only the best, but they squeaked in to be the cheapest so far too…Daaaamn Finley’s!”
I left with the term, “The Perfect Burger” rattling through my head. On my walk back across the street to my van I immediately started scrolling through the rolodex of burgers in my life in the same way you see so much of your life in a flash when you get launched over the handle bars while chargin’ on your bike. That whole, “flying through the air in slow motion feeling but is really a split second when you have enough pause to contemplate the thought, ‘Shit maaan…this is gonna hurt,’ while you watch a quick movie on your life” moment. I saw a life of burgers like that: “Webers” going to the Muskoka country as a kid, some place in Chicago the morning after the final Grateful Dead show ever, “Harvey’s” double burgers for fast food, more recently…”Zetsky’s” by the Toronto airport, and even some turkey burgers Todd brought over to Joe & Al’s many years ago…fuckin’ nice ones bro! ;)
I literally put that much thought into something that would stand up to the burger I just ate at Finley’s, and I couldn’t find any…nothing close!
Burger tour back on track? Shit maaaan…that was the Usain-9.58-Bolt ass-whuppin’ smackdown version of back on track…where second place crushes the current world record but still gets its ass handed to it! Daaaaamn!
That Finley’s burger definitely both crushed and raised the standard for what a burger should and could be in this town. The ginger ale could use a bit of lovin’, but who gives a shit, this was about the burger and it was the mutha-fucka!
705 Vernon Street, Nelson BC V1L 4G3
PHONE: 250 352 5121
FAX: 250 352 5174
Louie's Steakhouse - July 27, 2017
$19.95 after tax B4 tip
I came into town because I wanted to do some late work to catch up from some lost time because of the power outage yesterday. Decided to do another stop on my burger tour. I walked into Finley's and looked around, but I didn't feel like being in a bar tonight, so I crossed the street. Wasn't sure about either Jackson's Hole or Louie's Steakhouse. Since I was just at Uptown Tavern I decided to go to Louie's because it's the same building and I wanted to see the difference...so Louie's it was...
I went inside and looked around, but decided to go out on the deck out front. As usual, I didn't need to see a menu, I just asked for a burger that hopefully would have jalapenos, bacon and cheese. (I wanna keep the playing field as level as I can.) I was told they can't order from the pub menu. Considering the disaster burger from the other night I was definitely not interested in that, and said I didn't want to order from there.
Louie's has two options for burgers...
Option one is their Chorizo Burger, which is a smoked chorizo patty with peppered gouda, apple slaw, maple bacon, and wild mushrooms.
Option two is their Daniel Rickaby Burger. It is essentially a steak in a bun.
I went for the chorizo burger 'cause I just wanted a burger and not a steak on a bun. I wasn't thrilled to have a chorizo one 'cause I just wanted a straight up burger, but it was the closest thing, that's what I ordered. Also ordered a ginger ale too that I want to come with the food.
I was brought a water as a starting drink. It had one grape or cherry lookin' piece of fruit floating in it. After looking at it for a bit I finally picked it outta my water and ate it. It wasn't a grape, but rather a cranberry. I don't have those on the rolodex in my mind because I can't freakin' stand them, and therefore block them out.
It was sour as fuck and I wasn't into it. It made me think of the different things people put in water: mint, lemon, cucumber, strawberry/kiwi...and apparently cranberries that are sour as fuck too. I simply prefer water with nothing, but if I have to choose a fruit option (or vegetable in case of cucumber) I prefer lemon for sure.
I don't get it when a restaurant puts fruit in water they bring though. Water in its nakedness is perfection. It is pure vitality in liquid form. Why screw with that?! I also don't like that a restaurant feels they should decide for you what you would want to drink. Fruit in water should always be offered as an option aside from water on its own. Water in its beautiful simplicity should be the foundation.
The service was pretty quick which is always good. At first glance it looked like the Uptown Tavern Burger. That is because they used the same bun. I thought that was a tad lame and seemed kinda low rent for the burger it was. A skinny cheesy bun. The fries were in the same chintzy little container too.
Having just eaten the Uptown Burger, and then being told you can't order off the pub menu, but seeing that they share some of the same shit, it seemed a little odd to me. More aptly...it seemed lazy as fuck!
I was truly surprised by this as Louie's has always been amazing. When I worked in hotels in and around town for years, Louie's was always the first place I sent everyone who asked me where a good place to eat was. (I'll write more about this another time.) It is much more higher end than the pub, so I definitely wasn't expecting them to use some of the same stuff.
The bun and same fries dish was a strike against it before I even got into it; but that wouldn't be the case had I not eaten at the Uptown earlier in the week. The patty was a nice size when I cut it in half though which is an important measuring stick for me.
Throw away the bun issue and it was pretty good at first. They didn't chintz on the bacon, which is quite common when getting bacon on a burger. (I hardly ever have bacon...the rare occasion that I have a burger is predominantly when I have bacon) The chorizo patty was good too. I was diggin' it.
It started going downhill kinda quickly though. It got quite greasy as I went on. It also seemed really salty. The salt taste seemed to amplify bit by bit with each new bite.
By the time I was onto my second half the bottom bun seemed almost non-existent...like it was devoured by the grease. It was super soggy. (For the record...I never cut a burger in half, I actually think it is stupid to do that, but I have been for this little Nelson burger tour just to be able to show what the inside between the buns look like.)
The more I ate the more I could feel a grease slick get thicker and shittier down my throat. It was like my throat was a Slip-N-Slide of grease, all coming to rest in my stomach and it felt really shitty! Salty grease. Yaaaay!!
I was a bit bummed 'cause it started off so nicely, but then didn't take too long to feel like it kinda just tumbled down a hill and rattled my belly. My throat was like a greasy slip n slide. Part of me was wondering if it was me just imagining the grease and saltiness, but when I was done my last bite and looked at the plate there was a big orange oily slick on it. I thought it could be ketchup from the fries, but that never hit the plate as it was served in a little container of its own and I just dipped the fries in it.
So...although the concept of a chorizo burger was unique and different from a regular burger, it wasn't totally fulfilling...whether from the replicated skinny cheese bun, or the grease and saltiness. Although every other thing I have had there has been incredible, the Louie's Steakhouse Chorizo Burger is not the burger for me.
Louie's Steakhouse at The Adventure Hotel
616 Vernon Street
Uptown Tavern - July 24, 2017
$20.?? after tax, before tip (I forgot to keep bill. I think it was $20.25)
On the second stop of my little Nelson Burger Tour I went to the Uptown Tavern at the Adventure Hotel. I think that's what it's called...I still think of it as The Lord Nelson from years ago.
It was later in the night and so I didn't have as much choice, so I went there. Although I have eaten at Louie's Steakhouse a few times (in the same building) it was the first time I had ever eaten there.
It was pretty empty in there and I was cool with that. I don't like loud-ass restaurants. I just walked up to the bar and ordered a burger and ginger ale. Same toppings when possible: Jalapeno's, cheese, and bacon. I figure if I'm gonna have a burger, I'm gonna have a fuckin' BURGER!
I picked a seat that had straight view of two of the zillions of TV's all over the walls. I sat down and watched the TSN top 10 of sport kicks...like a NASCAR driver who ran and did a double leg kick into another guy's car, and a baseball hitter who kicked the catcher. Those kinds of kicks. 🙂 On the other TV was American Ninja Warrior. Not really my thing, but a way to stare while waiting for food.
When the burger came it looked a little strange to me. The bun was like a thin little cheese or pizza lookin' bun. There was a pitiful amount of fries too.
I asked my server for a steak knife so I could cut it in half and take a photo of it. The Baker Street Grill at The Best Western brings them automatically.
It was kinda dark in there, so I couldn't really see too much of what it looked like. As I have decided to do on this little tour, I took a few photos, and a video of me cutting it in half, so maybe they will reveal something more when I see them.
Once I did that I picked 'er up and dug in. First bit was OK, but also kinda gross. It just tasted burnt...like I was eating charcoal. I took another bite and the same thing happened. I took a schwill of my ginger ale to try and wash away the charcoal-y taste in my mouth. That made shit worse though as the ginger ale was flat and watery tasting. Not a good start.
I don't like cutting burgers in half 'cause they are more apt to fall apart in your hand that way it seems. Oh well, just gotta pay more attention to holding onto it.
I kept going through the burger. Nothing changed though. Bite after bite was charcoal after charcoal. Grosser and grosser. The ginger ale only seemed to get worse. It didn't seem possible to get flatter and flatter, but it sure found its way to the land of worst ginger ale perhaps of all time.
So, there I was chewing on shitty charcoal and sipping flat-ass watery ginger ale. I always have had the opinion that a burger is the easiest thing to make for a restaurant and should tell you everything you need to know about the standard of the place. Well, based on this burger...I am never eating there again. Ultra burger fail. The one plus is that although it was gross as fuck, it didn't make me sick, so yes, I will give it that.
After living in Nelson for many years, I have found my little spots for different things I have an affinity for. I don't eat out too often, but I could say this notion is most evident through the world of restaurant meals.
With my life being centred around this great town for the past 18 years, I have seen a bunch of changes...as is inevitable with time. I still find myself in mourning over the loss of my favourite dish from the very place that introduced me to it: Pad Thai from the long disappeared Rice Bowl. I was sad when that place closed down, and still am. Bummer!
I only go out for a burger once every 2 or 3 months...probably less than that. When I do, I go to one place: The Baker Street Grill at The Best Western. The simple reason for that is that it is the only place in town that you can get a burger, onion rings and a chocolate shake that isn't A&W. Their burger is solid and consistent too.
Since the annual burger week thing in November, or whenever it was, I kinda thought about doing my own little tour. I don't really think too highly of the burger week here because I don't think there is an honest burger in the bunch. All the restaurants go over the top, prettying everything up so it is picture perfect to impress judges. It's like the fix is in. I want the real truth. The regular every day burger served to the regular every day person.
As a burger is the most common threaded menu item for most restaurants outside of ethnic foods, I spontaneously decided to go for it...to go on my own little burger tour of Nelson to see what our town has to offer.
To be completely fair, I will be thoroughly honest, and won't hold back with my thoughts. I don't send food back if I don't like it because I don't believe in wasting food; and when you send it back it gets thrown out. I eat it all. When it comes to a restaurant wants me to buy their food with my money I look at it very simply:
If you want a good review, put out good food!
If you put out shitty food, expect a shitty review!
I'm no classically trained food guy...just a regular schmuck...the kind of person who is the lifeblood of restaurants. I am a call it as I see it kinda guy though, so I am curious to see how this unfolds...
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.