Food Review

The Halifax burger quest

Three burgers you haven't heard about and have to try

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The Fiery Smokehouse Cheddar Burger in all its messy glory. (Photo: Delia Macpherson)

Cheeseburgers are in. The age of the recession has seen an increase in inexpensive haute cuisine. This past year boutique-burgers were the toast of New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. Places such as the Minetta Tavern, a New York burger joint famous for its supposed “best burger in the world,” have been serving $20 burgers made from the highest quality beef to customers eager to pay the extra bucks for quality.

The Coast has awarded Darrell’s peanut butter burger the best burger in Halifax nine years running.My quest was to find three burgers that can give Darrell’s a run for their money.

The Fiery Smokehouse Cheddar Burger ($13)
Freeman’s Little New York, Quinpool Rd.

The name says it all. A combination of tang and spice, this burger is slathered with mayonnaise and barbeque sauce. It is topped with bright yellow and red banana peppers that really help make this burger unique. The meat is secondary to a thick layer of cheddar cheese, multiple strips of crispy bacon and the barrage of sauces.

The messy burger is served next to a heaping load of golden french-fries seasoned with a heavy hand, the kind you eat with a lot of ketchup. Despite being the closest burger to fast-food of the three, the lettuce and tomato were fresh. Enjoy this on a quiet Monday or on a busy Friday night with a pint of St. Ambroise Apricot Ale.

For all you vegetarians out there, Freeman’s has a portobello-mushroom-cap option for all their burgers. Coming from first-hand experience when swapping the beef for the mushroom on this burger it’s just as good. According to staff, this burger is one of the restaurant’s best sellers. It is available all day.

Wedges cooked in duck fat? Yes please. Photo: Delia Macpherson

The Brooklyn Burger ($15)
Brooklyn Warehouse, Corner of Windsor & Almon Streets

It’s all about the ingredients. This small, bustling restaurant emphasizes the importance of using high quality, preservative free, local products whenever possible. The patty is made in house, from grass-fed free range beef provided by Getaway Farm, located just outside Halifax.

This burger gets an A for presentation. A beautifully cooked piece of smoked back-bacon and a subtle red-pepper mayo make this burger unforgettable. The meat is a little pink, crumbly and juicy. It has a natural greasiness which is cut by a pleasantly acidic pickle.  Sprouts provide a surprising and welcome alternative to lettuce. A sweet Challah bun compliments the meat well.

This burger is the Coast’s runner up for Halifax’s best burger. Speaking as a recently turned meat eater after a stint of vegetarianism, this burger was incredibly easy to eat. The large, potato wedges cooked in duck fat were worth a trip to this restaurant alone. This burger is top of the list, and if you only try one, make it the Brooklyn. The burger is only on the lunch menu.

“It’s the greatest thing ever,” says Mark Varner, a customer enjoying a burger seated at a table nearby.

Meaty and understated, eat this and feel rich. Photo: Delia Macpherson

Duffy’s Ultimate Burger ($12)
Ryan Duffy’s, Bedford Row near Lower Water Street

Surprisingly the cheapest of the three, eating this burger makes you feel rich and luxurious. The atmosphere is business-lunch with a red, leather-bound bar as the centrepiece to the restaurant. Large pieces of expensive dry-aged beef hang from hooks displayed in a glass case.

The burger is made from the ends of striploin and tenderloin cuts used for their amazing, high-priced steaks. More than the other burgers, the meat is the focus and the burger is assembled with to showcase it. The thick patty has a smoky flavor and is enhanced by a peppercorn mayo. The fries are crispy, baked and aren’t oily. The burger is dressed classically but without the traditional condiments of ketchup, relish and mustard, giving this burger a dry, very meaty taste.

On a staff member’s break, this is their meal of choice. This burger is on Ryan Duffy’s lunch menu only.

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