My belly and my inner food critic was excited to receive a Facebook message from a friend at the end of January informing me that The Overcast’s Burger Battle was back for the fourth February in a row. My wallet certainly did not share in the excitement as I made a mental list of all of the restaurants I wanted to visit and burgers I wanted to try.
This year, twenty restaurants participated in the Burger Battle and there was certainly something for everyone. This year, beef, chicken, moose, rabbit, chorizo and a Portobello mushroom all went to battle and I managed to try seven of the twenty offerings.
I also got very serious about ranking this year and developed a rating scale consisting of ten categories including the burger’s name, the type of bun, price, how the meat tasted, was there a side offering. I rated whether or not I required modifications, (I’ve gotten a lot better than I was before I took part in the poutine challenge, but I’m still a bit picky), the burger’s toppings, cheese (because I love it and I believe it belongs on every burger), sauce, and the overall feeling of the restaurant. Each category received a rating out of five and the burger was ranked out a total of fifty and then divided to receive a score out of ten. Yeah, I know, I took this way too seriously.
Therefore, without further ado, here are my thoughts on the burger offerings from the participating restaurants in the 2018 Burger Battle:
Burger: The Night That Patty Murphy Fried
Tavola was the first place I visited when I decided to participate in the 2016 poutine challenge and it was quite tasty. I also enjoyed this restaurant’s offering in the 2017 Burger Battle, but I cannot say the same thing for this year’s offering. Tavola’s “The Night That Patty Murphy Fried” is by far the best and most clever name for any of the burgers that participated in the Burger Battle but there weren’t many more positives about it.
This burger was very small and certainly not tasty enough to warrant the $19 price. The meat wasn’t tasty and while the crispy pepperoni was an interesting addition there wasn’t enough cheese, sauce or toppings to make up for the taste. If Tavola participates next year, I hope they offer a bigger burger that is worth the price.
6. The Sundance:
Burger: Green Chili Pimento Cheeseburger
I went into this assuming that The Sundance’s “Green Chili Pimento Cheeseburger” would be the lowest rated burger on my list simply because of the price (their entire menu is priced from $5-7) and because I had less than stellar experiences during two of my visits there this past summer.
Truthfully, the Green Chili Pimento Cheeseburger is well worth the price and is full of flavour and even a bit spicy! I will say though that even for someone who enjoys cheese and heat this burger was a bit much. It certainly overpowered the ground chuck patty, which certainly took off points.
Overall though I give The Sundance props for taking part in the Burger Battle and hope that they learn from any mistakes this past summer and gear up to provide great service with an amazingly priced menu.
5. The Reluctant Chef
Burger: The Big Reluctant
The only chicken burger on the menu, The Reluctant Chef’s “The Big Reluctant” seems likely to have been inspired by the Big Mary and it certainly gave Mary Brown a run for her money. I can’t say enough about how flavorful the chicken in this burger was. AND THE BATTER!
This burger could have definitely benefited from some other toppings (like cheese and bacon please) but if we are comparing it to a Big Mary it made a very, very good chicken burger. The frites that came with the side was extremely salty though which also brought down the Big Reductant’s overall score.
The Reluctant Chef has recently closed and according to my server this burger had been on their menu prior to the Burger Battle and they should be proud of this burger. This was the first (and now only) time I visited The Reluctant Chef, more specifically The Vinyl Room and it was an enjoyable experience and I hope a lot of people tried this burger.
4. Merchant Tavern
Burger: The Peanut Butter Burger
Merchant sold themselves a bit short here (though they didn’t sell the burger for cheap) as “The
Peanut Butter Burger” doesn’t really describe the effort that went into this burger and neither does The Overcast’s description of a “6 ounce beef patty on a brioche bun, with peanut butter, spicy aioli, bacon, pickles, iceberg lettuce, and house made American cheese”. Our server told us of a detailed process of a peanut Thai sauce being mixed on to the lettuce, which sounds way more intriguing than just peanut butter.
They wouldn’t do any modifications and the cheese was seriously lacking on this offering but overall the burger was a great way to kick off a month of the Burger Battle as this was the first one I tried. I would have liked to have more peanut butter and I thought the price was a bit steep especially when you compare the size and price of other burgers that I ended up trying.
I’ll finish up my review of The Peanut Butter Burger with a funny little story On my way to Merchant, I saw a group standing outside of Scotiabank on Water Street all wearing Guy Fawkes masks with one character holding a screen that was detailing images of cows being slaughtered in an effort to get people to stop eating meat. What a way to start the Burger Battle!
3. Bernard Stanley Gastropub
Burger: The BSG Mess
Boy did this burger live up to its name! I had to eat “The BSG Mess” with a fork and knife because there was so much smoked cheddar cheese sauce! The burger also had an egg and bacon, which I think, would certainly help this burger become a hangover cure. The truffle jalapeño aioli was missing some kick though and the meat wasn’t the most flavorful.
A good burger at a reasonable price with lots of toppings and a tasty side. I was really impressed with their house made spicy ketchup that came with the fries.
Kris’ Choice Winners:
It came down to two and I honestly couldn’t choose. I loved both of these burgers for different reasons.
Winner: The Fifth Ticket
Burger: The Newfoundland Burger
This was my choice for Burger Battle winner last year and I’ve to say this would be my burger of choice if ever I’m craving a burger and a beer. Tint even got a shout out from The Overcast partway through the Battle when they published an article about what people were buzzing about so far.
The great thing about this burger is that every piece of it goes together to create a unique and complementary taste all while not overpowering the fresh Newfoundland beef. The burger is perfectly paired with these amazing fries, tossed in truffle oil, and topped with parmesan cheese. The food tasted great on this visit and the service was top notch, I was also very excited to finally try Split Rock Brewing Co.’s ’heat beer which I have been dying to try.
The Fifth Ticket features their Newfoundland Burger on their menu throughout the year so I highly recommend that you go down and try it. It might be a little pricey for some but the taste is well worth it.
Winner: Adelaide Oyster House
Burger: The Big Kahuna
Price: $14 ($17 with fries)
That pork belly though! Wow! While I’m a hard no on pineapple as a pizza topping, pineapple on a burger I’m much more open to. The meat on this thing tasted so fresh I’m not entirely convinced a cow hadn’t been sacrificed in the name of the Burger Battle. (Sorry V For Vendetta guys outside Scotiabank).
The Big Kahuna was very modestly priced and certainly worth every penny… or nickel. I did notice that Adelaide was featuring this burger on their menu prior to the Battle so hopefully, it sticks around so that more people can try it!
And so we reach the end of another of The Overcast’s St. John’s Burger Battle. I certainly got wrapped up in all the excitement as did many others including Jason Momoa who was pictured on Instagram chowing down on Merchant’s Peanut Butter Burger though you would think that Aquaman himself might have gone for one of the burgers that featured seafood as well.
In the end, The Overcast critics chose last year’s winner Seto Kitchen + Bar and their “Walk In The Woods” burger. Merchant was their runner-up and I saw that they sold nearly 1,000 burgers throughout the month!
The People’s Choice vote went to Bernard Stanley’s BSG Mess, which managed to crack my top three.