Saturday, March 17, 2012

Petit Bill's Bistro


My wife and I had our first date at Petit Bill's Bistro, a delightful restaurant that spins French and Newfoundland cuisines together. Located at the corner of Wellington West and Smirle, Petit Bill's is one of those neighbourhood anchor joints that you get the feeling will have a long and healthy life as trends fly by.

The burger

"Bill's Burger" features a 100% beef patty from O'Brien Farms, lettuce, tomato and gorgonzola mayonnaise on a thick slice of well-toasted Art-Is-In cheddar baguette for $13. I opted for aged cheddar and double-smoked bacon, each $1.50 extra. The burger came with a good helping of thin-cut frites, the same that come with their famous lobster poutine, an Ottawa staple.

The patty was well-seasoned and moist, and at 6oz, a good portion. Despite the flavour sledgehammer that was the gorgonzola mayo, I could still taste the flavour and firm texture of the meat. The bun was fresh, ably absorbed juices and encased the burger nicely. It was toasted enough to provide a needed crunch. The cheddar in the bun was subtle and worked nicely with the cheddar on the burger - also subtle. Double-smoked bacon provided a nice dose of salt and was cooked to be nice and firm. So far so good.

It was dim, and I haven't worked up the courage to use the flash in a restaurant!

Gorgonzola mayo, like I mentioned, is serious business and it was the defining feature of an otherwise traditional offering. The cheese is an unskimmed, blue cow's milk cheese from northern Italy, and like its other blue cheese cousins provides a wonderfully sharp flavour with fungal after-notes. I should note that "fungal" is a positive term (for me) when describing cheeses. Much of the gorgonzola imported to Canada is often on the smooth rather than crumbly side, so mixed with mayo it makes a beautiful combination. That it did not overwhelm the simple beef was amazing and a big kudos in my books. It does, however, need a counterpoint.

The lettuce was unfortunately wilted and the tomato warm so they didn't provide enough crunch or freshness to balance the fat. A thick slice of red onion, or something edgier like pickled turnip, would have taken Bill's Burger from great to excellent.

I give the folks at Petit Bill's a big thumbs-up for supporting local producers of fine food products in their burger. 

Given the contemporary feel and casual-upscale stature of Petit Bill's, $13 is very good value. I would recommend adding bacon, but the cheddar is superfluous and doesn't substantially add to the burger.

The sides

Petit Bill's makes amazing thin cut fries. Soft with some residual crisp, skins on, not greasy. Served up with malt vinegar they're a great accompaniment. I paired the meal with a glass of 2009 Kingston Estate Petit Verdot from South Australia, whose full, peppery body was a great match for the burger.


Bill's Burger gets a 5/3/4. I definitely recommend.

1 comment:

  1. You'd better define "bun" in your burger definition, or Petit Bill wouldn't qualify: apparently it's served on cheddar baguette.