Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Taste for Burgers: Burgers on Main (Somerset)

A Taste for Life is an annual event where an ever-growing group of restaurants will donate 25% of each diner's food and alcohol bill to HIV/AIDS charities across Canada. For Ottawa's event, proceeds went to two incredible charities, Bruce House and the Snowy Owl Foundation. Both of these charities and their volunteers work tirelessly to help Ottawans living with HIV/AIDS and rely on events like a Taste for Life for support. You can tell that our community is supporting this worthy effort because restaurants this year were packed. If you missed it this year, definitely participate next year, and remember to book ahead because seats went quickly.

On this occasion, Amy and I took the opportunity to join in the fun and choose a spot I've been eyeing for months now: the downtown Ottawa location of Burgers on Main.

Located on 343 Somerset, just east of Bank Street, BOM is situated in a lovely heritage home that was the former location of the ill-fated second iteration of Friday's Roast Beef House. Considering that my meal at Friday's was the worst I have ever had in Ottawa since I grew teeth, even if these burgers were horribly charred slabs of wood they would be an improvement over what existed prior. Thankfully, not only was my burger good, it was very good.
The Main of the House

Opening a downtown location, especially one on a street that has been challenged by  restaurant turnover lately, must have been gutsy for the Manotick hotspot. The decor is a random assortment of 50's memorabilia, heritage home and steakhouse, but quite frankly I didn't care in the least. It's a burger joint after all.

BOM features a pretty simple burger selection; there are a few interesting choices but nothing terribly exotic. I could have opted for something with brie and red onion marmalade for instance but instead I went with the "Smoked House Burger" featuring housemade barbeque sauce, bacon and aged cheddar on a multiseed bun.

How did it fare? Check it out after the break.

The burger

The patty was an 8oz all-beef patty sourced from the Manotick Village Butcher, which in turn sources from prominent local cattle ranchers such as O'Briens, Alpenblick and Shima's. It was flat and wide and cooked medium-well to well done. The menu stated that burgers are cooked medium by default, but there were precious few traces of pink in the centre, likely because the house was teeming with patrons. That didn't stop it from being moist and juicy. The crust of the patty had adequate char, and the inside had a fine, uniform grind. Seasoning was sufficient and highlighted the meat well without being obtrusive.

Patty close-up. Not suitable for minors.

"Balanced" is definitely the word to describe this burger. While the barbeque sauce was sweet and pungent, it melded well with the saltiness of the bacon and did not overwhelm the texture of the beef. Their recipe relies on vinegar and smoke, which actually combined nicely to keep the fat in check. The chef wisely excluded placing any additional condiments on the burger, although they do give a little cup of "BOM sauce" on the side to add yourself or use as fry-dip. When asked what exactly BOM sauce was, the waitress explained that it - and I'm paraphrasing here - is an alchemical concoction of essentially every condiment they could find. It tasted like spicier Thousand Island dressing with little relish chunks floating around in it. It matched perfectly with my sweet potato fries.

The bacon was thick-cut and cooked until a bit chewy. Aged cheddar was nicely slathered on the patty, but was unfortunately a bit overwhelmed by everything else surrounding it. When it was more evident, it had a pleasant bite.
Can tomato be sexy? Yes.

Other garnishings included shredded useless iceberg lettuce and two slices of incredibly sweet, juicy, vibrantly red tomato from Suntech hydroponic farms. It was one of the rare times that I loved tomato on a restaurant burger because its sweet, acidic juices gently flavoured everything and tempered the sauce's more intense qualities. It really was the unexpected performer.

The bun was the only area that I could suggest a bit of improvement. It was a fresh, superficially-toasted multiseed bun that was soft and bready, and a bit sweet. I would have preferred a bun with a firmer crust given the juiciness of the burger and the additional moisture provided by the tomato and sauce.

For $13, including fries, pickle and cole slaw, BOM is great burger for great value. That's around what you'll pay at other mid-range burger joints such as The Works, and indeed I overheard patrons comparing the two. It's comparatively little money for a delicious product made with high-quality local ingredients. I hope they can make a lasting go in such a large location.

Family portrait: Sweet taters, cole slaw, pickle, BOM sauce, His Highness

The sides

Pay the $1.50 to upgrade your fries to sweet potato fries because the fries are average but the sweet potato fries are spectacular. They're crispy, fluffy, sweet and without any residual grease. These are crazy good sweet potato fries. Drink-wise, they have a solid beer menu with plenty of locals and a smattering of fine imports. I matched with a Kichesippi 1855 amber ale because these rockin' local brewers are celebrating their second anniversary this Sunday.


1 comment:

  1. As a fan of a good burger, I really like this blog! Can't wait to see some reviews of east-end burger joints...