Amy and I went to see the excellent Van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada with two friends of ours. Looking for a quick bite for lunch, we settled on the Black Thorn pub on Clarence, as it was close by and we had a serious case of museum legs. That's how a lot of people feel about this place; it was lovely decor, has an extended patio perched on one of Ottawa's prettiest squares, and has a respectable compendium of alcohol on order. I think the Thorn aims a bit loftier than the Irish village assortment of pubs in terms of decor and food offerings; their dinner menu certainly carries a level of sophistication that's just a bit higher than their competitors.
|It's pretty underwhelming upon presentation.|
Simple burgers like that rely heavily on the quality of the meat, bun and garnishes. Someone who selects specific cuts, grinds the meat themselves, bakes the buns in-house or at least procures the best and erects a two-mile "no iceberg" zone can pull this off. The Black Thorn? That dedication was so improbable for a pub that it was bound to be a disaster.
Only, it wasn't. Click past the break to find out why.
The patty comprises 7oz of beef and only beef that has been well seasoned. It manages a good amount of sear whilst remaining soft and slightly juicy in the middle. This is certainly not a burger that emphasizes the quality of beef, but it isn't a withered puck either. You won't find much evidence of pink when you bite into the patty, likely because it has been constructed by a patty press and so ends up bit on the wide side to cook faster. And that's about it. There are no tricks here, no herbs or spices that attempt to lift ordinary meat to the extraordinary, but avoids the pitfalls of its Earl of Sussex cousin. Both had teeming summertime pub patios with burgers being served up at adjacent tables but a defter eye kept watch on this burger, and for that I was grateful.
|The burger and burger sauce components.|
The bun was a large, soft, white "rustic" bun that was quite good and encapsulated the meat nicely. It was lightly toasted, firm and clean to handle. There wasn't much of a juice challenge given by the meat so the bun worked out nicely. I reiterate how a simple investment in a good-quality, fresh bun can help an average burger be quite enjoyable.
|Yep, that's a rustic bun all right. Fashioned in a wooden shack without electricity|
or running water. That's a lie.
Overall the burger was only fine because the meat and bun were fine. $14 was a bit much for a burger with little imagination devoted to it, but was completely understandable given the context of the bar and its Byward location. It isn't extraordinary value and you can clearly do better in more local-focused neighbourhoods but in the Market you'd be hard pressed to find a better burger at that price point outside of Chez Lucien.
So there you go: a middle-of-the-road, anticlimactic review of a middle-of-the-road, anticlimactic burger.
I ordered a side Caesar salad and it could barely be called that. There wasn't much dressing or parm, so it wasn't really a Caesar.