The Coast recently did a solid job of researching & reviewing what they call the “HRMBurger” *snicker* Loves it! … They managed to hit many of the hotspots I’d head to on the quest for the best beefy treat (I’m a big fan of the burgers at Johnny’s Snack Bar, as well), and I found myself seriously craving a big, juicy burger as soon as I finished reading it.
I knew just where to go.
See, a friend of mine recently started a travel food blog, The Taste of Travel, and she called me out of the blue to see if I would head over to a new burger joint, Cheese Curds Gourmet Burgers + Poutinerie, on the other side of the bridge (aka Dartmouth, my new ‘hood). I had JUST gotten back from eating a very satisfying lunch at Brooklyn Warehouse, but I was curious to check out this new place, and decided to tag along and not eat anything (though I couldn’t help myself from snagging a few gravy-and-cheese-laden french fries).
Her Hawaiian burger and poutine looked friggin’ fab, so I decided to drag Kevin along to give this Cheese Curds place a proper test drive.
The concept — gourmet burgers, made fresh, not fast — is simple and effective; you really can’t find much fault with it. Fresh, filling, and delicious. What’s not to like? It’s also remarkably similar to Splitz Grill in Whistler, B.C., which makes a seriously mean hamburger, complete with a tangy, garlickly trademarked Splitz sauce. I LOVE their burgers, but they’re an eight-hour flight + two-hour drive away… So this Cheese Curds place had some big shoes to fill.
First, lemme say that this place was crazy busy on Saturday. This may have had something to do with pseudo-celeb-chef Michael Smith’s appearance at the grand opening just two days prior, but I definitely will NOT be returning on a weekend until the hype has died down and things have returned to some semblance of normalcy. I think we waited for more than 30 minutes to order and get our food: the line-up was out the door, and finding a place to sit was not an easy feat… That said, the people working there seemed to be keeping their heads on straight, in the midst of the madness, and that’s a very good thing.
Aside from the manic, beef-crazed crowd, it’s very obvious that the owner spent a considerable amount of time and energy on branding and developing a really solid “look and feel” for his restaurant. It’s super slick; I’m a fan. From the logo-embossed concrete tabletops to the square wooden trays, presentation is clearly important.
Now, onto the most important aspect: The grub!
I like spice, so after some back-and-forth between the Thai Chicken burger, I talked myself into the TNT Burger, caloric content be damned! (it’s a blackened spiced burger patty topped with hot brothers pepperoni, fried jalapeño pepper rings, jack cheese and chipotle mayonnaise; $7.95 for just the burger, $9.95 for the combo w/fries and drink). Now, as much as I like spice, this seemed like it needed a weeee bit of sweet to beat the heat, so when it came time to pick my toppings, I decided to add on some caramelized onions and tomato. It ended up working out very well: the flavours of the meat, spicy toppings and the sweetness of the onions & fresh tomato mingled together perfectly! My only complaint was that the peppers were fresh, not fried (I had thought they would be deep-friend pepper rings, because I’d heard they were all over the onion ring front).
Now, because they were so slammin’ busy, I didn’t have the opportunity to grill the chef on where they source their meat, buns, produce and cheese, but I’ve gathered that the owner is trying to keep things as local as possible. Also, the fries are hand-cut, and apparently, they had to close one day because they ran out:
“That’s what forced us to close. With french fries, you’ve got to chip them, you’ve got to leach them overnight, and I’m not going to sacrifice that quality just to feed the masses,” said Pratt, who gets to work at 8 a.m., and goes home at midnight.
I was super bummed that they had run out of sweet potato fries by 12:30 p.m., but wasn’t disappointed by their normal fries, which were fresh and crunchy (although not quite as piping hot as a like them).
I tried to talk Kevin into ordering the poutine topped with spiced tourtierre meat (hey, I figured it would be a taste of Quebec), but he wasn’t having any of that. He ordered the Legendary CC Porker (a double burger topped with cheese curds, 2 strips of bacon, fried onion rings, lettuce, tomato and their signature CC Sauce; $8.75 for just the burger, $10.75 for the combo). I don’t think he was disappointed:
That. Is. A. Burger.
All said, I was pretty pleased with my first foray into Cheese Curds (notice I said first? There will be a return visit). I just plan to wait until I don’t have to use my elbows to get a table! And maybe, just maybe, I’ll manage to get some of those precious sweet potato fries!