So star chef Daniel Boulud is opening a restaurant in Montreal. Traitor. Alas, Montreal is too far to travel for my beloved db Burger. I've been searching for a new haute hamburger to call my favourite ever since db Bistro Moderne Vancouver closed last month
Hamilton Street Grill's Angus beef behemoth and Glowbal Grill's juicy prime rib patty are worthy contenders. Both Yaletown restaurants grind their chuck meat and steak trimmings in-house, allowing them to cook their burgers to a marvellously pink, medium-rare state of doneness.
But a newcomer is aggressively courting the high-end market with gourmet burgers at premium prices.
Owner Hesam Ghaemi's supreme confidence would sound awfully arrogant if the boast weren't backed up in the bun - and it is. This top-notch burger bar in the Granville Street Entertainment District really does stack a cut above the rest.
Kobe Burger ($21)
The juicy chin-dribbler is significantly more luscious than any other burger in town and well worth your hard-earned dollars. The 6.5-oz patty is 50 per cent wagyu from Washington and 50 per cent Angus beef. Perhaps it's the blend that makes it so tender. Or maybe it's the fact the meat is delivered fresh, not frozen. Or it could be the smoky licks of char-grill fire. Whatever the reason, this is the tastiest burger I've devoured in a long while. It's served in a buttery brioche bun (that does fall apart, as it should) and topped with sharp Guinness cheddar, caramelized onion, bib lettuce and truffle aioli. The latter, made with fresh black truffles, white truffles and white truffle oil, is no gourmet pretender.
Stackhouse Burger ($15)
This is a very good fresh Alberta prime rib burger topped with pancetta, portabellini and Guiness cheddar. But at this price, I prefer the medium-rare lovelies at HSG and Glowbal Grill. The lamb and venison, which smelled divine, may be better options. (P.S. Some customers may balk that Stackhouse's chef, Shahab Ghaemi, refuses to serve mustard.)
Salads and Fries
The burger includes hand-cut Kennebec fries or a nice spring mix salad with lavender-infused honey citrus vinaigrette. The rather untraditional light truffle demi-glace on the poutine ($8) actually works well; the rubbery bocconcini balls not so much.
If you like bourbon, Derek Vanderheide's list of 14 types will impress. The talented bar manager (formerly of the Shangri-La) makes a mean cocktail. The maple syrup in the Delmonico is perfectly balanced. And there is lots of interesting beer in bottles, including two of my favourites, Tree Hop Head IPA and Driftwood Farmhand Ale.
Designer Craig Stanghetta (Bao Bei, Meat & Bread) has infused Granville Street with Gastown quirkiness and a side of Mad Hatter surrealism. How do you know you're not in a corporate chain restaurant any more? The chef-knife sculptures, mutant animal drawings and gilded mirrors are telltale clues.
Montreal can have the db Burger. I've found my next new favourite.
Editor's note: A meal at Stackhouse Burger Bar costs around $75 for dinner for two with wine, tax and tip. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version of this story. This version has been corrected.