Sometimes you just need a hamburger, a real hamburger. This isn't a case when the anemic, cookie cutter, fast food variety is going to satisfy your craving, you need the real deal. Last weekend we had one of those days. We had been planning to try Cheeburger Cheeburger after hearing good things about it from a few friends arguing whether it was better than 5 Guys or not (another burger chain that has recently opened in Montreal) . Then, last week we saw a deal on living social offering a 20$ voucher off of a meal there for 10$. We bought the deal and afterwards, we behaved like 10 year olds that just got our weekly allowance from our parents. The money (or voucher in this case) was burning a hole in our pocket, we couldn't wait to use it.
We went for lunch, entering through the street entrance on Metcalfe although the restaurant is also accessible through Les Cours Montreal. The decor of the place has been designed to replicate a 1950's diner, pink neon lights reflecting off of a gratuitous amount of stainless steel assault your eyes at first, like you're one of those chilean miners and you just saw light for the first time in months. But within seconds the shock subsides and when you start to look around, it's really a lot of fun. We noticed a sign on the wall boasting an extensive list of milkshake flavors that included everything from the ordinary chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry to the not-so-ordinary like apple pie, s'mores, cinnamon bun, and peanut butter & jelly.
Our waitress was very friendly, she arrived quickly to seat us, bring us menus and asked whether or not we had ever eaten there before. We said no and she proceeded to embark on a detailed, seemingly scripted explanation of their menu, complete with delicate hand motions that reminded us of those models that present the prizes on The Price is Right. We are told about their hormone free, never frozen, angus beef and how they only serve cheeseburgers; but we could ask not to have cheese at no additional charge if we chose. As it turns out Cheeburger is one of these build-your-own burger places, but the difference here from most other build-your-own spots is that any or all 25 available toppings can be added to your burger at no extra charge. Only a small handful of optional toppings have a supplemental fee such as bacon or a fried egg. Here's how it works: first you choose the size of your hamburger, from the most popular 7oz "semi-serious" size all the way up to the largest 20oz format which if you are capable of finishing they take your picture and hang it on their wall of fame (no thanks). Next, you choose your cheese followed by your toppings.
We ordered a large banana milkshake and a medium sized chocolate covered banana milkshake to begin while we planned how we would build our burgers. The large banana milkshake arrived in the big freezing cold metal cup they mix it in and the regular sized chocolate covered banana one came in a sundae glass that had been swirled with a drizzle of hot fudge. Both milkshakes tasted awesome, they were the perfect consistency, not too thin nor too thick to drink through a straw, served with a long spoon. We've had milkshakes many times before that were as good, but rarely better, if this was any indication of the meal to come we would be very happy.
(Large) Banana Milkshake - 6.59$
(Regular) Chocolate Covered Banana Milkshake - 5.29$
We both ordered the "semi-serious" sized burger but we topped them completely differently from one another. Our waitress made sure to let us know that it could be up to 15 minutes for our burgers since everything is made to order. We appreciated the feeling of knowing we would not be eating a burger prepared and left to sit under a heat lamp for an undetermined amount of time. Our burgers arrived looking picture perfect, garnished with an olive in about 10 minutes.
Cheeburger # 1: Goat cheese, lettuce, onion, chopped black olives, mayo & roasted red peppers.
Cheeburger # 2: Jalapeno curd cheese, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, bacon (1.79$ Xtra), mayo & onion rings.
Here's the way we look at it - chances are slim that you intend to order the exact same burger as us so it seems silly to describe them in detail, instead we'll stick to the fundamentals. The burger itself was super. It was cooked medium-well exactly as we requested it to be. It was hot, juicy, well seasoned and barely pink in the center. The bun held its own too; hamburger buns are routinely overlooked as simply a delivery package to get the burger to your face, but when you have a good hamburger bun it reminds you just how inadequate some other ones can be. We wouldn't run around pontificating that this was an extraordinary bun, but we would confidently say it was very good, certainly better than most.
Having determined the bun and the meat, the fundamental building blocks of the burger, to be to our liking ultimately means one thing to us. With the exception of your meat being over or undercooked, in our opinion, if you build a bad burger, there's really only one person to blame, and that's yourself. It's easy to get carried away with all the options you have to top your burger with but we can't sympathize with you if you put peanut butter, artichoke hearts and teriyaki sauce on your burger and complain you didn't like it.
Semi-Serious Cheeburger #1 (See Above) - 9.99$
Semi-Serious Cheeburger #2 (See Above) - 9.99$
Along with our burgers we ordered a mixed basket of onion rings and french fries which are cut fresh daily on premises as well as Cheeburger's four dipping sauces. The fries were cut with the skins still on, which we usually like but these were just okay, they slowly reduced to a rating of adequate and subsequently not-so-good as they cooled and became rigid. The onion rings on the other hand were far better, they were slightly more greasy than we would have liked but they were thinly sliced, battered and served crisp and warm. They satisfied our burger side dish requirements in the way that only deep-fried foods have the power of doing. The dipping sauces were unfortunately not a big hit. Clockwise from the top in the photo below the four sauces were: creamy jalapeno which tasted nothing like jalapeno, garden vegetable which was essentially a barely tolerable ranch dressing, a cheese sauce which reminded us of the stuff they pump onto people's nachos from that dispenser at movie theaters and hockey games which we bashfully admit we liked (probably too much) and finally the horseradish sauce which was fair but unremarkable even though it was realistically the best of the bunch. Verdict: when we return we'll stick with the onion rings and if we order any dipping sauce, it'll probably be the cheesy one and/or the horseradish one.
Medium "Best of Both" Basket (Onion Rings & French Fries) - 5.29$
4 Dipping Sauces (Jalapeno, Garden Veg, Cheese, Horseradish) - 3.99$
We had fun at Cheeburger Cheeburger, the milkshakes were tremendous, we really loved our burgers and the onion rings were commendable. All too often when it comes to hamburgers you end up one of three ways: giving your order to a pimply-faced cashier at a fast food place, carrying your tray and leaving disappointed, going to a pub or sports bar and ordering the burger by default that you know has been pulled out of a box of frozen patties, or going out for your pricey $20+ gastro pub variety which is usually good but somehow more often than not you leave feeling as though you could have had a steak for about the same price. Cheeburger offers good value in our opinion, they serve fresh burgers to your table, made properly at a perfectly reasonable price in a casual family friendly atmosphere, shouldn't that ultimately be what a burger joint is all about?
1444 Metcalfe, near de Maisonneuve