Oh, to be going to university in Ottawa now where there is a gourmet burger chain called The Works (just three blocks from where I used to live!), as opposed to schlepping down to the McDonald’s for a sad little cheeseburger…
The location we went to was packed on a Friday night, but perusing the menu made the half-hour wait more than speed by.
When Shawna warned me it would take a long time to decide what I would want off the menu, she wasn’t kidding.
There are more than 60 burgers, and then you can choose a patty of ground beef, chicken breast, ground turkey, veggie burger or portobello mushroom cap, on either a whole wheat or white bun, with a side of fries, potato strings, spicy die-cut chips, mashed potatoes, salad or coleslaw.
We started with the Tower-O-Rings ($8.91) with our choice (of course) of their homemade dipping sauces. We got curry mayo, beechhouse and some red one I forget (Thai?). To put it simply: the onion rings rocked. Hot, crunchy, and so tasty.
The measuring cups for beverages I wasn’t so thrilled about, but then again, I also get weirded out drinking from Mason jars. At least the drinks come with straws.
I did enjoy the choice of milkshakes in three different sizes (8, 16, 32 oz.) and 16 flavours.
The burgers range from Ho Hum #1 (cheddar cheese) to Crappy Tire (pineapple ring, sweet and spicy sauce and brie) to Sum Yung Guy (cream cheese, caramelized onions, gouda and strip bacon).
There’s even the Triple Overtime ($36.50) : three of their “thunderbichin'” one-pound burgers with BBQ sauce and cheddar. If you can eat them in 20 minutes, you get them for free, plus a free dinner for two and a baseball cap on your next visit.
I think we could’ve had a legitimate shot if only for the fact I eat so damn slow and Shawna was in the mood for a portobello mushroom burger — which, in my and Aires’ books, isn’t a really burger. It’s a fungus.
Shawna and Aires get takeout every Saturday from The Works, so they already knew what they wanted.
Shawna salvaged her fungus choice by choosing the Blues Burger ($10.54) with blue cheese and double-smoked bacon.
Aires got his standby beef Stockyard ($10.75) with crushed peppercorn crust, swiss cheese and dijon-haze sauce — except “when you think there shouldn’t be this many peppercorns on it, add some more.”
I finally settled on a similar beef Peppercorn Broiler ($12.03) which comes a crunchy black peppercorn crust, gouda and crispy bacon, with a side of coleslaw.
The menu promises “no filler” and that cooks do not “push, prod, or pinch them” on the grill. That’s definitely what you get. The burgers are thick, juicy and quite delicious.
The Works’ coleslaw, made with jalapeno pepper juice and white pepper, is pretty good, but I should’ve got the fries.
The Works is decorated like a factory, and definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously (its chili is called the “Rear Ender”). The staff are great, which makes sense in light of this article that says they’re handpicked and encouraged to show their personality.
Needless to say, we left there stuffed and happy.
The Works, 580 Bank St., Ottawa, Ontario, (613) 235-0406. Four other locations in the Ottawa area.