The first image that comes to my mind when I hear the word “stackhouse” is the NBA player Jerry Stackhouse. In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard the word used in a context other than as a last name. So when I heard that there was a burger place called ‘stackhouse’, I immediately thought that the restaurant must be named after it’s owner. But a quick googling revealed that the owner of the place did not have Stackhouse as his surname. The quick googling actually returned something even more revealing: Other than being used as a lastname, the only other use of the word “Stackhouse” seemed to be as a name for burger restaurants. You read that right…that’s restaurants with a ‘s’. There is actually also a burger place in Texas called Stackhouse. What a coincidence! I wonder which of the two restaurants copied their name from the other.
I secretly hoped that the local restaurant was the one being copied. Because if it was the other way around, the food might also be an unathorized copy of the original. And as experience has taught me, an unauthorized copy was rarely as good as the original. Further, there was no indication that the burger place called Stackhouse in Texas was even that good to begin with. Because I wanted to eventually eat at the local Stackhouse, I had to assume that it wasn’t some lame imitation but the original.
It just so happened that I felt like visiting an “original” burger place for lunch while I was downtown yesterday. So I paid a visit to Stackhouse Burger Bar.
The interior of the restaurant was decorated in a style that I call ‘canteen chic’, similar to the interior of Meat and Bread in gastown. The style was minimalistic, with the use of pale woods, light colours, mid-century modern light fixtures, funky graphics, and eccentric accessories.
The menu consisted of a variety of burgers ranging from the standard beef burgers to healthier veggie and seafood burgers to wild game burgers such as the venison burger. The sides offered were typical burger joint staples such as fries, poutine, onion rings, and salads. My wife and I were going to order the $15 stackhouse burger and $21 kobe burger with and extra side onion rings, but I noticed from the blackboard on the wall behind the bar that they offered a lunch special. The lunch special was $10 for a stackhouse burger with a side of either salad or fries. This was 33.33333% off their regular pricing and too good of a deal to pass up. Therefore, both my wife and I ordered it. There was no special lunch pricing for the onion rings so we they came in at a full-priced $7.
My wife ordered her burger sans cheese with salad as her side dish.
My burger came exactly as described on the menu and I had fries as my side.
Our burgers and onion rings came after around a 30 minute wait. This was an exceptionally long time to wait for a burger but we were ready to see past this if the burgers tasted good.
The burger certainly looked good. All of the various components were neatly arranged and stacked up high. The size of the burger as a whole was substantial. They also didn’t skimp on the side dishes. The bowls that were used to hold my wife’s side salad and my side of fries were quite deep. There were more than enough fries for my wife and I to share. My wife said that her side salad was also one of the bigger side salads that she has had. The burger platters definitely looked like they were worth their regular $15 price tag.
The burgers also tasted like they were worth fifteen bucks. My first bite into the front of the burger opened the floodgates and released a tsunami of juices from the back of the hamburger onto the plate. I commented to my wife that this was the juiciest patty I’ve ever bitten into. The amount of juice released was so ridiculous that I asked my wife to bite into hers to see if the same amount of juices would be released by her burger. Sure enough, the same ridiculous amount of juices flowed down from her burger onto the plate. At first it was hard to make sense of the amount of liquid that flowed down. The patty was certainly very juicy, but it was by no means juicier than other juicy patties’ I’ve had. So why so much juice? My wife was the one who isolated the souce. It was the portabellini mushroom. The huge slice included with the burger brought with it a huge amount of moisture. The juiciness definitely added to the heft of the portabellini and provided a rich and juicy bite to the burger. The flavours of the portabellini were also very pronounced and matched well with the flavours of the other components of the burger.
The poratbeillini flavour paired well with the meaty flavour of the patty. The pleasant and discernible meat flavour from this patty was further enhanced by the pancetta. The beef and the pork flavours melded to create a meaty richness that was very enjoyable. But this richness overshadowed the remaining components of the burger.
I was unable to find the flavours of the included cheddar and aioli and I was unable to feel the textures of the lettuce, tomato, onion and the brioche bun. Part of the reason I was unable to fell the true texture of the bun might be because it was so soggy from juices released by the portabellini. But I think the main reason was that textures and flavours of the pancetta, portabellini, and patty were so bold that my brain was unable to process the textures and flavours of the remaining components of the burger in my mouth.
Fortunately, the fries, onion rings, and salad were not as stacked as the burger. The fries had just the right crispiness and just enough salt on them to satisfy a salt fiend like myself. The onion rings were also fried to a nice crispness. The sweetest released by the combination of the batter coating and the onions was also just right. The included truffle aioli was also right on the money. It’s strong truffle aromas definitely added to the flavours of the onion ring.
The salad was another hit. My wife liked the fact that the dressing had a tangy sweetness that not only balanced some of the bitterness of the greens, but also provided a nice counterpoint to the savory saltiness of the burger.
We definitely enjoyed the substantial lunch we had at Stackhouse Burger Bar. I didn’t even mind waiting 30 minutes for the food once I started eating it. All of the three side dishes were expertly made. The burger was enjoyable overall, but it certainly had room for improvement. I would’ve liked to actually feel and taste the brioche bun, the aioli, and the vegetable components. But then again I wouldn’t want to sacrafice the flavours created by the excellent combination of the portabellini, the pancetta, and the patty. I think having a balance of all the components without sacrificing any individual flavour is what separates a truly great burger from a merely very good burger. Though the quality of the burgers they produce do not approach greatness, Stackhouse Burger Bar is most certainly a very capable burger joint. The food they put out is so good that there is no way that they copied it from another place. This place is original. It is the real deal…maybe they just copied a nice-sounding name.