The Red Onion -
I needed to be in Kerrisdale today during lunchtime and I happened to be craving a burger. A quick search on urbanspoon revealed that The Red Onion seemed to be a popular local burger place. It has been getting rather poor reviews after its ownership change, but I decided to give it a try anyway.
Today was one of those days where I wasn’t looking for an earth-shattering and mind-blowing meal experience. I merely wanted a halfway decent burger that would fill me up. I didn’t really care if the burger didn’t taste as good as it used to. I’ve never even been to the restaurant before, so I wouldn’t have any idea what the burgers tasted like before the ownership change.
My first impressions of the restaurant were positive. They had the Euro-cup match between Spain and Croatia up on their three screens, which was exactly what I was wanted. With the game being shown, I could care less if the restaurant was a total dive. But it wasn’t. The restaurant’s terra cotta floors and exposed brick walls made its interior feel cozy and inviting.
All three diners in my party -which included my wife, my son, and I – ordered a burger. My son had the Smaller Burger, which we ordered for him from the kid’s menu.
The smaller burger came with an order of kid-portioned fries. We initially thought that the kid-portioned fries were the order of one-person-portioned adult fries we ordered. I commented to my wife that the basket of fries we received was the smallest portion of fries I’ve ever been served. There was barely a handful fries in the basket.
Fortunately, our server came back to our table quickly with my son’s burger and explained that the basket of fries was part of my son’s kid’s burger order.
My son took his time eating the burger and he barely finished half of it before he said that he was full. This was unusual for him because he likes burgers and can usually finish an adult-sized burger in a fairly timely manner. I asked him if he was really full, and he responded with an empahtic “YES, I’M FULL!”. Then he proceeded to finish most of the fries in his basket.
Immediately following my son’s burger to our table was the burger I ordered: The Manly Burger.
The manly burger came with lettuce, a slice of tomato, a 1/3 pound patty, some burger sauce, bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, and thick sliced cheese between toasted buns. The burger was quite substantial in size. I definitely had to hold the burger with both hands to prevent the ingredients from falling out.
My first bite of the burger revealed an unpleasant dryness. The shredded cheddar was dry and the sliced cheese was powdery. The patty was even drier than the two kinds of cheese, and their combined dryness was simply unbearable. The cheese stuck to the ceiling of my mouth like it had suction cups; the patty was so dry that it felt like a lump of dry soil. I had such a hard time trying to get the combination down that I had to keep drinking gulp after gulf of my diet coke to lessen the friction in my mouth. You would think that the inclusion of the sauce, the lettuce, and the slice of tomato would add lubrication to the burger as a whole, but that would be faulty thinking. The dryness of the bacon cancelled out any amount of moisture added by the veggies and sauce.
And with some many ingredients, you would think that the burger would be quite flavourful. But that idea again contradicted reality. The burger was rather flavourless. I did actually detect a charred beefiness from the patty, but that was about the extent of the flavours that I detected. Everything else tasted “dry”. I know that dryness is a texture rather than a flavour, but the texture simply overwhelmed my other senses. If not for the fact that I associated charred aromas with dry textures, I don’t think I would have noticed the charred flavours of the patty either.
My wife had the Red Onion Burger.
The Red Onion Burger came with lettuce, a slice of tomato, raw red onions, and melted cheddar cheese. I asked my wife how her burger was before I told her how I felt about my burger, and she summed up her feelings about the burger in thee words:
“Dry and flavourless”.
That’s all she said. Needless to say, she did not like her burger. It was so dry and bland that my wife didn’t have much else to say about the burger except that it tasted very bland and that there was an overall dryness that she rarely experienced from a professionally made burger. She said that neither the melted cheese nor the vegetables added any additional moisture. She was also unable to detect the flavours of the burger sauce that they supposedly put on the burger. My wife’s final comment on the burger was that it felt like they didn’t make the burger with passion. I agreed with her. If they had any passion about making a good burger, they would not put out burgers such as the ones we were served today. It felt like they didn’t even try out the burgers before they put it on their menu. Even a child would be able to recognize that their burgers were both totally flavourless and extremely dry.
Wanna know what else was dry? The fries.
The fries definitely felt like they were twice-fried. In fact, I felt the fries were twice-over-fried. The fries were potato-chip-like crispy, but they were also potato-chip like dry. Every time I bit into the fries, the result was huge crunchy sound coming out of my mouth. It got so loud while I was eating the fries that my wife asked me to stop purposely making crunchy sounds. She said that I was so loud that it was getting to be embarrassing. I actually couldn’t hear what she was saying at first because all I could hear was the crunch resonating from my mouth to my eardrums.
The smaller fries were so over-fried that their centers were hardened like their overly crunchy skins. The larger fries did not have a hardened center, but they did have insides that were dry and powdery.
The fries were almost as disappointing as the burgers.
The onion rings were much better than the fries. My wife and I both thought that the onion rings were the best tasting items of our lunch today.
Like the French fries, the battered outer shells of the onion rings were very crunchy. But unlike the fries, the onions contained within the batter were neither dry nor hardened. They were juicy and tender, which were the right textures to have for onions in an onion ring. I was also able to detect real onion flavours from the onions in the onion ring.
The onion rings were good, but well-made onion rings are a dime a dozen. If I recall correctly, I have only written negative comments about one version of onion rings out of the several versions I’ve tried since I started writing about my dining experiences. My wife and I are pretty easy to please when it comes to onion rings, so the fact that we liked these onion rings says nothing about the overall quality of the food served at The Red Onion.
I came into lunch today only needing a half-decent tasting burger in order to be satisfied. But I didn’t even get that today at The Red Onion. What my son, my wife, and I got were utter and complete failures in conceptualization and execution. The burgers were dry and flavourless, the fries were too dry and too crunchy, and the onion rings were only good because we were easy to please. I will definitely not be revisiting this restaurant for burgers unless I know for a fact that the ownership has changed yet again…but that doesn’t mean that I will be totally avoiding this restaurant. If I happened to be in the area, and a sporing event that I wanted to watch was being broadcasted on one or all of their screens, then I will definitely go in and order a diet coke or a beer. Or maybe I’ll order a white wine or a champagne…because I actually like white wines and champagnes that are dry.