Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Works: Burlington, Ontario

San Francisco Treat with Bacon and a side of poutine
With the upcoming launch of The Works burger joint in Hamilton’s own Jackson Square, it seemed only fitting to give it a try at the nearby location in Burlington (also I love burgers in general and didn’t really need a reason to check it out). The Works has been around since 2001 and has over 20 locations already up and running and nearly 10 more on the go.  When I recently checked out the Burlington location, I was immediately impressed with the friendly staff and cool interior; the brick, metal and wood gave it a rugged, industrial feel that worked well with the menu offerings and overall dining experience. 

The main thing with The Works is that you are pretty much guaranteed to find something on the menu that appeals to you, as long as you like burgers. Not only do they have 6 different patty choices including (but not limited to) beef, elk and portobello caps, they have 71 different combo toppings and many different sides to choose from. 

We started off by ordering milkshakes, which I heard were a specialty of theirs. They give you the option of mixing multiple flavours (and I’m the kind of person who likes a lot of options when it comes to food) and went with a chocolate and peanut butter mix while my boyfriend opted for raspberry and chocolate. They both arrived in big glass measuring cups with straws and were extremely creamy and thick (and also very filling)! 

For our appetizer we ordered the “Tower-O-Rings” which are breaded (not battered) onion rings. They come piled high with two dipping sauces; we got the Chipotle mayo and the Buttermilk Ranch.  The rings were super crispy – crunchy even – and quite large! It’s a pretty generous portion for an appetizer when you consider that you’ve already had half a milkshake and have a burger and side on the way. We couldn’t quite finish the tower but I imagine that it would have been a perfect size for 3-4 people, instead of 2.

After looking at the menu and what seemed like a billion topping combinations, we finally settled on our burger picks. I got the San Francisco Treat on a beef patty, which came with real Kraft dinner & cheddar cheese (not Rice-a-Roni). I blame Diners, Drive-ins and Dives for making me add bacon to my burger (as well as a side of poutine).  My boyfriend got the Blues Burger on an elk patty, including blue cheese and double smoked bacon, with a side of their spicy die-cut chips.

Poutini Martini
I really liked the Kraft dinner and the creaminess that it gave the burger, and the bacon added just the right saltiness and texture. One of my ‘beefs’ with the burger, however, is that the bun was a bit stale and oval (while the patty was round. That is actually a pretty big pet peeve of mine and I have sent back many a non-matching bun at restaurants - yes, I am that customer). 

I ordered the Poutini Martini as my side, which is a standard poutine with onion rings. The image I had in mind when I ordered this was of small, crispy bites of onion rings mixed into the poutine. What I received, however, were large pieces of onion rings (basically one of their rings roughly broken into 4 pieces) thrown onto the top of the poutine. While they did use real curds (5 points for that), I was disappointed in the lack of said curd (minus 5).
Blues Burger with Die-Cut Chips
My boyfriend enjoyed his burger but found that the blue cheese was almost too strong and somewhat overwhelmed the flavour of the meat. While elk is a pretty lean meat, the burger remained moist and had a nice texture to it. The spicy die-cut chips were probably the high light here. Similar to kettle chips except a bit thicker and with a really yummy house-made dry rub on them; we ate them all despite being super full. 

Overall, The Works is a good burger joint and they are definitely a player in the ongoing best-burger competition. They are constantly coming up with new toppings and combos and that is precisely why I think they will do well in Jackson Square.  The shakes were great, the onion rings were crispy and unique and with a few tweaks to their buns and poutines, they could really have something amazing! I will be sure to check them out once they are up and running in Hamilton. Oh and be sure to come super hungry and to spread out your milkshakes and onion rings!