The name was questionable, and unfortunately not enough to keep us away. By it alone I wanted to visit, and after a peak at their menu online, I felt this was my kind of place. Burgers, deep fried sides, and drinks made with ice cream.
The restaurant was easy to miss, with only their logo in white stencil-ed on their front glass. And their store front very similar to the one next to it. One of my guests even walked back and forth, past it four times. Their logo, a burger and crossbones sliced into with a oversized cleaver. I found it fun and worth immortalizing on film. I felt foolish making a reservation and when there were plenty of seats to be taken. The server never even checked my name off when she took me in. Though in my defence I have seen lines by this door, and yet now I wondered why.
The bar was right up front, high tops stood in front of a row of beers on taps. The backdrop was two flat screens playing sports, sandwiching a well drawn on chalk board. On the board, coloured fire, a friendly skull, and an request to buy their tee shirts.
We past the first kitchen on the way to our seats. I suspected this to be the deep frying kitchen. A line of paper cut outs of sharp and bloody implements hung over its bar. Hack saws, scissors, cleavers, machetes, and kitchen knives. They wafted just over the counter lined and well stocked with clean plates, bowls, and anything else you would need to eat in this diner. Some choice decorations for “Cannibal Cafe”, it might be Halloween themed, but it works here with their name.
We were seated in the back just before the washrooms and main kitchen. All seats here were either one of the step up booths that lined both sides of the walls, or one from the long share table that went down the middle. The walls surrounding were purposefully and precisely decorated with posters. Paper posters of musicians, bands and performances used as wall paper. My guest felt it reminded her of a similar establishment in Toronto. So by comparison she felt that they were trying too hard to cultivate a certain look, instead of just letting it happen naturally. And worst still, none of the images that were printed on the multitude of coloured paper represented anyone local. All I wondered was how long did this set up take? The effort exerted into making sure no two colours were side by side and that each poster was different. Country rock twang played over head. It was always a smoky voice that matched the laid back vibe that the place gave off.
Their paper take out menus lived at each table. It was an exciting quadruple fold out that kept me amused with fun pictures and neat writing.
Their “Milkshakes” were made only in the neapolitan flavours. So I got vanilla only to be disappointed that it came in the metal cup they used to mix it. I was hoping for the soda shoppe style pretty glass decorated with whipped cream and sprinkles, and then having the metal cup as its refill. Though when I asked for a glass our server looked less than impressed. The drink itself was bland. I can’t believe a bland milkshake exists. I don’t believe it was made using ice cream. If otherwise I now question, “Who messes up an ice cream milk shake?” It wasn’t sweet or creamy enough. As evident by the top of the cup, a layer of foam and bubbles, a milky cloud.
Our food took a long while to come, despite coming in at a slower time and being the only ones to order. We were hoping it would be worth the wait, but by the time we got our food, I was done my milkshake. The same milkshake I intended to enjoy with my meal.
“Deep Fried Pickles” served with ranch dip. There wasn’t much to like about this, other than the pickles staying crisp and crunchy, and the fact they came to the table hot and remained that way for a while. The slices of pickle were too large. We didn’t like the mouthful and would have preferred thinner slices. One of my guests found the batter it was coated in, a little on the sweeter side. A sweet batter better suited to a deep fried banana. She too also found the type of pickle bland compared to the dills she is use to. All in all it was too much, and only made worse with a dip in the ranch. There was definitely an unbalanced pickle to batter ratio. One that had you saying enough after the second bite and the first taste.
Luckily one of my guests and I opted to share plates. Less to eat and less to pay. The “Local Salmon Burger” is made with a house made wild salmon patty, fresh dill, citrus aioli, smoked salmon bacon, shaved red onions, and fresh greens. We opted for no sides, something that is usually seen when you order any burger, and should be expected with ones that cost $12.95-13.95. This fish on fish was too much. We expected a tender and moist solid filet, instead were given a dry and crumbly fish cake. Nothing jumped out in flavour. The burger needed a sauce, some mayo would have help. We ended up used the ranch dressing from the pickles to rejuvenate its boring taste.
“vvFarmhouse Turkey OBurger”. House made turkey patty, caramelized onions, applewood smoked bacon, cranberry relish, goat cheese, and mayo. There was something off about the ground turkey patty. Turkey meat is already pretty dry and with this compressed unseasoned meat it made things harder to get down. Without a sauce, this became a turkey cake. I longed for the mayo and sweet cranberry to kick in, but was left scrounging. I was surprised it was this tasteless. The goat cheese more closely resembled cream cheese. The bacon was too fatty with no actual bacon flavour. And the onions were sopping, without that enjoyable slightly burnt char. My guest struggled to get the whole burger down; to not waste food and to get her money’s worth. For all the work she put into swallowing this could not be worth $13.95.
I appreciate an encouraging washroom mirror. Shame it smelled like garage in there.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This is some of the most disappointing food I have ever had. The unique and attention catching name out shadowed the food within, it was their best feature. If their intent was the make all their meat taste like human, well done; because it all didn’t taste like any meat I know of. We were too nice to complain and even nicer to still tip. And worse still, I am sure the server working at the till behind us heard majority of our complaints and did nothing about it. The food was below average. Nothing tasted as expected and none of it was good. The price for value was outrageous and yet here more and more people were walking in, and looking around no one else seemed upset. May be it was our mistake in not getting a beef burger. Though realistically everything on a menu should be good. This isn’t Russian roulette, the food poisoning edition. My guest suggested that in the future we satisfy our burger cravings on commercial at any bar or Fast food stand, and not here. Don’t deny your cravings.