This family run restaurant, own and operated by a husband and wife team, is my guest’s favourite burger joint; and tonight it quickly became mine. The smell of fresh beef patties sizzling on an open grill is unmistakable. If you aren’t hungry walking in, the smell will surely get you there by the time you order. “Splitz’s” slogan and their claim to fame is that they are, “a true gourmet burger joint”. A message communicated by a chalk drawn sexy tomato. She also points our that, “at Splitz it’s not fast food, it’s good food” There isn’t anything fancy about this place. This isn’t a big chain, there isn’t any loud bells, or shiny whistles. It is just a good old fashioned burger joint. No detailed decor elements, no accent pieces. Just their history and origin story printed and framed behind a 5×2 1/2 sheet of glass. A self serve foundation drink machine sits at the end of the room, beside it a collection of packed condiments and plastic utensils. A few television screens are mounted to a few posts, they play today’s game. Tables are made from tile and wood, coloured in a navy and mustard yellow pattern. The hard wooden booths around them provide no comfort. And are no better than the more mobile, and equally hard chairs. The bar stools with their curved bottoms are probably the best seats in the house, but my guest, a long time patron here, has never seen them filled. They, by the bar provide an intimate view into “Splitz’s” open kitchen. Tonight three chefs in white coats were working over the open grills. They were joking and having fun, and seem to enjoy their jobs and each other. Wild noises and laugher could be heard from them, in between the calling out of names. The names were customers whose burgers and fries were now on trays, and were ready to be picked up and taken back to their claimed tables. On each such table was a metal bowl of individual spice shakers: salt, pepper, and what looked like a mixed Cajun rub; a napkin dispenser; and a plastic blue tub filled with trivia cards. These cards made for great conversation starters. Their presence, the availability of beer, and television screens tuned into tonight’s Canuck’s game, suggested that here, patrons are encouraged to sit and enjoy the space for longer.
As you enter the restaurant you are greeted by their giant coloured menu, tacked up on the wall. This came with specials listed as an add beneath it. On this menu is their collection of burgers available to you. From your standard beef, chicken, and fish in salmon and yellow fin tuna, to vegetarian options like lentil patties. They also have your more rarely seen burger options: lamb, bison, and Italian sausage. The rest of the menu gives those not wanting burgers the option of hotdogs, chicken tender, and wraps. Along with sides like yam fries, onion rings, and salads. And they even have a kids menu. The other menus were located above the serving counters. On them, written in coloured chalk, is a great deal of information on what you could have in between your burger buns, outside of the patty.
You place your order at the cash register and pay. You move along the assembly line where you direct one of their chefs on what you would like on your burger. Cheeses, bacon, fried onions and fried mushrooms are a dollar extra. Everything else in their metal trays are fair game. They start with the bun and you choose your condiments: ketchup, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, mustards in three varieties, relish, and hot sauce. If that’s not enough sauciness for you, there is all their special in house made sauces to add to the mix: baba ganoush, hummus, salsa, and tzatziki. Next top things with fresh ingredients like coloured banana peppers, shredded iceberg lettuce, red onions, kosher dull pickles, sauerkraut, cucumber, and alfalfa sprouts. From here your meat goes to grill, and you wait for them to call your name. Once cooked your custom burger gets wrapped up and presented to you on a plastic tray. Once again they are known for their beef burgers but they also have salmon, teriyaki chicken, blue fin tuna, bison, and lamb patties available for those wanting a change.
“Cheese burger combo”. We chose the ice cream milk shake over the can of beer option in this special combo. For the float you choose your double scoop of “Nestle” ice cream between flavours like mud slide, creme burlee, and mint chocolate chip. I got the black cherry ice cream and watched the cashier ball two scoops of it into a signature branded cola glass. She then handed it to me to fill with pop myself. I was to choose whatever soft drink I wanted from the self serve drink fountain. In this case it was sprite. I have never had an ice cream float outside vanilla and root beer. The cherries and sprite were an equally indulgent treat. Sweet and tangy black cherry ice cream with actual cherry chunks and fresh and fizzy sprite, nothing wrong with a combination like that.
The in house made thick cut fries were delicious. With crispy edges and chewy potato centres, these were some of the best fries I have had the pleasure of trying. Even with a few sticks still dripping with grease. They are best eaten hot, and with a small window of perfection, eat them first and eat them fast. When cold, they get chalky and grainy.
With each well seasoned beef patty you can really taste the succulent meat. Each beef round is marinated in their own house made original rub and spices. A point that gives their burger a unique flavour like no other. The “legendary Splitz burger”, in their “double stacker combo”. I pretty much got everything I could on it, all but minus the hot sauce and even hotter peppers. I was surprised how the two patties did not feel like too much beef per bite. Mid way through my burger I noticed and was delighted by the medium rare pink in the centre of my meat. Though as per burger eating tradition goes, things got messy fast, ingredients fell and sauces dripped. I finished my meal with knife and fork, over my waxy burger wrap. And I definitely needed multiple napkins from the dispenser present at each table. My meal got sloppy because I got greedy, wanting all that I could for what little I paid. And as a result my burger was an explosion of flavour, levels and layers of spread added to the depth of each morsel. All of which accented the patty instead of overpowering it.
Would I come back? – Yes. Would I recommend it? – Yes. This is absolutely my new favourite burger place, as I have yet to find a burger this satisfying else where. Both in quantity, quality, and price. “Splitz”, being a smaller shop means fewer crowds, shorter lines, more seating, and a more intimate eating environment. Come for a quick meal or stop by to linger with friends. The staff is friendly and interaction with them is minimal outside of ordering. They don’t usher you out or invade your conversations with check ins. I will take them over a “Five Guys” or “Carl’s Jr.” in nationality, taste, and value any day. Be warned you will walk out of here full. The burgers are so good that you won’t waste a bite. You over eat, you would hate to waste such quantity. This is a good thing. Don’t deny your cravings.