Thursday, 23 July 2009

"The Works" in Ottawa - as I continue my quest for the best burger ever

A Saturday night in mid-July, we enjoy dinner at The Works...

The Works

I'll cut to the chase. It's a very good burger. I discovered the place when a friend of mine brought me there after a bit of a dispute over the In-N-Out recommendation. I happen to like fast food; Dean, not so much. He likes his burgers brought to the table by a waiter. So Mr. Fancy Pants brings me to The Works and I'm sure glad he did and I'm sure glad I came back last week.

Great - The concept, the presentation! Full of attitude, lots of cool burger names and combinations to choose from, like "The Love Goat" (goat cheese +), "Sam and Ella" (Salmonella, get it?) and "Sum Yung Guy" (OK, that's still juvenile and considering the toppings, it's gross). I had the "Bruschetta Bomb" - and it was very, very good! As The Works describes it, they have 5 locations, 8 burgers, 66 toppings, 528 combos... This is Toby's Goodeats Toronto in the 80's to the power of 10. Something tells me the brains behind this operation enjoyed a Toby's burger or two back in the day.

Good - The burger itself. Not too plain, not too seasoned. "You pick a burger - it doesn't have to be beef," our server tells us. "Oh yes it does," says I. You pick the combo. You pick the side. "It doesn't have to be fries," says the menu. "Oh yes it does," says I. The fries are hand cut and seasoned with sea salt. A little greasy this time - maybe the oil needed changing in the deep fryer, or the temperature of the oil was too low.

Room for Growth - Very efficient and well presented server missed the opportunity for a little interaction. Frankly he was a bit stonefaced; friendly enough but not outgoing. He started out well with the "have you been here before?" question and the walk through the menu. Taking it up a notch with a few suggestions, and few questions about what we like and dislike would have earned him expert status and a better tip. We ordered water, but looking at the menu in hindsight there were a number of good milkshakes he could have suggested - he probably would have had the sale. He didn't, for example, offer us the opportunity to order a special burger not on the menu but advertised on the tent card that would have helped with fundraising for the hospital and earned me a chance to win a 1970 Malibu. I would have gone for that!! Trouble is, by the time you've gone through the extensive menu you don't start looking at the promo card until you're in the "waiting for my burger" zone, which incidentally isn't rushed but well worth the wait.

The Ultimate Comment Card Question - will I come back? Yes, and hopefully while there's still a chance to win the Malibu. Even without a cool car and charitable connection, this burger stands by itself and I recommend you try it next time you're in Ottawa.

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