Saturday, July 7, 2012

Boon Burger...Keepin' it Classy in the 'Peg

I recently took a little trip out to Winnipeg to deal with some *ahem* family issues, which actually resulted in a full out blowout in true white-trash style outside on a driveway in a residential neighbourhood like something you'd see on an episode of Cops, complete with a skinny dirtbag in a wife-beater with his jeans falling down his ass shouting expletives that would make any grandma blush...unless that grandma didn't speak much English, and thankfully mine does not.

This is the part where I'm supposed to say haha just kidding...I wish.

Needless to say, this wasn't the most pleasant trip to my hometown.

To make up for the overall unpleasant nature of this visit, Rob the Husband and I took advantage of our down-time and took refuge in Canada's first all vegan burger cafe, the delightful and amazing Boon Burger.

Four days in a row.

Boon Burger was featured on You Gotta Eat Here  not too long ago, so you know they're doing something right. You can fast forward to about the 7:30 mark in the episode to see Boon, or you can watch from the beginning and see the story on Jelly Modern Donuts...drool. If they busted out a vegan donut I'd be there in a heartbeat.

This was my first time in the 'Peg since going vegan and since Boon Burger opened, but I have had the privilege of trying their food before. Rob had made a trip over in December and brought me back a burger, which I ate at room temperature driving home from the airport. And while I was able to get an idea of what Boon was all about from that imported burger, I was super excited to be able to try it out fresh.

Day One: 
The first thing that caught my eye when I walked into Boon Burger was the plate of brownies on the counter calling my name. I ordered one of those immediately, because the burgers looked pretty big and I didn't want to be too full for dessert. They served it up with a little cup of vanilla soft serve (the flavour of the day), and holy crap was this ever a chewy, fudgy, indulgent brownie. It's the perfect size to get your brownie fix without grossing yourself out, and for $2.50, is a most worthwhile addition to any meal.

Rob's cousin became a huge Boon fan after we introduced him to the world of vegan burgers at Loving Hut a couple of months ago when he came to visit us in BC. Since then he's become a Boon regular and has been tagging us in his fb posts at Boon and rubbing it in our faces every time he goes. Thanks, dude. Thanks. He came with us to Boon on this day and had the Backyard BBQ Burger minus the sauerkraut. What Polak doesn't like sauerkraut??

My first burger was going to be the one Rob had imported for me back in December...the Bacun Cheese Burger.

It's traditional and awesome with daiya and smokey bacun (tofu bacun that is) and typical condiments. The patty is their Boon patty made with mushrooms and brown rice. This was seriously delicious and especially satisfying in terms of taste and texture. When you watch how they make the patties on You Gotta Eat Here you can appreciate how much goes into them. They are baked, which is not typical for a burger, and this results in a truly unique and delicious burger experience. Top that patty awesomeness with gooey melty daiya and accentuate it with a couple of smokey bacun strips and you're good to go.

Rob had the less traditional Thanksgiving Burger, which the owner made and showcased on You Gotta Eat Here.

This is unlike anything I've ever had before in terms of a burger experience. The potato-crusted patty sits between layers of yams, cranberry sauce and gravy. OMG. No, really...Oh. Em. Gee. I cannot even begin to describe the insanity that is the Thanksgiving Burger. It's super messy and when you take a bite out of it the gravy and cranberry sauce dribble down your chin, but ohhhh is it ever worth it. Especially when you get a particularly sweet mouthful of the glazed yams. It's just comfort food bliss at its best.

Being my first time at Boon I of course wanted to try everything, so we also ordered a Caesar salad and poutine and a vanilla shake, which complimented everything beautifully but proved difficult to finish. I was definitely glad I ate that brownie first :)

Day Two:
Having ordered way too much food the day before, I resigned myself to stick to just a burger and no sides...but started off with a brownie again. This time it was served with blueberry chocolate soft serve...which at first appeared to be a mistake, like someone started making blueberry soft serve but then someone added chocolate and then they were like oh crap now what? But you know what? The blueberry-chocolate, intentional or not, totally worked. It was actually my favourite out of the four flavours I had over the four days I was there. So of course we ordered the shake as well:)

I had the Backyard BBQ Burger, which came with sweet mustard and sauerkraut, but unlike Rob's cousin the day before, I was a good Polak and kept the sauerkraut.

Really really tasty. Thumbs up bbq sauce, thumbs up sauerkraut, and thumbs up to their in-house mayo. No need for the unfertilized products of chicken reproductive cycles in the mayo at Boon.

Rob had the Bombay Talkie Burger, another one featured on You Gotta Eat Here.

Once again, Holy Crap did Rob ever nail his burger selection. This one is made with the buddah patty (a curried chickpea patty) and topped with yams, bacun, daiya and an insane bombay sauce. Like the Thanksgiving Burger, the Bombay Talkie has the most delightful sweetness to it, which contrasts beautifully with the curried patty. There is just soooo much great stuff going on in this one burger.

Wow. I realize I'm gushing like a fangirl. Well, if Wentworth Miller and Chris Pine came in vegan burger form, they would be the Thanksgiving Burger and the Bombay Talkie.

Day Three:
This was a special day for us at Boon because we brought Rob's Babcia with us for her first vegan burger experience. After we explained exactly what "vegan" meant (in her 87 years she had never heard of such a thing), she and her government-issued teeth were up for anything.

Including a brownie to start. Yes, I am so predictable. Chocolate soft serve and chocolate shake today. Score.

We decided to only order two burgers since Babcia would only eat a fraction of one, so I got the Salsa Burger... a black bean patty with avocado, daiya, corn chips and (duh) salsa.

The chips added a fun, crunchy texture which reminded me of when I used to put chips on my sandwiches at picnics. I knife and forked this one because I cut up a half for Babcia, which she didn't eat. She was too busy working her way through Rob's Oslo Burger.

The Oslo Burger was consistent with Rob's pattern of ordering burgers with a sweetness to them. It came with caper sauce and cranberry sauce, as well as gravy, beets and sauerkraut. And once again, holy crap was it delicious. Seriously delicious.

I discovered on this trip that I really like a hint of sweetness in my burgers. I didn't have a single bad experience with any of the burgers I tried, but the ones Rob ordered had an edge over mine, and I'm realizing it's the unique sweet flavours they had going on.

Babcia really enjoyed the Oslo burger, and couldn't believe there was no meat in it at all.

87 years old!! Such a sweet lady :) How does she stay so active? Frank's Red Hot Sauce...she puts that sh*t on everything.

Day Four: Morning of departure... 
The way our flight was scheduled, we had just enough time on our last day in Winnipeg to hit up Boon just after they opened, eat comfortably, and make our flight back home. I hadn't had a burger with Boon's red pepper peach chutney yet, so I tried the Buddah burger made with (surprise surprise) the Buddah patty and slathered in chutney and curry mayo.

Definitely another winner. Is this place capable of making a bad burger? The Buddah Burger was very Indian-inspired in terms of the noticeable curry flavour, and just really, really delicious. I ordered sesame fries, which are baked and crispy and salty and perfect, just the way I like 'em.

For his last Boon meal, instead of trying something new, Rob went with the tried, tested and true Thanksgiving Burger. As they placed it in front of us the gravy and cranberry sauce dripped out over the patty making for a pretty delicious photo op. I mean, just look at that drippy goodness!

That's a beautiful burger.

I did have the brownie again (four for four!), which was served with blueberry soft serve, and of course we ordered the blueberry shake.

Four vegan shakes in four days. No tittymilk. Whose brilliant idea is it to put tittymilk in a shake when there are such ridiculously delicious tittymilk-free options?? Wake up ice cream overlords!

Well, until the ice cream overlords come to their senses, if you are in the Winnipeg area and you desire some seriously delicious soft serve or a seriously delicious shake and you'd rather not have that shake made with cow tittymilk, hit up Boon. And if they happen to have the blueberry-chocolate again, do a happy dance, cuz damn that was a unique and delicious flavour.

I'd like to find something negative to say about this place just so this post isn't all "I'm vegan and this is a vegan burger joint so ima just praise the shit out of it for the sake of supporting a cruelty-free business that is in line with my moral compass." Ummm...the visa terminal wasn't working on our last day there so we had to pay cash. How dare they have a technical problem?

Seriously, though. The food here is amazing. Not just passable meat-wannabe vegan fare. Truly amazing. The flavours are creative, the quality is superb, and the love is definitely evident in the food. Some of the burgers are messy as hell, and to be honest, my first experience with the square burger bun was a tad disconcerting. A square bun? Revolutionary.

The faves? Thanksgiving and Bombay Talkie.

Pricing? Around $8 per burger. More than typical fast food, but unlike a typical fast food burger, a Boon burger is generously sized and will actually fill you up, and it isn't made of crap. Even Babcia was happy with the price for the product. When a woman with candy in her pantry from 1994 thinks a burger is a reasonable price, you know it's so. Killer cruelty-free burgers and a clear conscience? I'm sold.

And for the record, no it wasn't Rob the Husband in the wife beater with his pants falling down his ass...although he did shout a few expletives. Rob's never worn a beater in all the years I've known him, and I've always wondered what he'd look like in one....hmmm...t-shirt tan with bright white shoulders and tanned forearms...

Yahhhh, never mind.