In Ottawa, when you ask locals where to get a decent burger, you will likely be directed to one of two old favourites or a newcomer: The Works, Chez Lucien or Famous Frenchy’s respectively.
The relative newcomer, Famous Frenchy’s opened its doors several months ago and Ottawa Citizen’s food editor Ron Eade pounced on it pretty quickly.
In his writeup, he referred to Famous Frenchy’s by the name of an American burger chain whose restaurants earned some notoriety for serving “excess”, the Heart Attack Grill (HAG). The Heart Attack Grill’s owner and operator, Jon Basso, would later call Eade on infringement on his trademark from Twitter.
@doublebypass (Jul 25, 11:38 AM)
@RonEade You are publishing trademarks which are registered in US and Canada. Contact me immediately firstname.lastname@example.org Jon Basso
@DoubleBypass Doctor Jon (Jul 25, 12:04 PM)
Up at 7am to the charming news that yet another … media concern is violating my trademarks, oh well back to court, it’s getting old.
Clearly, foodiePrints’ a “Palin” blog entry on the chain was mistaken when my then research turned up that the Heart Attack Grill had closed its doors.
Regarding Famous Frenchy’s, friends of mine have visited it, telling me that the burgers are quite good, but you would best bring a defibrillator with you. They also tell me it is a great place to take a “guy” to on his birthday.
We at foodiePrints have visited Chez Lucien several times before, finding both the burgers and service are best at the beginning of evening service, just before the night time rush. Though, I have to admit there is no other eatery in the city with the same ambiance. It is a popular destination.
Regarding the Works, there is a chain of restaurants in Ottawa. My better half, her sister, and I thoroughly enjoyed our first off-the-menu burger experience at the Works’ Bank Street location in the Glebe. We also enjoy Westfest burgers from the Works’ Richmond Road Location in Westboro during the annual summer festival.
However, I later discovered that the various Works locations are independently run and do not all offer the same quality of food or service. Admittedly, it is difficult to replicate the qualities that gave the Works its reputation in all its location, but each should come close.
Such wasn’t the case when I went to the Works’ Manor Park location on the Friday evening before the Victoria Day weekend with friends. This would be their first visit and I advised them to try another location before dismissing chain entirely.
Firstly, the service was atrocious. While we understood that a 4 person table at the busy location was difficult to come by, sticking us outside in the makeshift terrace (2 tables on the sidewalk) during dusk in the summer-time only ensured that we got close encounters of the mosquito kind. Then, promising us an inside table when space permits, literally forgetting us outside, and then telling us that we have to be re-queued with other arriving parties just adds insult to injury. Had you no space, tell us so and we would have gone elsewhere.
Secondly, the food we were served had my friends questioning why I spoke so highly of the chain. Our plates of sweet potato fries were served mostly cold, lukewarm at best.
The tower of greasy onion rings did not please the crowd.
My friend’s “Hail Mary” ($12.94) burger sported an over cooked beef pattie and an egg that was taller than it was wide. I actually had to stop and think about how the cook managed to produce a pimple of a fried egg. Inside, the yolk looked almost chalky.
My “Peppercorn Broiler” ($12.52) burger’s pattie had a nice layer of charcoal on top of what resembled an already good sear. It had me wonder if it had been pre-cooked and then re-seared. Needless to say, it too was overcooked, its internal heat literally liquefying the lettuce in my burger.
The buns also came cold. Every other time I have eaten burgers from the Works, the buns came toasted.
Total: $32.16 (after taxes, before tip, and including an Iced Tea ($2.99))
In future, I’m sticking to what I feel should be the Works’ flagship location, the Glebe establishment. There, my guests and I are treated well, and our burgers demonstrate how the Works earned its reputation.