Earlier this year, I had to be up at our home office outside of Montreal for a dealer presentation. I was staying in downtown Montreal at the Novotel Montreal Centre hotel and I got on line looking for a place to get lunch while I was waiting for dealers to show up to the hotel. I found a burger joint that sounded interesting that was only a couple blocks away - Burger Bar Crescent. It was a nice warm day in Montreal, so I took a five minute walk to get a burger at Burger Bar Crescent.
Morrie Baker is the original franchise holder for Ben and Jerry's ice cream shops around Montreal. He has had a number of them in the area and one of them is on Boulevard de Maisonneuve in downtown Montreal. Just around the corner from the Ben and Jerry's location is the busy Crescent Street, a hip and cosmopolitan area of restaurants and entertainment venues. Walking along Crescent Street one day about five years ago, Morrie Baker noticed a space that formerly housed a Mexican restaurant was vacant. And he quickly came up with a plan for that space.
Ari Baker had been in the food service business for a number of years and he was looking to do something else after closing his coffee distribution business. His brother Morrie came up with a concept for a high-end gourmet burger place in the Crescent Street location. The brothers opened Burger Bar Crescent in May 2011 with the concept of using only fresh - never frozen - ingredients along with a number of eclectic burgers that changed over a period of time. It was a huge gamble in a city where there's some world class restaurants, but from the start business boomed. In fact, their business doubled over projections they'd put down on paper.
I got into Burger Bar Crescent just before the noon hour rush. (see map) They have a small patio in front of the place and even though it was a very nice day, I opted to sit at the bar.
I was greeted by one of the servers, Stephania, who was also helping out behind the bar. She gave me a menu and I ordered up a Blonde de Chambly from Montreal's Unibroue brewery as I looked to see what I wanted to get.
There are 13 grades of beef quality as designated by the Canada Beef organization. AAA beef is the next to the top designation - only behind Canada Prime - and that's what Burger Bar Crescent uses for their 6 ounce burger patties. In addition to their AAA beef burgers, they also feature bison burgers, chicken sandwiches, a pulled pork sandwich, an ahi tuna sandwich and a braised beef sandwich. Burger Bar Crescent also a number of appetizers including chicken wings, nacho plates, and fried calamari, a handful of mac and cheese dishes, and - of course, since we're in Quebec - poutine dishes that ranged from just good ol' regular poutine with cheese curds and beef gravy over hand-cut French fries, to a poutine that featured Montreal smoked meat and Jarlsberg cheese, to the Decadent Poutine which featured foie gras and duck confit.
The burger selection was pretty interesting. Their signature burger is their award winning Hangover burger topped with American cheese, classic poutine, a fried egg, smoked bacon, caramelized onions and truffle oil. The Firestorm consists of a burger topped with jalapeño Havarti cheese, something called 911 sauce, banana peppers, a jalapeño relish, spicy mayo and a slice of tomato. They also had a burger that was topped with Montreal smoked meat and Jarlsberg cheese, and there was one that was called The Dude that was a blend of beef, pork and veal, topped with Monterrey jack cheese, mozzarella cheese, a spicy ketchup and crispy fried onions.
I ended up going with the Quebecois burger - it was a 6 ounce burger patty topped with chopped sautéed wild mushrooms, bacon strips, caramelized onions and Swiss cheese. I had a choice of fresh cut fries, cole slaw or a side salad to go with the burger. Then I saw that for a $3.95 (CA) upcharge I could get a side of classic poutine. When I ordered that from Stephania, she said, "Great choice!"
The burger was, in a word, fabulous. All the burgers are cooked to medium at Burger Bar Crescent and the patty had a slight pink middle. It was big, juicy and tasty. The mushrooms had a good earthy taste that added to the already great taste of the burger patty, the bacon had a good smoked flavor that enhanced the overall taste of the burger, and the Swiss cheese was slathered over the burger patty. All of those taste sensations almost drowned out the taste of the sweet caramelized onions. The bun was light and spongy, and it held together very well with everything that was going on with the burger.
The poutine was also excellent. There's nothing better than good, artery-hardening agents such as cheese curds and beef gravy over the top of fresh cut fries. It had been a long time since I'd last had poutine, and that's probably a good thing. Poutine is another one of those great tasting dishes that is in no way good for you.
Burger Bar Crescent was an excellent find. The burger was excellent, the poutine was excellent, the service was very good. It was a great place to have a very good gourmet burger, one that I'll remember for a long time.