hamburger

Mello’s makes the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten

Last year, the owner’s of Mello’s came up with a cool idea to breathe new life into the 70 year-old diner. A permanent “pop-up.” Why not open in the evenings, reinvent the menu and offer new takes on old classics? Steak, burgers, noodles, dumplings and sandwiches have been elevated to a supernatural level, all wonderfully executed and kindly priced. The basic yet envelop-pushing dishes are some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

The word “best” is bandied about so indiscriminately these days that its true meaning has been distorted. “Best” has become slang-fodder for anything that’s remotely good, pleasing or enjoyable. But it should be reserved for a supremely incomparable, truly award-winning and momentous thing or occasion. So allow me to restore “best” to its original luster and speak about something that is world-class, top-grade and truly “the best,” the Mello’s Burger.

Now I’ve seen a lot of things, been to a lot of places and eaten a lot of burgers in my lifetime. Shake Shack, In-N-Out, Craigie on Main…all glorious. But I’ve never ever, NEVER EVER been sent to hamburger heaven as I did that night I visited Mello’s.

A flat-top griddle is used to sear the patty, creating a crunchy caramelized crust and a juicy center. The beef was beefy and each bite oozed with luscious flavour. Served on toasted bread, the burger experience was made all the more memorable with a just-right melding of cheddar, onions, mustard and pickles. This burger, folks, is a thing of beauty.

There is plenty of other fare to be had that is equally as delicious. My pals devoured the scallops with chorizo and rosemary cauliflower puree. It was declared a winner! My side-salad was huge, big on flavour and included a creative combo of ingredient (celery root, eggplant and mint dressing.) There is an inventive but affordable take on a braised beef sandwich with fermented chili sauce, daikon sesame slaw and rings. I spied guests devouring the roast pork cubano sandwich, which is made up of ham, spiced mustard, Swiss cheese and pickles. That’s on my list for my next visit. But really, the ultimate champion of the evening, was without a doubt the Mello’s Burger. It was, truly the best!

Photo source: Ottawa Citizen

Salad: Celery root, eggplant and mint dressing.

Mellos Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days

Have you ever time travelled? Apparently I have ’cause I somehow ended up in the 1950s hanging out at Dick’s Drive-In & Dairy-Dip. Now the ’50s certainly wouldn’t be my preferred “Quantum Leap” destination, but I made the best of it while I was there. Dick’s motto is “Welcome back to the good old days.” And he ain’t kidding. I wasn’t around in the “Happy Days” era, but I’m thinking this is what things were like for the Fonz: A neighbourhood malt shop served juicy burgers grilled over charcoal with hand cut french fries on the side while a scary hulking sculpture of a milkshake hovered above the tables.

The burgers were quite scrumptious and tasted decidedly retro. They’re real meat topped with fresh ingredients and cooked to perfection. Nice concept. All beef burgers are Angus Pride beef and come with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, aioli, sautéed onions, Dijon or regular mustard, unless you say otherwise.

Blurry pics of food are my specialty. Sorry about that 🙁
But here’s what’s “coolamundo” about Dick’s. While it’s unquestionably a 1950s joint with food that harkens back to pre-Kennedy times, its menu items are flat-out present-day diverse. Ostrich burgers, veal burgers, bison burgers and yes kangaroo burgers have a starring role along with the usual diner fare. While I wasn’t in the mood for a gamey culinary adventure, I now know where to go when I have a hankering for something a little more exotic.

While it was “neat-o” to visit the bygone days when they “rocked around the clock,” I was happy to time-travel back to 2012 when Dick’s ranked #4 in the Ottawa Citizen poll for Ottawa’s Best Burger 2012. But hear me out. I’ve been to the supposed top three haunts, and I can tell you from the bottom of my heart and the top of my palate, Dick’s is #1. But don’t just take my word for it, try it out for yourself. “Be there or be square!”

Dick’s Drive-In & Dairy-Dip is located at 1485 Merivale Road, near Clyde Ave.

Dick's Drive-in & Dairy Dip on Urbanspoon

Five questions, five answers about Five Guys Burger


What is Five Guys Burger?

A U.S. burger chain first opened in the mid 80’s.

Who are the Five Guys?

They are five brothers from the Washington D.C. area.

Where is Five Guys Burger?

It’s in 46 states and in 6 Canadian provinces, including the Ottawa location at Train Yards. An Orleans Five Guys is coming soon.

What’s on the menu?

Hand-formed burgers, dogs, sandwiches and fresh-cut fries. For the burgers and the dogs, you can choose as many free toppings as you want. Munch on salted peanuts in the shell as your wait for your order.

Is the food any good?

It’s not terrible. I had the burger and it was tasty. The price was a little disconcerting. Over $14 for a burger, some fries and a fountain drink. You do get an inordinate amount of fries but it all gets thrown together in a paper bag that gets very greasy. I don’t think I will be going back. In my opinion, you can get this kind of meal at any food truck for half the price. Try FGB and let me know what you think.

If you’re travelling to the west coast of America or to Texas, go to In-N-Out burger. Sweet Baby Jesus that’s the best burger anywhere. How I miss that burger. It makes you weak in the knees. Say a prayer that one day In-N-Out will come to Canada.

Five Guys Burgers & Fries on Urbanspoon