To begin, let’s get a few beefs (ahem) out of the way:
1. I dislike the current trend to spell phonetically and to dispense with vowels
2. I dislike, and frankly don’t understand, supper clubs
Montreal’s new burger bar M:brgr achieves both of these things. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s list a few of the positives: 1) M:brgr exists as a much-needed casual contribution to the downtown dining scene. While there are many high-end restaurants, in addition to many greasy spoons, there are very few middle-of-the-road restaurants. Point two: most people love a good hamburger and generally speaking, M:brgr’s hamburgers are quite delicious and the variety of toppings, from pedestrian to haute-cuisine, are an interesting touch (although I can’t really see myself ordering a plain $20 kobe beef burger and piling on another $30 worth of high-end toppings, but I digress…). Point three: the sides that we sampled (Moishe’s Coleslaw, Moishe’s dill pickles, sweet potato fries and a vegetarian-friendly poutine) were all very tasty.
Some downsides: 1) I was forced to check my coat; I don’t mind doing this in a busy club or a high-end restaurant, but at a casual eatery, I find it kind of unnecessary (at least it was free). Point two: the spelling (or lack there of) of M:brgr should have served as an indication as to their clientele. On a recent Friday night, around 7:30 p.m., the place was swarming with tweens and teens munching on designer hamburgers and sipping bottles of Coke – I felt like I was crashing someone’s bar mitzvah, or a sweet-sixteen party. Point three: whether it was the gaggle of teenagers, or the size of the room, the noise level was pretty high and this was only compounded by the loud and incessant dance music that accompanied our meal. The music made any conversation rather difficult and produced a strange, pulsing vibration in my stomach while I was eating (see point two from introductory sentence). Lastly, the wine list was rather expensive for a burger bar. Most bottles began in the $50 range and while that might have been ok with my $60 kobe beef burger, it didn’t quite mesh with their $12 burger and fries special. Perhaps the above-average liquor prices were to discourage their over-18 diners, but the well-stocked, back-lit bar which runs the length of a wall and serves as one of the focal points of the restaurant, would suggest otherwise (not to mention the abundance of designer cocktails).
Anyways, all of this put together made me feel like I was frequenting a supper club aimed at the Miley Cyrus generation. Had we stayed later than 10:30 p.m., we might have witnessed a Much Music dance party. Bah Humbug! And it’s a shame, because the food was actually quite good and without the distracting club atmosphere, I would have definitely returned.