Four Ingredients to Spice Up Any Burger


By Rebecca Harris

wild-mushroomWild Mushrooms

When it comes to mushrooms, gourmet burger restaurants focus on fresh and wild. At Montreal’s Burger Bar Crescent, the Wild Shroom Burger features sautéed wild B.C. mushrooms. The restaurant uses whatever is in season, including chanterelles, black trumpets, maitake and oyster mushrooms. “The flavour profile of wild mushrooms is a lot more interesting than just opening a can of mushrooms,” says Brian Paquette, executive chef. New York-based gourmet burger chain Bareburger sources fresh, organic mushrooms from two Pennsylvania Farms, Mother Earth Organic and MJB Mushroom. Bareburger’s blend includes crimini, shiitake, button and oyster mushrooms, which are simply sautéed. “This allows their natural wood and earth notes to come through on our burgers,” says Andrew Sarda, executive chef.

Hellmann’s might be popular condiment for backyard barbecues, but at gourmet burger restaurants, mayo means flavourful, house-made varieties. Toronto-based Big Smoke Burger makes spicy chipotle mayo, which tops patties such as the Crazy Burger (jalapeño havarti, coleslaw, barbecue sauce, hot peppers and lettuce). And its rosemary-garlic mayo goes with burgers such as the Blue Burger, which features gorgonzola and avocado. “We’re using fresh rosemary and roasted garlic, and generally one person makes the sauces in each store,” says Mustafa Yusuf, CEO of Big Smoke Burger, which has 16 locations in Canada, the U.S. and the Middle East. Montreal’s Burger Bar Crescent punches things up with various house-made mayos, including wasabi, garlic, Dijon and spicy. “With certain burgers, the mayonnaise helps bring everything together,” says Brian Paquette, executive chef.

collard-greensCollard Greens
A long-time Southern favourite, collard greens is an increasingly popular side dish at restaurants from New York to London. But at New York’s gourmet burger chain Bareburger, collard greens is a fresh alternative to a bun. Bareburger’s Farmstead vegetarian burger (made with sweet potato, wild rice, hummus, tomatoes and baby kale) is wrapped in blanched collard greens. Collard greens can also be chosen as a bun option for Bareburger’s customizable burgers. “Not only is it gluten-free, but it adds a lot of flavour, nutrition and juiciness as opposed to having a bun,” says Andrew Sarda, executive chef. “As people become more health conscious, they’re looking for options like this.”

blue-cheeseBlue Cheese
Blue cheese is a polarizing food: people either love it or hate it. But as more consumers seek out bigger, bolder flavours, a burger menu wouldn’t be complete without it. At gourmet burger restaurants, quality is key. New York-based Bareburger’s Blue Elk burger, for instance, is topped with Salemville Amish Blue Cheese from Wisconsin. Amish Blue is also one of the options for Bareburger’s customizable burger, and it’s featured in the Berry Blue spinach salad. Andrew Sarda, executive chef at Bareburger, notes that Amish Blue is made from sustainably raised, antibiotic-free Wisconsin cows. “It has a characteristic deep bleu flavour and is creamy, especially when melted on our burgers,” he says. Burger Bar Crescent in Montreal uses a Quebec blue cheese called Bleu Bénédictin on its Big Blue burger.

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