We’re pretty much at the end of November which means that pretty damn soon, the Novemburgers will be gone for good. If you didn’t hear about Novemburger, I feel a bit sorry for you… especially if you’re a big burger fan. Basically, Novemburger was a competition between over 50 restaurants in the Hamilton area throughout the month of November. The point of the competition? Some would say it’s to raise funds for United Way by selling over 7000 burgers in the month and donating. The other benefit to this competition is to challenge the creativity of Hamilton-based chefs to grind out the best and most inventive burger possible.
I did manage to sneak out and try a few of these burgers throughout the competition, but the most recent of these was the Dundas-based ‘Big Easy’ burger from The Thirsty Cactus. From the get-go, this was near the top of my list of ‘to-eats’ because it looked absolutely stellar. It looked like a mess that I wanted to get into. Last week I managed to do just that. Walked in, ordered the burger on the way to the table, and sat in waiting.
With my burger, I also ordered a spicy tomato soup and a pumpkin beer from Great Lakes Brewery. As always, I got a bowl of cheese-coated tortillas to start things off. (Complimentary at the Cactus!) I asked for the soup first because it was a particularly crumby, cold, and rainy day outside. The soup was absolutely spot on! Just what I needed to warm me up and prep me for a juicy burger. It was well-seasoned with a spicy kick and great tomato flavor. It was also a chunky soup with big hunks of tomato throughout which was excellent. Perfect starter!
In the waiting period between soup and burger, I got into my pumpkin beer. I normally don’t go for seasonal beers because a lot of the time they lack the flavor they’re going for and end up being awkwardly sweet or just plain bad. This beer, however, was quite different, and very much to my liking. Nice pumpkin flavor right off the first taste with low bitterness and no funky aftertaste. The beer was smooth with great mouth feel and low carbonation. They even went so far as to sprinkle a touch of nutmeg which sat gracefully on the head of the beer and gave a bit of a kick with each sip. Not too bad! Would recommend 100%. Perfect for a blustery fall day.
After a brief stint of stuff beer-tasting snobbery, my burger arrived. First impression was a little underwhelming. The very first thing I noticed about it was the bun. I’m fairly certain that they used store-bought D’italiano hamburger buns which was a pretty big letdown. The starchy, cornmeal crusted bun was definitely the weakest point in an otherwise delicious burger. If they had used an Ace Bakery bun, or gone a little further off the reservation and used a French loaf or something, it would have been 10\10. Besides that, the burger and toppings were creative and delicious. The burger was topped with deep-fried okra, homemade gumbo, provolone cheese, and a Cajun remoulade. The actual patty was quite incredible and super flavorful; it was a mix of Andouille sausage and ground chuck. They had seared the patty beautifully and it had a great crunch on the outside while still juicy with a touch of pink on the inside. The aroma coming from the burger was heavenly, and all in all, it was a good burger. The only thing I couldn’t get over was the bun. After all the work they put into the burger and toppings, you’d think the final step would be to put it on a great bun. C’est la vie.
Now that Novemburger is coming to an end, I definitely have some regrets, and all of them are burger related. Not for the ones I ate, but for the ones I didn’t get to eat. If you can, get out there and grab a couple more before they’re gone! It’s for a good cause, and really, what’s better than a delicious burger??
That’s all for now, so get out there and eat!