Monday, July 23, 2012

The goat that was meh: Clocktower Brewpub

North America: the marriage between burgers and pubs is not as healthy as we might like. This is a completely unscientific statement but my hypothesis based on nothing is that most pubs just don't serve a very good burger. The exceptions are flocked to, but for some reason the majority just don't seem to get the picture that overcooked beef cardboard  gives a terrible legacy to a fallen creature.What should be such a culinary no-brainer is not.

The problem is that I like pubs. I lived in England for two years and spent a lot of that time in pubs. Studying. Lots of studying. (Love you mum and dad!) Many English pubs offer poor burgers as well but for some reason I gave that a pass because most pubs served pretty bad food regardless if it was traditional local fare or imported Americana. When I go to a pub I want a burger because that fat-carb-protein mix is a perfect culinary foundation for an evening of responsible drinking. Then I get disappointed. That said, as part of my great burger quest I insist on hitting up some of Ottawa's notable pubs to see how they fare.

One of these things is more shrivelled than the others.

Amy and I went to the Westboro location of the Clocktower Brewpub, an outpost of the Ottawa brewpub institution located in one of the many new condos perched above Richmond. I love Clocktower's beer, and have been happily drinking it since my Carleton University days. A large location inside, it has this rather grand patio that stretches between a gym and a Running Room location, each with posters not exactly congratulating you on ordering your third kölsch. There we sat and ate burgers amongst the Lulu-clad regulars.

They actually offer six burgers for those looking, all fairly standard fare but a nice selection nonetheless. I had the so-called "Angry Goat" burger, which included a 7oz beef burger topped with herbed goat cheese, hot peppers and spicy mayo.

Was it angry? Read on to find out!


The Burger

The patty was 7oz of antibiotic-free local beef cooked to a crisp and not terribly flavourful. It was charred to having a burnt taste and was completely overwhelmed by its toppings. I was really looking for more meaty flavour. Perhaps beef was not the right choice for this topping combination; certainly lamb would have stood up the strong flavours of the goat cheese better than the rather inert offering. If they were really going out on a limb, actually grinding up some goat meat would have been perfect, although perhaps a bit out of character for a pub. Ordinarily 7oz would constitute a decent-sized burger but with all of the fat gone I was suspicious as to the post-cooked weight. All in all I was a bit confounded with the meat because almost everything else about the burger was fine, so had they done this right the full package would have really stood out.

Close-up on the problem: burnt parts.


The herbed goat cheese tasted mostly like a standard creamy chèvre. It was not only good, it even raised the quality of the the substandardly cooked meat somewhat acceptable because of the moisture that it afforded. There was a lot of it too, almost a wee patty unto itself! It also muted the spicy-vinegary punch of the hot banana peppers. They offered a gentle dose of astringency that also attempted to redeem the lost meat. Spicy mayo was supposed to have rounded off the construction but either there wasn't enough or our definitions of spicy differed. It was a rather chamelionic choice; the creaminess would have been lost under the cheese and the spice under the peppers.

The bun was quite good. It was soft, gently toasted, fresh and had a nice buoyancy on the chew. It certainly did not have a cheap feel as with many buns, and while it was a bit large for the patty overall it satisfied the circumference.

The burger was rounded off with shredded iceberg lettuce, and slices of half-sour pickle, tomato and red onion. They were their typical inoffensive selves.
Not a bad looking burger, except the patty.

I could see why all this was happening; a lot of the rabble demand burgers prepared like this. The fearing folk want the insides of their ground beef misery grey and so pubs often deliver thus. This burger was bizarre in that it was certainly not a train wreck, but instead had the cook not been so grill-happy this would be fine. It was not terrible, just intensely average. Burgerati, of course, know better and so if you're in the mood for a burger you can spend your $14 elsewhere. By all means, head to the Clocktower for their most excellent suds, but pick something else off the menu.

The sides

Good sweet potato fries. Nice and fluffy. Both of us were thumbs-up on the beer, especially their bitter.

BurgerDAR


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