Nelson Burger Month Stop 11 - Loka Middle Eastern-Mediterranean Bistro
Strolling into Loka, I must say, it was the nicest smelling place I had walked into up to this point on my Burger Month tour. It's always such a kind thing when you walk into a restaurant and get stricken with the sudden urge to start eating the air that fills up the room. That's a nice touch that is solely generated by the food itself...enough to get the anticipation of appetite shoved into overdrive, that's for sure!
They brought me a fatty bottle of chilled water right away. As I am a water schwillin' lil' bastid when I drink it (especially with a meal), I was happy about that. Score one for the intangibles!
My server walked out to my table with the burger, but then was immediately called back to the kitchen by the cook. When the server brought it back he said the cook had forgotten the onions and the cheese, and had to sort that out. (Only about 30 seconds)
I like my heat, even subtly, so I was psyched to see the little side accompaniment of banana peppers on the plate. I had never seen those as a side garnish before, so I wondered, ever so briefly, if there was a strategic point to them being served, as far as to how their flavours might work with the burger flavourings.
The burger looked great. The patty stood out strongly, and the toppings were not overloaded, so it was looking like a nice even eating burger...in contrast to the ones stacked to the roof giving off a false sense of security with their burger technique.
The patty though...
It was the most visually appealing pre-eat, so far, and I couldn't wait to dive into it.
There was a fried pickle as the top garnish on the bun. It was gave off a simultaneous combination of subtle and striking. It gave a slight crunch at the same time as a juicy pop when I bit into it.
That was a great call for a top of bun garnish.
I had barely gotten into it, and yet I was consciously aware that Loka was knocking off one ring of happiness at a time, every step of the way so far. That burger reached out and grabbed the entirety of my attention & anticipation, and also seemed to have woven its way into my appreciation all at once.
The brioche bun was nice and fluffy. There we go delving into the simplest form of appreciation again. It was the best feeling bun of this burger tour lot, and I had moved beyond anticipation into outright excitement.
My first bite in, even before I finished chewing it...
"This is the best burger so far!"
I didn't even have my first bite swallowed down yet, and it was instantly the one. I was almost in disbelief. I had to ram a second bite down my throat just to make certain I wasn't imagining things from the first bite.
"Nope! Not imagining a thing, this burger is freakin' dynamite!"
The flavourings in the patty were spectacularly done!
I couldn't wait to eat more, which was something that had definitely not even come close to happening yet. It was insanely good, and definitely in a class of its own...for real, not an exaggerated analogy! It was well on its own!
The presentation was clean! The plate was clean! The bun held its integrity! It was shaping up to eat in a very balanced way!
Loka was kicking the living shit out of everything so far. It was to the point that I almost felt bad for the beating it was laying on the others, because in this fight, the other burgers were lucky to leave with their lives. It was just that one-sided of a battle!
The spicing was subtle in its nature of a Middle Eastern-Mediterranean rooted dining room, but even in that subtleness, its namesake flavours stood out so bold! This is the way a burger is meant to be done when infusing other culture into this North American staple.
"Finally! Someone gets it!"
Loka didn't get carried away trying to reinvent what a burger is, and wasn't overdoing it with an abundance of their own infused interpretation. It was just a perfectly done, ass-whuppin' burger, with those hinted, yet completely noticeable, flavours and tones of its restaurant's heritage roots! It encompassed the full understanding of what this competition is about in a way that all the others haven't come close to so far...I mean, not...even...close!!!
I know I've been trying to reel in the cursing on this new direction of a food journey I am taking, but I can't help it here...
"I really fuckin' like this burger, and I would eat the shit out of many more of them without a second thought! Daaaaaaamnnn!!!"
Loka is, hands down, best burger so far. Any way you want to come at it, it has absolutely destroyed all the rest.
Clean Plate: Check!
Balanced Eat: Check!
Integrity of Bun throughout: Check!
Overdoing it: Nope!
Spectacular: Hell Yeah!
It's just not even fair, and from everything I have had so far, it will be hard to topple this one.
Thank you so much Loka for restoring the hope in what a burger entry into a competition could, and should be! The way you understood how to take this world famous, North American classic, and infuse the culture of Middle Eastern-Mediterraneanflavours to meld perfectly together was superbly done!
In concept, imagination, execution, and presentation, it's in a class of its own.
Bravo Loka, bravo!!!
As for the banana peppers...
As much as I love those lil' fellas, they were not necessary...even as a showpiece garnish. I ate one half way through, but decided I didn't want it interfering with the burger because the burger was just too good. I was gonna finish the rest of them when I was finished with the burger, but when it came time for that, I didn't want anything else touching my overly content palate. I just wanted to ride out the taste of this fantastic burger as long as I could.
Jeezuz, that was good!
**As a side note, I have had some really spectacular meals at Loka recently, and although they were not in the top five restaurants according to my guests this summer, I think that is going to change, because I'm gonna really start pushing their restaurant to my guests. Loka has something going on there, that's for damned sure!