I was having a meeting while at Sage for this burger, and with both of us having it, we naturally fell into discussion while we each made our way through.
The burger was served open faced. The very first thing I noticed was that there was a hearty serving of shaved parmesan cheese on top of the patty side of the two open faced halves, so much so, that it was spilled over onto the plate. It took my mind straight to the annual first snowfall of the year when I used to live in Ontario.
Unlike when you live in BC, and you get advanced warnings of the impending snow by the way the snow line crawls its way down the mountains, in Ontario, as with so many other places, you go to bed at night with no snow, and then wake up in the morning, and there it is...a beautiful blanket of white everywhere. It's always such an invigorating feeling, especially as a little kid. It meant hockey, Santa, snowball fights, tobogganing, and ski seasons were open for real! Exciting!
When my plate came to my table, and I looked down and saw the shaved parmesan cheese, not only on the patty, but also having spilled over onto the plate, I got that same little kid, first snowfall exhilaration feeling immediately wash over me. The first thing I did was pinch a piece of the pile off my plate with my fingers. It was more of a bonus, and even somewhat in a way, not a part of the burger itself, but it conjured up excitement with that picture of theatre. I liked that.
The greens on the other side of the open faced part of the burger looked a little dehydrated...kind of like a runner charging a race in the hot sun and in desperate need of some water. The main aspect of that was from the crispy carrots.
The restaurant was quite dimly lit, so I didn't put too much into checking it out visually. I just pinched off my little pile of parmesan, put it in my mouth to nourish the taste, and then kind of roughly grabbed my two sides and put them together.
I've written this before, but I am not an overly big fan of open faced burgers. I like to be able to see the inside of it that way, but I'd rather it come served on the plate where I just pick it up and go at it, rather than have to piece it together myself. When I have to pick up one of the sides to stack it over onto the other side, some of the greens, condiments and dressing, inevitably fall to the wayside onto the plate and don't make it onto the burger unless I start picking through it to piece it back together myself. That's the part I don't really like. I prefer for food to come to the table ready to eat.
(Of course, there are exceptions, like when you get whole bulbs of roasted garlic that are accompanied by a hot ramekin of baked brie cheese with herbs & sundried tomatoes, and then some homemade crackers, or baguettes, to build your little mountain of cheesy garlic bliss upon. Something like that is a whole other story, but for the most part, I am not looking to take part in the completion of constructing a meal I am spending money on to enjoy.)
An open faced burger presentation is all just a matter of choice, and really nothing to care about overall, because the only real thing that matters is how does the burger taste, and how well does it eat?
The focaccia bun had three little dings against it, and one massive plus. It was very crispy and noticeably oily. We both picked up on that right away. I know that focaccia does have oiliness in its nature, but this was a little past that as every time I put it down I had to napkin off my hands. The bun also started to fall apart quite quickly, early on in the eat, as well. The big plus about it were the herbs in the house made buns.
Those herbs added a surprise fantastic tasting element to the burger. Being from the bun itself, that wonderful herbal taste came at you from both the top and the bottom to meet in the middle with that fantastic patty. I almost couldn't get past that, as I kept coming back to it, both in mind, and in conversation with my friend. Hot Damn!
The patty itself was definitely the best one so far. It stood high above all the rest that I had had up to that point. The size was amazing, and it was cooked perfectly. They sure nailed that Lamb & Pork patty for sure. It was so good!
I almost never have friends with me when I am writing about food, because I want to focus completely on the meal with no distraction, but I have been with a few different people on this burger tour so far. The thing I have noticed with that is that we have agreed on all the elements of each burger while discussing them. As the people who have been reading these write-ups of mine know, I have been pretty hard on almost all of the places I have been to because of the food that has been served, so when I have had burgers with other people around, and in our discussions, have come to the same feelings, it's almost like a validation that I never really needed, but wasn't something I was unaware of. People think I am being hard, but I am just being objectively honest. The burger tonight at Sage, we virtually mirrored each other's thoughts and sentiments. The biggest focus being that it was the best patty either of us had had so far. It's gonna be hard to topple the Sage patty for sure.
I kind of felt conflicted because of the three dings on the bun, but the way it added so much flavour through the herbs was something else. Even when I was leaving, I could still taste the lingering flavour of the herbs and I liked it. I liked it a lot! I also reveled in the notion of finally walking away from a burger feeling content.
The greens were not that noticeable, at least they weren't a part of our conversation that I remembered. Maybe that was because of the immediate theatrical first-snowfall-imagery inspired by the shaved parmesan that grabbed my attention right away. Add in every little thing about that patty, coupled with the surprise element delivered from the herbs on the bun, and it made it so the greens didn't overly matter.
This burger was enough to finally leave me happily content while walking to my van, as I eluded to, and I think that is the ultimate goal of any restaurant - to have your customer leave your establishment happily content.
Good stuff Sage...good stuff!