Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kelsey's

On our way to Kingston's Garden Festival, we decided to go to "Goodies" for lunch as it was recommended by our oldest (Garrett).  Well my dear, we couldn't follow up on your recommendation because since you moved to TO, the premises was being renovated and it looks like to a different restaurant.  We don't know if the new premises will be with new owners or not... but it looks like Goodies is no longer.  So, being in the area, we headed to Kelsey's for their burger fare. We have gone there on numerous occasions in the past for dinner and snacks (nachos, spinach dip, etc.) but neither of us had tried their burgers before.  Kelsey's Neighbourhood Bar & Grill is a Canadian bar and grill restaurant chain headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario owned by Cara Operations.  Cara Operations also owns other restaurants including Swiss Chalet, Coza!, Milestones, Montana's and Harvey's.  

Kelsey's offers 5 burger choices including 1 veggie burger.  All meat (except the veggie) burgers are a substantial half-pound, Canadian beef and served with a pickle spear and choice of side:  crispy fries, coleslaw, soup, or salad (house or Caesar). Depending on your burger selection, there are a number of condiments added that range from lettuce, tomato, red onion, onion rings, bacon and a few cheese options as well. It's interesting to note that although the menu says "all burgers" are served with a pickle, neither of our orders had one.

We have evolved toward ordering two different types of burgers and then splitting them for comparison.  Therefore we ordered the "Cracked Peppercorn Sirloin Burger" - a patty lightly coated with cracked black peppercorns and topped with melted Swiss cheese, 2 crispy beer battered onion rings, peppercorn ranch sauce, tomatoes and shredded lettuce. This was paired with a side of french fries.

Our second choice was the "Cheddar Bacon Sirloin Burger" - topped with melted cheddar cheese, double smoked bacon, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, red onions and mayo.  As you can see in the pictures, the buns were a yellow egg bread style (a favourite) with sesame seeds and lightly toasted.  This one was ordered with a Caesar salad side and both burgers were priced @ $11.99.


Stephen's Review - Kelsey's has been one of my favourite restaurants, especially when out for dinner and a movie and we have rarely been disappointed in any way. This visit was no exception. Friendly greeting upon entering and smiles all around through the whole experience from all of the wait staff. The food was served hot and as you can see from the pictures, it looked pretty tempting. Serving sizes for the sides was very much appropriate in my books  and enough to share with little to no wasted leftovers. Just the way it should be! As you can also see from the pic's, the burgers were substantial. Jo and I cut the burgers in half so we could each share in the taste-test and quickly jumped into each burger.

Now as I have noted before, I am not the most 'adventurous' diner and tend to stick to my own tried-and-true selections... most of them pretty safe. I have never been a big pepper fan although I have had a few steaks with awesome 'peppercorn sauces' so, I was looking forward to trying this Cracked Peppercorn Sirloin Burger. On first bite, initial impression was of a moist, well cooked patty; not overly done in any way and some very fresh condiments. I didn't really taste the pepper until after swallowing that first bite and it was not bad. I see the patty had a nice sprinkling of cracked peppercorn and coupled with the peppercorn ranch type dressing and the balance was very nice. I was surprised that I did not find any noticeable taste or texture from the onion rings, which I was looking forward to; this was neither a pro or a con, just an observation. Perhaps a little bit crispier may have made a difference. The bun was very fresh, lightly toasted and as an egg-style-sesame-seed bun... my all time favourite that really added to the whole experience. This was a very good burger in every way, especially I would assume for someone who has a better appreciation for the taste of pepper.

Now on to the Cheddar Bacon Sirloin Burger. Again, first impressions were very good. (Just take another look at that picture above!) This was a big burger with a really great taste! For me, this is what I would call the 'classic burger'. Classic in that it had a nicely cooked patty, very moist with a little char on the edge (best part), fresh fixings including red onion, lettuce, tomato, real cheddar and a fantastic smoked bacon that was just the right side of crispy; all contained (overflowing actually...) on a very fresh egg bun, lightly toasted. This is my definition of a classic burger! There was no disappointment here in any way-shape-or-form. A very tasty burger indeed.

I should also note that on this visit and for both burgers I did not add any additional condiments (mustard, ketchup, relish) at the table like I would normally do. I was trying to let the real flavours of the burgers come through without masking them in too many condiments. However, with only a few bites left in my Cheddar Bacon Sirloin Burger, I added a little ketchup and mustard. Wow! This burger with those condiments that I have almost always used really pushed this burger over the top in my books! Lesson learned: if you know how you like to garnish your burger from years and years of experience, don't change! Those last few bites, dressed the way I would normally do it, were exceptional.

As for the sides, the fries were pretty solid as was the caesar salad although as I have said before, I am not a fan of a heavy dose of salad dressing on any salad and for my taste, this caesar had more than enough dressing... good flavour, just a little heavy for me.  Overall for me, these were two of the better burger plates I have had and I would rate the Cheddar Bacon as one of my favourites, especially when it was dressed to my tastes!

Jo's Review - I agree with Stephen that the service was excellent - friendly and sincere.  The restaurant was nicely busy  with about 70% of the tables full.  We received our orders in a timely manner and dove into our burgers.  One thing I love about embarking on this quest is that although I'm much more adventurous than Stephen when it comes to trying different foods, until now, when it came to burgers I would normally order a plain cheeseburger.  I am enjoying burgers that I would never have tried if it was not for this review.

For my taste, both burgers were cooked to perfection.  I particularly liked the flavour of the sirloin - in spite of the fact that it is not a hand-packed burger.  Yes I know the purists are rolling their eyes up but unless a hand-packed burger is seasoned and cooked to perfection (stop squeezing the juices out by flattening them with a spatula while cooking!) it is too dry and flavourless for me.  Not the case with either of these burgers.

The Cracked Peppercorn burger had a nice heat to the after bite and the condiments were very fresh.  The flavour of the mayo really complemented the burger.  I agree with Stephen that there was little flavour to the onion rings, and they were not crisp, however they did not at all detract from the burger.

The Cheddar Bacon Sirloin burger fulfilled the desire for a classic bacon-cheese in every way.  The red onions and lettuce were exceptionally fresh and I LOVED the fresh, lightly grilled egg yolk sesame buns.  They were so yummy!

For sides, the flavour of the Caesar was excellent and a little creamy for me.  Good crisp croutons and not very much bacon (which I didn't need because of the generous bacon on my burger).  The fries didn't look particularly exceptional but they tasted very good.  They had a nice flavour and texture but weren't greasy at all.

Both Stephen and I were very impressed with Kelsey's burger offerings.  Pretty good considering it's not their signature dish.

ONLY IN AMERICA....

No, not part of our experience but this is a burger offered by a casino in California (coincidentally called Kelsey's).  They have recently challenged their customers -- and their stomachs -- with its new burger, "The Weigh-In." The five-pound monster includes a two-pound patty (made of ground premium Angus beef), sits on a 10-inch bun and is topped with six slices of cheese, two sliced tomatoes and half a head of lettuce. If that's not enough, dill pickles, sweet onions and Thousand Island dressing are available on request. Only one person has finished the $24.95 US  burger -- but he didn't even touch his fries.  My only question is.... WHY???????

Kelsey's on Urbanspoon

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