Cheese Curds is a “chef inspired” locally sourced gourmet hamburger haven snuggled between a community college and an oil refinery. Envisioned and executed by chef Bill Pratt, this was the first of its kind in Halifax. Indeed, it is Cheese Curds that broke the sad burger spell in Halifax that at one time almost led me to retire hamburgers from my diet.
The best way to get to Cheese Curds (from Halifax) is to carefully check the Woodside ferry schedule, which runs at inopportune times for food questers, but which essentially carries you right to their doorstep. Your other option is to take the #60 from the bridge terminal and enjoy all the wonderful characters who habitually ride the #60. Either way, the scenery is … interesting.
Speaking of scenery:
That is one honkin’ beauty of a burger, fully equipped with bacon, cheese curds, fried onion rings, lettuce, tomato, and CC sauce ($8.75). If you don’t like making decisions, then I should warn you that there is a whole onslaught of extra toppings which you will be prompted to choose from. I don’t personally enjoy the Subway-style of burger artistry. I like being TOLD what to eat. However, you may love the thrill of the distinct possibility that you could damage your burger with poor decision-making. Choose your own adventure.
I should mention there was a bit of a burger party on this night, as I joined forces with some Twitter foodies (@rosebeefe, @lauriecburns, and @courtsuemaloney) for my burger quest and their #burgvember celebrations. Luckily they ordered all the burgers I wanted to review but couldn’t. The pork schnitzel burger ($8.75) looks excellent, and the peameal bacon is reportedly pretty awesome. It is recommended you go with some bolder toppings to electrify the otherwise neutral-tasting schnitzel.
The TNT Spicy Burger ($7.95) is a blackened burger (cool!) with hot Brothers Pepperoni, fried jalapeno rings, chipotle mayo and jack cheese. Looks like we got some cilantro and tomato on there for extra effect. “My tongue is burning!” I heard @courtsuemaloney say, though she insisted this was a good thing.
The Honolulu Burger ($7.75) features double smoked bacon, caramelized fresh pineapple, cheese curds, lettuce, tomato and CC sauce. I had heard rumours that Cheese Curds doesn’t core their pineapples prior to serving, which has prompted many an online complaint. Cheese Curds must have listened, though, because this pineapple was cored! The bacon was perfect, and my only complaint about this burger was that it fell apart a little. We discussed “bun integrity” and how this seemed to be lacking at Cheese Curds. I don’t personally blame the buns; I blame the toppings for jeopardizing sandwich stability. Since the customer has an overwhelming selection of toppings to choose from, it can be difficult to avoid this catastrophe. If you are a sloppy-burger-fiend, then disregard my warning.
The Veggie Burger ($7.75) is another non-frozen-soy-puck addition to the Halifax veggie burger repertoire. More spring roll than hamburger, it is sure to either please you or confuse you. It involves a curry infused lentil and bean patty which is wrapped in what seems to be a spring roll wrapper. It is then topped with ketjap manis, sweated bean sprouts, pickled onions, and mango chutney. We added carrot and cilantro. The first few bites were like wowza! – that’s pleasantly different! But after a while the sweetness of the mango chutney became too sweet for us, and reminded me of plum sauce on an eggroll.
So what are my thoughts? I went home with a really full belly and lots to contemplate. Hamburgers are so subjective, and the added complexity of choosing your own toppings makes each burger personal and unique. It’s too much pressure for me! Cheese Curds gets big points for using local products, environmentally friendly packaging, and a medal of bravery for setting up shop in gritty ‘ol Woodside.
The beef was well seasoned, which the others seemed to enjoy, whereas I’m more of a beef purist. A well seasoned patty makes for well seasoned burps late into the night! Also, the structural integrity of the burger is easily sacrificed to high-risk toppings.
I should also mention that all the sub-par reviews I’ve read about the poutines are completely unwarranted. The poutines were quite satisfactory, and we enjoyed flavours such as house curry sauce and brandy peppercorn sauce being on offer.
Hats off to Cheese Curds. Next up, Flip Burger!
Cheese Curds Gourmet Burgers & Poutinerie
380 Pleasant St.