Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fat Guy Chronicles #1: an Ode to the Banquet Burger

Hi all, Rich here.

Let's assume for a minute that 'Fat Guy Chronicles' is a light hearted look at typically unhealthy food.  Should you eat like this all the time?  No, but if you're looking to indulge in something delicious and high in things that should be low (fat, sodium, cholesterol, bacon, etc.), consider this a bit of a guidebook.

While driving past a favourite greasy spoon the other day - Breezy Corners - it occurred to me that there has been a cultural shift away from the 'Banquet Burger'.  What's your point, you're saying right now.

Well, it's a nostalgia factor.  I grew up in rural Ontario, and most trips to 'town' (doesn't matter which one, but let's say there were maybe 5 options depending on the scarcity and relatively value of whatever necessitated a trip to 'town') involved a stop at a restaurant with my family.  The star of the burger menu at any restaurant / diner / cafe was not a asiago-ranch-swiss burger, or a California burger, or a southwest Tex-Mex Explosion burger, it was always the Banquet Burger.  Having fact-checked this idea on the internet, it turns out it's just a burger with cheese and bacon, but it's the idea of it all, I suppose.

The basics: from bottom to top: bun / burger / cheese / bacon / ketchup / mustard / relish / onion / tomato / lettuce / mayonnaise (sometimes) / dill pickle / bun.  Nothing fancy, not too much of any one topping, just a good, solid burger featuring bacon and cheese.

Any restaurant serving an all-day breakfast and catering to hordes of schoolchildren ordering fries and only fries for lunch has to have a Banquet Burger at the top of the menu.

This lives on in greasy spoons across the country, I'm sure; but the proliferation of 'gourmet' burgers and the overall growth in fast-food markets has certainly cut into the reputation of the banquet burger.

My point - they're delicious.  I don't eat one every day, neither should you, but once in a while, a greasy spoon serving a good Banquet Burger will remind me of trips to 'town' with my family and prove once again that simple can really hit the spot.

Next time you're ordering, skip the white truffle, avocado & dry-cured pork belly burger and venture back in time to the Banquet Burger.


Places I know to have served a really, really good Banquet Burger in the past 20 years (may not be open anymore)

Tam's Diner, Pefferlaw, ON
River Valley Restaurant, Uxbridge, ON
Durham Cafe, Lindsay, ON - still open, still amazing - Durham Cafe
Woodville Sale Barn - trust me... -

There are others, but if you're from Uxbridge, and remember the River Valley, you will know what I'm talking about.  If you're not, I probably lost you about 35 words ago, making this totally self-serving and irrelevant.

Carry on with whatever it is that you do.


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