Let me start off by just admitting that we originally set out to document the gourmet burger concept in Victoria but have happily given up. Bin4 Burger Lounge has arrived after Pink Bicycle and Jackalope and will be quickly followed in the coming months by BigWheel. I already knew about the Victoria Burger Blog but I didn’t appreciate the dedication and range of content one must commit oneself to in order to accurately tackle this subject.
Our local burger minimoon of ours reminded me why we never set out to write “reviews” but recaps. For us, eating and cooking are ways of reflecting and being grateful: for being alive, for each other, and for the power of food to take on new meaning based on the context in which we experience it. So, enjoying someone’s food is as much about our state of mind as it is about the quality of the ingredients and preparations on the plate.
Who knew a couple of loaded burgers on a rainy afternoon could be so mind expanding?
Before you go thinking we’re uncritical hogs, keep reading. We offer constructive feedback, we just don’t take the whole thing too seriously. It’s only lunch after all.
Bin4 Burger Lounge
180-911 Yates St (at Vancouver)
First, the “lounge” part is not just an effort to sound cool. Bin4 has the atmosphere and menu essentials to live up to the claim.
Bin4 has obviously thought about their different types of customers and how to satisfy them all. Small parties of quiet, intimate eating and large pre-bar crews can co-exist here and both feel like the space was made for them.
As any lounge should, Bin4 has a respectably diverse cocktail menu and features the best of Vancouver Island microbreweries, including Phillips and Driftwood (the only two breweries you need to carry to get my respect). I had a lip-smacking black cherry Boyland’s soda and Mr. ST. had this charming Vanilla Mojito.
They also have a worldwide range of wines for less than $10 a glass, though I would never recommend pairing burger plates with wine and am a little perplexed as to why there’s so much emphasis on that here. Their photo art is largely wine-based and the use of “Bin” numbers throughout the menu is a reference to how vinters keep track of vino batches-in-progress. We humbly believe a burger is best enjoyed on its own, with a beer, or the true American way, with a tall, thick shake.
Serving 50% off late night burgers with a drink purchase is also a clever way to encourage bar-goers to make Bin4 their last stop. It’s certainly a better choice than the McDonald’s detour that characterized much of our former late night debauchery.
When it comes to patties, Bin4’s are grilled (rather than the more American, flat-top steam method) and done just right, with a slight crunch of char on the outside and that critical hint of pink in the centre. Their meat quality is top-shelf local from the bacon to the chicken breast to the elk meat of Mr. ST’s burger.
Mr. ST’s burger had excellent restraint and balance. Combining tomato jam and 5-year aged cheddar was like apple pie with cheese on the side (tell me there are other prairie family descendants who witnessed this practice?) Together they’re a good counterpunch of flavour to the gamey finish that sneaks up on you in that elk meat.
When it comes to buns, you can’t really argue with brioche. Slight sweet and puffy, they’re a go-to choice if you reside in the “soft bun” camp. Unfortunately, any of the burgers that are over-topped, as mine was, will probably suffer bread saturation.
I had to eat the entire second half of my burger with a knife and fork. Mr. ST however picked up his burger and ate it continuously without putting it down with no damaging burger ooze. This is great photo-evidence as to why we reside firmly in the “toasted/crusty bun” camp.
And here we get to this fundamental problem gourmet burger places have to reconcile. It is counterproductive and tragic to serve such thoughtful, layered flavours when the construction requires that I eat it without pause or else risk having it fall apart or become a soppy mess as it sits on my plate. Pink Bicycle has had this same problem both times we’ve been, though their more-is-more attitude was more clearly to blame than simply the bun. Somewhere between the Taj Mahal and Les Halles, there is a perfect balance of construction but we’ve only experienced it once.
Homemade chips are something we encountered all over the East Coast and these ones should be the default side dish at Bin4.
They’re light and taste of fresh potato, completely lacking in the high oil content that gives kettle cooked chips that same signature crunch. Bin4 also has an assortment of aiolis–we had a roasted jalapeno aioli that was smooth and eggy in flavour, as handmade aioli should be. I recommend Bin4 start serving aioli as a side to the chips, not just to the largely forgettable fries we had. It was a slow, early afternoon, and someone just left them under the lamp too long, waiting for customers. They may very well be excellent fries, but a fry is really only a fry for the ten minutes after it gets raised triumphantly from the hot oil. After that it’s just old potato.
Overall, Bin4 is a great addition to this part of town. They seem to care a lot about the customer experience (they even gave us a comment card with our bill!). If they have the diligence to make their own ketchup (they do), I think we can easily trust them to work out any kinks as their business grows.