Preface: I am not familiar with the previous editions of this business. Nor have I ever eaten at this establishment before their latest setback/closure. This visit was conducted approximately two months after their re-opening in late-June 2008.
It appears that Moderne Burger‘s traditional popularity with Vancouverites has not abated at all, as seen by the plethora of people visible inside as well as in lineups stretching outside their front entrance on West Broadway. A as a first timer to this place, it sure seemed to me that this is a tribute to the loyalty of their fans, forgiving nature and hungry desire to have their favorite burger joint back up and running after what I understand has been a long period of downtime. I wanted to figure out for myself if I’d enjoy the product offering as much as these diehards, and this review is based on a recent takeout order that I had.
The place was packed aside from two empty stools around 1pm. Approaching the cashier, placing my order was easy enough, although the young woman still seemed a little lost with the cash machine and at one point was obviously scanning around for some experienced help. I guess it has been about two months since the re-opening, but it did seem like they were still working out a few things, including staff training and customer attention. I did find it interesting while waiting for my order and observing the scene, that eat-in diners had to go to the same till after their meals and pay – no bills were brought to tables by their servers.
The simple decor was pretty much as I expected, though with more subdued colors (teals, grays, silver) and tones than what I am used to seeing in similar ’50s style diners in the States. The assortment of period trinkets and pieces such as some model cars, telephones, etc. in the showcases that made up the counter space near the cash register were eye-catching, as was the ever-present jukebox. There was no music playing however, which made the atmosphere less joyous, again perhaps just a stereotype image in my head of what these places are usually like. Customers sitting down in the booths or along the counter bars didn’t seem greatly affected as it looked like everyone was having a good time, engrossed in conversations – all in all, it seemed that people found it a good place to have conversation as well as the food. After about a twenty-minute wait, my order was good to go, and I took it home and opened my package.
Knowing that the drive time might have a detrimental effect on my burger and fries, I did my best to open up the bag and shoot these images as soon as possible (about ten minutes after I left Moderne Burger). The top bun was remarkably not soggy, which was my biggest fear as I unwrapped it from the foil wrapper and plated it. The fries (handcut, skin on) held up very well too, even more surprising since they weren’t overcooked or overly crispy to begin with. Actually, it was a tremendous volume of French fries, well salted and nice and soft inside, and apparently fried in a canola/oil oil blend. My order was the Moderne Steak (100% beef) burger – juicy and just the right thickness for me so as not to feel the patty was too skimpy, nor too overwhelming to bite through. Moderne Burger says on their menu that they are handmade fresh daily, and this was clear to me as it was not that hard and overly dry consistency you find in frozen and/or pre-made product. Moderne Burger also takes pride in not using any fillers and preservatives in their patties, and I was pleased, as you can definitely taste the difference. Some might say it lacks seasoning, which is probably a valid point, but for me it didn’t bother me as I was getting more than enough salt from the chips.
Other than the beef patty, they offered up choices such as turkey, salmon fillet and vegetarian. Standard toppings were lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayo and a special BBQ sauce. Where is the rest, you ask? Well, that’s where Moderne Burger is weak, well in the eyes of those more fiscally responsible burger lovers, as extras like cheese (cheddar, Swiss), bacon, grilled onions, and mushrooms all came with a $1.25/each price tag. They even had a dipping sauce, but I am not sure how that works with a burger. I did end up choosing some cheddar, bacon and mushrooms just to ensure I had a more complete representation, though seeing the bill, it did make me think this was getting kind of expensive for “just a hamburger”, or just seemed like it was since you are building up from a “base” and working upwards. $10.95 for the burger/fries combo plus the extras, and tax – you add it up.
overcooked and messy Vera's doubleburger
Overall, I’d say I much prefer Moderne Burger’s patty compared to say Vera’s Burger Shack, which is just too crumbly, brittle and overdone/burnt on every occasion that I’ve had it – despite all that “works” toppings that they try to cover it up with, which also just makes the total combination a drippy, wet mess.
Those critical of Moderne Burger’s offering will no doubt raise points such as the reduced salt/pepper/seasoning in the patty, and the price tag that rises with the extras. For something that is standard fare in my mind, a hamburger, I guess you can go either way. If you want to get your fast food variety, a more pricey option, one that’s more subtly flavored or over the top – its really up to you to decide. As I don’t have burgers very often, I think I’ll make my choice Moderne Burger as it suits my tastes the best (so far in my Vancouver burger prowling).
2507 West Broadway
Hours: Tue to Sun, 12pm to 7:45pm