Moderne Burger – Vancouver, BC

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

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).

Moderne Burger
2507 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
Tel: 604-739-0005
Hours: Tue to Sun, 12pm to 7:45pm

Moderne Burger on Urbanspoon

22 thoughts on “Moderne Burger – Vancouver, BC

  1. yes, it’s crazy to see how fanatic these people are for these burgers. I have never been there myself, but have had a couple of client from out of town that have asked about this place.

    I think people go there for the experience.

  2. First of all, those burger photos are fantastic!! The photo from Moderne burger had me immediately wondering where I could get a nice burger like that for lunch in downtown Calgary…

    When I consider that the equivalent for ‘Burger joint’ popularity in Calgary must be Peter’s Drive-in, which I don’t care for at all, I would gladly stand in line at Moderne!

  3. >Vancouver Limousine

    I’ve heard too that the reputation or name of this place is wide spread, even outside of Vancouver. Strikes me as a little strange though, as I imagine you can find similar retro burger joints in other cities and towns.

  4. >laracee

    Thanks for the feedback on the images. I am sure the foodosopher can give some insights into some decent burger places in Calgary. My own experience with Peter’s is similar to yours. My first time eating there was in 1988, and the second time was 2006. That should give you an indication of how little I desire the burgers there. 🙂

  5. >KimHo

    There was no intent to create any kind of “burger showdown” here, merely an explanation of personal preference/choice on my part after eating the offerings at both establishments. Though hamburgers are indeed an interesting piece of pop food culture, leading to feverish support for favorites by vocal fans. But in the end, burgers aren’t something I eat in particularly high volume through the course of a year, and after all its “just” cooked ground beef in a bun, and nothing all that spectacular so as to get worked up over I think. More exciting food and things in the world deserve more attention than this. (-_o)

  6. JUST cooked ground beef in a bun!? Shokutsu, if i had a Moderne steak, i’d smack you in the face with it right now! A well made burger is a beautiful thing! The issue is, most places don’t make a good burger.

  7. shokutsu: I find it funny you put it that way (unlike foodosopher, I won’t have smacked you even if I had a steak nearby). How? The same way you see a burger (just cooked ground beef in a bun), non-Eastern Asian people might look at us the same way when we have noodles. After all, noodles is nothing more than flour + water/egg, right? Now, I am using noodles as an example because, compared to the keyword “burger”, you have a lot of post with that word in it!

  8. >KimHo

    The reference made to easily describe burgers is said tongue-in-cheek and is an oversimplification. (^o^) I see your point of view here though, and agree that easily it could be seen that way. But with noodles, you have such a wide range of differences in terms of type, thickness, cooking method, not to mention the flavoring (esp. when soups are involved), temperature of the dish, and then the multitudes of toppings that abound across the many noodle dishes one can find throughout a continent like Asia. So given this, I have to side with noodles being conceptually simple (or seen as a basic staple dish) but with a lot more depth and interesting taste combinations than any set of hamburger variations could offer. (^o^)

  9. Touche KimHo! You’re bang on. One must look past the simple facade to understand that there is depth and complexity in even the simplest things, like noodles, or burger.

    Shokutsu – every aspect you mention regarding noodles applies to burgers as well. I have no interest in the dB Bistro Moderne burger – that’s just a burger with fancy window dressing. But if you want to examine the different aspects of serving meat sandwiched in bread, in terms of type, thickness, cooking method, flavouring, temperature, and various toppings, I can make a strong case for burgers as well. Just be ready to eat a lot of beef, and I’ll show you the differences.

  10. >foodosopher

    I know you like your burgers, whereas I have them about as often as I change the oil in my car. On the other hand, I could eat Pho for breakfast each and every day. I thought the discussion was just on burgers, not stretching it to sandwiches, etc. Cause if I had to eat a cold hamburger (be it made from beef, pork, chicken, etc.) you’ve lost me there as that would never compare to a refreshing bowl of chilled Korean mul naengmyeon or Japanese somen on a hot summer day.

    If you explore the regional differences in places like China or Japan in how a simple noodle dish can vary from place to place separated by a single province, you can clearly see that there is a lot that can be done with noodles. It’s this thousands of years of history that go into it to that appeals to me too. I guess if I were to frame it this way, if I had to eat a noodle or burger every day for a single month, I am sure I would get tired of burgers really fast (you can slop on bbq sauce, salt and pepper it, top it with veggies, etc. all you like to create your variations, but to me its pretty dull).

    Perhaps its my long days of riding in junior hockey buses across the Prairies as a youth where we stopped by any variety of roadside diner, burger shack and even hotel lobby, where burgers were just plain boring and never exciting and always the one we had to eat cause they could serve it up in bulk. I so often wished the charter bus would pull into a Chinese (aren’t they just about in every little rural town in AB/SK?) restaurant just so I could get me some noodles. Heck, it even had those valuable carbs! (^o^)

  11. Lol. Look, not all of us played for the Japanese National Team in hockey like you. We don’t worry about stuff like carbs.

    I think your comparison of noodles and burgers is unfair. Noodles can come not only in all shapes and sizes, but paired with a variety of things. I think meat in a bun is a fair comparison. Cold beef burger would be gross, sure. But something like a gravlax burger is pretty tasty cold. Served with a nice aioli, some chives, and say, thinly sliced focaccia , it’d be tasty.

    No question, I would prefer noodles too. But im saying you’re giving burgers an unfair shake. That’s all. Im not disputing your noodle argument. Im disputing your mindset on the burger – it can be a great thing.

  12. >foodosopher

    No disrespect intended to burgers by any means, I realize its classic Americana. Its just that I’ve NEVER ever eaten a hamburger where I was just in total love, salivating like Pavlov’s dog and finding myself returning again and again. Rather, I’ve had a lot of mediocre ones that simply served the purpose of satisfying hunger. Hence my feeling that burgers are nothing to get worked up over as there is more bad than good out there.

    Noodles on the other hand, I’ve had in some places where its been incredible and found myself literally choking with delight as I slurped them down with a goofy grin on my face in total bliss. Find me a burger that does that, and I’ll have achieved a milestone.

    Anyhow, let’s turn the comments back to Moderne Burger, after all that’s what this post is all about, not to raise a burger-noodle food war! (-_o)

  13. (^o^) Knowing your appetite, that burger would do a sudden turn and find its way into your gaping mouth. You wouldn’t want to waste a burger now would ya? Fly out here and let me know what you think of Moderne’s burger offering one day…

  14. I like burgers. 🙂 Until my wife told me about Burgers Etc, I don’t think I’ve ever had any on this side of the border that were as good as those in the States. We haven’t tried Moderne, but we’ve done Vera’s, Fatburger, and some other independent places. Mostly, it was pretty… meh.

    After trying Burgers Etc, I’ve become a convert. Located in a little hole-in-the-wall location on E. Hastings & Gilmore, they’ve quickly become a favourite spot for burger fixes. (my wife also has a post about it if you want to see non-commerical photos)

  15. >ET

    Thanks for the heads up. Though I am not a frequent burger eater, nor in that part of town much, if forces happen to collide one day, it sounds like it merits a try!

  16. It is definitely quite a distance to drive if you don’t happen to be in Burnaby. The things we do for food we like. 😉 I think strictly speaking, the place is on Hastings and Gilmore, since E. Hasting ends at Boundary.

  17. > i love food blog

    My only previous visit to the Feenie influenced Cactus Club Cafe did not result in me selecting this burger, but eventually I will get to it. Thanks for the reminder!

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