Here’s a burger joint where every item in every plate can be traced back to the source: Welcome to Burger Royal, the farm to table version of the cheeseburger.
I’ve only been in Burger Royal for a few minutes and already the chef Sami asks if I’m hungry. I mumble a half-response, but it’s enough for him: « I’ll get you a mini. » Seven minutes later, the burger is in front of me: the bun is light and golden, the patty inviting, with homemade cheese and bacon between both. I taste it. It is, simply put, one of the best burgers I’ve had in my life.
« It’s my ode to the fast food burger: You have homemade American cheese, homemade sweet pickles, pickled onions and thousand island dressing or big mac sauce. Thebuns are from the artisanal bakery Le Fromentier, the meat comes from Nordest and the bacon I buy from Boucher fâché, two producers I deal with through Provender. » Burger Royal might remind you of the traditional burger joint, except you won’t find any ingredient that has not gone through a thorough selection process, based on quality. Everything is either homemade or transparently sourced: Sami knows his producers, and even has them eat at his restaurant from time to time. « Nobody ever represents a country better than the farmers because they work with the land. So it’s my way of showing my gratitude to my adoptive country » says the Syrian born chef.
« You have a lot of great restaurants in Montreal that are farm to table but none of them are comfort food. There’s no reason you could not have that with burgers and mac n’ cheese » explains Sami. Talking about mac n’ cheese, Sami is proud to say that he knows the origin of each ingredient: « I know where the flour comes from, the butter, the cream, the milk, the cheese… That’s what makes us happy.» And the clients as well: The chef proudly reports that even after eating the half pound burger, clients feel full but not heavy. A quality that is hence felt physically, but also ethically: « There are vegetarians that come here and order beef burgers because they know about our ethics. » They could, however, have ordered the veggie patty, rated by Buzzfeed as one of the 10 best vegetarian burgers in the world.
"Nobody ever represents a country better than the farmers because they work with the land."
When I asks him why he chose to open a burger place, Sami tells me an anecdote from his youth: « My brother and I had the chance to travel a lot and each time we would arrive at a new hotel, we would order a burger and would rate the place based on how good the burger was. » If burgers served as a reference for quality in Sami’s life, we can doubtlessly say that in turn, the chef and his team have created a new standard of quality for the burger.
Photos: Emanuel Pinochet