Burgoo (Main Street, Vancouver BC)

Restaurant: Burgoo Bistro
Cuisine: American/Soups/Comfort Food/International/Eastern European
Last visited: October 6, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Mount Pleasant/Main Street)
Address: 3096 Main St
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3.5-4 (based on what I tried)
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • 3 locations in Vancouver
  • International cookhouse/menu
  • Hearty comfort food
  • Most popular for soups
  • Made from scratch
  • Line-ups/Busy
  • Affordable
  • Casual/Comfortable
  • Good for snack/drinks
  • Patio seating
  • Serves beer/wine
  • Brunch/Lunch/Dinner
  • Catering available
  • Pre-packaged soups and stews for retail
  • Reservations only for 8-12
  • Open daily 11am-11pm

**Recommendations: Mainly soup, specifically the Sunset Corn and Chicken, Beef Bourguignon and Mac and Cheese is not bad, but there’s better

Burgoo has 3 locations in Vancouver, BC and it’s become generally well liked by locals. It’s affordable dining in a nice atmosphere with quality home cooked comfort food. It’s hearty food that gets you full and sleepy. They’re most popular for soups and stews so locals flock to it on rainy days… thus Vancouver is the ideal location.

The restaurant has a very rustic and country feel, yet it’s still contemporary with a lot of character. The place fills up quickly with people of all ages and they have a great open patio outside that’s always busy in the summer.

They offer comfort food from several international cuisines from around the world and they also note these countries next to the menu item. Therefore there’s great variety, but they become a little bit of “Jack of all trades” at the same time. Everything is generally good, but not comparable to what you would get at a restaurant that specializes in that particular cuisine.

I more or less enjoyed the food and ambiance and I would come back. The soups were definitely the highlight (they also retail them in store), and I just wish they came with some bread or biscuits on the side.

On the table:

**Burgoo Biscuits (KY/Kentucky) – 4/6

  • Four of our own warm Cheddar and Parsley biscuits $6
  • Coming back from San Diego, I recently became obsessed with biscuits, a total American comfort food. I never cared about them before, but after the ones from Hash House a Go Go and Urban Solace, I was on a mission. I had already ordered biscuits this morning from Jethro’s Fine Grub in Vancouver already.
  • These ones at Burgoo were fluffy rather than flaky and they had an obvious but mild taste of freshly cracked black pepper, so it has a bit of spice. They were fairly large, very moist and with a nicely toasted exterior, except I couldn’t taste much of the Cheddar cheese.
  • They’re very good alone, but they’re also great with the soups.

Guacamole (MEX/Mexican) – 3/6

  • Chopped fresh avocado with lime, Jalapeno and cilantro, served with organic corn tortillas $6
  • It was good, but not amazing. It was a chunky guacamole made with very fresh and ripe avocados, but I wanted more of the other ingredients to balance. It wasn’t that tangy or that spicy but it just tastes really fresh and home made. I would like more lime and maybe some lime zest and maybe even some tomato to give it more dimension in flavour.
  • I was also expecting organic corn tortillas rather than corn tortilla chips. Although chips are probably better.

Wild Mushroom Pate (FRA/France)3/6

  • Chilled Mushroom and Chevre puree topped with crushed hazelnuts $8
  • It was good, but I probably wouldn’t order it again.
  • It was served cold and I think it would be great warm. It’s pureed Criminis, Shiitake, and Portabella and you can taste all the mushrooms but it’s a bit woody too from the Rosemary. It was very cooling and there’s a slight spice of cracked black pepper, but the hazelnuts were more of a garnish and didn’t do much.
  • I could taste mild goat’s cheese (which is good because I’m not a fan of game taste) and it was smooth and thick with the consistency of sour cream. It’s more like a dip than a pate. It doesn’t taste too creamy or heavy and it came with some nice crunchy white and brown crostini.

Butternut Squash (CAN/Canada) – 3.5/6

  • With warm spices and sweet maple syrup, finished with roasted hazelnuts- cup $5 bowl $7
  • I love butternut squash anything. The flavour was good, but I just wasn’t a fan of the texture. It had the texture of baby food and I would rather have it velvety smooth and the texture of a creamy bisque or a cream soup.
  • It’s quite sweet from the syrup and I think there’s nutmeg and clove so it’s aromatic and almost like a pumpkin pie soup.
  • The hazelnuts are a unique addition and I did like it, but I think it would be good if the hazelnut flavour was incorporated into the flavour of the soup itself as well. Maybe a drizzle of hazelnut oil? Yum!

**Sunset Corn and Chicken (COL/Columbia) – 5.5/6

  • Corn, chicken and light cream sprinkled with Chipotle and cumin, finished with crema fresca and cilantro cup $6 bowl $8
  • This was the best soup of them all. Delicious! I would definitely order this again and recommend it, I would even crave it.
  • It’s a thick and hearty soup with corn kernels and chicken, but there could have been a bit more. It tastes a bit like a cream of corn and chicken chowder.
  • It’s sweet from the corn and the broth is savoury yet smoky with a kick of chipotle and it has a cool tang of creme fraiche to balance it all out. It has dynamic flavours and they use whole and crushed cumin seeds so it’s very aromatic. It’s perfect with a Burgoo Biscuit on the side.

Crab Bisque (FRA/France)2.5/6

  • Smooth crab and red pepper cream bisque scented with terragon, finished with chopped parsley cup $6 bowl $8
  • As a bisque it wasn’t my favourite and the French would probably disapprove. It needed to be much richer, thicker and creamier. On the other hand, without judging it’s authenticity it was still a pretty good soup, just not a bisque.
  • The broth of a traditional French bisque is supposed to be made with the meat and the shells of seafood. It’s pureed until completely smooth. This one wasn’t completely smooth (maybe intentionally), but it had maybe 3 shreds, not pieces, of crab meat for every 5 spoonfuls of soup. I would rather have chunks of crab meat (but call it a crab chowder) or no crab texture at all.
  • It was almost like a sweetened tomato soup, but it was actually red peppers, with a very light seafood taste. I feel like they used some potato to thicken it and then a little cream to bring it altogether. It need much more cream though.

Tasty Chicken Sandwich (USA)2.5/6

  • Roasted chicken, apple, cucumber and greens with house Dijonnaise, served on multigrain $12 (+$3 to substitute side salad for cup of soup)

  • The sandwich is piled with thick slices of well seasoned chicken breast, but it was really difficult to eat. The bread was too thick and not that toasted and I couldn’t taste each layer of ingredient with every bite. It was almost like a chicken salad on top of bread although the ingredients did go well together.
  • It had some thinly sliced red apples and cucumbers and they tasted great with the chicken. It added sweet, crisp and fresh flavours, but there wasn’t enough to finish the sandwich with some in every bite. I could have used more Dijonnaise as well which was tangy with mayo, but mild in Dijon spice.

Macaroni and Cheese (USA) – 3.5/6

  • Loaded with Aged White Cheddar and oven baked until golden $10
    • Macaroni Americano – with bacon, peas and breadcrumbs +$3
    • Macaroni Italiano – with basil, garlic, tomato, and Parmesan +$3
  • I’m a macaroni and cheese snob. This is a very popular dish here, but I’m quite particular about it because I order it all the time if it’s available.
  • I ordered the Macaroni Italiano and the dish is shallow, but it’s quite rich so the portion ends up being decent. It would be great if it was served with a piece of garlic bread or side salad though.
  • It’s very cheesy and creamy with loads of fresh Cheddar cheese. It’s quite saucy but it has a mealy texture rather than a smooth one so I think they use some orange Cheddar in the sauce. That, or they don’t rinse the pasta. If you don’t rinse pasta for mac ‘n cheese it will give it that mealy texture because of the additional starch.
  • Since it was cooked and then baked the macaroni was a bit overcooked.
  • I also would prefer a nice cheesy crust so the cooking times need some playing around.
  • It had tangy plump and juicy Roma tomatoes and I could have used more garlic and it would be good if the basil was incorporated throughout as well. If you like cheesy creamy white sauce and red sauce together you’ll like the Italian.

Beef Bourguignon (FRA/France) – 4.5/6

  • Red wine braised beef with caramelized pearl onions, carrots, and mushrooms over garlic mashed potatoes $14/$18
  • I ordered the smaller portion ($14) and it was huge and enough for 2 people. Sure, it’s not a Julia Child approved French Bourguignon, but was it still delicious? Absolutely! In this case it was good enough to outweigh the importance of “authenticity”.
  • This is hearty comfort food and perfect for cold rainy days. You want to eat it curled up in a Snuggie by a fire place with a glass of red wine watching Julie and Julia. Well, at least I do.
  • There’s a generous amount of beef and the majority of pieces are nicely browned yet still very tender with flavour throughout. All the vegetables are tender and sweet and it’s coated with a nice red wine sauce that’s savoury and sweet. It’s very chunky and almost like a stew and it sits on a nice bed of creamy mashed potatoes that soaks up all the gravy.

Yes, I’m writing about my hot water because I was charged for it. It would have been nice to know before hand that I would be charged… I guess I paid for the lemon and Kraft liquid honey, which I didn’t use or ask for. I think it was only $.50? It’s not the price, but the principle and I think it’s kosher to be informed before the bill.

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17 Comments

  • colene says:

    charge for hot water??? oh my. That’s terrible :/

  • Mags says:

    I’ve only been once to Burgoo and never went back, mostly on virtue of their service. I found the food was okay – but not nearly as good as I was expecting given all the rave reviews and how busy they are. We had to send a dish back because there wasn’t enough meat in it (there were like, 3 chunks, maybe). They had 2-3 waiters for the entire restaurant on a busy weekend night (one of the waiters was doubling as a bartender) so it took us FOREVER to flag someone down. I do agree that the soups are good though; the best part of our meal by a mile was the soup we had!

    I can’t believe they charged you for hot water, but at the same time that doesn’t really surprise me given my service experience…

  • Mijune says:

    @colene – I know ๐Ÿ™ I should have packed the lemon and honey.

    @Mags – That’s not good! Yeah they are so busy and you’re right I always hear RAVE reviews too so I was very excited. They do have good portions, quality and prices so I think that’s what keeps people going back. Perhaps we both had our standards too high?

  • moetweets says:

    I got food poisoning from their seafood Laksa which I don’t think is on the menu anymore…
    When I called to tell them about my experience, they offered me a $10 Gift Certificate.
    $10?! For poisoning me? They can do better than that can’t they?

  • @dalyn_smith says:

    How did u eat all this???

  • Mau says:

    The “sunset corn chicken soup” is based on the typical Colombian soup called “ajiaco” which is usually made with three different types of potatoes (one of them being native of Colombia), chicken, corn, and a herb called “guasca” (native of the andes area). This herb is one of the main ingredients of the soup. This soup is usually served with rice (on the side), capers, cream and avocado (on the side). There are different versions of this soup but the one I just described is the most common one. Since I know what the real thing tastes like, I have never had the balls to even try Burgoo’s version, especially because they add Chipotle (not used in Colombian cuisine at all) and cumin. But I have heard good things about it. Now, if they would have taken the “Colombia” part out of the soup, I would have probably ordered it already…many times.

  • Mau says:

    btw, forgot to mention that Burgoo has had the same menu for a long time and it really is not worth it after trying it for a couple of times…one can do better (and cheaper) sandwiches at home with the same ingredients.

  • munchkie says:

    They charged you for hot water?! What a bunch of crooks! That pate looks delectable though…

  • Mijune says:

    @moetweets – my face literally went like this :S after reading your comment lol! That’s brutal if that happened to you. I’m sure it was more than $10 too.

    @dalyn_smith – lol I had some helpers! I can eat quite a bit though so I did eat some of everything. You’ve seen me do it Dalyn! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @Mau – I think you bring up some great points. Ok in your case I think you would know best and I probably wouldn’t order the soup either unless they called it “corn and chicken chowder” or something. You probably feel the same way as I did about the “Crab Bisque”. On the other hand I try not to judge a restaurant for being different, but I base it on if it’s good. Man.. I’m really jealous you get the real deal! Please let me know where I can try the real version of this soup… without having to go to Columbia… yet at least ๐Ÿ™‚

    @munchkie – Yeah I was caught off guard and I was considering on confronting them about it, but I actually never did. I just blogged about it instead… which may be even worse ๐Ÿ˜

  • Sandi says:

    If you ever go back, try their grilled cheese. Of everything I’ve tried on the menu, it’s the only thing I’d go back for. It’s pretty freakin’ awesome, in a gooey, melted, crispy cheese around the edges kind of way….

  • chubbychick says:

    I can’t believe they charged you for hot water!!! Based on my two visits I felt the service was inconsistent. One night we had to flag down different people to help us (because we waited for SO LONG), whereas the waitress during lunch was attentive and helpful. Would probably return for the cheese grillers.

  • Mijune says:

    @Sandi – I do love a good grilled cheese so I would go back to try that. Thanks for that rec!

    @chubbychick – I know right? Everyone that has commented is pretty much in shock as well. Yeah it looks like a lot of people are having a rough time with service here… ouch. You like the grilled cheese too huh? I guess I should try it!

  • Sherman says:

    The Sunset Corn soup is my favourite. You’re right about some of the food there, there is definitely better elsewhere and possibly cheaper too. But Burgoo does fill a niche.

  • Mijune says:

    @Sherman did you read @Mau’s comment though? Apparently The Sunset Corn soup is a total contemporary take on an authentic Columbian soup… I wonder if some people would see Burgoo how “we” see contemporary Chinese food? I mean I still enjoyed the soup… and to some degree I would be like the people who enjoy Wild Rice, PF Chang’s, Red Door, Terracotta etc. etc.

  • KimHo says:

    Technically, given that it is not called ajiaco, a direct comparison can’t be made but I guess the fact they make reference to Colombia…

    I won’t necessarily call it contemporary, given you can still fly to Colombia to have the real deal; rather, I would call it a best (sometimes not necessarily so) effort to represent a dish from another country, considering the availability of some ingredients. While I understand the reasoning behind the Wild Rice, PF Chang’s comparison, I am not sure that might be a comparison mainly due to population and, in the case of Terracotta, the “F” word! ๐Ÿ™‚ In the end, if locals like it and evolve into something of its own, hey, why not! (North American pizza, cheesecake, ginger beef, et al would be example of such evolution!)

  • Mijune says:

    @KimHo Good point… they didn’t call it Ajiaco.

    I meant this version at Burgoo is a “contemporary” version of it, but your way of calling it “best effort” is duly as well.

    Yup! And some people do love the modernized Chinese food, which is fine if they like it. Wow Kim, it’s surprising for me to hear you say that last sentence… you’re usually a stickler to the “real deal”

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