Restaurant: Stackhouse Burger Bar
Last visited: June 4, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: 1224 Granville Street
Price Range: $10-20
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Modern burger joint
- Chef Shahab Ghaemi
- Specializes in burgers
- Gourmet burgers
- Fresh baked daily brioche buns
- Home made sauces
- Innovative and creative recipes
- All natural, quality ingredients (almost all local)
- Washington Kobe beef & Alberta AAA freshly-ground prime rib
- Seafood/Vegetarian options
- Reasonably priced
- Energetic/lively atmosphere
- Craft beers/cocktail/drinks
- Open late
- Sun-Thu: 11:00am – 12:00am
- Fri-Sat: 11:00am – 1:00am
**Recommendations: StackHouse Burger, StackHouse Sliders, Onion Rings, Deep Fried Pickles (upon request, I didn’t try them, but I saw them!) and the Mesclun Salad
Burgers, pizzas and sandwiches are the forgotten items that are making a strong come back in Vancouver. StackHouse Burger Bar opened in downtown, Vancouver early February and I’ve heard nothing but good things. Coming in with high expectations I was not disappointed at all, and in fact I can’t wait to go back!
Burgers don’t have to be fancy, but I don’t mind if they are either. I appreciate a $2.75 In-N-Out Burger as much as I do a $10 gourmet burger, but on very different levels. But, if I’m going to go for a sit down gourmet burger in a comfortable setting it’s either going to be Stack House Burger Bar or Romer’s Burger Bar.
It helps that the food and cocktails are coming from professional hands too. Chef Shahab Ghaemi (formerly of Crime Lab, Century House and Lucy Mae Brown) and Bar Manager Derek Vanderheide (formerly Shangri-La, and Diva at The Met) certainly have control of what’s coming out of the kitchen and the bar.
Part of the reason I loved it so much is because chef understands seasoning. Everything was pretty much perfectly seasoned and controlled in execution and delivery. It’s almost like he knows how to make an ingredient pop without having to use much of it and therefore staying within budget too. I mean it’s only burger and fries, but it tasted better than they looked, and it didn’t even look bad. It was simple enough, but not boring, and creative enough, but not complicated. The offerings are much fancier than the place suggests, which is okay with me if there’s an overall balance, which there generally was.
It’s actually quite reasonably priced considering the quality of ingredients, but in the end some of the items still felt a bit pricey. It was probably my fault for upgrading almost everything though, so each plate eventually came out to $20, which I find expensive for a place like this. However if you stick with the basics, you’ll have a satisfying experience.
The atmosphere was also quite lively and energetic with a live DJ. Part of the reason was certainly due to a Canucks win, but the DJ does come in on occasion. Regardless it was a relaxed and casual feel good space fit for socializing and solid eats.
On the table:
- Prime rib mini burgers with pancetta, portabellini, Guinness cheddar, chipotle aioli and butter lettuce served on a brioche bun. $14
- I upgraded the standard side of fries or side Mesclun salad for the onion rings and they -$2 and add the price of onion rings ($7), so this plate costs $19 (which I found pricey).
- StackHouse Sliders – 5/6
- The bread to meat ratio was ideal. It helps that it was a brioche bun, which is always delicious.
- It’s not as fluffy as the brioche burger buns at Romer’s Burger Bar which means it’s also not as thick too. It’s very soft and still fluffy though and I did miss the glossy shiny burger bun top, but the flavour was very rich and it sneaks up on you. For me the one at Belle’s On Thirty Two is the best brioche burger bun I’ve had to date.
- This is definitely a meaty burger and the ground prime rib is what does it! It’s also quite rich and substantial for a slider.
- The patty is incredibly well seasoned with a char-grilled exterior and the middle is juicy and tender and it melts in your mouth especially with the buttery soft and very lightly toasted brioche bun. The patty is excellent.
- There’s a slight heat from the chipotle aioli, but it’s not really spicy or overpowering.
- I loved the bite of sweet portabellini mushroom, crispy salty pancetta and melted Cheddar; however since the ingredients are layered whole, I only got one very satisfying bite of everything together.
- On a different scale, but just as a side note, one of the best gourmet burgers I’ve had is The Grille’s Signature Cheeseburger from The Capital Grille.
- Made daily in house, battered & breaded, served with your choice of aioli. $7
- Choice of aioli: cilantro aioli, truffle aioli, miso aioli, chipotle aioli.
- I’ve heard so much about these onion rings and that’s why I had to do the upgrade! They were delicious and amazing, but they are pricey.
- They’re incredibly crunchy, well seasoned and the onions are thick, yet tender, and I could taste them. They tasted sweet too so I think they’re using using sweet onions.
- They’re very lightly battered and crispy and I think the batter is either cornmeal or brioche bread crumbs and I’m leaning more towards the brioche.
- It’s a rather sweet and well seasoned onion ring and it’s even great plain.
- I ordered it with truffle aioli and I could taste a hint of truffle, but it was more savoury than anything.
- I don’t know what kind of wicked seasoning salt he’s using, but it makes you almost not care that the truffle is a bit a faint.
- Dungeness crab patty with panko bread crumbs, miso aioli and watercress, topped with fried leeks and served on a brioche bun. $14
- These were actually surprisingly rich and richer than the Stackhouse sliders for me, which is unusual since it’s seafood.
- Crab Sliders – 4/6
- There wasn’t much crab in these, but for some reason it didn’t bother me because again the chef understands seasoning.
- There were some onions and herbs and a couple fillers in the crab cake, but it all worked and it made you forget about the flaky crab meat I would usually look for.
- It wasn’t juicy, but the crab cake is moist and actually quite filling with some aioli in the mix and there’s no citrus tang or much watercress to balance it out.
- It was panko crusted and fried perfectly crispy and the dollop of miso mayo just enhanced the richness of the crab cake and gave it even more savoury flavour.
- I could definitely taste the miso and even some freshly ground black pepper in the crab cake and I loved the West Coast fusion spin.
- I could have used more thin strands of crispy leeks for more texture since the bun was so soft and the crab cake was the only crispy thing.
- I have to say even the leeks were well seasoned though.
- Organic spring mix, edamame and grape tomatoes, served with lavender-infused honey citrus vinaigrette. $9
- This salad may look boring, but the lavender-infused honey citrus vinaigrette could possibly be one of my favourite dressings. It was delicious and made the salad!
- The dressing was initially sweet from the honey, followed by floral notes and then it ended with a lemoney tang.
- It’s a sweet and tangy dressing and the lavender is subtly in the aroma and the flavour and it’s not bitter or too perfume like.
- The salad was lightly dressed and the vinaigrette was the perfect balance of all the ingredients listed.
- “I don’t like lavender” fans will like it as much as “I love lavender” fans. I was with a hater and we both liked it equally.
- 5 oz Ahi tuna steak with miso aioli, watercress and creamy avocado. Topped with fried onions, served on a brioche bun. $16
- I upgraded the standard side of fries or side Mesclun salad for the poutine and they -$2 and add the price of poutine ($8), so this plate costs $22 (which I found pricey).
- Ahi Tuna Burger – 4/6
- It was a good burger and the ahi tuna was thin, but it covered the entire brioche bun, so it didn’t bother me.
- It pretty much tasted as good as it looks. It was very Californian West Coast with Asian fusion inspiration.
- The ahi tuna part wasn’t that impressive and a bit mushy and not well seared, but all together the ingredients worked well.
- If I remember correctly, I think I like the Ahi Tuna Club at Joey’s better, if not the same, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had one of those.
- It was savoury and rich with great layers of crispy thin fried onions and a generous amount of creamy avocados slices.
- The only thing I wanted was something tangy from either a juicy tomato, some lime or even ponzu sauce.
- It was just a bit too rich with the soft buttery brioche bun and the creamy miso aioli spread that I needed something to cut through the heaviness.
- It was the same deal with the crab sliders, although both still good.
- Seasoned fries served with local bocconcini, topped with truffle demi-glace. $8
- I’m glad I tried this, but it’s a bit pricey and I don’t know if I would order it again.
- There wasn’t much bocconcini (some underneath), but it was a great alternative to fresh cheese curds. They were only semi melted, which I liked and they really came across as curds and not just melted mozzarella cheese.
- The truffle demi-glace is very rich and I could taste the meat juices used to make it, but it’s not greasy either.
- The sauce was generous but a bit salty, however they used some good wine to reduce this demi-glace.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if they used prime rib juice instead of veal stock to make this demi-glace, but it was still good regardless.
- It was a bit sweet and very savoury and the truffle was faint so I could have used more of that.
- It wasn’t oily or thickened with any sort of starch, and coming from a burger bar, it’s impressive.
- The fries were nicely salted, soft and fluffy, but I prefer my fries crispy and these ones weren’t really, even if they didn’t have sauce.
- It’s a good poutine, but just not really that worth it for me.
- Vanilla ice cream wrapped in brioche dough, deep fried to perfection, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served with a Kahlua chocolate ganache and fresh fruit. $9
- I love deep fried ice cream, but this version was okay and not worth the price especially since the portion was small (one standard small scoop) – that’s why 2.5/6.
- Because it’s deep fried ice cream, it’s almost always good, however $9 is almost a dessert from a fine dining restaurant.
- I guess the fresh fruit and presentation was impressive, but I rather have a bigger portion and no fruit, especially at a burger place.
- It’s a very light seasoning of cinnamon and sugar and the batter is relatively thin and not doughy at all despite it being brioche dough.
- The batter seems the same as what’s used on the onion rings and I think it’s brioche bread crumb batter.
- The batter isn’t that crispy, which defeats the purpose, and it just slips off the ice cream completely so you’re eating it almost separately.
- The Kahlua chocolate just tasted like plain melted chocolate sauce and the ice cream was good, but for the price I’d expect real vanilla bean ice cream.
- Although not as fancy, there’s a soft ball sized deep fried ice cream next door for $4.95 at Two Parrots Perch & Grill that does the job – see here. My favourite one is the one at Luna Loca Mexican Restaurant though – see here.