Sunday, 2 March 2014

Kenzington Thursdays

My middle son, Patrick, is an almost 20 year old, 6 foot 2 inch sports nut with a big appetite and a particular penchant for a well made hamburger. He spends Monday to Thursday at Humber College in Toronto studying Sports Marketing (naturally!) and arrives back in Barrie for the weekend on the first GO train. Patrick brings with him his laptop, four days worth of laundry and an immediate need to eat something! The big fella always says he is good with any eatery that I choose, with the exception of Indian or vegetarian fare, which is partly a joke because he knows those are two of my favourite cuisines. Brat.

I had been hearing good things about the Kenzington Burger Bar for some time. The name always came up in discussions about what might be Barrie's best burger. A few months ago, a couple of my high school friends and I were looking for a casual place to grab a bite down town before we saw The Spoons and Saga at the nearby Sound Empire. We settled on Kenzington at 40 Dunlop St. E.. It certainly impressed us girls, but would it score high in the standings with Patrick, the ultimate burger fan?

Patrick takes his hamburgers very seriously. He is a master of the 'cue at home, and is currently longing for our patio to reappear from under the winter snow so that he can produce some fine grilled meats once again. He has been a world burger seeker on his travels so far, with good finds in the U.S., passable in France and non existent in Scotland! When he arrived at the Allandale Waterfront station a few weeks ago, I asked him if he wanted to try what might very well be Barrie's best burger. As you can imagine, he was all for it.

Our first visit, burger aficionado and food blogger, was on a snowy night. We sat at one of the tall tables in the front window and watched the winter weary citizens of Barrie pass by. The menu is not complicated, but does have a formula that might require a bit of explaining on the first visit. We both chose the brioche bun, which is not yet printed on the menu, as our bread. The brioche is light, airy and as I call it 'squishable', a necessity when the burger is bigger than my mouth. There are 5 choices of meat. You can bet the farm that Patrick will order prime rib beef and I am a fan of the black bean veggie patty. You have 7 options for a side dish, and so far we have yet to stray from the delightful home sliced yukon fries. All burgers come with lettuce, tomato and onion, but the fun part is selecting your burger style. By that, I mean you choose from a list of funky names such as the porky, the black & blue or the dunlop, with each moniker describing a set list of eclectic ingredients.

On my first visit, with the girls, I chose the dunlop which includes roasted red pepper, spinach and goat cheese. I found the goat cheese to be overpowering. But if you love goat cheese, you will be beyond thrilled. My next time out, and actually ever since, I moved on to the burger style called prime, which I find absolutely magnificent. Prime is a gorgeous layering of grainy mustard, brie cheese, chipotle mayo and crunchy little fried onion strings. I cannot seem to pry myself out of my prime rut. I'm not saying this is a bad thing.

My burger loving son has been more adventurous. If memory serves me correctly, I believe he has worked his way through the cowboy, rodeo, porky and most recently the kenzie in our 4 or 5 visits to Kenzington. The kenzie includes a fried egg, something new for Patrick, but he liked it so I expect to be buying more eggs when barbecue season returns to our back yard.


On our first visit together, Patrick and I were puzzled and delighted by the small ramekin of zesty sauce that came with our yukon fries. It was delicious, creamy, reminiscent of all dressed potato chips but completely unidentifiable to either of us. When our server returned, we inquired. "What is this wonderful sauce? We just can't figure it out." We did feel a little silly when he told us that it was a house made specialty - ketchup and mayo. Oh. If you've ever seen the comedy film, 'Stepbrothers', you'll know that this same condiment is fought over by 2 idiots who refer to it as 'fancy sauce'.

The service is great at Kenzington's too. We are always treated like friends, shown to the nicest available table and served with both professionalism and humour. Somehow the Kenzington Burger Bar has managed to create a unique vibe, a comfortable place that is both bar and restaurant, both casual and upscale. I'm fairly sure that you could easily bring any friend, guest or family member of any age to Kenzington and have a very nice time. The place was hopping the Friday night my girls and I popped in, and we did wait maybe 10 minutes for a table, but Thursdays are more laid back, always a place to sit to warm up and fill up.

As for filling up, you know I have never yet managed to finish my dinner at Kenzingtons! No matter what or when I eat earlier in the day, I just cannot do it. I mentioned that fact to my server last week. He pointed to Patrick, who was happily downing my left overs, and said "Well, that's why you bring that guy, isn't it?"