Long time no blog!
Well actually, so long that I forgot my admin password.
So, to make up for the absence, I’m going to do something special: Harpers Burger Bar
Harpers came to be during our time here in Kingston, around the same time as Five Guys, followed by The Works a year later. As vegetarian burgers are generally sketchy coloured, and have the mouthfeel of cardboard, we elect most of our date nights away from burgers, plus, it’s not surprise that this girl isn’t won over by fast-food greasy burger joints.
With all that being said, Harpers fills a niche of causal-but-not-sweatpants dining. A and I had been to Harpers 5 or so times since September. However, the food usually gets snarfed the second it hits the table, leaving no time for pictures, nor conversation, just the silence of content chewing. Anyway, this past Friday, A thought Harpers to be a great place to bring his baby cousin, SF, to celebrate the end of semester.
As the venue hosts mainly 4-seater tables, it’s often a bit of a wait: we’ve stood around for upwards of half and hour- but not to fret, there are 4 flat screen TVs (usually a mix of sports, food network and top 40s music videos) and so worth the wait.
Harpers menu features a eclectic mix of gourmet burgers, and of course, the classics for the not-so-adventurous. Moreover, the menu hosts a large selection of patty choices including chicken, spicy chicken, beef, turkey, salmon, lamb, chickpea, and portobello.
Three things are of note here:
1) Harpers belongs to the same group as Chien Noir and Atomica. The result is an impressive campaign of local meats and produce, as well as a sustainability directive including recyclable take out containers. I like this.
2) The chickpea patty is made in house with mashed chickpeas, spices and a binding agent: none of that generic cardboard stuff. I like this also.
3) Every burger comes with fresh slices of tomato, onion, lettuce and pickles. And, there is a choice of bun. The servers won’t mention it, and it’s all hidden in the menu.
Our server came by several times in our first few minutes with the menu, ready to field any questions. She seemed a little jittery, but didn’t rush us, which was great as we took well over 10 minutes to make our choices.
Other than the TVs, the decor is unusual with a chalkboard wall menu, bench seats and jarred lights. Not impressive, just unusual, the decor projects a suitable causal feel to the place.
A played it safe with his usual #2 the Classic with Cheese (secret sauce, lettuce and “Black River Cheddar”) upsized the burger patty from a 6oz to a 8oz for 1.5$, and went for the gourmet fries (tossed with thyme, sea salt and parmesan, served with white truffle aioli mayo). The burger was “just good”, according to A; he wasn’t the biggest fan of the fancy fries, but I thought they were fantastic! Each fry was thin and crispy, but not overly deep fried, while the thyme added a nice, but not greasy after taste. The parmesan was fresh and tied together beautifully with the white truffle aioli mayo. But I guess I’m heavily biased because I love mayo, and in my humble opinion, you can’t go wrong with adding cheese to things.
I got the veggie stack (grilled portobello, sauteed spinach, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and avocado spread) with simple salad. The simple salad is generously portioned and covered in the house vinaigrette.Though the salad isn’t special (fresh, local greens can only be so special), the dressing is first rate. I might try to buy some dressing to take home the next time I go in- it’s really that good.
The Veggie Stack: Be warned that this burger is a squishy one- if I one day give up on the vegetarian goodness, I’ll be adding a bacon crunch to this combination. All the same, this burger is by no means lacking and is nothing short of fantastic. Two fair sized portobello mushrooms create a little hollow in which settles the spinach, goat cheese and red peppers, this prevents them from slipping out when one bites down. Instead of mayonnaise, the bun is cover with a generous smear of avocado. All on a soft, fresh bun. There’s something about it that I can’t put my finger on, but overall, it’s sensational. I’ve definitely caught myself daydreaming of this burger on cold rainy days at the library.
SF went for the most impressive thing on the menu: the Stack: “Black River” cheddar cheese burger, with three cheese stuffed, panko crusted flash fried portobellos, and secret sauce, and yam fries on the side. Having never tried them, I was delighted to discover that the yam fries at harpers are mouthwatering. Not overly deep fried, and cut thick, A and I will likely be getting a side of these at our next visit to Harpers.
SF said that though her burger was tasty, it was also greasy, oh so greasy. But then again, what do can we expect from a burger covered in deep fry? This burger resembles those on the food channel, where people travel to great extents to consume the unusual foods. SF insisted on the palatability, but I doubt she’ll ever get this again. I guess this may be a good pick for those who like deep fry, but be prepared to fill stuffed to the brim after consuming The Stack.
All in all, Harpers is great place for a meal with friends, but not too low key for a nice date. I can basically guarantee that there will be more reviews on Harpers, as I’m determined to try the spiked milkshakes and beer floats there. One can’t help but fall in love just a little with a burger bar that has something on the menu for everyone.