In most people’s memories, we want to like the 1950’s – everyone liked Ike, and with the Baby Boom, the innocent music of teen romances, and white picket fences, life through the retrospectoscope sure seemed grand.
In reality, the 1950s were pretty tough times for a lot of folks, but if they were as great as in our mind’s eye, a place like Moderne Burger would have fit right in. And here, today, you can timewarp back to that age, wear your bobby-sox, claim some innocence and wash it all down with a cherry cola.
I.e. this is a place that you should eat at, and soon. Being new-ish to Vancouver, I hadn’t heard of Moderne Burger, but a veteran of the Vancouver food scene gave me a heads-up a few months ago that this place had the best burgers in town and that it had been closed for renovations due to a fire at a nearby store.
Vancouver isn’t short of burger joints: there’s Vera’s, a surprising number of Dairy Queens, Fatburger, some crazy high-end places, and a million greasy spoon joints. And further afield on the west coast if you happen to be south of the border there’s always the amazing, always delicious In-N-Out burger that never disappoints.
I kept hearing that this place was going to re-open and so I googled it, found the website, and saw that in fact, as of June 27th, they had re-opened. I promptly called M and K, knowing they to always be willing to tackle a tasty meal, and D and I headed out for what was a great dinner.
Was this an Epic dinner? No. But it was a super-tasty, extremely pleasant, fun, super-casual, relatively fast, and just plain great dinner. We arrived at 6pm on a Saturday and were seated within about 5 minutes (no reservation). Service was extremely nice, and I got the feeling that this might even be a family-owned place. Not that it necessarily makes for better food, but it does warm the old heart a bit to see family members working really hard together trying to make the best of something.
The decor of Moderne Burger is definitely ’50’s diner’ style, although it’s classic 50’s with a jukebox and a palette of green, silver and chrome accents – overall, very tasteful, not kitchy or crazy busy/too-much-to-look-at like a place like Zak’s in Ottawa. It’s a really light, open, airy place, and while the booths are well-spaced out, they’re a bit of a squeeze – they do have some larger booths, and of course you can always wait for one if you’re a larger group.
All right – most importantly – the food: it’s great. The burger has probably the best bun of any burger I’ve had in town and of any burger I’ve had in a long time. It’s soft, full of that potato-flour flavour (I think), and just plain delicious. The patty is fairly thin, the lettuce/tomato/onion fresh and crisp, and with the soft bun it’s an easy bite, doesn’t fall apart in your hands, and doesn’t require dislocating your jaw to get your mouth around. For taste – it’s one of these things that just all works together – you aren’t tasting charred beef, then sauce, then onion, then bun – instead, you just get a sense of all the parts at once, all working together. This burger just works. In terms of the burger patty – mine was a tad on the pink side – just fine by my standards, but not for everyone (in Canada) – you might want to ask for ‘well done’ if that’s your thing.
The milkshakes were *awesome* – crazy huge, crazy thick, topped with whipped cream and a cherry – this is the milkshake of your dreams when somebody says “50’s diner” – Pop or Big Al never made a shake this good:
One shake: good for two, but you’ll order another
And finally – completing the trifecta – the fries. They were good, not great. Fresh-cut, not soggy, a huge plate of ‘em came, and yes we finished them all. Ketchup, salt, and malt vinegar on the table – season ‘em how you like. A bit on the soft side, but still delicious. Didn’t taste of stale grease, they looked perfect and while they weren’t the best fries I’ve ever had, like I said – two plates of them got finished between the four of us:
The Fries: yup, order some. Do it. Yup. Uh-huh. Ok.
Overall, we had a great dinner for 4 here. ~$63.50 isn’t that cheap, but it was a ton of food, it was fresh, tasted great, the service was super, we never felt rushed, and left feeling really happy. This is a feel-good kind of place – the kind of place that you want to like, and actually do – the servers try to please, and the food sure as heck does.
Most likely, your only problem at Moderne Burger will be getting a table – this place won’t have 5-minute waits for seating at 6pm on Saturdays for very long, so get there while you can.
(and no, the pics aren’t from 1954. Please accept our apologies for these. Even though Moderne Burger is a well-lit, bright, clean place, the old Casio digital lived up to its name and took some seriously second-rate pics. Cleaning them up faded the color and added nasty grain, so I’ll just claim it’s all for that retro look…just looks like I’ll have to go back to get some better snaps…)
Dinner for 4: ~$63.50, including tax + tip
2 cheeseburger platters
2507 Broadway West
Vancouver, BC V6K 2E9, Canada