With regrets to the other Vancouver burgers out there, I don’t believe any have garnered as much praise as Chef Rob Belcham’s. His deceivingly simple, three-ounce beef neck creation is widely touted as the best in the city.
When word got out that Rob’s burger (aka the Refuel burger, which had become unavailable with the closing of that restaurant) was being served under a new roof — Strathcona Village’s Campagnolo Upstairs — burger connoisseurs flocked to indulge in this greasy labour of love.
Disclaimer: I am no burger connoisseur. I can’t remember the last time I ate one. However, one bite into Rob’s version, and I couldn’t imagine meat-on-bun tasting any better. It was perfect. Why, you ask? It isn’t the soft, perfectly toasted Scottish bap, or the onions that are pressed into one side of the patty before being golden-grilled, or the crispy-fresh iceberg lettuce, or the melting American cheese on top.
It’s the meat. With a butcher shop in-house, Campagnolo, Camp Upstairs and Campagnolo Roma benefit from carefully chosen meat that’s prepared expertly. And the burger is never made with ground beef. The unique twist is Belcham prefers 45-day, dry-aged beef neck for his burgers. What else is so great about this stand-out menu item? The patty is three ounces, as opposed to the typical five (excessive, no?). Rob believes we should all eat less meat. This certainly jives with my own philosophy that quality over quantity is a choice we must all adopt, for our health, the environment and for the animals. Besides Rob’s philanthropic ideals, he’s into sharing…
Tips on how to make a mean homemade burger from Rob Belcham (the one man you should really trust on this meaty topic)
1. Whatever you do, don’t buy ground beef. It’s scary stuff. Buy a really good steak, short ribs or brisket and either chop it up yourself by hand (this obviously takes a bit of time) or grind it up in your food processor. Make sure it’s not too pasty, like pate texture. It’s got to be ground so you can taste the bits of meat in it. Also, for a really juicy burger, try to use meat that is at least 25% fat.
2. When you form your burger, don’t pack it tight. Keep it loose.
3. Season the hell out of it with tons of salt and pepper.
4. Cook your patty in a very hot pan or grill and then don’t move it around. Let it form a nice crust.
5. Don’t add guacamole and tons of different things to it. This doesn’t enhance the burger. You’ve got to let its flavours shine through.
6. Bun tip: Save-on-Foods sells Scotch baps in their bakery section and they’re really, really good. They work perfectly as a burger bun.
Where to buy quality meat for home cooked burgers in Vancouver (as per Chef Belcham)
Campagnolo and Camp Upstairs are located near Chinatown, and Campagnolo Roma is on Hastings near Nanaimo (both locations are part of the Strathcona Village area). For more information on this up-and-coming, restaurant-centric neighborhood, visit www.strathconavillage.com to register or visit 945 East Hastings in person for details.
A $100 gift certificate to either of Campagnolo’s trio of Strathcona Village restaurants is up for grabs.
1. Post an image of either Gastown, Railtown or Chinatown (the ‘hoods the makeup Strathcona Village) to Instagram (or tag an old shot).
2. Tell me why you love this area. Bonus points for passion, humour or creativity!
3. In your caption, include hashtag: #StrathconaVillage
Good luck! I’ll announce the winner on the morning of Friday, October 17th on Instagram.