When Ace Burger Co. closed up shop at their Gus’ location in the North End (don’t worry you can still get your fix across the harbour at Battery Park in Dartmouth) they left a burger-shaped hole in the heart of every burger lover in Halifax. Luckily, the fine people behind Riot Snack Bar stepped up to the plate and quickly opened up Vandal Doughnuts.
At first mention, most people probably thought that a place called Vandal Doughnuts may be more of a cafe-esque kind of place, but it just so happens that they also have a menu of gourmet sandwiches and burgers (obviously alongside a wide selection of donuts of all shapes and sizes).
The combination of there being new burgers in town, and the team that creates some pretty delicious food over at Riot being the ones cooking them up, I knew a visit was a must. There are three burgers to choose from on the menu (one of which is a veggie option titled “Return of the Mack”), and I figured it was only appropriate that I go with the Vandal Burger for my first visit.
From the menu: “Grass fed beef, blue cheese, double smoked bacon, balsamic mayo, pickled red onions and local greens on a brioche bun”
Nestled in a checkered-paper lined basket, and accompanied with a side of potato chips, the Vandal Burger was dripping with creamy balsamic mayo from all sides. The thick beef patty was draped with two slices of double smoked bacon, and finished off with some nice, leafy greens.
The brioche bun was the perfect size for everything inside the burger, although the whole thing together did seem on the smaller size, and I was a little worried about whether or not it would completely fill me up (I came very hungry that day!).
The first bite, and most bites after that, were great. The toppings were spread out evenly, and you got a bit of everything each time you chomped down. The juicy beef was cooked nicely, and it wasn’t overworked which led to a deliciously tender patty.
I never used to be a big fan of blue cheese, but over the last couple of years it has really grown on me, and while there wasn’t a generous amount on this burger, there was just enough that you get some of that strong flavour without it being too overpowering (which is something I have encountered on burgers in the past, and it is not a good thing).
The soft, brioche bun was a damn good time, and it did a pretty good job of holding everything together (it’s also worth mentioning that it’s the same bun used at Riot, and I have referred to it as one of my favourites in the city). I have no complaints about the bacon, and the greens were nice but I would have been ok with a bit more. As mentioned above, the balsamic mayo was dripping from all sides, and while some, not so saucy, people may be turned off by this, I welcomed it with open arms (I’m a very saucy man).
My only real complaint about this burger was the use of pickled red onion. I would have loved to have a crisp crunch from some fresh onions to add another layer to the burger. There was no faults in the flavour department here, I just would have enjoyed that particular texture in this case.
Cost vs. What You Get (7.75/10)
The cost of the Vandal Burger is $9.25, which includes a side of potato chips. This burger is on the smaller side, but even with taking that into account, this is a pretty good deal for a tasty burger. If there was a choice between a couple different side options, I wouldn’t have a problem with the price going up a dollar or two for a more “premium” accompaniment.
I love that Vandal Doughnuts quickly stepped in when Ace Burger decided to part ways with Gus’ Pub. Those were some big shoes to fill, but so far they seem to be making a great impression on those that have stopped by. Yes, the Vandal Burger is a bit smaller than some of the other burger options in the city, but if you grab a couple of their creative doughnuts for dessert, you will be leaving full and happy!
2605 Agricola Street, Halifax, NS (inside Gus’ Pub)