Crispy Cristy moved into the old Extreme Pita location on Barrington Street last month, officially sending Halifax to its burger saturation point. This restaurant offers gourmet burgers, poutine, chicken, fish, pitas and salads. By “chicken” they mean strips and wings, by “fish” they mean fish and chips, and by “pitas” they mean just about anything, but with a Mediterranean emphasis. Basically this is like your typical Halifax pizza shop, which offers a wide variety of standard gut-busting fare, only instead of pizza they serve hamburgers. I think they even deliver.
Which leads my to the inevitable question:
What makes a burger “gourmet”? There. I just said what you’ve all been thinking. Everyone wants a piece of the gourmet burger trend, and without the solemnity of burger law, there are no regulations which dictate when you can call a burger “gourmet”. At Crispy Cristy, my burger was served on a fancy square plate: +1 gourmet burger point. My burger patty consisted of quality Angus Brand Beef : +1 gourmet burger point. The patty was actually quite nice, if not a little thin for my liking. However the taste and texture reminded me more of a really good diner-style burger, rather than a gourmet burger.
What else makes a burger gourmet? Fancy toppings! Crispy Cristy offers its own takes on nacho and Greek burgers, as well as burgers featuring intriguing ingredients like “grill fried pepperoni”, ancho chipotle sauce and caramelized onions. But what did I do? I ordered The Ringer ($8.49), fully equipped with onion rings and mozza sticks. Yes, mozza sticks. I couldn’t help myself. I’ve never had a mozza stick burger.
This burger was like a fusion of classic greasy diner burger and some atrocity of Epic Meal Time. The fat-faced-hedonist in me was delighted by the presence of mozza sticks on my burger, while my increasingly health-wary conscience grimaced in shame. There were chunks of the dreaded iceburg lettuce, the generic flavours of ketchup and mustard, and of course the whole thing fell apart while I was eating it.
So what makes a burger “gourmet”? We could make a complicated gourmet burger criterion, with check boxes for quality of beef, presentation, and luxury of toppings – but chances are we would keep finding exceptions and contradictions. So I will provide my own definition: A gourmet burger must be sexy, whether elegantly chic or ruggedly handsome.
The Ringer at Crispy Cristy was not really sexy. It was more like a staggering fratboy who thinks he’s crisp and cool, but is actually just drunk on mediocrity and ready to eat a donair and pass out in his dorm room. I’m not saying the burger was bad! If this burger was introduced before the gourmet burger boom, it would have been a leading Halifax hamburger. Maybe the “Chicago Jack” (smoked bacon, caramelized onion, honey mustard and monterey jack – $7.49) is a classier burger bro, but I won’t be rushing back to find out.
The price scale is for stand alone burgers, with fries being an additional $2.50. As you can plainly see, the fries are the packaged frozen variety which I thought Halifax had outgrown, but several online reviewers have strangely applauded. Also, the atmosphere at Crispy Crispy is that of Extreme Pita with a paint job, and the service I received was squarely average, if not a bit timid. I’m curious about the poutines which come in 8 varieties, and the Greek/Lebanese style wraps.
Perhaps there is room for Crispy Cristy at the greasier end of the Halifax burger scene. The common Haligonian may not care about grass-fed beef, hand-cut fries, or house-made sauces. The common Haligonian grew up on roast beef and potatoes and may not desire “peppery arugula” or “creamy chevre” on their burger. This is still the Maritimes after all, and the category of “gourmet” may apply differently to us. I say bring on the grease! I just need a break for a while…. speaking of which:
Halifax Burger Week is happening March 21-27, with participating restaurants offering specials and proceeds to FEED Nova Scotia. Check it out!
*** Currently Crispy Cristy has no online presence: -10 gourmet burger points!!***