Eats, chews and leaves: Big Wheel Burger ain’t your grandma’s fast food

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I guess as children, we aren’t as concerned about the quality of ingredients. Let’s be honest: it was all about the Happy Meal toys.

If you’re anything like me, you occasionally still crave a cheeseburger. One of the more recently opened restaurants in Victoria that satisfies this craving is Big Wheel Burger. Unlike McDonald’s, Big Wheel Burger does not serve fast food; it serves real food fast. A visit there is never a failure.

Here are some items I was surprised to find at Big Wheel Burger: purple Eames fiberglass chairs, compostable cutlery, stickers with smiley faces, wine, local beer and homemade ice cream sandwiches. They also serve burgers (not really a surprise) modeled after the classic American cheeseburger. 

The Cook Street Village location attracts an eclectic crowd to its repurposed space (it used to be a laundromat) featuring simple white walls, exposed cement and intricate woodwork installations. Tables are first-come first-serve, so plan your dining time accordingly. Take-out is always an option, but nothing beats munching on fries while people-watching from a prime window seat. 

All burgers ($7–$10) are made from heritage Angus beef, both hormone- and antibiotic-free. It’s ground fresh each morning, allowing for tender and juicy patties. Cheeseburger toppings are simple: cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickle and a secret sauce. Is it just me, or does every burger joint have a “secret sauce”?

Big Wheel’s buns are soft and always come lightly toasted. Double patties are available, but I suggest saving room for sides. The fries ($3.50) are both crispy and tender. Combo deals keep individual meals under the $15 mark.

The poutine ($5.50) finds grounding in a generous portion of thick-cut Yukon Gold fries. Fresh cheese curds are scattered liberally amongst the crispy chips, then swathed in simple, brown gravy. This calorie climax tastes as one might expect — an effective union of potato, cheese and gravy. It’s worth a try, although I felt the dish could have been served piping hot, not tepid.

The familiarity of poutine is the selling point, as it is with all food served at Big Wheel. For the indecisive diner, consider ordering the Klapecki off the secret menu, a marriage of Big Wheel’s chili cheese fries and poutine. The secret menu isn’t posted anywhere in store and is usually hidden online, but I have the link for you: bigwheelburger.com/menu/secret.php

My friend skipped all the fried potatoes and gravy in favour of dessert. Her ice cream sandwich ($4.50) sent shivers of jealousy around the table. Two baked-in-house cookies were united with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The small details, like the secret additional menu and a trash-free, sustainable business model, ensure repeat customers. Big Wheel also has a kids’ meal served with a toy, just in case you can’t shake that Happy Meal urge.

Rating: 4/5

Big Wheel Burger

341 Cook Street

Hours: Monday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Website: bigwheelburger.com

Twitter: @BigWheelBurger

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