Battle of the beef Le Burger Week taste-off pits pricey patty against family-style fatboy

It’s a tale of two hamburgers.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/09/2022 (190 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s a tale of two hamburgers.

The Rossini Burger at 529 Wellington — a Canadian Prime Grade tenderloin patty infused with black truffle, topped by brandy foie gras terrine, Canadian butter-poached lobster, Béarnaise, crispy red onions, heritage mixed greens and black truffle aioli — costs an eye-watering $100.

The Classic Fat Boy at the White Top Drive In — chili, cheese, tomato, lettuce, patty, bun — is just $7.15. The total cost of every single item on the menu — every burger, every hotdog, every permutation of french fry or poutine, every dessert, and a milkshake and soda to wash it down — is only slightly over $100 before tax.

Every restaurant participating in Le Burger Week approaches the annual gastronomic extravaganza with its own particular interpretation of a North American classic.

At 529, one of the city’s poshest dining establishments, they took the humble hamburger and elevated it, stuffing it to the gills with items that rarely appear on a plate together, let alone between two buns. The restaurant also elevated the price to one cool, crisp portrait of Robert Borden, the wartime prime minister whose face graces the Canadian C-note.

The White Top, an old-fashioned walk-up and drive-thru on Salter Street, did what it does best, making its version of a no-nonsense Winnipeg tradition. The cost? You can pay for it with a Viola Desmond and stroll away with a toonie, three quarters, and a dime jangling in your pocket.

The prices varied, but what about the taste? What about the sensation? What of the salty, tangy, juicy memories? How can we compare two hamburgers so distinct, so individualistic, so gratuitous in their own mystical ways?

We took a bite of both to find out.

Burger No. 1: The Classic Fat Boy
White Top Drive In, ($7.15)

The red-and-white striped hut has been serving North Enders burgers, fries and milkshakes since 1972. So the White Top didn’t have to labour too hard to come up with its entry for Le Burger Week: its Classic Fat Boy is always on the menu.

It’s a heap of finely shredded lettuce on top of a patty blanketed with chili, one thick slice of tomato and a slice of cheese at the bottom, all held together inside a sturdy white bun from family-run Harvest Bakery.

You can tell it’s been made for half a century. Judicious layering of ingredients meant that with each bite, every component of the burger could be tasted in its entirety. It has no delusions of grandeur, and yet is grand in its own self-assured simplicity.

The White Top’s burger requires no pomp or ceremony. It can be eaten any time, anywhere, by anyone. We ate ours leaning on the hood of our car.

Bite-size review

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: A classic fat boy; exactly what’s promised

FIRST BITE: Delicious



PATTY QUALITY: You get what you pay for: crumbly, beefy, a tad dry, but still quite good

MESSY LEVEL: No stains, minimal drippage

STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY: Architecturally sound


REGRETS: Needed more napkins

SIDES: Fallen lettuce became side salad


Burger No. 2: The Rossini
529 Wellington ($100)

This famed Wellington Crescent restaurant is housed in a converted mansion, and it serves food to match its elegant surroundings: prime rib, oysters on the halfshell, and sushi-grade ahi tuna. So it’s not surprising that 529’s take on the hamburger is a rich melange nodding to its most decadent dishes.

There’s a lot of tasty stuff to chew on: a thick prime tenderloin patty topped by a sliver of foie gras, a generous amount of flaked lobster pressed into a puck, all cosied up inside a buttery brioche bun. The burger comes with tempura-fried asparagus and pickle spears, along with truffle fries dusted with Parmesan.

But at this black-tie gala, every guest is vying for a seat at the head of the table. Who will be the belle of the ball? The lobster? The tenderloin? The fatty foie? With so many layers of extravagance all battling for supremacy, these decadent elements — each executed with obvious expertise — can easily get lost in the fray.

This is not an everyday burger: it is a special occasion burger. And for most, that occasion never comes.

Bite-size review

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Spectacular — not sure whether we should eat this or leave it in our will

FIRST BITE: Decadent



PATTY QUALITY: You get what you pay for, buyer’s remorse included: Deluxe, juicy, savoury, with ingredients that could have, and perhaps should have, stood alone

MESSY LEVEL: Bib encouraged.



REGRETS: Needed cutlery

SIDES: Tempura-fried pickles and asparagus spear, with Béarnaise and Parmesan truffle fries.



It’s a tale of two hamburgers, but also a tale of two very different restaurants. At one, servers in uniform deliver opulence on a platter to customers seeking a luxe experience. At the other, the cook is the waiter, the greeter and the cashier, handing foil-wrapped sustenance through a sliding window to customers huddled together on the sidewalk.

Both burgers offer a singular dining experience, clearly prepared by people who care about satisfying their customers, giving them the best bang for their respective bucks. At the same time, the two dishes cast a light on the starkly different economic realities of Winnipeggers going out for lunch on a Monday afternoon.

Both sandwiches are made well, but in two very different ways, to satisfy two very different sets of expectations.

Is one hamburger better than the other? That depends on who you are, and what type of sustenance you’re craving.

AV Kitching

AV Kitching

AV Kitching is an arts and life writer at the Free Press.

Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.


Updated on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 9:28 PM CDT: White Top address

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