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Meet the Experts: Mr. Lew of Mr. Lew’s Great Burger Search

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Photo Credit Robby Virus

Mr. Lew may be elusive when it comes to his personal identity, but one thing he can’t hide is how much he loves food—especially bacon, cheese, and of course, burgers. Since 2009, Mr. Lew has been exploring Montreal and its environs seeking out the ultimate in burger offerings. He’s tasted and blogged about over 100 different burgers, from major chains to small delicatessens.

On Mr. Lew’s Great Burger Search, Mr. Lew chronicles his eating adventures, from burgers and beyond, on his never-ending quest to discover the newest, most cutting-edge creations.

Describe your eating philosophy.

My eating philosophy is simple: I eat what I like. Though I like to try new things every so often, I tend to stick to what I like. It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who knows me that I’ll stick to anything related to bacon. There’s very little on this planet that bacon can’t make better. Also, if I don’t like the way it looks, I won’t put it in my mouth. Other people react to me funny when I turn down octopus or squid dishes, but that’s where I draw the line. You’ll probably never find me at a fine dining establishment, but at a middle-of-the-road restaurant.

What’s your favorite burger of all time?

That’s probably the most asked question I get on a daily basis. I’ve been doing the Mr. Lew Great Burger Search since 2009 and I’ve had over 125 burgers. Each burger I try is different than the last. I can’t judge a burger based on objective criteria. If I were to single out one burger that I’d call my favorite, there would be no point to continue the search that I am so proud of. That’s the reason I call it the Great Burger Search— because there are more than one that can count as great.

Favorite burger toppings?

My favorite burger toppings are lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onions, cream cheese, and obviously bacon. I choose cream cheese because it’s not something that you get in your everyday burger. I need to have lettuce and tomatoes because without them, the burgers tend to be lacking flavor. For me, since I spend a lot of time talking about bacon, it would be silly to not list it in my favorite toppings. Bacon is the accent that makes the burger so much better. If not done properly, the bacon gets lost and the burger sinks.

Where do you stand on veggie burgers?

I have yet to try a veggie burger. In my opinion, a veggie burger could probably never hold a candle to the real thing. However, one day, I’ll have to eventually add veggie burgers to my search. It’s not something that I’m dreading; I’m actually looking forward to it. It will add a new dimension to my search.

Next burger on your to-eat list?

The next burger on my radar is one at the Deville Dinerbar in Montreal. It’s a relatively new restaurant that offers class American fare with an upscale twist to them. They have a burger which is a take on the Vortex Bar & Grill’s Triple Coronary Burger in Atlanta. The burger has four 6-ounce patties with all the burger accoutrements between two grilled cheese sandwiches. It costs 35 dollars and is something that I want to try very soon.

What’s the best city for burgers and why?

I’m obviously going to be a little biased with this question since I spend the majority of my time in Montreal. I’ve tried burgers in Ottawa and Quebec City. I also hope to go to Toronto in the summer. I know that there are a lot of American cities that probably do the burger justice, but there’s no city like Montreal. In Montreal, we have over 300 restaurants that offer the burger on their menu. They range from your small family-owned establishments to your larger-scaled operations. The range and variety make the Montreal burger scene one that I’m glad to be part of.

What other sandwiches are you partial to?

I grew up eating simple ham sandwiches with mustard when I was going to school. As a matter of fact, I still regularly have them in my lunch. In Quebec, we also have steak submarines (hoagies) which are quite good. With the right amount of steak and cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers, there’s no turning that down.

McDonald’s or Burger King?

I’m going to say neither. I can argue for and against both those fast food chains. I mostly grew up with McDonald’s. My consumption of McDonald’s has steadily decreased in recent years and it’s not something that I rely on when I’m hungry. I would much rather go to Subway when I’m looking for something quick. I’ve had Burger King three times in the last 20 years, so I can’t really favor them. In Canada, we also have Harvey’s, which for a lot of people, myself included, is far superior to those two.

Your final meal: who, what, where?

My final meal has got to be a nice, simple bacon cheeseburger with a side of poutine and iced tea. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as the right people are there. Those people would have to be the people I hold the closest in my circle. Also, I wouldn’t mind having people like Vince McMahon, Larry David, and Gordon Ramsay there. Those are all people who shape my views on life and allow me to live like I do. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they’re all entertaining.

Editor’s Note: If you’re near Montreal, Mr. Lew just might let you accompany him on one of his burger escapades. And if you’re not, what American cities do you think best represent that all-American creation, the burger? Please weigh in in the comments below, and help me welcome Mr. Lew to the Menuism community! -Kim

  • Justin C

    I’ve yet to pair a good burger with a side of poutine, but it sounds like a delicious combination. 

    • Kim Kohatsu

      We should go to the Arsenal in West LA sometime. Great poutine and great burgers.

      • Justin C

        Definitely. Sounds awesome

  • Anonymous

    I guarantee you that poutine is the perfect side dish to a good bacon cheeseburger.  If you’re lucky, there’s even bacon in your poutine!

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  • Susanegold

    You must come to Burger-fi in Ft Lauderdale for your veggies burger with grilled onions. The best bar none.

    • Mr. Lew’s Great Burger Search

      If I’m ever in the area, that’s something I’ll keep in mind. Always looking for a good veggie burger.

Mr. Lew is a high school teacher from Montreal, Quebec. In 2009, after trying Montreal's supposed best burger, he decided to see what else was out there. So, every week, a new burger was added to the Great Burger Search. Since then, Mr. Lew has tried more than 100 burgers in cities across Canada, and hopes to one day expand to the rest of North America. Since Mr. Lew is part Chinese, the search isn't limited only to great burgers, but to other types of cuisine that makes Montreal one of the greatest culinary cities in the world.