Burger Wars: Round 3. Reggie’s Hot Grill

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Awhile back, I started a blog mini-series on the “burger wars” of Peterborough.  Here at Farm to Table, we take our burgers pretty darned seriously and feel that it is our responsibility to report on the state of burgerdom in this here Peterburger town.

The first part of the series gave a bit of recent burger history.  You can find it here.

The second part was a review of the new burger kid on the block: The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro.  You can find that review here.  The conclusion:  A quite pricey (though definitely large) franchise burger with an impressive array of tasty condiments.  Hand cut (and somewhat crisp) fries.  Excellent customer service.  7/10.

Next up in the better burger battle is Reggie’s Hot Grill.  Reggie’s has a soft spot in the hearts of many local burger aficionados.  While this soft spot is most likely made up of a combination of cheese and french fry grease, it exists nonetheless.  In short, Reggie’s is definitely a favourite in this town.  It became so as a result of a combination of innovative burger options and a pretty darned good product.  It didn’t hurt that they ran the best darned burger/chip truck in town (sadly, now closed).  For a good long while, Reggie’s could do no wrong.

Of late, however, Reggie’s grill-flamed halo has begun to sputter.  There have been reports that the once-keen eye for detail has begun to wander. After all, owners Cameron Green and Rejean Maranda have opened a few other restaurant properties over the past few years, including El Camino’s, Kettle Drums, and the newly purchased McThirsty’s.

In fact, whenever I have posted about the restaurant over the past year or so (on Facebook and Twitter) I’ve heard fairly equal measures of praise and regret.

The Reggie burgers that Krista and I have bought over the past two years have ranged from pretty good to disastrous.  I mean, ingredient-wise, they are better than fast food franchises, but sometimes burned, other times missing condiments.  On one occasion, both.

For the sake of this review, I decided to give the Reggie’s kitchen the best opportunity they could to knock it out of the park.

I popped in midweek, at 11:15am.  Knowing I would likely be the only customer, I wanted to check out what a fully-attentive staff could do with a burger.

The woman working behind the counter was fresh-faced and keen.  Say what you will about Reggie’s, those kids that they hire are always a chipper bunch.

Having had a few very well-done burgers from the restaurant before, I decided to try to mitigate the over-grilling.

“I know you folks have to cook your burgers to 71 degrees,” I told her.  “But if you could keep it as rare as you can, that would be great.”

She nodded.

I took off for 10 minutes and returned to find my burger still on the grill and the waitress talking to her co-worker.  The conversation quickly ended and the cook hightailed it back to attend to my food.

The result?

My Pepper Jack Burger was blackened on one side and definitely a very, very well-done puck of beef.  The cheese, I have to believe, was thrown on when I came in the door and quickly wrapped up with the burger — definitely without any time to even slightly melt.  While the other condiments, including their quite delicious Creamy Jalapeno sauce, were bang on, the burger itself was a bit of a grilling disaster.  And this was with me being the first and only customer of the day.

The fries, on the other hand, were excellent.  Piping hot and golden brown, they almost made up for the burger.  Almost.

Before assigning a score on this one, I’m going to factor in my previous visits to Reggie’s — and the fact that I have had some great burgers there in the past, and likely will again.  That bump, however, is not enough to put it into the above average realm of burger mastery.

As with the Works, I’m pretty certain that we’re not dealing with local ingredients.  Other than the generic “6oz Ontario Beef Burger,” I’ve seen and heard no mention of local sourcing.

The verdict: Reggie’s has the history and potential of a great burger shack.  They have good, fresh condiments (even if they are sometimes mislaid), notable fries, and great customer service.  They also have some consistency issues and a seemingly growing list of disgruntled patrons.  Their burger is quite a bit smaller than the Works, but comes in at a lower price.  I got away with just around $15 for a burger, fries, drink, tax and tip — still pretty pricey for a overly-charred chunk of cow.  While they remain my burger go-to, they need to return to the level of detail that made them so good in the first place if they are going to keep my business. 7/10.

It’s your turn, folks.  Chime in with your Reggie’s experience.  Let us know what you think of the Works.  Or tell us where you think the best Peterburger is served.

8 Replies to “Burger Wars: Round 3. Reggie’s Hot Grill”

  1. I’d have to agree with not being 100% convinced about the Reggie’s burgers being made of local product. As a culinary school graduate and an employee of a local chocolate shop I tend to pay great attention to the food that I eat and where it comes from.
    The last time I went to Reggie’s I stood at the counter while my burger was being made as the tables were all full. After seeing a box labeled M&M Meat Shops in the freezer and eating a slab of burnt meat for a burger I decided to take my burger buying else where.
    Hopefully the guys at Reggie’s haven’t bitten off more that they can chew with taking on their new business ventures. Quality over quantity folks!

    1. Hi Caitlin,
      M&M Meat Shop is the place where they get their VEGGIE PATTYS from.
      The Beef comes from PINERIDGE – Blackstock, Ontario!!

      Markus

  2. Once the owners starts opening up new businesses or purchasing businesses, the previous business will slowly become disregarded.

    This sounds like the case with Reggie’s with El Camino’s, Kettle Drums, & McThirsty’s. That’s a shame with Reggie’s because it’s quite a staple in Peterborough. Maybe they figured that they’ll get more business because they were featured on Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here!

    I’ve seen this happened before with the Trasheteria when they opened Splice. The final nail in the coffin was opening up Spanky’s. The owners were paying attention to those two businesses more than the Trash itself.

    I hope Reggie’s will return to its level of detail that made them so good, especially the creamy jalapeno sauce.

  3. We’ve had good burgers at Johnny Eh’s. Their Armageddon burger is not for the faint of heart! The Mouth Melter is a little more tame.

  4. I gotta say I’ve always loved Reggies but I too feel it’s gone a bit downhill. I find myself going to the works now for my burger fix, but it too isn’t perfect. I’ve tried 5 different burgers from there and 2 out of those 5 were wayyy overcooked. But the other 3 were simply delicious!

  5. What’s happened to Reggie’s???? I liked them more when they had the old chip stand at Trent University, back when they cared about high quality food and maintaining their customers.

    In regards to the food, the last time I went the burger was undercooked (I’m not talking TRACES of pink, I’m talking LOADS of pink). Burger was also messy to the point where I couldn’t pick up the burger from any side without getting sauce everywhere (keep in mind that I did not ask for extra sauce or anything). Fries were a much tinier portion than usual. After 2 bites, I ended up throwing the $7.00 burger in the trash (but not before discovering that in addition to being pink, and messy, the burger was ALSO incredibly dry: like Sahara-desert-dry).

    I disagree about the chipper service. Although it definitely used to be that way (sigh, the days of the Reggie’s Chip Truck Stand @ Trent University), it’s not anymore. I went recently and it was soooo bad. I don’t have high service expectations (especially of little diners or dives, such as this) but this was truly terrible. I waited for 30 minutes (their ordering board boasts 10 minute wait times). The cashier did not bother to let me know that they were running behind schedule (and to be honest, it didn’t look any busier than usual in there). When I told the cashier about this (KINDLY, mind you, I was in no way rude when I told her) I was then told that they’d been busy all day (This is not really my problem: if you’re so busy that your order time is going to run 3x longer than usual, just let your customers know when they’re ordering their food so we’re not waiting around wondering whether you’ve lost the order or not).
    I tried to let them know about this in-person and by phone but there was NO MANAGER on duty for me to tell them at the restaurant and the Reggie’s phone number had NO VOICE MAIL. This seems very questionable: what kind of business doesn’t have any way for customers to get ahold of the managers/owners to let them know how they’re doing? A business that doesn’t care, I guess….

    This place used to care about the food they served and the customer satisfaction….what happened?

  6. Used to love Reggies….No longer…After several Mediocre Burgers the Last one that o had the Mushrooms unfortunately tasted bad and the result was Bad….If you know I mean..

    Sorry Reggies …You need an Overhaul…

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