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Hopping over the border for kangaroo and camel burgers

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CORNWALL, Ontario — OK, when I heard you could get a camel burger at this joint across the border, I thought it was some kind of joke.

So three of us piled in the car last week and headed to Cornwall to check out Truffles Burger Bar. They have a Facebook page that doesn’t offer a whole lot of information (like a menu) and they don’t have a website.

We arrived, and it was SO promising. A glitzy, contemporary interior. Tables dressed to the hilt (and it was barely lunchtime). The thump of dance music playing at the perfect volume. An attractive and personable wait staff.

There were three place settings at the long bar, as if we were expected. But as with all WDT restaurant reviews, we arrived unannounced. We took our appointed seats and quickly befriended our server, Rachel.

The breadth of the burger menu was truly astounding. More than three dozen burgers. Exotic meats like kangaroo, elk and llama. More-standard meats like lamb, venison and boar. Chicken, turkey and beef burgers, too.

Vegetarians are accommodated here as well, with veggie burgers, salmon burgers, nut burgers, lentil burgers and tofu burgers.

Carnivores that my buddies and I are, we ordered the “Hopping Kangaroo” burger ($16.99), kangaroo meat with a creamed horseradish sauce; the “Dalai Llama” burger ($16.99), llama meat with the same horseradish sauce, and the “Santorini” burger, half lamb and half beef ($11.99).

We didn’t know they’d cost that much, either. And it was too late to run to a Harvey’s, the Canadian burger chain. We were committed.

To start, we ordered the weekly preparation of poutine ($6.99). Hey, we were in Canada, eh?

Poutine is usually french fries, cheese curd and gravy. The week we were there, the preparation was onion rings, chicken, cheese curd and gravy.

How do you do poutine without potatoes? We really didn’t miss them. The onion rings were perfectly fried —crispy and delicious. The gravy was thick and rich. But the chicken was a little out of place. Not that we didn’t like it … it just didn’t seem to fit.

Next, the burgers. They all come on a nicely toasted potato bread bun with your standard stuff: tomato, onion and pickles. You get to choose your flavored mayo — garlic, cilantro, tarragon and a host of others. Remember, we’re in Canada now, where mayo is more popular than ketchup where burgers are concerned.

We asked if we could call our temperature, you know, rare, medium-rare, medium. Rachel responded nonchalantly while punching our orders into the computer screen, “They pretty much come out all the same.”

Let’s start with the kangaroo burger. It was a nicely formed patty of lean meat, 8 ounces or so. It arrived medium-well; no trace of pink or juice whatsoever.

The horseradish sauce was not all that horseradishy, mostly sour cream and mayo.

The llama burger wasn’t much different, a lighter-colored meat cooked past the point of pink. Same great bun, standard garnish and lame horseradish sauce.

The half lamb/half beef burger may have been the winner. You had to think about it, but you could taste the lamb. Why they diluted it with beef, I’ll never know. But the tzatziki (yogurt and cucumber) sauce and generous crumbles of feta kicked this burger up a notch.

We did compare all the meats before slathering on the sauces, and honestly — blindfolded — they could have all been cow, for all we knew.

Every burger joint has to have fries, right? We ordered truffle frites ($4.25) and curly frites ($3.99).

Was the chef asleep? How could he allow soggy fries like these to leave the kitchen? The truffle fries were a pile of mush with clumps of supermarket-style grated Parmesan on top. The curly fries are better at Arby’s.

And where’s the truffle oil flavor? You can’t fool us — we know what truffle oil tastes like, and we couldn’t taste any truffle oil. And we know what good pomme frites taste like, and these were not it.

Burgers and fries for three cost $61. A round of drinks added $17 to the tab. Canadian taxes were another $10 or so. Then there’s the tip. Our total for lunch came to $105.36.

Would we go back again? Probably not. If the exotic burgers had more distinct flavor, maybe. If the sauces had more pizzazz, maybe. If the frites weren’t a pile of soggy potatoes on a plate, maybe.

And if someone else was buying … maybe.

And the staff, while friendly, did lack some intimate knowledge of the restaurant and its products. For example, when we asked a few basic questions about the Barking Squirrel lager on tap, our bartender/server offered, “I don’t make it, I just sling it.” In her defense, she did disappear somewhere for a tutorial and returned with, “It’s from Hop City Brewery in Brampton, Ontario.”

Bottom line: It’s fun to say you ate kangaroo, llama and lamb, but other than that, I have a little problem going back to a place where a burger and fries lunch costs $20 a pop.

You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: wsiebel@wdt.net.





Truffles Burger Bar

155 Pitt St.

Cornwall, Ontario

613-933-9112

A fancy restaurant serving a long list of exotic burgers: kangaroo, camel, elk, llama and more.

HOURS: 11 a.m. to midnight Tuesday through Sunday

The “Santori” burger was our favorite — half lamb/half beef topped with tzatziki and feta.

RATING: 2½ forks

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