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Pick's vs Buns: Burgers

In the thread on Restaurant Openings - 2009 http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5844... , chilipepper told about a new burger place opening up on St Marc, just north of St Catherine. Around the corner from Buns. They opened 2 days ago.

The young man who owns and operates Pick's was brought up in the business. His parents owned Manna, the Korean resto on Bishop. They sold it and now own and operate a Korean resto on the Southshore.

First off, they sell kogo's. A kogo is like a pogo, but it has pieces of potato in the batter. We were talking while he was making one for a customer. He forgot about it for an extra couple of minutes.I joked that it was crispy. It really wasn't that overdone at all. But he wouldn't serve it to the customer because it wasn't perfectr. My kind of guy. Just for this alone, I would hire him to work in my kitchen any day!

The burgers are made from premium meat. They are never frozen. There are 5 or 6 types of cheese available. Cheese is an extra charge. But the basic burgers are 50 cents less than Bun's. ($3.50 vs $4).

Now the big news. YES FOLKS, they have toppings like bacon, carmelized onions, roasted red peppers and the like.

They also do a steak burger with bul go gee beef. They also serve french fries that are homemade. I must confess that I prefer the grilled potatoes at Bun's. But they are not consistantly cooked. (I remember the second leason that I was taught in my training by my first chef: ALWAYS< ALWAYS be consistant! ( the first was to duck flying objects when he was angry)) So I will have to give that one to Pick's also.

He does do Hot Dogs. He also has Michigan sauce for the dogs and the burgers.

All in all I rate Pick's as the winner so far. I'm going to go back tomorrow and just see how they're doing and to test the food once more.

I asked and he will also get kimchee from his parents place for me!

Has anyone else been there yet?

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  1. I went in to see the menu and have a chat with the owner yesterday, very nice people and a neat little space. Didn't have a burger as I had just picked up the humongous combo from Thali next door, but I'll be back soon for sure.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Anth

      I saw this place as I was coming out of Thali the other day and was curious. Maybe I'll check it out.

    2. Order menu without prices:

      double burger
      jumbo dog
      fry's gravey
      fry's and salad

      smoked gouda


      cole slaw

      michigan sauce
      sauted mushrooms
      carmelized onions
      fried onions
      grilled red peppers

      wasabi mayo
      chipolte mayo
      honey mustard
      spicey ketchup
      aioli sauce (aioli & mayo)
      grilled red peppers & aioli sauce
      sun dried tomato with basilic & aioli

      2 Replies
      1. re: bigfellow

        Better than Buns but perhaps a little less meat in the burger (won't swear to this). The problem with "home style" burgers is that we can make them better at home and so it's tough to get crazy about them. I didn't dress the burger up above the "free" toppings so I imagine if you're willing to pay the premiums you'll get something more special and much more expensive than the $3.50 basic.
        Expect a long wait as the friendly owner has yet to realize people don't want to wait forever for a burger. Hint: When a burger is ordered throw a burger on the grill first, ask about toppings after. There must be family money behind this, we'll see if it tightens up enough to be able to survive.
        Like Buns I can't understand how enough turnover can be generated to make money when everything is so slow. There was a group of two or three people who came in after me and seemed to be very interested in ordering but left after about 5 minutes with one of them saying "they've just opened maybe we'll come back later". Their order hadn't been solicited and of course there's no way they came back. A one person show is a tough act.
        Also a guy ordered some fries which looked quite tasty after the long wait it took to present them, but the normal sized fry bag wasn't even close to being full. I saw the guy sort of looking at it and wondering what was up.
        I'm thinking a short lived lesson on the restaurant learning curve.

        1. re: everyonelovessushi

          He does have to learn to put the burgers on the grill first. I was back there last night and passed by this morning. He has started to get more help.

          Tried a sample of a kogo today. It was very nice. But the burgers rock!

      2. Smoked gouda? bulgogi beef burgers? I've never been here, but I already believe it is better than Buns!

        I second the ongoing comments about the one person show though. I liked Buns, but the waiting is certainly an issue - and I can only imagine how bad it's going to be come summer time. Surely efficiency/serving more customers is worth paying the minimum wage to hire at least a second person to be a cashier?

        5 Replies
        1. re: afoodyear

          Stopped in last night on my way home. I ordered 5 burgers, a fry and michigan sauce, and I was given a couple of small kogo samples. They had steady business. I recognized many faces from my earlier visits. As well as former Bun's customers.
          Good atmosphere and they seemed to have a rhythm going getting the food out.

          1. re: bigfellow

            5 burgers?? Hopefully not just for yourself, or are they just that good?

          2. re: afoodyear

            Pick's steak burger is just slices of saute bulgogi beef(paid $4 for this!). Tried it yesterday. Total disappointment. Give me a Harvey 's burger over a Pick's or Bun's burger anyday.

          3. Agreed with the service aspect, but the place hasnt even been open up a week yet. They have a sign looking to hire people at the moment, so I wouldnt be too worried. Awesome burgers imo

            1. I went today at 18h and there were two guys working. The wait was under fifteen min. I got a regular burger all dressed and it turned out great. I'm interested in trying the steak (bulgogi) burger next and probably one of those kogos. But my first impression is definitely good.

              2 Replies
              1. re: blond_america

                Were you tapping on your phone, sitting in the corner stool ?

                I got the burger with all the free toppings. It's good enough for me to return and try their other stuff. I wanted to try Buns right after but the line was too long.

              2. Does Pick's make their own bread?

                1 Reply
                1. I'm so happy to have a snack bar on the block!!! I'm not a fan of Buns and this is exactly what was missing in the area. The last thing we need is another asian joint.

                  1. Ugh. I hate to be negative about this place (Picks) but ventured out to try it tonight, and I would classify my experience as an EPIC FAIL.

                    We arrived at 6:30 - on a Fri nite, mind you - to a locked door, a sign saying "Be back in 10 min" (no idea when it was posted) and a growing hungry crowd loitering outside. (What kind of resto owner deserts their post in the middle of the dinner rush??)

                    After a few min of this surreality, we decided to bail and go to Buns, but sadly took a wrong turn. On the way back we passed Picks again and noticed the door was open, and curiosity won. There were now 5 people ahead of us. We finally ordered and the counter guy just could not seem to get anything straight. He kept giving wrong instructions to the cook, getting everything confused, writing things on the wrong tickets, etc. etc. It was utter pandemonium. (At this point hubby and I were half-joking that the purpose of the 10-min hiatus was to drag this poor schmo off the street & convince him to hep out behind the counter...)

                    After waiting 15-20 min, we noticed they were serving up a burger to a guy who arrived at least 10 min after us. I went up to find out what happened to our food, and of course our order had gotten lost in the shuffle. Our burgers were sitting there but had already gotten cold - they served 'em to us anyway with no warning. Lame.

                    I keep wanting to defend this place, because they are new, because I like some of the menu items, and because the cook guy (owner?) seems genuinely sincere. However, the menu is SO complicated and poorly-presented, and there is nothing resembling any kind of system here - it is beyond amateurish.

                    I know what you're thinking - it's just burgers, I'm taking this all too seriously - but this is not an isolated failure. Honestly, I'm getting SO wary of all these one-man-show places (Buns, Cocoa Locale, now Picks) that seem to be all about the glamorous 'idea' of being a restaurateur, but without a speck of the organizational chops required to actually pull it off. Places that consistently run out of things, mess up orders, or are built around these precious, fancy little concepts are really starting to get on my nerves. I'm thinking of enforcing a household rule, whereby we only eat at places that have been around 30 years or more...Victoire, Decarie, Mr Steer, you are the loves of my life - goodbye poseurs and hacks! I'll be back in 30 years if y'all are still around...

                    (And yes, I know, CL is the furthest thing from a burger joint - but if Reema hasn't figured out by now how to bake enough damn cupcakes on a Saturday to keep her people happy, then she is as guilty as the rest of these hacks - so there! :-P Been wanting to get that off my chest for a while now...)

                    34 Replies
                    1. re: anachemia

                      I think these Pick's guys are in desperate need of a visit from Gordon Ramsey.

                      The food when we went was really yummy but it took a long time to arrive, the guy had to ask us to repeat our orders at least three times as he was making them, and a guy who had been waiting before we even came in still didn't have his food after we'd eaten and left. I'm not writing it off because I am a fan of the bulgogi burger (delicious with coleslaw!), but I'm not planning on going there on my lunch hour when I have limited time.

                      1. re: anachemia

                        They do have a staffing problem.

                        On Friday it was the owner (?) and one of his friends who came to help out. On Monday this friend with no restaurant experience was just one of 10 people hanging around the store.

                        We ordered our burgers at 12:45 and got them at 13:00 with 3 people ahead of us.

                        If I am in the area and it's empty I will have a burger. If there's 5 or more people waiting I know I can go to Oui Oui or Qing Hua instead.

                        1. re: marblebag

                          I was stopping by quite often. But like you Marblebag, I'm waiting for them to get their act together.

                        2. re: anachemia

                          I don't like to be rude but I think it is highly inappropriate to compare CL with this kind of lack of service. I don't think Reema's priority is to feed every single person that enters the store just to make sure that they are satisfied, especially if it is on her expense. If she makes people wait 20 minutes at the counter because she too busy frosting her cakes, it would be comparable; but here you are asking her to supply more goods against her will. She is a human afterall, and she probably does not want to work her butt off (and/or sacrifice some quality) so that she can provide an American style "customer service excellence". Just because people have money to pay for the goods doesn't give them the right to demand whatever they want, whenever they want. Not many people would like to work their asses off, if they can afford not to. Besides, that kind of service experience is usually possible only if one can exploit someone to maintain an order of production that is humanely impossible. You know, when you can hire poor people so that they could bake cupcakes 24 hrs a day to make every customer happy. There comes an idea for the MTY Tiki Ming enterprises: Cupcake Shop chains.

                          She probably has a cutoff point for the day, and once she bakes enough to gather some profit she calls it a day and "lives" her life. I kind of admire the way she keeps her life and work in balance and refrains from getting greedy at the same time. I wish I could have that kind of relationship with my work.

                          But I should also admit that this lack of immediate availability adds to the mystique of the store. You desire those little things more when you know that you might not be able to get them whenever you want.

                          1. re: emerilcantcook

                            Also, in Reema's defense, her products are fresh. If she bakes too many cakes or cupcakes, and they don't sell that day, then what? (okay, it could conceivably happen, I guess...) I'm sure she knows how much she sells, and can physically bake, and proceeds accordingly.
                            As an aside, I don't think I've ever been there when she's run out of cupcakes...key lime pie, yes, but cupcakes, no...

                            1. re: emerilcantcook

                              I agree with a lot of what you said, ECC. There IS a difference between a conscious decision to stop baking more cupcakes, versus the issues at the other places. And I did live in the US for a long time so maybe I'm conditioned to expect that kind of "customer service" without reflecting enough on what it takes to deliver it...will have to think about that more.

                              However, I still think there is a balance, and that when you open a restaurant/cafe/cake shop/whatever, there is a certain expectation that if you as a customer make the effort to go to their place *during their business hours*, they are going to provide "restauration" in the form of food. It's understandable to run out of a few things or have a few kinks in the system now and then, but at a certain point if a place is so unreliable, it feels customer UNfriendly.

                              After reading about the couple that drove all the way from the West Island for a CL cupcake only to be turned away during business hours, or trying myself last year to reserve a cake a week in advance for a party only to be told reservations are not accepted - it leads me to to think the place is trying just a bit TOO hard to maintain its mystique. I'm not talking about people walking in at 5.55pm and throwing a tantrum, which does sound like "supplying more goods against her will," but when you consistently sell out of things at 12, 1pm on a weekend yet decide not to make any more, or won't take a reservation for a single small cake, all in the name of keeping your "mystique," well I consider that to be crossing the line.

                              This to me reinforces the connection between CL and these amateur burger joints: these places seem more like hobbies for the owners rather than serious establishments. I have TONS of respect for people who are willing to work their butt off to create a new brand, a concept, a system, and most of all a place for locals to enjoy and talk about - it is NOT an easy business. I guess it ticks me off that these kids seem to want all the glamour of the above without paying their dues.

                              For example, read about this guy's story for comparison's sake:

                              1. re: anachemia

                                Reema's not limiting inventory because she's interested in maintaining a mystique but because she's interested in running a one-woman, hands-on operation (doesn't want the hassles -- and they are many -- of having employees; doesn't want to delegate creativity or quality assurance; wants to maintain control of both cooking and customer contact), because she has a life away from work and because her kitchen is small. To call her business a hobby, to accuse her of wanting "all the glamour ... without paying the dues" (she works her butt off), to dismiss her as a kid is insulting and presumptuous. She's developed a unique product and a devoted clientele, brought joy into countless peoples' lives, realized a dream by working hard to get where she's at: but because she's not willing to go corporate or sacrifice quality or adopt an insane work-life balance she's a target for criticism? If you want all the cupcakes you want whenever you want them, go to Provigo. If you want Reemacakes, learn to play by the rules and count your blessings that you're able to get them at all.

                                1. re: carswell

                                  I'm not asking Reema to compromise her life-work balance. All I'm saying is this: When your business hours are until the late afternoon (6pm?) and you have run out of cupcakes by 1pm, make a few more batches.

                                  DH and I have been to CL about 8 times in the last year and a half. 5 of those times we have had to walk out empty-handed because she had no cupcakes left. Maybe I just have bad luck or bad timing, but not being able to reserve a birthday cake a week in advance was pretty much the last straw for me. All of these strange policies send the message that she doesn't mind disappointing her customers or wasting their time, she'll stop baking whenever she feels like it. That's why I likened it to a hobby.

                                  I'm glad she has enough devoted customers to keep her thing going. Personally I find it beyond my tolerance level to jump through these kind of hoops - it's cupcakes, not a medical clinic, for Pete's sake.

                                  To bring the discussion back to Picks - I was probably a little rough on them in retrospect. They did just open after all...I hope they will find a way to iron out some of the kinks over the coming months.

                                  1. re: anachemia

                                    Pick's still has a 'Help Wanted' sign on their window last time you checked?

                                    1. re: anachemia

                                      Reema's "thing" is called a business, which she has managed to pull off on her own terms, which is what I call "success".

                                      Disclaimer: I have yet to try Reema's wares, but I now look forward to visiting her shop and sampling whatever I find there.

                                      1. re: rcianci

                                        While it's worth the drive for sure, I truly hope for your sake that you don't come up from Vermont and find she has nothing left or has decided to close early. ;-)

                                        1. re: kpzoo

                                          When I come up, a visit to CL won't be my only reason for coming. :-) Funny, the other day my wife and I were saying that no matter how time we spend in Montreal, it never seems like enough.

                                          1. re: rcianci

                                            Key thing, if you want the most selection, get to CL close to noon, especially on the weekends. This is particularly true when it is a holiday weekend, like for example Mother's Day! Happy Mother's day all....

                                            I love the cupcakes, but I also really love her cakes. So as long as there is something to buy, I'm ok.

                                            Back to the topic of Pick's, I am intrigued by the idea of a bulgogi burger, but fear I might miss the kimchi (Pavlovian food response: bulgogi means kimchi must be served). Guess I'll have to risk it some time soon.

                                            1. re: moh

                                              You can always call first to make sure that he has some kimchi on hand.

                                              1. re: bigfellow

                                                Better yet, BYOK. Especially when it's made by moh's mum.

                                      2. re: anachemia

                                        «I'm not asking Reema to compromise her life-work balance.»

                                        But you are. Or to change her business model.

                                        She's baking pretty much at capacity: it's what she and her kitchen can turn out in an eight-hour day. She keeps the store open until she's sold the day's production, not until "whenever she feels like it." The only way she could bake more cupcakes would be to work more hours or cut back on the number of cakes she bakes. But she views cupcakes as a sideline; it's why she offers only an unchanging few flavours of them. Her main interest is the constantly changing array of cakes -- it's there that she exercises her craft and gives free rein to her creativity.

                                        From day one, she's had a no-reservations policy. It's not hard to imagine what would happen if she took reservations from anybody and everybody: nothing left for the walk-in trade except the leftovers from no-show reservers.

                                        If I'm invited to a vernissage, show up fashionably late and find that all the paintings or photographs I'm interested in have already been sold, I'm not going to call the gallery owner a hobbyist or declare it an outrage to my sense of personal entitlement. When I go to the Jean Talon Market on Sunday afternoon and the finite supply of locally grown white asparagus at Chez Louis or veal cheeks at Veau de Charlevoix or hanger steak at Boucherie du Marché has already been snatched up, I'm not going to berate the owners for not catering to my schedule; I'll make a mental note that the next time I want those things, I'll simply have to arrange to be there earlier. No different with Cocoa Locale.

                                        1. re: carswell

                                          Carswell, thanks for explaining that - I never realized she's more cake-oriented and the cupcakes are just a side thing. Probably because CL is always included in those "let's-compare-cupcake-joints" articles, I always thought the little guys were her main focus, in which case it's a bit harder to justify running out. The shortages make more sense to me now (FWIW).

                                      3. re: carswell

                                        Now here's where a little creative use of technology could make everyone a lot happier. If Cocoa Locale had a functional Web site, Reema could take two seconds to update it when she was out of stock of various items each day, saving a lot of folks a trip from the other side of town for nothing. Plus she could update her opening hours if closing early, etc. etc. etc. :-)

                                        1. re: kpzoo

                                          I don't remember if she is cash only, but it would seem that in this day and age, you could take a credit card number for anyone wishing to reserve a cake, or she could take a cash payment in advance. That would ensure she does not lose money and she can do whatever she wishes with the "leftovers." I would not want to "gamble" on a cake being available on a special occasion, particularly if I did not live near there and made a trip.

                                          1. re: kpzoo

                                            ...Or you could just call her with one of those newfangled telephone thingies.

                                            1. re: SnackHappy

                                              About the CL discussion: It is the owners business to run the way they choose, whether you like it or not. As I learned very early on in my life, it is her money on the line, so she gets to make all the choices right or wrong.

                                              If you decide that you are put off by her choices and how she runs her place. Then you can cast your vote by not patronising her business.

                                              Some people do not want to have a large super successful business. They just want enough to live in the lifestyle they like with the workload they want.

                                              My two cents worth.

                                              1. re: bigfellow

                                                I agree, and you always have to allow a certain wait when you go somewhere, because you just never know!

                                              2. re: SnackHappy

                                                I could, but I would not want to interrupt her to inquire about the status of this or that item - she's pretty much a one-woman show and would feel bad taking her away from baking chores or serving clients.

                                                As it stands, I do what Moh suggested - i.e. on New Year's Eve I arrived 5 minutes after she opened and had my choice of cakes. So instead of the planned one cake, I picked up two. ;-)

                                                1. re: kpzoo

                                                  Call her. If she can't find time to answer the phone, she should hire a person to help her.

                                                  1. re: kpzoo

                                                    CL opens at 12:00; as soon as Reema unlocks the door, car doors open in synch & people start walking in. If there's a particular cake or cupcake you want, I'd call to make sure she's baking it & make sure to get there early. I have always found Reema very open to answering questions and engaging customers in conversation; we once discussed the cupcake trend/craze & I learned she gives more credo to her cakes. And it shows.

                                                  1. re: kpzoo

                                                    For those who want a live update on CL inventory. There were only a few regular cakes left when I left around 1:15 today. Most inventory was gone, short of perhaps 2-3 dozen cupcakes and two big bundt cakes. I am pretty sure they won't last long. Because I will eat them all just to make sure that her other customers are unhappy. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

                                                    1. re: emerilcantcook

                                                      I dropped by at 1:45 and only the bundt cakes were left. I took 2 cup cakes. I wanted to get a red velvet. Where else can I get that?

                                                      1. re: marblebag

                                                        Les Glaceurs on St. Sulpice (south of metro Place d'Armes) makes killer red velvet cupcakes. A little on the moist side, but delicious.

                                                  2. re: anachemia

                                                    I am pretty sure Reema had baking and catering experience before she opened Cocoa Locale. I know she used to supply cookies and cakes to various restaurants and cafes around town. It's not like she woke up one day and decided that since she can bake cupcakes at home she should open a store. She has a small place and limited space for ingredients and equipment. That probably has a lot to do with her minimal production. Furthermore, baking requires time. If Reema was baking and icing cupcakes and cakes all day long, she wouldn't be able to work the cash and we would all be waiting to be served. Could she hire some staff? Sure, but clearly she doesn't want to. I can understand that. She wants to be sure that everything is up to her standards ALWAYS. I think that's admirable. As for not taking reservations for "one small cake", I also understand that. Had she taken your reservation, she would have to take EVERYONE'S reservation. It's not like she gets one reservation a week. Also, if she were to take reservations, there would never be any cupcakes or cakes available for walk-ins, then all those people who complain about her running out of cupcakes by 2pm would really have something to complain about.

                                                    It's different with the burger places. People who want a meal want it fast and without hassle, especially when they are at a fast food joint. Picks should have hired and properly trained someone or at least simplified their menu. A one man show and a big menu? That's biting off more than you can chew.

                                                  3. re: emerilcantcook

                                                    Was it you, who suggested Reema should consider opening a second location in the Monkland Village(partly tongue in cheek)? When I brought it with her, she told me, no time to open a second location & bake more production.

                                                2. They definitely need to get better organized and to get some good help. You just can't keep relying on your friends when you open a new place.

                                                  1. Your post piqued my interest so I decided to try out Buns when I went by it. The menu was simple but the food was great.

                                                    I'm surprised that you are comparing it to Pick's since they seem to be two different types of restaurants. One very simple and the other lots of choices.

                                                    I will try Pick's next.

                                                    Thanks for the tip.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: breadandcoffee

                                                      They are both variations on a theme in my opinion: Burger places.

                                                    2. There's a Buns on St-Laurent south of Avenue des Pins. The menu seems identical.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: marblebag

                                                        If you read the Bun's thread, you'll find more information on Bun's. It is one of their 2 restaurants.

                                                      2. I finally went to Picks today based on this thread and I have to say that everything was absolutely delicious. My hubby who is by no means a foodie (basically eats cuz he has to) was super enthusiastic about his Kogo. I also had a burger with some caramalized onions and some chipotle mayo. Delish! I would recommend people have a go and check it out. It also helped that the owner and girl at the counter were wonderfully sweet. I will go back.

                                                        1. I got a chance to check out Picks for the first time yesterday. I was kind of intrigued by that pocket thing on the menu but when I asked about it he said they didn't have it. I just went for a burger and fries so I could compare it to Buns.

                                                          When I first walked in I was alone, and I was really surprised as to how long it took him to put the burger on the grill. While I was waiting the place filled up with at least seven or eight people coming in. I got my meal in less than ten minutes.

                                                          First thing I noticed when I opened the wrapping from the burger was the flour from the bun going everywhere and making a mess, which I really didn't appreciate.

                                                          The fries are better at Buns hands down, fresh cut versus out of a frozen box isn't a competition by any means.

                                                          And as for the burger..it wasn't anything to scream about, so I might have to give buns the edge by a tiny bit. Next time I go I'm going to try the steak burger.

                                                          9 Replies
                                                            1. re: mainsqueeze

                                                              I never knew they didn't. They are really good! Fresh cut and cooked on the grill right beside the burgers. $2 for a bag.

                                                              1. re: hafizrealmadrid

                                                                I don't mean to get all technical on you here, but that would make them grilled potatoes, not fries.

                                                                1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                  That's all Bun's does is grilled potatoes, not fries.

                                                                  1. re: bigfellow

                                                                    don't you mean burned potatoes.. i've never seen potatoes that are THAT black before

                                                                    1. re: mak2k

                                                                      The fries are not frozen, they are homemade fresh fries. There are no freezers in our restaurant everything is fresh and refrigerated. Also our buns are homemade and flour on the bread is part of recipe. That is how the bun is supposed to be.

                                                                      I am sorry for the lack of good service. I know there is much improvement to be done, but I believe we are getting better at it and will perfect it. My apologies to all who were disappointed. I will do my best to fix it up to better suit your needs. I am open to constructive criticism so by all means, help us help you. I will keep myself updated with this blog so that I can better understand your needs.
                                                                      Thank you for all your feedback.

                                                                      -Picks Restaurant

                                                                      1. re: PicksResto

                                                                        Thanks for confirming they aren't frozen fries. I was going to protest to the previous statement that said they were but I wanted to be sure first. They did not taste frozen to me, and were delicious dipped in chipotle mayo.

                                                                        1. re: mainsqueeze

                                                                          All in all I think that Pick's is doing a great job. I'll continue to get all my burgers there!

                                                                          1. re: bigfellow

                                                                            I was very excited about Picks (especially since I am moving to the area) so I stopped in this evening... (Normally, I wouldn't rush to post anything so fast unless I was either thoroughly impressed or thoroughly underwhelmed)...

                                                                            I walked in with my partner and there was only 1 person ahead of us. We placed our orders on those pieces of paper (by coloring in the options we wanted)... I must say... not a great order-taking method, especially since the gentleman behind the counter completely confused both orders and toppings.

                                                                            The food itself was very tasty (including the Kogo); however, several important things made me raise my eyebrows...

                                                                            1 - Order taker/cook/cashier. The gentleman was handling cash and food with the same plastic gloves... I suggest they review their procedures.

                                                                            2- Tongs fell on the floor, and if I hadn’t said anything, the cook would have used them to pack my fries. Needless to say, it wasn’t very professional. Common sense should not have to be taught.

                                                                            3- Cook forgot to place one patty on the grill, and had to make it last minute. At that point, we were there for 15 minutes... so I was asked if I wanted my burger "extra juicy" as it was taking a long time... I just told him I would prefer it cooked.

                                                                            I can relate to the stress that 1 person behind the counter can experience (since I have worked in the restaurant/service industry), especially with a relatively new place still working out the kinks. All and all, the food was great. The chipotle mayo was excellent. The buns were good too. The meat was nothing to write home about, IMO. Nice variety of toppings and condiments.

                                                                            I will be going back, but hopefully by then, they would have ironed out their procedural and logistical issues. Maybe also changed those little order sheets that seem to be confusing for the cook.

                                                          1. This place opened while I was on holiday, and I have been trying to make it there for the past 2 weeks... finally today was the day.

                                                            I had a kogo (Korean pogo), burger, and fries. The kogo was interesting, tasty and might actually catch on. I would have preferred mine a little more on the crispy side... perhaps even overdone, like you mentioned bigfellow.

                                                            I really like the fries here, and I am not a big potato fan. I like it when my fries include lots of crunchies. Thumbs down to limp, soggy fries and cardboard frozen potato sticks.

                                                            The burger itself was fresh and delicious - the bun fresh, soft, and not too bready. I had four sauces on the side, in order to be able to sample a greater variety. Chipotle mayo was the big winner for me.

                                                            These burgers remind me of those wonderful burgers my mom would make the morning of my slumber parties when I was a young teen :-p

                                                            1. Nice review on Pick'e in Saturday's Gazette.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: bigfellow

                                                                That was a pretty big score for them. Any chance the regular mentioned was you?

                                                                  1. re: everyonelovessushi

                                                                    Not me. I didn't even know that they had been interviewed.

                                                                1. I went to Picks twice so far.

                                                                  First time the burger was great, the bun was just right and the fries perfectly cooked.
                                                                  The second time, the burger was great, the bun was hard as a rock and the fries were soggy. I also tried the kogo, which I thought was very good!

                                                                  Both times I went at 12:00, exactly when they open. The problem is, they arrived at 12 so they were not ready for customers. It took them around 20 minutes just to get the place set up, then another 10 minutes to prepare the food. If you're gonna open at 12, make sure you arrive early to set up the place before the customers get in, it's common sense. Waiting 30 minutes for a burger was a bit ridiculous.

                                                                  Anyhow, I will still go back because it definitely has potential, just need consistency and get their act together.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Werzoth

                                                                    who cooked your burgers?
                                                                    I think the owner and the girl does a better job than the guy|.

                                                                    1. re: marblebag

                                                                      Both times it was the guy. I haven't seen a girl yet and the owner was outside the second time and first time he was just wandering around.

                                                                  2. I stopped by Buns on St Catherine today for a quick burger. The quality seems to have improved.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: bigfellow

                                                                      funny you say that, I thought so too when I picked some up on sunday; the pattie seemed bigger too.

                                                                      1. re: superbossmom

                                                                        You know, I love the steak burger at Picks, and they have more condiments. But I love the beauty of compition. Both strive now to make a better burger! Buns has improved!

                                                                    2. Tried the "steak burger" at Pick's this week. Definitely a better selection of condiments and toppings... but with a burger that tasty, who really needs 'em? Better buns too, ironically. The actual location is more depressing though, imo.

                                                                      1. Dropped in to Picks today when running errands downtown and I gotta say I LOVED the food. Bun was fantastic - great texture, color, etc.. Burger patty was delicious, although I prefer them thicker. The chipotle mayo added just the right amount of spice to the burger. The fries were crispy and perfectly seasoned.

                                                                        The only thing I didn't like is one of the guys stepping outside and smoking while making a phone call. He smoked right by the door and spat a few times, which grossed my wife out.
                                                                        Found it unprofessional, if you own/run a restaurant, don't let the clients see you smoke.

                                                                        Last comment - CHEAP, I was surprised at how little we paid for a burger, fries, kogo, and 2 drinks (under 10$!). Highly recommend this place.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Gregoso

                                                                          Are you saying the guy used his bare hands to assemble the food without washing after the smoke?

                                                                          Because that's a disgusting deal-breaker in my books (yeah, I've worked in kitchens and know this stuff happens all the time, but it still doesn't mean you can't avoid it when it's blatant).

                                                                          1. re: Shattered

                                                                            I don't think Gregoso said anywhere in his sentence that he didn't wash his hands after smoking. He was just saying smoking right next to the door, and spitting where all the clients can see is very unprofessional.

                                                                            1. re: Jaetee

                                                                              He didn't say they DID. Thanks for clarifying, Gregoso.

                                                                            2. re: Shattered


                                                                              To be honest I don't know if he washed his hands afterwards. We were done our meal then, I spoke to him a little outside telling him I thought the food was great, and we left.

                                                                              I HOPE he washed his hands....

                                                                            3. re: Gregoso

                                                                              The food options are definitely better at Picks. They just have to work on the service a bit and things like the above. They are where Buns was, service wise about 6 months ago.

                                                                              Buns has improved their quality. Their service has moved forward by leaps and bounds. I also like the fact that the Police, Fire and EMS seem to go to Buns.

                                                                            4. So I wanted to go back to Picks the other day. I show there saturday at 12h25 (it opens at 12h00). To my surprise, the place is locked and not opened. So far, out of 3 visits at opening time, I got 1 closed door and 2 times where they were not ready to serve customers. That seems like a recurring problem..

                                                                              So I decided to go to Buns instead, since I never tried it. When I got my burger, the bun seemed too firm and thought it was gonna be hard as a rock. When you bite into it, it's actually quite nice. The meat was tasty and overall it made for a very good burger. The lack of options was a bit of a letdown, and no homemade sauces. The potatoes were so-so, burned and soft at the same time, not memorable on that part.

                                                                              My favorite is still Picks, I guess I'll try going back in the middle of the afternoon so they're actually opened, but then I won't be hungry at that time..

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Werzoth

                                                                                I have been back to Picks a total of three times now - and although I find their food delicious, I have made a vow to not go back until they figure their business out. I find it unacceptable that they are not ready to work at opening hours, and I find it even worse that on EVERY occasion we have gone they have had something on their menu that we wanted to eat missing - twice they were missing the sauces we wanted, once they didn't have poutine at all.

                                                                                Very bizarre - I am shocked that someone would conduct a business in such a way. The food is spot on, but their work etiquette and preparedness is very lax.

                                                                                1. re: Gregoso

                                                                                  Inconsistency has sunk many restaurants that otherwise had good food & service (when on their game) and location.

                                                                                  1. re: Gregoso

                                                                                    I feel the same way. That is why I've been going to Buns.

                                                                                    1. re: bigfellow

                                                                                      Buns gives me the burger I like everytime, I won't go out of my way to try Picks if the door is closed too often, I hate that.

                                                                                      Myriade I will go out of my way to get my cappucino there because it's exceptional.

                                                                                      1. re: superbossmom

                                                                                        well it's not out of the way per se, it's literally 100m away

                                                                                2. I just tried the Kogo the other day from Pick's and i liked it. In the end it's basically a Pogo but the potatoes added a nice touch. I like the fact that you can choose a sauce to dip it in and it's included in the price also.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: blond_america

                                                                                    For the first few visits I didn't know the sauce is included in most of the items, I just thought the owner was giving me a discount.

                                                                                    I've always been there around 5pm-6pm after my chiro visit and it's always open and serving.

                                                                                  2. I'm starting to get discouraged with Buns. I go there often for a quick meal since they seem better organized than Pick's. (IMHO) Buit I am getting very discouraged and I'm thinking of trying the new place on Bishop. (Tha name escapes me right now)

                                                                                    My cousin Jim went out to get me a burger and some grilled potatoes tonight. For the third time this week they were out of potatoes. So I sent him over a block to get me some wor wonton soup instead.

                                                                                    Give me a break, I've been in the restaurant business for meny years now. The owner of Buns has a great concept with his menu of burger, double burger, grilled potatoes and pop. But you've got to have the product to sell. No potatoes means that something is wrong. When that happens you loose my business.
                                                                                    The last time that I was in, Wednesday, 3 other people left with me when we were told no potatoes. I mean it ain't rocket science.

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: bigfellow

                                                                                      Agreed. If there are only really two menu items and you're out of one... that's 50% of your menu!

                                                                                      1. re: bigfellow

                                                                                        ... especially when they're two blocks away from Provigo. It's not going to hurt to buy produce at retail price for the sake of your customers and your reputation.

                                                                                        1. re: keelo

                                                                                          I don't like the potatoes at Bun's but I love the burger. I just came back from lunch there,
                                                                                          and I had a bag of Miss vickies chips in my purse, I discreetly crunched those with my burger and coke.

                                                                                          1. re: superbossmom

                                                                                            I find that people either love or hate the potatoes, there doesn't seem to be any in between. Personally I love them! But to each his or her own.

                                                                                            1. re: bigfellow

                                                                                              I finally tried Pics yesterday ; I loved the burger and also the fries; tasty toppings, I had swiss and caramelized onions. The bun holds up well, even when eaten 20 minutes later. The Buns burger is a bigger pattie but I would have to say Pics is the winner in my book.

                                                                                      2. well, finally got my big fat *** over to Pick's! About time. We really enjoyed the hamburgers, really great bun, really great patty, this is a pretty tasty burger. We'll go back for these again soon. We also tried the Kogo. I am sold! I love the chunks of potato in the batter, it was perfectly fried. Must also have another Kogo soon! I love food on a stick.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: moh

                                                                                          did you try their "secret" topping, KIMCHI? I had it the other day with the steak burger (don't do the same mistake as me and put pickles AND kimchi.. they don't play very well) and it was delish (after i ate the pickles with my kogo)

                                                                                          1. re: mak2k

                                                                                            Darn! No! Forgot to ask about the kimchi! I am curious to see how tasty it is.

                                                                                            1. re: moh

                                                                                              his parents own the Manna in brossard, and they make the kimchi for him, so it should at least rank average (i personally found it good)

                                                                                        2. Well I finally tried Pick's - although still haven't gotten around to Buns.

                                                                                          Hubby and I shared the Steakburger with smoked Gouda, caramelized onions, spicy ketchup, "steakburger sauce" (soy based) and coleslaw; and a kogo with honey mustard and chipolte mayo for dipping. It was darn good eats! Haven't tried those other burger places that have been buzzing, but we'll be back to Pick's for sure. We weren't really hungry so we didn't try the fries, but those will be on the next order.

                                                                                          1. I hope Buns is better 'cause I ate at Picks today and it was absolutely horrible. I feel awful, like I just ate a bucket of salt. In fact, it tasted like a bucket of salt. And the atmosphere...I'm positive they had their music setting on Maximum Obnoxiousness. The loud Aerosmith did not help me choke down that dreck. All in all it ranks as one of the worst food experiences of my life right up there with eating grey microwaved chicken at my friend's house in 9th grade.

                                                                                            I'm gonna' be paying for this one all night.

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Tiny Iota

                                                                                              lol, know the feeling... Picks, Buns = bleh

                                                                                              1. re: J1836

                                                                                                It's hard to impress with a restaurant burger, really hard actually. I'm guessing 99% of this board could make a better than restaurant burger at home quickly and easily.

                                                                                                1. re: everyonelovessushi

                                                                                                  ssushi, you're so right but there are times when I'm walking home, it's 6
                                                                                                  and I can pick up a Buns burger , it hits the spot and my condo doesn't stink of frying meat, lol.....
                                                                                                  there are a lot of steps involved in making a burger, buy meat, form patties,
                                                                                                  chop lettuce, tomato, onion, fry meat, toast bun, etc... wash cooktop and pan afterwards.
                                                                                                  All this for one burger.

                                                                                                  1. re: superbossmom

                                                                                                    and don't forget those potatoes now that they've got it right!

                                                                                                    1. re: superbossmom

                                                                                                      Also, a fried burger can't compare to a grilled one. I don't know about any of you other chowhounders, but I don't have a BBQ, and if I did I probably wouldn't be crazy about bbqing in the dead of winter.

                                                                                                    2. re: everyonelovessushi

                                                                                                      I can't cook a burger. I don't have the mojo.
                                                                                                      I can cook other things but not burgers.

                                                                                                      generalizations don't touch me

                                                                                                2. I just came from the St Catherines location. Dylan was behind the grill and he did it right. We had a couple of burgers and potatoes. He rocked with the service and quality. I like it when he's on!
                                                                                                  I've definitely picked Buns over Picks now myself. But I still sample the other burger spots downtown!

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: bigfellow

                                                                                                    I passed by Picks and ordered a kogo, something I have wanted to try for a while thanks to you, bigfellow! I wasn't too impressed though, because although the kogo itself was great and the little sauce was tasty, the dog was lukewarm/ cold inside! I was the only one in the place so I couldn't undderstand why the timimg hasn`t been figured out. I will be surprised if it lasts too much longer. Had great potentioal though.

                                                                                                    1. re: bigfellow

                                                                                                      Dunno if Dylan is the owner, but based on my numerous attempts at eating at Picks, the poor kid running this place has some serious quality control, timing and staffing issues. Surprised and sad to hear he still hasn't worked out the kinks yet after all these months. And if they haven't improved on that front, I'm even more surprised they haven't poisoned anyone yet. :-/

                                                                                                      Humbert, I hear ya - exact same thing happened to me last time (lukewarm dog = beyond nasty.) In fact, every visit to Picks has left me contemplating bulimia - not for weight-loss reaons, mind you; just to get rid of that yucky feeling afterwards. Blech.

                                                                                                      1. re: anachemia

                                                                                                        That's a bummer. I've been meaning to try it but... Bun's, otoh, has consistent quality and the guys bust ass when there's a line-up, while still chatting breezily with the customers.

                                                                                                        1. re: Shattered

                                                                                                          I honestly go to both places for different things. Can't really find a Kogo anywhere else but Picks :P and I like Buns' potatoes. Picks gives you different sauces to choose from where Buns has a standard menu... i dunno .. depends on my mood :)

                                                                                                      2. re: bigfellow

                                                                                                        Why Buns over Picks now? I really like Buns (only tried the one on St-Laurent) and have yet to try Picks since I'm not downtown often. I'm interested in Picks because of the topping options. I find the cheese at Buns to be tasteless and I really love bacon on my burger. Is there something specific about Buns that makes it better than Picks? I'm just curious because I'm always on the hunt for the best burger in the city, and I'm guessing you've all realized that there is a serious lack of delicious burgers in Montreal.

                                                                                                        1. re: Scrumdidiliumptious

                                                                                                          IMHO Picks is better than Buns, the problem is Picks inconsistencies.

                                                                                                          I like the different sauces at Picks, the bacon and other condiments and the bun also =)

                                                                                                      3. I walked by Pick's Friday at 12:30 (lunch time) and it was closed. I know the service is erratic but is this normal? Or should it be in the closed restaurant section?

                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: everyonelovessushi

                                                                                                          Based on my experience, it's not totally unusual. Awhile back, tried to go into Pick's(maybe around 11:30am), but it was closed when it was suppose to be open(the owner was inside with the lights closed doing nothing).

                                                                                                          1. re: everyonelovessushi

                                                                                                            This weekend was my 4th straight visit to Picks where they are closed on opening hours. This is beyond ridiculous.

                                                                                                            First rule about owning a restaurant, how about being opened?

                                                                                                            I'm done with Picks, too bad because they had potential.

                                                                                                            1. re: everyonelovessushi

                                                                                                              Brutal. It's still unprofessional, but it's one thing to be running a bit late with prep at 11:30. But to be closed *during* lunch... wow, just wow.

                                                                                                              Stopped by the new Buns today, just as good as ever, and the guys working there are all friendly too (1st name basis with many of 'em now, like bigfellow). I missed the entrance before; they don't have a storefront but are inside a little space with the two other shops (sandwiches and mideast?), between Champs and Kanda. Was wondering how they'd still serve $4 burgers and make rent on that stretch. My buddy working there said alot students hit it late, too, though.

                                                                                                              That part of downtown was in dire need of cheap fast options (food courts being not so much of either for quite some time now). Great concept, Buns.

                                                                                                              1. re: Shattered

                                                                                                                do you mean the one in the new food court on st cath?

                                                                                                            2. I went to Picks for the first time last week and loved it, I didn't have any problems. I went at around 7pm ish, and I'm guessing it was the owner behind the corner because he looked Korean. I had a burger with smoked gouda, bacon, lettuce and pickle, with aioli, and it was absolutely delicious. I loved the floury soft bun too! I had a kogo too and it was amazing! I'm craving one right now lol. I have to go back there soon.

                                                                                                              I've never tried Buns yet but will have to go there soon to compare. Lol it's funny some of my friends (one who went with me to Picks for the first time too) went to Buns a few days ago and said they really liked it too, and then I come across this thread lol.