Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Trip to Manhattan for a Burger: Part 2

Manhattan's Handmade Burgers on UrbanspoonOn Friday for lunch I made a return trip to Manhattan's Handmade Burgers (407 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa) but to a different location from last time.  

On my last visit to a Manhattan's I noted that the burgers themselves were pretty good with the fries rivalling Swiss Chalet despite claiming to be handmade.  Would this location, across the street and a block away in a food court from the previous, do better, worse or the same?  Let's find out.

I visited the Minto Place Food Court (located on the Northwest corner of Laurier Avenue West & Kent Street) to find the Manhattan's.   My wife accompanied me on this visit, but had already had lunch and had already previously visited this Manhattan's location previously.  We arrived at 12:50 P.M. to find the food court, as you would expect in the downtown of any nation's capital, full of government workers on lunch. We found an empty table right away where I left my wife and I headed over to the Manhattan's counter to join the line.

This Manhattan's is like any traditional mall food court where you move from one side of the counter to the other just like a cafeteria.  Here it is quite orderly, choose your drink, place your order, get your toppings and bun made up, pay for your order and finally have your food put together and given to you.  The service appeared like clockwork and the customer's only job is to move with the container.

I grabbed my drink and slid down the counter to place my order.

The Order: 1 Cheeseburger combo with fries and a can of Coke. 

The lady behind the counter, one of 5 employees, wrote down my order on the Styrofoam container in black magic marker. She then takes your container and puts it in one of two places depending on what you order.  For wraps it goes along the back wall where another employee is stationed to make them.  For burgers and salads, like my order, the container is put at the front where another employee does the buns and toppings.   At the toppings station I ordered my toppings but did note a couple of things, Manhattan's could improve their topping ordering by putting a sticker on the glass, like Subway, with the listings of toppings available.  The best thing about Manhattan's is the variety of toppings.  The only toppings that Manhattan's charges extra for are bacon and cheese.  But you can have spinach, two types of onions (instead of the usual one choice) and much more all at no additional charge.  The freshness though, rivals that of Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

I paid for cheeseburger combo ($10.10 including taxes) which I thought was a little steep.  At pubs around these parts I may pay a dollar or two more but get unlimited refills on my pop and better ambience than a mall food court setting.  But the burgers are supposedly better than your average McDonald's Big Mac with fries.  Manhattan's fries though, as mentioned previously, are not any better than Swiss Chalet.  So perhaps the price should be more in line at $8.00 to $9.00 taxes included. 

After paying, I advanced to wait for my burger to be situated correctly on the bun with the toppings and fries dished up. Here there are all the condiments available, napkins and anything else you may need.

So far so good compared to the previous Manhattan's experience at 360 Laurier where the service seemed a little disjointed.  At the Minto Place location all the staff knew what they were doing, handed off orders one to the another in a timely fashion and had all the necessary supplies in an easily accessible location to either themselves or, if needed, the customer. Thus, there were no slowdowns due to employees inquiring about certain orders or to wait for customers to juggle the ketchup bottle while standing at the cash like at 360 Laurier.

Next, I headed over to my food court table to dig into my lunch. 

The fries were exactly the same as the 360 Laurier location, tasted just like I would have at Swiss Chalet.  In other words not crisp and firm but potatoey and somewhat soft. Fresh cut fries? I think not, Manhattan's should save their money on torturing employees from hand cutting these fries, call Swiss Chalet and order their fries instead.

The Cheeseburger itself was tasty with the right proportion of toppings to burger and cheese quotient.  Nothing to runny that came spilling out back into the styrofoam container like other burger places.  Cheeseburger itself was exactly the same as the 360 Laurier location, a strong contender for a better handburger than McDonald's but not up to Five Guys Burgers & Fries or The Works.

Overall, this Manhattan's Handmade Burgers at Minto Place was better servicewise than the 360 Laurier Avenue.  The food court location works like clockwork during the lunch rush with equitably good food.  Best burger in Ottawa, close but no cigar.  Price wise as well this burger place seems a little on the expensive side.  Perhaps this is done intentionally to take advantage of the local clientele, the average government worker who has a slightly larger pay cheque than those in the private sector.  To the average person though, Manhattan's should be seen as slightly better than the average lunch counter. 
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