For those unaware, Harvey’s is a proud Canadian fast-food chain which prides itself on making your food the way you want it. To that end, rather than having things assembled back in the kitchen, they will cook things there and add the garnishes out in front along the counter behind a pane of glass. Think of it as a burger joint meets Subway, and you get the basic idea.
Their newest promotion is for two new items: The “Great Canadian Pulled Pork Burger” and “Pulled Pork Poutine.” And last night, The Wife and I had the opportunity to go down and sample this new offering for ourselves.
First things first, however: The way the food is pitched in their promotional materials is actually a bit misleading, although perhaps for the better. The barbeque pulled pork on the burger and poutine, as well as the crispy onions, are actually new toppings you can get on anything for an additional charge ($1.30 for the pork, 20 cents for the onions). To that end, my wife elected to get it on a grilled chicken instead, no questions asked.
I might have done the same, but I figured I would simply review the product as-advertised.
You can see the promotional image of the items above, and as we all know, the actual product tends to differ. Here is what the sandwich I received looked like:
Admittedly, the light in the restaurant wasn’t the best to take pictures by, as it had a dimmed effect for ambiance, and we were visiting sometime around 10pm or so at night, so the sun wasn’t going to be any help. That said, it’s actually not bad. The toppings don’t come to the edge of the sandwich as in the picture, but it’s still pretty well covered, including a nice, big crispy onion over on the left side.
The burger itself is one of Harvey’s 1/3 pound “Great Canadian” burgers, which is the chain’s “big” burger, a la the Quarter Pounder or Whopper. I considered topping it with cheddar, but the price of the larger burger and its extra toppings deterred that. Instead, I opted to try it “as-is” with some mustard and pickles on the side for later if needed.
Having grown up in the southern United States, I have some idea of good barbeque, and this? It’s not bad. It might work well as a sandwich on its own, and that is something I’ll have to try asking for sometime. But here, it’s treated like a topping on a burger, something I’ve never seen before, though I suppose that the addition of bacon to a burger is a fair comparison.
Despite what the lady at the counter told me, this pork does indeed come smothered in a sweet barbeque sauce, which is more or less where the problem comes in with this burger. Don’t get me wrong, it is quite good indeed, but when you bring the pork, the burger, and the sauce together… well, as the saying goes, “three is a crowd.” In the end, you get the taste of the sauce and the burger, but the taste of the pork tends to be drowned out a bit.
As a result, you end up with a good burger topped with some relatively expensive barbeque sauce. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since I last had the regular barbeque sauce you can get on your burger, so I can’t say whether it’s the same thing or not. If it isn’t (and I don’t think it is, but don’t hold me to that), then it might be worth it for some to get the unique taste it brings to the burger.
The crispy onions tend to be another victim of the sauce’s power. On their own, these onion batter flakes are tasty, but are easily overpowered. As such, they add a unique crispy texture to the burger, but not much else.
I did add mustard and pickles after a few bites, which helped round out the flavor just a bit. But looking at their website, it notes that the burger should also have their “signature mesquite sauce,” which I did not wind up getting (as far as I can tell). While that might have made a difference, I can’t imagine it bringing out the flavor of the pork or the crispy onions– if anything, it would likely only drown them out further.
Alongside the burger, I upgraded my combo’s fries to poutine and had the pulled pork added. For those unfamiliar, “poutine” is a Quebec-born delicacy which has spread throughout Canada, and even trickled a little into some of the upper United States. It consists of french fries topped with curds of white cheese (Canadian white cheddar here), and then covered in gravy to melt the cheese throughout the web of fries in a deliciously gooey mess.
As fast food poutine goes (there are some places which specialize in poutine by itself), Harvey’s has one of the better offerings, up there with New York Fries and KFC (yes, the Colonel does fries up here; I’ll detail that another time). But does the pulled pork add anything?
Unlike the burger, the barbeque pulled pork seems to complement the other parts of the poutine, rather than be drowned out by it. The gravy and sauce blend into a concoction of sweet and savory, with the fries, cheese, and pork all contribute a little bit to the overall product, though again, the pork doesn’t tend to stand out quite as much as the sauce it’s mixed with. Still, it fares better here than against the flame-grilled taste of the burger.
Overall, I’m not sure I’d recommend the barbeque pulled pork on the burger, unless you don’t mind an extra $1.30. Just keep in mind that the sauce is the main thing you’ll be tasting with the burger. As for the crispy onions, those are only 20 cents, and they might be worthwhile alongside a less potent sauce. The pulled pork poutine, on the other hand, I definitely recommend trying at least once.