Last night I had dinner at Burgers on Main, a new restaurant at 343 Somerset Street West, just east of Bank Street in the Somerset Village BIA. The name derives from the original location in Manotick, in that village's Main Street. If you crossed a diner with a fine restaurant, you'd get Burgers on Main, which has the best of both. But first, a brief recent history of the location...
The building was briefly occupied by Friday's Roast Beef House following that restaurant's departure from Grant House on Elgin Street. I included this photo on the blog post about Grant House in late 2010:
According to Google Street View, it was previously a mediterranean restaurant called "Bocado". Street View took its photos in mid-Spring 2009, but I don't know how long Bocado was there.
I'm by no means a professional food critic, but I thought it worthwhile to share my impressions.
Naturally, the Ottawa measuring stick for any new gourmet burger restaurant is the Works. The Works (at least the one in the Glebe) is chronically busy due to a combination of its popularity and small seating area, and for these reasons I've only been once. By contrast, BOM has lots of seating. The main floor's front room is pictured below, the back room is bigger, and there's also an upstairs. Being winter, the spacious south-facing front patio wasn't in use.
The atmosphere is an odd juxtaposition of three layers. At the base is a heritage house with the fancy trim of an upscale place like Friday's Steakhouse, and because of its size it doesn't feel claustrophobic like the Works does. The decorations were retro, with old (or faux-old) Coca-Cola signs and machines, music memorabilia (Madonna, Elton John, Elvis, etc.), and a popcorn machine, to prepare the complimentary popcorn they serve you while you decide what to eat. The placemats added a layer of rusticness to the place, despite the fancy rectuangular serving plates and quality silverware. The placemats are the menus, and it's laid out in a fun design that's easy to navigate.
Prices are reasonable: most entrées are $11 to $15, but a plain burger, fries and fountain drink can be had for $9 (and 1/4 pound pure Angus Beef hot dogs for even less). The burgers are made with local free-range beef from the Manotick Village Butcher, and other ingredients are sourced locally when possible. While I had the excellent Pacific Salmon Burger ($14, which comes wiht coleslaw and fries or salad), my friend had the Bacon Swiss Burger ($13) and mistook it at first for a steak on a bun (the low light perhaps contributed to the illusion). The only vegetarian option on the menu appears to be a soy-based veggie burger (and vegans will go hungry).
So long as you're into meat, Burgers on Main's menu has plenty of options, only a handful of which are beef burgers. This contrasts with the Works' strategy of letting you pick from an overwhelming selection of toppings and a set of patties on which to put them. I found BOM's menu much easier to navigate and pick from.
While not listed on the menu, BOM does serve Beau's beer, as well as a decent selection of wines. We shared a Brownie Explosion for dessert, which was pretty good. The server checked in often at the table.
I haven't been to the Works often enough to compare the quality of the food, but my friend said that, while this was good, the Works has the upper edge. Nevertheless, the atmosphere, seating availability and openness, prices, and location (smack dab in the middle of Centretown!) would definitely bring me back.