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Photo: GitanesBurger (Instagram).

GBurger: Turning fast-food nostalgia into incredible burgers

By Artyom Zalutskiy on May 20, 2022

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I’m sure many of us have a childhood attachment to fast-food burger joints: the cardboard packaging, the smell of french fries, and the root beer floats. The team at Gitanes, a fine-dining French restaurant on Elgin Street, decided to recreate this childhood nostalgia centred around the concept of McDonald’s and elevate it into a trendy destination.

 

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GBurger opened at the height of the pandemic as a pop-up that operated out of Common Eatery, which previously occupied the space. They did takeout only and specialized in McDonald’s-inspired burgers, sliders, and experimental specials such as a foie gras burger. GBurger quickly gained a lot of traction and eventually took over the space from Common Eatery last year. In fall 2021, after significant renovations, the restaurant was opened for dining, and the menu expanded to include cocktails and an extensive wine list.

I have to admit, at first, I was skeptical: I worried that GBurger could steer too far into gimmick territory with the McDonald’s-inspired menu and presentation that uses cardboard packaging, plastic trays, and a fountain machine for soft drinks.  I was glad to be proven very wrong. GBurger’s burgers are among the best in town.

 

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Located on the second floor, the restaurant’s interior succeeds in creating the perfect balance between a fast-food restaurant and a hip destination. Much like any fast food spot, the area is just one simple room with rows of tables, a huge soda fountain behind the bar, napkin dispensers at every table, and the bar looks like it belongs in a vintage diner.

The rest of the restaurant’s décor, however, is anything but simple. The design of the space is sleek; there’s cool art and a funky neon sign reading “GBurger” hanging on the wall, the music is hip and lively, and the massive windows give a great view of Elgin Street. The vibe is lively, fun, approachable, and just the right amount of swanky.

The menu includes a classic burger modelled after a Big Mac, as well as a chicken burger and a fish sandwich, respectively riffs on the McChicken and Filet-O-Fish. The sides include chicken nuggets, poutine, spicy curly fries, and a salad. GBurger’s menu also features some original creations, namely the beef tartare burger with pickles and aioli, and the Gitanes burger with époisses cheese, charred onion, and aioli which comes on a plate of bordelaise sauce (fancy French gravy) that essentially functions as a jus for the burger. Many of the burgers are also offered with a vegetarian option.

 

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The elevated childhood nostalgia of GBurger extends beyond the food and onto the cocktail menu. The root beer old-fashioned, cherry rum and coke, and orange creamsicle spritz play off traditional fast food flavours reminiscent of childhood and expertly elevate them into elegant cocktails. The Dusk-Till-Dawn root beer old-fashioned  is especially delicious.

But the biggest focus of GBurger’s drink menu is the wine list, curated by a sommelier, with dozens of red, white, rosé, and orange wines of all varieties imaginable. The selection focuses on unique and unconventional wines and draws from various regions.

There is a lot of competition for the best burger restaurant in Ottawa, and in my opinion, GBurger has proved itself worthy of being part of that discussion. All of the menu items are fantastic and, coupled with the lively atmosphere and exciting drink menu, make GBurger one of the best new dinner spots in town.


Located on the second floor at 380 Elgin Street, GBurger is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30am to 1am.