Burger buffs, take note: Campagnolo owner and chef Robert Belcham has launched his latest food venture and this one is all about the buns. (And the delicious, handmade beef and veggie patties that come sandwiched between them, of course.)
Dubbed Monarch Burger, the concept is a collaboration between Belcham and the American (928 Main Street), where the seasoned chef will be serving up boxes of tasty, unpretentiously prepared hamburgers ($10), cheeseburgers ($11), and veggie burgers ($12) seven days a week.
All components of the burger are made from scratch, including the bun and beef patty, the latter of which is butchered, hand-formed, and fried on a griddle with lard for a richer flavour. A mushroom-veggie patty as well as a “grilled cheese bun” and sides such as hand-cut fries, poutine, and a kale Caesar are also available.
The burgers are dressed with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, “bread ‘n’ butter” pickles, all-American cheese, and a top-secret sauce. Add-on options like a fried egg, bacon, and fried onions are on the menu, too.
“Most people see burgers as a throwaway item. They’re so commonplace,” Belcham tells the Straight during a media preview of Monarch at the American last night (April 27). “But just like with anything, if you put some care, detail, and energy into it, you end up with an awesome—and in this case, tasty—end product.”
Belcham, who also owns Upstairs at Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma, explains that his genuine fondness of burgers and inquiries from Campagnolo fans regarding a menu expansion (the chef is responsible for Upstairs’ “Dirty Burger”, which some consider one of the best burgers in the city) led him to create Monarch.
The burger concept began as a one-off pop-up at the American—the owners are regulars at Upstairs—last October. It then began popping up a few times a week, and in January, became the primary food program at the kid-friendly bar for in-the-know patrons.
Today (April 28) marks the official launch of the burger menu to the wider public. The concept also debuts its name, Monarch Burger, which is a nod to the eatery that formerly occupied Campagnolo.
“When we were doing construction on Campagnolo 10 years ago, I found a mosaic tile work that said 'Monarch Café',” recalls Belcham. “And ever since that, I loved it. I always thought it would be a great name for a restaurant one day.”
Monarch Burger is open at the American from Sunday to Wednesday (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and Thursday to Saturday (5 p.m. to 11 p.m.)