Dec 062011

Imagine you were stranded on a desert island, with no hope of ever leaving and only one Memphis burger you could eat for the remainder of your days. What burger would that be? Hard choice, right? Would it be Alex’s Tavern? Huey’s? Majestic Grille? What about Stuffy’s? All very good burgers, but I can easily say that the one burger I can no longer live without is the Four Cheese Burger from Kooky Canuck.

Kooky CanuckKooky Canuck is conveniently located on 2nd Ave. in downtown Memphis, just across the street from the Peabody Hotel. It’s a perfect location within walking distance from Autozone Park, The FedEx Fourm, The Orpheum, and Beale Street. Kooky’s is a great restaurant and bar to start your evening at or come to wind down at. Shawn and Lana Danko opened Kooky Canuck in 2005 as the Big Foot Lodge, but changed the name in 2008. Since then, they’ve been known as Kooky Canuck.

Kooky Canuck was featured in an episode of the TV program Man v. Food. Adam Richman was taking the Kookamonga Challenge, which consists of eating the entire Kookamonga Burger and sides within 60 minutes. The burger is 4 lbs of fresh ground-chuck, two pounds of Kooky’s homemade hamburger bun, and one and a half pounds of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and cheese. This is equivalent to seven and a half pounds total and to this day, only 10 fearless eaters have the distinction of finishing it.

This past weekend my wife and I packed up the kids, or aliens as we call them, and headed downtown for a long overdue outing to Kooky Canuck. Kooky’s has actually been on the Best Memphis Burger radar since the beginning, but for some reason I put kept putting off going. BIG MISTAKE, Seth! Recently, I got a message from Kevin, a fellow Memphis food blogger, over at Burn My Mouth. He encouraged me to get over to Kooky’s as soon as possible and that it’s his favorite burger. I promised him I would try to get there before Thanksgiving, but with the busy holiday and our having family in town, it wasn’t until the other night that I finally kept my word.

Fried PicklesKooky’s is a pretty busy place. Even at 5:30 on a Saturday evening, there was a line out the door. I’m glad I tweeted ahead and Shawn was holding us a table. We sat right down and ordered the Fried Dill Pickles appetizer. I’ve had fried pickles before and loved them, but my wife never tried them. I think she looked at me like I was crazy. I told her to just wait, she’ll love them. And she did! What we were served was completely out of the ordinary. In the past I’ve had fried pickle slices or spears. Kooky Canuck serves huge fried pickle hunks. These were awesome. Hot, crisp and juicy! I had to stop myself from going overboard as I knew I had a 1/2 lb burger coming.

I ordered the Four Cheese Burger with fries. That’s a 1/2 lb burger patty with American, Swiss, Jack and Cheddar cheese. It’s also served with lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickles. Of course I asked for it to be cooked medium. My wife ordered the regular hamburger with no cheese and asked for a medium-rare to medium temperature. My boys got the kids hamburger and kids hotdog meals which both came with fries and a big homemade rice-crispy treat.

The Burger
My wife loved the flavor of her burger, but was pretty disappointed overall. Instead of her hamburger being medium-rare or medium, it was well-done. I tried to get her to send it back, but Four Cheese Burgershe wouldn’t. She just didn’t want anything else and she wouldn’t eat any of mine which was cooked to a perfect medium temperature. She doesn’t care for cheeseburgers. Travis, who was our server, was super nice and he tried his hardest to bring her something else as well. She just didn’t want anything. My son who got the kids burger ate it right up. Even for a kids burger, it seemed a little small, but what was lacking in the size of the burger was made up for in the portion of fries. He had plenty of those to fill him up. My other son is a pretty picky eater and didn’t touch a thing on his plate. What kid won’t even eat a hotdog?

My burger, on the other hand, was out of this world. It was a huge cheeseburger on a huge bun, with cheese just oozing off the burger patty. I took one bite and knew this was a winner. It was very juicy and loaded with flavor. Kooky Canuck generously seasons its burger with what Shawn called a Canadian Steak Seasoning. Every single bite just got better than the one before it. I was expecting a good 4 star burger, but nothing like this. It was about as close to a 5 star burger as I’ve had. The meat was tender and juicy and most definitely formed from a quality ground beef mix. A perfectly cooked medium masterpiece. The hot cheeses melted together giving every bite an awesome combination of meat and cheese taste. The toppings were all fresh and portioned just right. Holding it all together was a tall and lightly toasted brioche bun that just sealed the deal. I think this bun is the king of burger buns. Even more tasty than the egg bun used at Stuffy’s and able to hold up to Kooky’s big juicy burger. This burger was a total mouthgasm and has become my new favorite.

Kooky’s french fries are nothing short of awesome as well. My son kept pointing out to me how much he loved them. They were prepared just like Five Guys and Stuffy’s, but not at all greasy. Just hot and crisp and a perfect side for a perfect burger.

I felt bad my wife didn’t enjoy her burger as much as I loved mine. She asked me not to let her experience affect my scoring. So because my burger was so enjoyable from start to finish, I give the Kooky Canuck Four Cheese Burger 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s more like a 4.8999. I look forward to my next trip to Kooky’s and would love to get a team together to take on the Kookamonga Burger. Just for fun of course! Who’s in?

Kooky Canuck
97 S 2nd St
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 578-9800

If you have a favorite burger that you think is Memphis’ best or that I need to try and review, please drop a note in my suggestion box.

Kooky Canuck on Urbanspoon

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  15 Responses to “Kooky Canuck”

  1. Awesome that you loved it, too! I knew you would 🙂 As far as your wife’s burger, I can attest to that happening there. It really is their only fault. Sometimes they can overcook them. I went with a group of coworkers before a Grizzlies game last year and my burger was the only one that came out medium. After hyping the place up, I looked foolish, but I know from the other 100 times I’ve been there that it’s out of this world. Glad you finally made it out there! -Kevin

  2. I’m glad that you loved it. Kooky Canuck is among my top five places for burgers. That said, my favorite Kooky burger is the Mushroom Swiss burger with sautéed onions. The Four Cheese burger is good for those who like cheese, but I feel that the cheeses overwhelm the rest of the burger. Still, any Kooky burger is better than most in Memphis.

    I’m in total agreement with your assessment of the Fried Dill pickles. Coming from someone who doesn’t like them in general, the batter that Kooky uses to fry them is so crunchy, juicy and delicious that I can’t get enough of them.

    The next time you go to Kooky’s, stick around for dessert and get the Deep Dish Cookie a la mode. It’s a softball-size scoop of ice cream on top of a large (6″) cookie set in a small skillet. I get it with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate chip cookie which is perfect.

    By the way, if you need help tackling the Kookamonga Burger, I’m up for it.


  3. Yep, I’m there. Let’s set a date.

  4. I’m in. Just let me know when it’s going down!

  5. I’ve been to your downtown location many times, with friends, family and mentors and I’ve always enjoyed myself, but the service I received Sunday (June 4, 2017) was despicable. My servers name was Liz and while she was initially polite things began to turn when she served one of the ladies in my party unsweet tea. Prior to the tea incident Val also ordered the “poutine” (with Gyro meat and tomatoes), but by the time the order came the fries were cold and the meat was hard. Val asked if she could have the order redone and asked for the meat and tomatoes to be held off and Liz took care of the order. The young lady (Val) expressed that there was no sugar in the tea and Liz immediately became defensive. Liz didn’t immediately offer to replace the tea, her rebuttal was “the tea is sweet, as I know which dispenser I pour it from” and Liz and Val ensued in a small dispute before Liz would finally agree to replace the cup of tea. There was a total party of 4 adults and 1 child, but there were supposed to be more as we were there to celebrate a friend’s birthday (Trykela). Liz came to our table at 5pm and explained to us that normal policy is we not be seated until the whole party has arrived, but as a courtesy they seated us. She further went on to explain there was a party of 55 people coming in at 6:45pm and if our party had not come we’d have to allow them to utilize the space for the other party. We explained to Liz that we wouldn’t wait on the rest of our party and we proceeded to place our orders. About 5 minutes after Liz left our table the manager (whom states his name is Terry) showed up to reiterate what Liz told us as if we didn’t understand what Liz stated. We explained to Terry that we completely understood and thanked him for the courtesy of allowing us to be seated without the full party. Trykela placed her order for BBQ chicken nachos and by the time they were served the meat was cold and the order seemed as if it was sitting out for some time. We advised a passing server (Liz didn’t bring the order out) of the issue with the BBQ Chicken Nachos and asked for her to touch them. We asked for her to touch them as we didn’t want to seem like we were complaining about everything associated with our order, the server declined touching the food stating that specific item gets cold fast and she’d ask for the cook to re-make the order. When the order came back out it was just a little warmer than before and Trykela no longer wanted the meal (as it seemed it had been placed in the microwave). We advised Liz that Trykela no longer wanted the order and why and she went to retrieve Terry. Terry came to the table asking what was wrong with the order and stated (even though Trykela had only taken 1 bite of a chip) the order wouldn’t be removed from the ticket, just because she didn’t like it; he states that wasn’t a “good enough” reason. I asked for Terry to step away from the table (in a very polite manner) as I didn’t like his tone nor how he’d decided to handle the situation and I wanted to give the people in the party time to collect our thoughts and ensure our attitudes didn’t match what we were receiving from Terry and Liz. Once we collected our thoughts I asked Terry if he could come back to the table and after explaining that we weren’t going to pay for the item because Trykela didn’t appreciate the fact that it was warmed up and it was still distasteful, Terry agreed to remove the item to the ticket only after stating that we haven’t wanted to pay for anything that has come to our table. I attempted to interject and explain the issues that we’d had, but he swiftly walked away from the table in a manner as to say checkmate. We of course paid for the food we’d eaten and even left tips, but I was disgusted with the service. It was as if Terry listened to everything Liz had to say and didn’t want validate anything we had to say or listen to any of our concerns. We attempted to express our how we felt to Terry, but after walking away and having his “checkmate” moment he didn’t want to speak with us anymore. He sent another server out to speak on his behalf; she explained that Terry was very busy and couldn’t step out at the moment and she states there was no one else we could express our displacement with as the establishment was privately owned. Despite how angry we were, we left in peace. My hope is that this is addressed and that no one else is treated in such a careless and distasteful manner.

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