Travelling north on the Merritt on a Friday evening is never a pleasant experience, but given the recommendations from others about the burger at The Sitting Duck Tavern in Stratford, we waited through the traffic and delays and eventually arrived in downtown Stratford around 7PM. The exterior tables were was already completely full, did not want one upstairs, and we grabbed a booth on the right side overlooking the kitchen pass.
Our server was very prompt in the drink and food orders and was knowledgeable and pleasant throughout the meal. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, medium-rare, with bacon and fronions with a side of French fries. There were two other burger orders from the group, the other two were ordered medium, plus we ordered a side of onion rings for the table.
When the burgers arrived the first thing I noticed was the size of the patty. Sitting Duck is very generous with the meat. I lifted the top bun and saw the two slices of bacon, the melted cheese, but barely any fronions. I was disappointed in the meagerness of the fronions. This all sat atop shredded lettuce and a thin slice of tomato. I cut the burger in half and it was more medium than medium-rare and one of my dinner companions was the medium-rare doneness while mine was the medium…just a little carelessness by the kitchen.
I tasted the meat and was impressed, it had a medium level of beefiness and very tasty. The bacon was well cooked and the cheese was nicely melted. Since I did not order the lettuce and tomato, I removed these two items and took a bite of the complete package, it was very good. The fries were very basic and the restaurant decided to use an off-brand ketchup, not Heinz, and it was surprisingly good.
The order of onion rings consisted of four, yes four, rings. Three were very small and one was large. It was almost embarrassing, four onion rings in an order for a table of four. The coating was very thick and the onion itself was mushy. Having my single ring was enough.
Overall, I liked the casualness of the Sitting Duck and the burger was pretty good. As I watched the food leave the kitchen my guess is 75% of the orders are burgers, which is a good sign. There is a banner on the front stating it is “A Hidden Gem,” but seeing the crowd and the number of burgers leaving the kitchen I am not sure it is hidden any longer.