Vesivärava Grill is one of those places that I felt compelled to visit due to the sheer weight of word-of-mouth recommendations. This humble open-fronted diner in the Kadriorg suburb of Tallinn has forced legions of locals to reconsider what they expect from a hamburger.
What did I expect from an Estonian hamburger? To be honest, not much. Sure, some do it well (Clazz, for example) - but outside of top-quality restaurants, offering it as a gourmet, amped-up version of the humble takeaway meal, there is not much to shout about. Chief offender amongst many that plumb the depths is Soogiplats, the 24-hour fast food kiosk on the edge of Vabaduse Valjak, where customers are offered a barely-cohesive grey lump, in overmoist bread, wrapped in the local style in greaseproof paper and placed sideways, with supermarket coleslaw poured over the whole lot.
Vesivärava Grill, therefore, is fighting a battle not only for its own custom, but also trench warfare against the culinary crimes that exist at other quick-and-easy joints. To see if it was winning the war, I went along with a friend who was well-versed in the menu. Ambitiously, I ordered the 'Hangover' burger (although it was 8pm on a Saturday). It was wrapped in the same greaseproof paper offered by Soogiplats - but there the similarities ended.
If my waistline did not double at the thought, I would eat this every day. Vesivärava Grill's home-made beef patty was cooked into a golden-brown whole, thrust between TOASTED bread (that's an important detail) and given a garnish of cheese, a well-done fried egg, smoked bacon, and a crisp salad that tasted like it was bought that day. I needed a fork to eat the salad, but it still felt like an ergonomic masterpiece next to my usual experience with the transverse-packed Estonian burger.
This place might not be open for much longer in 2013 - it's an open-air cafe, so is unlikely to be open for when temperatures dip below zero in another two months. Let them know you care how your burger tastes - and if you agree with my judgement, share the love for this wonderful burger stop.