The Heritage Burger

The Deane House, completed August 21, 1929 is one of Calgary’s beautiful heritage buildings. Originally located across the river from it’s current location, the building now functions as a restaurant and dinner theater.

Finding a random post about their burger on a Calgary foodie site, I decided I had to check it out. Any successor to the crown deserves one visit.

They have three burgers on the menu, but a short conversation with waitress led me to The Captain’s Burger. Alberta ground chuck topped with aged white chedder, tomato jam, double smoked bacon and baby gem lettuce on a toasted ciabatta bun.

On paper the burger sounded incredible, as I waited I pondered exactly what Tomato Jam would taste like.

When the burger arrived, I tore into it like a banshee. I experienced a melange of flavors I was totally unprepared for. The burger was juicy (if preformed), the cheese was strong, the bacon salty and the jam, wow the jam. The sweetness of jam mixed with the tang of tomatos. What a condiment. I’m not sure it could replace ketchup, but on the right sandwich it’s pretty good.

On reflection, I’m not sure I loved the burger as much as the condiments, but for a nice meal on the river, I totally recommend the experience.


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The Submarine

Banh Mi. The Vietnamese Sandwich. A baguette topped with spicy chicken satays, carrots, cucumber, sweet onions, green chillis, cilantro and cheese. This, is Calgary’s favorite sub.

It’s a little incredible, in a province know for it’s beef, you would expect a number of late night burger spots or hot dog vendors – Calgary’s favorite late night munchie is the Vietnamese Sub.

I have to say, I’m converted. The Banh Mi is amazing. I personally order the sandwich without cheese, but even with a little cheese it tastes great.

If Toronto had more places like this, Subway and Mr. Sub would be out of business. If you’re ever a little peckish walking down 17th Ave., check out Kim Anh. It’s little more than a sub and bubble tea spot, but in my experience, it’s the Viet Sub around.

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The Billionaire Special

The Laurier Lounge is famous throughout Calgary. As the story goes, when Warren Buffet made a trip to Calgary, he ate here. The reservation, booked a month in advance was booked to satisfy the billionaire’s needs. He expects, a quiet room, a bit of history and a good burger on the menu. The Laurier Lounge is famous for leaving him satisfied.

This was a burger I had to try. Being less than a billionaire I made plans to go two weeks in advance. I held out, tried to eat anything but a burger, saving myself for the W. B. Burger. When the day finally came, I showed up ravenous.

I ordered the Buffet Special. A Montreal Filet Mignon Hambourgois, with emmentaler cheese, horseradish & garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato and onion.

I usually add mustard, this time, I’m glad I didn’t. The Laurier Lounge makes a tasty burger. The meat was well spiced; at no point overpowering, but exceptionally tasty. The horseradish & garlic aioli was a nice touch, it gave the burger an intricate flavour and really added to the experience.

There was only one drawback. You see, the better the beef, the less cooked you want a burger. I tried to order mine medium, you know, a little pink, but the waitress refused. Filet Mignon as a cut of beef, has very little fat. Without the natural fat  found in ground chuck, the burger has a tendency to dry out, especially when cooked on an open grill.

I would have loved the burger to be a little jucier, but I have to say this was a great experience. Oh, and for the record, the poutine is outrageous.


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The Misconception

It took me two trips into Lounge Burger to order my first burger.

I now regret the first trip.

The first time I walked in, it was quiet. I looked around and was unimpressed. The trendy interior design and over-dressed staff forced me into a quick 180, right out the door. For the most part, I prefer smaller dive-like burger joints. Small, with a little history. Basically, I’m in it for the burger, not the decor.

The second time I walked in, I actually made it to a table. Perusing the menu, I found their “Signature.” An all beef burger topped with pepper-herb bacon, sauteed onions and cheddar cheese.

When the burger arrived, I was impressed. It was plated beautifully. As I waited for a little mustard, my heart started to sink. I’ve seen beautiful burgers before. There is no guarantee that they taste great. The best burgers I’ve ever had were served on paper that turned translucent from the burger grease. Unfortunately, there was no grease on the plate.

With the arrival of some mustard, I sacked up, looked past the aesthetic and bit in. To my delight, this was the juiciest burger I’d tasted in what felt like months. The grind was right on, and the meat tasty. In fact, the meat was so good, it almost made the bacon and cheese superfluous. Almost.

The ‘Signature,’ was impressive, and exactly what I’ve been looking for. It loses minor points for stackability, but it was pretty good all the same.

With a multitude of burger options like: ahi tuna, kobe beef, bison, elk, turkey, lamb, chicken, veal and italian sausage a return visit is guaranteed.

Nice work Lounge Burger. Nice Work.


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The Science Experiment

I’ve tasted quite a few burgers, both in Calgary and abroad, but this one looks special. Dave Arnold is the Director of Technology for the French Culinary Institute, and in this video, he uses all of his tech and skill to craft a gastronomic treat. Check it out, and word up to Gizmodo for the link.

Dave Arnold’s Burger of the Future

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The Could-Have-Been

When you order a burger topped with asiago, pancetta, tomato, red onion and burger sauce (mayo & ketchup) expectations are naturally high. When you order that same burger from THE gourmet food store in town, they might as well be astronomical.

Maybe it was my own fault. The Sunterra Market is a gourmet eatery (first mistake), there were far too many people trying to get their lunch at the same time (second), and the chefs (third) were overworked.

What I’ve realized over the course of my burger adventure is, a burger is not a gourmet food. You can dress it up anyway you want, but at it’s best, its still just ground chuck cooked on a flat top or grill,  sandwiched between two fresh buns.

Sunterra confused me with the elaborate toppings. Had they told me the truth, that it would be tasty toppings on a  hockey puck, I probably would have gone with a club sandwich.

This review ends without a rating. From the picture, you can see how I was drawn in, it’s a shame, looks can be deceiving.

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The Donair

There’s a street like it in every city. It’s not quite a highway, but it’s wide and busy, away from the downtown core. On both sides of the street there are more restaurants than one could count, most of them fast food. In Calgary, this is McCloud Trail. I’m not really one for your basic fast food (McD’s, BK, A&W, etc.) which is probably why My Donair caught my eye.

I’ve easily driven past this place 100 times in the past two months. I pass it on every trip away from home, and then again every trip back. Last night I woke up dreaming of “My Donair.” So I took it as a sign, and when I passed it, ravenous after missing lunch, I pulled up right in front and walked in.

On first look, it isn’t all that impressive. They have four spits occupied by different shwarma and donair fillings, a few tables and a register. Seems pedestrian. I walked up and asked for a donair and that’s when the place hooked me. “What size?”, the nice lady asked me. I looked up and smiled. The options: Regular 85g, Super 135g, Deluxe 165g and Jumbo 300g. No small or medium on the menu. This was my kind of place.

(Ed. Note: for those who can’t do the math, the Regular is just under a quarter pound, and the Jumbo clocks in at about 2/3 of a pound.)

I ordered a regular, for this occasion, it was the right amount of food. But the next time My Donair appears in my dreams, I’m going with the Jumbo.

They make a mean sandwich.

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