Foodosophy of Pink Burgers in Vancouver, BC


“I’m sorry sir, it is illegal to serve medium-rare burgers in this city.”

I can’t really fault my waitress for uttering this common misconception. Like many, I used to think that it is illegal to serve hamburgers that are raw in the middle. It is not. The health authorities do not have such a law in the books. What is stopping most restaurants from giving you the option of ordering a rare or medium-rare burger has nothing to do with the legality of the act, but from their own distrust of their source of ground beef. Most burger joints will not take chances as they get their ground meat from large factory operations whose quality control is beyond their reach.

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The Pink Bicycle – Victoria, BC


The Pink Bicycle Gourmet Burger Joint
1008 Blanshard Street
Victoria, BC
(250) 384-1008

One of our regular dining spots when we are at Victoria is The Pink Bicycle – a “hole in the wall” known for its gourmet burgers. Over the years, I have come to accept that the phrase “gourmet burgers” (in nearly all practical terms) is an oxymoron. Way too many places are using this label to differentiate themselves from the rest…and nearly all of them fall flat. The Pink Bicycle, though not flawless in its execution, is one of the rare places that succeeds.

All their burgers are made with naturally raised and/or organic meat. Their beef burger is made from naturally pastured Hereford cows sourced from a local producer on the Island. This type of beef is often much leaner than the typical grain or corn fed beef. The resultant burger tends to be “drier” in texture. This burger isn’t any different – it is indeed dry, but it had a good intensely “beefy” flavour that most burgers these days lack. The texture is also a bit different than usual. The cooks here “flatten” their burgers on their flattop griddle..resulting in a squished, slightly dense and shredded texture.

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Mission Burger by Mission Street Food – San Francisco, CA


Mission Burger (by Mission Street Food)
inside Duc Loi Supermarket
2200 Mission St (between 18th St & 19th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Sat-Wed, noon-3pm

Food and cooking knowledge can come from a variety of sources. Being a detail-oriented person, I really enjoy shows that explain why, not just what. Aside from Alton Brown, who has really started turning me off with his over the top corny humour, one show that I really enjoy is the BBC classic “In Search of Perfection” with Michelin 3 star chef Heston Blumenthal from the Fat Duck. He really caught my attention with his episode on steak (it really works btw), and I’ve enjoyed the knowledge, and the hilarity of his exploits.

In his cookbook Further Adventures In Search of Perfection, Heston Blumenthal reinvents the burger to deliver what he feels is the perfect burger. While in principal, his ideas are fantastic, in practice, they are often so time consuming, and difficult to source the ingredients, that it just isn’t feasible for us “normal” people. I remember duplicating his steak recipe, and the total time required before i could put fork to mouth was almost 48 hours. His burger recipe, as tested by the dedicated hamburger folks at aht (serious eats), took over 30 hours. For a hamburger.

Enter Mission Burger, brought to you by Mission Street Food – a not for profit organization that donates their proceeds to charity. In the entire lunch counter revival I was discussing in the Villa Mexico post, they’ve set up a burger counter inside the Duc Loi Supermarket in the Mission.

There are a few very notable things about Mission Burger.
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Minetta Tavern – New York City, NY


Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal St., at Minetta Ln.
New York, NY
(212) 475-3850

I recently went on a quest to find the best burger in New York City. For the rest of this week, you’ll have my breakdown of what I discovered. This is post #5 of 5 related to trying out some of the best that New York has to offer. The last review, Walt Street Pub, is available here. Hope you enjoy the series.

Exclusivity. It’s a real pain for us common folks who love food – as some restaurants that sound like they would be an experience of a lifetime, are just extremely difficult to get a reservation at. El Bulli, French Laundry, the list goes on. While Minetta Tavern doesn’t quite fall under this category, mostly due to their generous dining hours (menu served till 1am), it is still near impossible to get in at a prime time. Normally I wouldn’t bother, but I heard they had the best hamburger in NYC. We decided to eat at 11pm.

Guarded by a “doorman”, the blinds are drawn, and there is no way of seeing inside. Many places try to generate interest – seating people near windows – to make it seem like a place you want to eat at. Minetta Tavern feels like they are trying to keep you out – they are busy enough as it is. This is by no fault of the staff – both the doorman, and the hostess, were incredibly friendly and accommodating – it’s just by virtue of their job to keep walk-ins away when the restaurant is already (likely) overbooked.

Once your reservation is confirmed with the doorman, you’re allowed into the sanctuary. An overly crowded bar, with hordes of people waiting to be seated. I’ve never been seated on time – there is always a delay – even at 11pm. Based on the celebrities who visit Minetta Tavern, I can understand all of the above inconveniences. I don’t have to like it, but I understand.

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Walt Street Pub – Red Bank, NJ


Walt Street Pub
180 Monmouth St
Red Bank, NJ
(732) 741-5936

I recently went on a quest to find the best burger in New York City. For the rest of this week, you’ll have my breakdown of what I discovered. This is post #4 of 5 related to trying out some of the best that New York has to offer. The last review, Peter Luger,  is available here . Hope you enjoy the series.

I remember one of the first food bloggers i ever read. This was really before blogging was all that popular. In one of his posts, he discussed the Walt Street Pub – a small pub in Red Bank, that served up some amazing burgers.

I’ve had images of that burger burning in my head ever since, and had to include the Walt Street Pub when exploring New York’s best burger.

Located on the idyllic south shore, Red Bank looks nothing like a foodie haven. More like a speed bump on the commuter highway to NYC. The drive out from the city took quite a while – and upon exiting the car, I knew the experience would be completely different from the any of the establishments in the city.

The pub itself has a homey sports bar feel. There was a friendly bartender, and a friendly server. The place was near empty.

The Walt Street Pub is famous for their wings – mild, hot or “killer death”. These wings were voted the “best in town” – by whom, I have no idea. And in terms of Red Bank, maybe not the biggest town. They were, however, quite tasty. Basted in very hot sauce, the wings were amply sized, and fried to a crispy exterior. I’m definitely in the wing camp that prefers a drier wing to a soaked, wet wing. The wings themselves were very juicy, with a nice crunch to them. The heat was a bottled hot sauce type of vibe, but I enjoyed these a lot.

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Peter Luger – Brooklyn, NY


Peter Luger
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 387-7400‎

I recently went on a quest to find the best burger in New York City. For the rest of this week, you’ll have my breakdown of what I discovered. This is post #3 of 5 related to trying out some of the best that New York has to offer. The last review, the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien is available here . Hope you enjoy the series.

New Yorkers are famous for many things. Pastrami. Pizza. The Yankees. And a very brusque attitude. While visiting New York City over the years, other than some crazy drivers, I haven’t found the “New York” attitude to be all that prevalent. Impatient towards tourists? Often, yes. But unfriendly? Not at all.

One of the bastions of the New York attitude exists at Peter Luger. Famous Brooklyn steakhouse known for surly service, 5 week+ dry aged steak, and an astronomical bill. One Michelin Star. Voted best steak in New York for 24 years by Zagat, what isn’t as well known is they have a burger on their lunch menu. One that many consider to be the best burger in New York + Outer Boroughs.

The first thing you encounter upon walking into Peter Lugers is either crowds of people waiting, or the enormous bar. Everyone ends up at the bar eventually – since even with a reservation, you’re typically made to wait 15-20 minutes. Minimum. It’s not the worst place to be stuck though – reasonable  New York prices for drinks, an ok house label beer and some decent cocktails. If you’re of the male gender – expect some surly comments and banter – not always lighthearted, though it seems quite faux surly for the most part. Ladies are treated very nicely.

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Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien – New York City, NY


Burger Joint
Lobby of Le Parker Meridien
118 W 57th St
New York, NY
(212) 708-7414

I recently went on a quest to find the best burger in New York City. For the next week, you’ll have my breakdown of what I discovered. This is post #2 of 5 related to trying out some of the best that New York has to offer. The first review, Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack, is available here. Hope you enjoy the series.

There’s something about secrets that appeal to people. It’s nice “being in the know”. Having access to an experience others don’t. They are out there too. Secret restaurants, like Totoraku in LA, or many other secret supper clubs dotted around each metropolitan city, guarded tightly like the crown jewels of the foodie community.

Hidden in the corner of the lobby of Le Parker Meridien is a secret – not through lack of information, but by obscurity of location. The Burger Joint. Hidden behind floor to ceiling curtains is a small burger operation that is the complete oppose of the Meridien Hotel vibe. Dirty, small, with a great buzz.

Marked by a simple neon burger, these days it’s easy to find by the lineup.

Once you round the corner, you find a bustling community of people drinking draught beer (Sam Adams) and chowing down on burgers and fries. Tables are sticky and dirty, bussing your own tables usually ends up that way, and tables are had on a first come first serve basis. You better be aggressive – camp someone who looks like they are leaving, or be willing to push your way through when you see someone getting up. Being polite means you end up standing there for 30 minutes, holding your rapidly cooling burger, looking despondent.

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Elwood’s – Vancouver, BC


Elwood’s
3145 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 736-4301

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Along this end of West Broadway, pubs are quite well represented. Perhaps its due to the relative abundance of residential areas just blocks off on each side of this corridor, and the proximity to the University of British Columbia campus. So if you like to have a quick pint after work in your neighborhood or on the way back home from a busy day of classes, this stretch has several options for you (Coppertank Grill, The Shack, Gargoyles, The Wolf and Hound, etc.).

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Motoraunt – Edmonton, AB


The Motoraunt
12410 – 66st
Edmonton, AB
T5B 1K4
(780) 477-8797

The challenge was made by Shokutsu to Foodosopher (without my knowledge), that I would be able to out-eat the great Food-o during his next excursion to E-town.

[Foodosopher] Actually, all that happened was after another day where i ate 6 meals, Shokutsu mentioned he was too old to do it any longer, but that the vaunted o-toro still had the skills. I came to town seeking a kindred spirit.

Upon his arrival, we decided to head to the Motoraunt, to tackle the Monster Burger as neither of us has visited before.

[Foodosopher] Mentioned long ago over at ugonnaeatthat, I’ve been dying to try this place for a long time. It was a tough sell to most of my friends, but I was happy to find out that o-toro is always up for a challenge!

The menu reads:

Monster Burger 2 lbs of Reality
“Our great 100% lean Canadian beef burgers contain No salt, pepper, eggs or bread.  They arrive loaded with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and our homemade ketchup sauce”!

motoraunt_menu

During the 30 minutes it took to cook this burger, we had ample time to soak in this interesting carnival of knick-knacks, portraits , lights, and seasonally decorated tree.  Unfortunately – once you get past all of the ‘stuff’, and start looking a little closer, you’ll find a really run-down establishment.  There was also a cat roaming around the tables – which eventually decided to call our table its home.

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Fatburger – Edmonton, AB


Fatburger (South Edmonton Common)
1755-102 Street NW
Edmonton, AB AB T6N 0B1
(780) 469-8180

fatburger

What makes a good burger?  I’ve found this to be a tricky question to answer, because for me – there are too many variables (bun, patty, condiments, smells, sides, and atmosphere).

For example – an oversized bun, an overcooked patty curled up like a small dish, a slice of processed cheese, and ketchup squeezed out of a small package – served outdoors, with the smell of the BBQ, sun, and a park/campground/lake – makes for a great burger.  😉

The retro diner décor at Fatburger is nice, nothing over done.  With locations found throughout western Canada and the U.S., there are tidbits of information on how this chain started back in 1952 – through various photos and plaques on the walls.  There are plenty of booths and tables to sit and wait for your food to be served, with easy access to the self-serve drink station.

With only one till to order your food – it can be a little slow.  I’m sure this is done on purpose, as the addition of more tills wouldn’t make the burgers cook any faster.  Busy hours usually have a queue leading right out of the front door.

What I love about this place is that they have no fear of stating the truth.  With menu items named Fatburger, Double Fat, King Fat, and Crispy Fat Chicken – make sure you clear things with your doctor, as there is a possibility of becoming addicted to their burgers, which won’t do you much good in the long run.   For the health-conscious, there is a salad called the Fat Salad Wedge – with the first topping listed as diced bacon.

fatburger_doublefat

The burger shown above is the Double Fatburger with add-ons of cheese, and bacon.   Oh yeah – plus gravy on the fries!   My lunch companion opted out of the gravy, but added a fried egg to his burger and thoroughly enjoyed his Real Ice Cream Shake.

This is a well constructed burger:  the bun is just the right size – keeping everything together nicely.  The patties are packed loosely providing a nice texture, and the standard condiments are balanced nicely.   Overall – I thoroughly enjoyed this burger!  The gravy on the fries was good, although the fries themselves were not the greatest.

Definitely more expensive than your neighborhood fast-food joints, with your closest comparable being Red Robins.

Not trying to stir up any controversy, but there is a lot of advertising on how the beef is never frozen, and that they use the highest quality USDA approved beef.   I could not find anything to tell me whether this applies to the franchises in Canada?

Fatburger (SouthEd Common) on Urbanspoon

Eagle Plains Hotel – Eagle Plains, YT


Eagle Plains Hotel
Eagle Plains – Kilometer 371, Dempster Highway
Yukon Territory
(867) 993-2453

When travelling in remote areas, good food is more of a luxury. than an expectation. You really can’t count on what you’re going to get – sometimes, i’ve encountered some of the best, home-style, lovingly cooked food. Sometimes, barely edible mush. So when driving the Dempster Highway, and we came to the half way point between Inuvik and Dawson City, I had no idea what to expect.

Eagle Plains is what lies at roughly the half way point. The only hotel rooms, restaurant and bar for many many miles, it’s a natural stopping point for people travelling one of the most scenic highways i’ve ever seen. Comparable to the Icefields Parkway/Jasper-Banff highway. Very pretty and well worth a visit!

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With a a snowstorm threatening our visibility, we were happy to stop. Inside the hotel, there was a bar, complete with stuffed and mounted animal heads, and a cafeteria masquerading as a restaurant. Starving, we opted for some food before hitting the bar.

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Looking at the extensive menu, there is an incredible amount of selection. From sandwiches, to fish and chips, to steak, pasta, chops, salads and everything in between, the length of the menu told me one thing – most of the items had to be  frozen. The only “fresh” item on the menu was the fresh baked pie. A positive steal at $3.25.

Both extremely hungry, we figure that hamburgers are the best way to go. After all, it’s hard to mess up a burger. Having a rather large appetite, i opt for the Eagle Burger – two 5oz patties, cheese, turkey, and fried egg , served with your choice of side for $12.95. The arctic circle burger exludes the egg, and drops the price a dollar.

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The verdict on the burgers? Nice juicy patties – definitely chock full of fat. Handmade – not machine made, i still get the sense (based on the textur) that the patties were frozen, defrosted and cooked. It was actually really quite  tasty though. Nice balance of flavours. Lousy bun, but what do you expect 400 km from the nearest grocery store. It’s greasy, but that was neither a surprise, nor unwelcome. The pie (ala mode) was decent, but also greasy.

Breakfast the next morning was more of the same. Their breakfast sandwich (called the Klondike express) was $7.95, was egg, ham and cheese on an English muffin, served with hashbrowns. The hashbrowns were undercooked, and not very good. But the breakfast sandwich was an indulgence in grill grease, and definitely hit the spot before setting off.

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At the end of the day, there isnt much to say about Eagle Plains Hotel. First off, you don’t really have a choice – it’s the only place for miles. Secondly, it’s a greasy spoon, so you should go into it expecting this. However, the taste of the food is actually really good, and based on what i was expecting, they definitely exceeded expectations. In this case, we got lucky with the remote location, as they put some effort into getting some decent ingredients, and serving them. In remote areas, you won’t always get this lucky, but this is a good place to grab some solid grub. The highway is definitely worth the trip – and the burger is well worth stopping for as well.

Rocky’s Burger Bus – Calgary, AB


Rocky’s Burger Bus
1120 46th Ave. SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 243 0405
Monday-Friday, 10am-3pm

Rocky's Burger Bus on Urbanspoon

When people talk about restaurants as institutions, it usually refers to a place that has maintained their longevity, and quality. In Calgary, people usually talk Peter’s, or Caesar’s, or Chicken on the Way.  They certainly have had their longevity, but I question the quality. For me, there are places not as well known that I also consider to be true Calgary institutions – and Rocky’s Burger Bus is one of them.

Rocky’s Burger Bus is literally that – an old transit bus parked in the middle of an industrial area in SE Calgary. Most people have heard of it, but many people I’ve talked to don’t seem to have an idea of where it is. They proudly serve AAA Alberta beef, and their customers proudly eat it. On any given day, +20 or -20, come lunch time, there is a huge lineup. Get there early or late. Lunchtime is a zoo. You’ve been warned.

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The menu is a pretty basic thing, consisting of all your typical greasy spoon items. Burgers. Fries. Onion rings. Poutine. Smokies and hot dogs. Bacon on a bun. Milkshakes. Pop. It’s nothing earth shattering, but you don’t expect that from a place serving greasy spoon out of a bus.

The big thing here is burgers. Hand formed patties made from fresh 100% Alberta beef, cooked on a griddle in their own fat and juices.  They make them by the hundreds, and cook them when they are ordered. If you peek inside the bus, you’ll see dozens of burgers cooking at any one time. The smell of beef is unmistakable.

The burgers themselves are a generous size – i’d guess 1/3 of a lb, precooked weight. Maybe as large as a 1/2 lb. They come in 3 configurations – plain($4.50), with cheese ($5.00), or with cheese and bacon ($5.75). You can also make it a double for slightly less than double the price. Standard condiments are mustard, relish, and onions. They are juicy, and lack the texture of having been mixed with a lot of filler, even though they are all cooked to well done. The buns are standard store bought buns, and aren’t good, but don’t detract from the burger.

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In most cases, i have some issues with well done. I like my burgers medium. Meat that has been freshly ground does not have the contamination issues that store ground has. So not only are burgers cooked to order generally better quality, but they taste better too. Canadians, however, seem to be very bacteria phobic, and prefer them all well done. Or establishments use inferior beef, and can only cook to well done. Regardless, it is typically a sign of a very average burger. But I will concede that these are a decent well done. Not bone dry. Retain some flavour. It’s about as good as i would expect well done could get, without the inclusion of a lot of pork fat 🙂

Any good burger place has some critical accompaniments. For me, the most important is fries. Fresh cut, they are fried to a crispy consistency., yet retain a nice bite with great potato flavour. The interior structure of a well cooked fry is important. It cannot be hollow, and it cannot be like mashed potatoes. These are an excellent representation of fresh cooked fries, though for $3.00, i would like a lot more fries. The order is a bit skimpy.

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Fries, of course, can be improved with an excellent gravy, and this is where Rocky’s Burger Bus shines. Made from what i gather are the beef drippings off the griddle, this is probably the best gravy i’ve had in Calgary thus far. Beefy, rich, fatty, not overly thickened from flour or corn starch, the gravy stands out on its own merits. Definitely a bit oily, it isnt for the faint at heart. But I do prefer the gravy to the malt vinegar and salt, which says a lot.

Of course, thanks to our Quebec cousins to the East, there is another way to improve fries. It’s to add gravy, and cheese curds! Poutine, rated the worst food for you on the planet by some health study a few years ago (right above deep fried mars bars, which are also delectable), is considered a point of Canadian pride, and a staple for all grease lovers. The Rocky Burger Bus rendition of Poutine is excellent. Real cheese curds, complete with a little squeak, and a nice quantity, along with their rich beef gravy, and crispy fresh cut fries makes for an excellent poutine. Not quite on calibre with Montreal, but a fine rendition for the West.

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In your mind, an institution or not, Rocky’s Burger Bus delivers on the vast promise that a greasy spoon in a bus should. Greasy beef, crispy fries, and an otherwise artery clogging menu that tastes so good, a food coma is almost a given. Even though there is no seating, and large lineups, they consistently serve up quality burgers and fries to the masses that visit day in and day out. And I believe  it’s the consistency, the quality, and really, the bus, that make it an institution.

Rocky's Burger Bus on Urbanspoon

Earls (Bankers Hall) – Calgary, AB


Earls Bankers Hall
A1, Level 1-315 8 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 265 3275

Earl's on Urbanspoon

In a regrettably meek attempt to try and stem the tide against the utter disappearance of our Alberta correspondence amid the Foodosopher’s current international travel-induced hiatus, the following is a report from one of his many home bases, Calgary.

Bankers Hall.  The name alone should tell you something about how stuffy, boring and just downright plain vanilla the food offerings are here.  Set in the heart of downtown, the pair of office towers makes its mark for its distinct architectural design, and is one of the most notable skyscrapers that you can see as you drive in from the airport, so you’d think there would be some promising offerings for a light meal.  Aside from perhaps the quality offerings of the Sunterra Marche – who I know better from my past interactions with the business savy Price Brothers based in nearby Acme, who know what they are doing when it comes to fresh, high quality ingredients – you are left with some restaurant choices that submit to providing Asian fusion, basic Chinese, some sad looking sushi, a place that is trying to pass itself as being Japanese, and then the omnipresent chains including Burger King, Jugo Juice, Starbucks, and Subway.  Safe and standard fare, probably very well accepted by all the suits up in the high towers above.

I had heard an acquaintance who lives in Calgary hyping up a meal they had at Earls just a few days prior.  Yes, that Earls.  I can still remember my first experience with it in the mid-Eighties, in all places Red Deer.  Then thinking in my naive high school years that it was an incredible joint, a place to be seen, with trumped up names given to some select branches of the chain like the Tin Palace, which catered to the supposed young and hip crowd.  Today, I’d guess it pretty much remains just that, an imaginary place where all the servers and hostesses looked like they’ve been picked out of model catalog and the masses of families, friends and couples who populate them to take in their casual cuisine and think its all fine and dandy.

The item this person raved about was the Grilled Chicken and Baked Brie on Ciabatta ($13), made up of grilled breast meat, with melted brie, roasted apples and spinach with a sweet fig jam and garlic mayonnaise on toasted ciabatta bread.  I think Foodosopher and I have exchanged thoughts on many of our mutual connections and their views on food and dining as well as personal tastes and how they gel, or not gel, with ours.  Always an interesting conversation, and thus I made this attempt to verify said person’s observations on this particular sandwich.

Presentation-wise, as it arrived at our table, I wasn’t immediately discouraged, as the side profile of the layers inside looked promising.  The sweet roasted scent of the fruit came through and the brie had begun dripping along the side of the chicken meat as if to say, “anymore heat and I’m done”.  The ciabatta though a touch tough on the outside for my personal liking, did had a good spongy feel inside as I took my first bite.  I must admit I am usually not a fan of brie, its the moldy white crust on top that gives it that unique contrast in texture and feels like a wrapper that gets to me.  But the savory softness of the cheese itself works well with the tender breast of chicken, and doesn’t fight at all with the sweet sugary compounds of the caramelized apples inside.  To say that I was quite surprised that I didn’t want to ask for another dish instead, was indeed a pleasant surprise.

My dining companion however had a disastrous experience with the Earls Bigger Better 1/2 Pound Burger ($11.50), with added sauteed mushrooms (extra $2.25).  Headlining the entire sandwich and burger section of the menu, you’d think they’d be very experienced with plating this.  But take a look at the overcooked and soaked in oil fries that came with the package.  The meat patty itself had shrunk down to a blackened hockey puck appearance and the lettuce and tomato had not gotten a thorough shaking off before being placed on top, as the bun had already begun to get really soggy inside.  I just shook my head at the sight and remarked how I really dislike it when a place boasts about a particular item and then makes a mess of the whole thing.

So there you have it, a pair of sandwiched meals that really left contrasting impressions.  Truthfully when we ordered, we were expecting the opposite result for what each of us eventually had.  I’m fortunate to have taken the gamble and submitted to confirming my friend’s review of the chicken/brie sandwich.  My table mate however, vows never to go back to an Earls again.  This was even after I reminded him of the cute waitress he kept chatting up.  Ah, a clear sign that stomachs rule over hearts.

Earl's on Urbanspoon

Murph’s Pub and Eatery – Calgary, AB


Murph’s Pub
630 8 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB  T2P 1G6
Open 7 days a week

There are days when there is nothing more satisfying than a good greasy burger and fries. However, with  the large number of mediocre burger chains using frozen beef, mechanically-shaped patties, lousy buns, and limp, flavourless toppings, society’s expectations for what constitutes a good burger have diminished. Correspondingly, what most places feel they can get away with serving has decreased proportionately in quality. Institutions like In N Out burger, creating what i consider to be the ideal quality fast-food burger, are definitely the exception and not the norm.

Some have made efforts to upscale the burger, with Daniel Boulud’s gourmet Burger Royale @ DB Bistro Moderne, topping the pile at $99.  These are not burgers. They are gourmet-inspired versions of an American classic. Even upscale chains like Earl’s and Joey’s have fluffied up their burgers so they can charge $15 a pop, to keep pace with their other upscale offerings. This is not the burger of my childhood. To me, burgers are easy, approachable, affordable food.

After our final basketball game of the year, we hit our watering hole of choice,  Murph’s Pub on 8th Avenue. This establishment has provided us with the venue for many post-game discussions. I would like to say we go for the quality of food, but let’s be honest: Monday is cheap burger night, and when you’re talking athletes and refreshments, sadly, price is king. Fortunately, price and quality are not mutually exclusive.

Murph’s burger is what a good pub burger should be – large, and cheap. Starting at $7.95 ($6.95 on Monday’s) you get a basic burger and fries. Additional toppings, bacon, cheese, and mushrooms, come in at $1 a piece. What you get is a large, hand formed patty, cooked well done but still juicy. A fresh toasted bun that is firm enough to hold the mountain of toppings, while soft enough not to cut the inside of your mouth like toasted ciabatta does. A large dill pickle, fresh tomato, red onion, lettuce, and mayo round out the basic burger. With a big pile of decent fries (crisp, with a slightly too-soft centre, usually a bit over-seasoned), this is a filling, and satisfying meal. While this will not be competing with Buchanan’s nor the Burger Royale, it won’t be setting you back $20-$100 dollars either.

Murph’s is a location that really is come as you are, even if you’re sweaty, tired, and obnoxiously thirsty. They won’t win any awards for their decor, food, or service, but they don’t need to. They make good greasy food. They serve cold beer. They do so at affordable prices.  Compared to many other choices we have today, that should be more than enough to warrant a visit.

Murph's Pub & Eatery on Urbanspoon