Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
I didn't eat these. Seriously.
Most people, after finding out that they ate 2,000 calories (the amount that an average person needs in one day) and 7,000 mg of sodium (almost 3x the recommended daily upper limit) in one sitting, would probably take it easy with their diet the rest of the week, maybe squeeze in a few more workouts... Me? I skipped tap class this week to go for burgers.
Vlad's Calgary Foodies Group was back in action - our original goal of the night was to have a sort of "Battle of the Burgers", sparked by Andree (are u gonna eat that?)'s review of Loungeburger. Vlad simply couldn't fathom how anyone could suggest that there is a burger out there than the sirloin burgers at Buchanan's, so he proposed a "Battle of the Burgers", and it was going to be a night full of letter Bs - burgers, bloggers, Buchanan's...
I was really looking forward to the opportunity to meet Suzi and Gwendolyn (what originally drew me to the outing, honest!), but they unfortunately cancelled. Andree cancelled too, but she ended up having dinner there anyway with her husband and in-laws and stopped by our table on her way out, and Liz of Trufflemutt joined us, so I did get to meet some fellow food bloggers, and more of Vlad's friends as well (Hi, Cindy!)
The evening started at Loungeburger, and as usual, we tried to take advantage of our numbers and try as many different burgers as possible. Of course, it would've been silly to only have 1/7 of a burger, so we split off into two groups - Beth, Brian, Arthur and I got the 'AAA' Alberta Beef burger as control, the Kobe burger, the Sausage burger, and the Ahi Tuna burger. Vlad, Liz and Cindy split the Kobe burger, the Lamb burger and the Alberta Sliders Trio (above - see, I didn't eat it!)
B is for Burger. Beef. BACON.
The Battle of the Burgers was a bit of a failure, as four of us brought our cameras, so we spent a *lot* of time passing the plates around, taking photos before we even got to splitting them up. The waiter joked that we can't complain to him if our food was cold, and he was right; I think the food would've been much better fresh and hot, especially the sides.
These onion rings would've been better hot.
I greedily had my tossed salad all to myself and it was so good. Not just because I like my vegetables (and it's always nice to see a salad that's not just pile of lettuce with some dry-looking grated carrots and maybe a pink wedge of tomato), but also because this one was dressed in a lovely sweet vinaigrette.
Oh right, the burgers...
I think our "control" burger was my favourite, perhaps because it was the one I ate first, but I think it's because of the pepper/herb bacon - it added a whole other dimension of taste and also some texture to the burger that in my mind, made all the difference.
B is for Beef cattle that drink Beer and get massages everyday.
But I could taste the difference between Alberta beef and the Kobe/Wagyu blend that Loungeburger has on their Kobe burgers. The latter was very soft and moist, making the 'AAA' beef seem a little gristly in comparison. I did enjoy the pretzel bun, feeling like it had more substance (and it was easier to cut) but felt that the horseradish aioli made it a little too salty for my taste.
B is for Beer mustard.
The sausage burger was good (can't go wrong with Spolumbo's!) and also came on a pretzel bun, though I wish it had more spices (not necessarily hot spices, but ones you generally find in sausage, like fennel seed) that could have distinguished it more from the other patties. I really liked the beer mustard though - very horseradishy.
The ahi tuna burger came with alfalfa sprouts, cucumbers and onions on a garlic and herb flatbread. I would call it more of an open-face sandwich than a burger so it can't really compare to everything else we ate, and I liked how light it was compared to the meaty burgers.
Everyone was happy to note that there was no more loud, thumping music like Andree's first visit. I've heard game nights are a zoo at Loungeburger, but even without that the service needed a bit of work - though the waiter was very attentive in the beginning, checking on us a little too frequently when we were still deciding what to order, after the food was served he was very hands-off. My ex-boyfriend always judged whether or not he liked a restaurant based on how often he got his water refilled - here the waiter came around once with the pitcher but only filled the glasses he was asked explicitly to refill, then our glasses stood empty for a long time and I think he forgot for a good 10, 15 minutes after I had to ask him for more water before he came with the pitcher again. Unfortunately I forget the prices for some of the burgers (I do remember the Alberta Beef burger being $11.50, the Kobe beef burger being $20 and the Sausage and Ahi Tuna burgers were $13?), but when we split the bill evenly between the seven of us, plus the 18% gratituity that was automatically tacked on, the meal only cost us $20 each. I think that's pretty good.
I think most people forgot about the Buchanan's part of the "battle", plus it was a weeknight, but a few of us (Vlad, Brian, Arthur and myself) pressed on despite being relatively full. Buchanan's is a whisky bar tucked on a corner just at the edge of downtown. According to Vlad, it usually caters to the high rolling business crowd and is very upscale, but we rolled in toward the end of the night, so it had more of a cozy, neighbourhood pub sort of vibe. Buchanan's has two types of burgers, both using sirloin beef - the Deluxe Bacon Cheeseburger and Hot and Spicy Onion-Jalapeño Jack Cheese Burger (both $19), and you can have a taste of both with their Mini Burger two-pack ($12). We got two, so it worked out to one mini burger for each of us, and they came with the cutest little cups of fries and coleslaw.
B is for Buchanans!
I chose the Hot and Spicy Onion-Jalapeño Jack Cheese Burger (because it was closer) and I liked the little kick of spice and the meat was very moist, but it wasn't the mindblowing experience that Vlad had hyped it up to be, and even he agreed. Maybe it was because we didn't get the full-sized burgers but I really wouldn't have been able to stomach it, or maybe it's because I simply don't get that excited about burgers. We picked a little at the fries (not very good) and if I was hungrier I would've probably picked up a fork and had some coleslaw, but I was very full.
So the search for the ultimate burger is still on, but part of me feels like I'm not the right person for it, because I'd sooner get excited about golden beets and purple cauliflowers than a sandwich. But of course, I could be proven wrong - Gwendolyn claims that Chuckwagon Cafe has the best burgers in southern Alberta... anyone want to go to Turner Valley with me?
270 14 Ave SE
Calgary AB T2G 0L3
Open Mon-Wed 11 AM-1 AM, Thu-Sat 11 AM-2 AM, Sun 11 AM-11 PM. Reservations recommended for large groups and on game nights.
738 3 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2P 0G7
Kitchen closes at 10 pm. Closed Sundays.