Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shady Dealings

CHARCUT Roast House
899 Centre St S
The hot new thing taking Cowtown by storm is the CHARCUT alley burger. Unfortunately, you can't roll up to the restaurant on any ol' Tuesday with your posse and be like 'Yo I want an alley burger with fries'. No no no nooo. That's not how it goes down. No. You gotta creep the Facebook and Twitter. And once in a blue moon, an announcement will be made. 'Alley burgers tonight!' it will say and hundreds of alley burger addicts will rejoice.
Unlike previous announcements, this latest edition of alley burgers was announced the day before. This gave me plenty of time to shotgun fire emails and texts to friends to check it out with me. Unfortunately, I didn't know that many people who wanted to stand in line for two hours for a burger made of mystery meat... I know right? It's ridiculous!
Having read stories from the internet about how crazy it gets, I arrived at the alley (Update: For those that don't know - Dan..., the alley is behind the CHARCUT restaurant on Centre St and 9th Ave downtown and not Calgary's "classiest" bar The Back Alley) two hours prior to the prescribed time (10:30). There was not a single person in sight. I then decided to walk around for a bit. By the time I returned at around 9:30, there was already a lineup of 50 strong, with people hauling ass to the alley from every direction. Picture a zombie apocalypse but people are running to the zombie and the zombies are delicious mouthwatering burgers. It was madness I tell you! Madness! You never see people running to McDonald’s to wait in line for big macs!
The lineup had already extended to the edge of the sidewalk as I made my way to the alley. Steaming manholes and dumpsters provides an interesting yet appropriate backdrop. The mood was laid back with patrons taking photos and Tweeting and Facebooking the latest updates to the world. Police and security guards were on hand to keep the shenanigans under control as more people arrived. Members of the CHARCUT staff appeared in the alley to sell tickets to the lucky few as the clock struck 10. At this point, the line stretched to the end of the block with over 170 people. It made the bread line during the great depression look like a couple of guys standing around having a chat about their day. Tension began to rise as people were trying to figure out whether they were going to make the cut. How many were they gonna have? 30? 50? 80? 100? One for everyone who showed up? But more importantly, will I get one?!?!

YES! Upon exchanging my hard earned money for a ticket (cash only), I fist pumped like a champ and held onto the ticket as if it was my first born child. A chorus of boos erupted behind me as the tickets ran out shortly after. Some 90 disappointed hopefuls disappeared into the night. 
Despite the temperature hovering a smudge above zero the entire night, it was getting a little chilly. I could hardly feel my toes! I can't even imagine how brutal it would have been in colder weather. They should set up a concession on the other side of the alley to serve up some sort of tasty beverage. I bet they would make a killing. Wait. I should do that. And I'd name it Bevies in the Alley. As we approached chow time, the aroma of alley burgers filled the air. My mouth began to water and my stomach was growling.
After more waiting, the back door suddenly burst open at 10:30. A man appeared through the door with tray upon tray of tasty alley burgers. Celebration ensued. It was a sight to behold, everyone was posing for photos with their burgers as if it was a celebrity. I grab my burger, snapped a pic for the blog and proceeded to devour it as I slowly walked back to my car.
Packaged in a little brown paper bag, the burger came with a small wedge of pickle. Sandwiched between a lightly toasted hamburger bun was a massive garlic sausage patty made from pork and lamb. The meat was so tender, so flavourful, so juicy and smothered in a special sauce. The bun was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Ahhh... Sooooooo good! Unfortunately, you are only limited to one burger per person. I'm jonesing for one right now! 

For a mere $5, the portion is comparable to that of other fast food joints, except the alley burger taste better. Such a fantastic deal - If you don't mind waiting a hour or so in a dark alley. I would have to say that this is by far the longest I've ever waited for anything in my life and you know what? It was definitely worth it. The taste, the atmosphere, the people... I would definitely do it again. If waiting in line makes you vomit in the mouth, you can also order the sharing burger (The larger cousin of the alley burger) inside the restaurant like a total boss for $2.50 per oz, minimum 9 oz ($22.50).
Check out Twitter and/or Facebook (everyday) to see when the next alley burger will happen next. Don't call the restaurant. Bring a lawn chair. You have been warned.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Something French

Le Chien Chaud
2015 4 St SW
Checked out Le Chien Chaud after work earlier this week for some quick eats. French for 'Hot Dog', Le Chien Chaud is a cute little shop in the Mission area serving, you guessed it, hot dogs! The decor features a life size street lamp from the 1950s (or something) and a faux hot dog stand protruding from the wall offering an impressive variety of condiments to add to your dog. It feels like you are sitting on the patio on a sunny summer day until you look out the window and see that snow mount and you realize you are in fact sitting in a climate controlled area and it’s still winter. Eff. A nice touch nonetheless. Contrary to the sign noted in the photo below, the hot dogs are not 15 cents, unfortunately.

Le Chien Chaud features a variety of special hot dogs, such as the breakfast dog or various location based hot dogs. I had the french dog. This particular hot dog features mushroom sautéed in butter and French herbs and gruyere cheese sprinkled over a jumbo hot dog. The wiener was fairly average, nothing you couldn't get at the local grocery store. Le Chien Chaud is all about the condiments. And I must admit there was a lot of stuff jam packed between the hot dog bun. Taste wise it was decent, but nothing too spectacular. A nice step up from the typical ketchup, mustard and relish you get at the local street vendors.

Atmosphere: 7 out 10. Photos of people chowing down on various hot dogs are plastered everywhere just in case you had doubts as to what type of food they served. Hint: it's not pancakes.
Food: 6 out of 10. It was decent. Kinda small. (that's what she said)
Presentation: 6 out of 10. Average presentation.
Price: 6 out of 10. It's 46 times more than what they advertised on that faux sign!
Service: N/A.
Overall: 6 out of 10. It's a fancy hot dog. But not fancy enough to be eaten with a fork and knife.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fatherly Advice

The Main Dish
903 General Ave NE
Met up with my friend Joel last weekend for another man date... I mean business meeting. Joel was giving me some recommendations on cool things to see and do while in Sydney, Australia. I am going for a week in the beginning of May and spending another week in Hong Kong. It’s gonna be sweet! I’m so excited! Hopefully, I will be adding a few more entries to my Other List. My apologies for the lack of posts in the month of April, I’ve been trying to save up some extra money for my trip. 
So anyway, we stopped by The Main Dish. Located in the community of Bridgeland, the Main Dish offer a wide variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and various hot meals to choose from. Orders are placed at their respective stations and paid at the front. The food is brought out to you when it’s hot and ready. I ordered the sesame seed crusted tuna while Joel got the pesto chicken. The size of the tuna filet was quite impressive. I bet you could feed a family of stray cats for a week with it. Set over a bed of quinoa and edamame salad and stocks of asparagus (because I need to meet my veggie quota for the day), the tuna was slightly overdone but decent overall. This marks the first time that I’ve had fully cooked tuna (aside from the canned stuff). I think I like it better raw. Or lightly seared on the outside. So what does it taste like? Think low sodium Clover Leaf tuna. But in steak form. And someone dropped a box of sesame seeds all over it. The compote was a nice touch. Flavour explosion all around.

Because I ninjaed the last tuna steak from Joel while he was debating what he was going to get, I offered to trade him half of my tuna for half of his pesto chicken. And I must say that the chicken was much better. The meat was tender and very flavourful. It came with a choice of soup or salad. Which he did not share. : (

After giving my stomach some time to digest my meal, we ordered some desert. I had the berry crumble. It was ok. Unlike revenge, I think berry crumbles would be best served hot. Or at least lukewarm. 

Atmosphere: 6.5 out of 10. Nice setting. Tables are set up around the perimeter of the store. 
Food: 6.5 out of 10. Food was decent. 
Presentation: 8 out of 10. Surprisingly nice presentation. Definitely not thrown together.
Price: 7 out of 10. Good price.
Service: 9 out of 10. Really friendly staff. We were just sitting there for over half an hour after they closed and they didn’t even kick us out. My apologies for that.
Overall: 7 out of 10. Free parking on the road behind the condos. Or you can pay for parking out front like a total boss. Takeout is also available for the antisocial folks out there.

The Main Dish on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Greatest Fast Food Chain Ever?

Koryo Korean BBQ
Level 4 - 317 7 Ave SW
The situation: You are power shopping at the local mall. Hunger strikes. You head to the food court to find a plethora of greasy fast food chains. Do you want the double quarter pounder with cheese? Or do you want the two item combo at Tiki Ming?
The solution? Neither of those. What you really want is the chicken and beef combo at Koryo Korean BBQ. For a mere $7.99 + gst, one can get an impressive helping of BBQ beef and chicken. Two choice of sides and two scoops of rice plus a drink! Who can say no to that? Fantastic deal. There is a wide variety of sides to choose from. They all look and taste amazing but what you want to get is the garlic potatoes. Smothered in a thick sweet honey garlic sauce, the potatoes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are awesome. I’m drooling all over my computer right now. Get it. It'll change your life. Also, when the guy ask you if you want the sauce, the answer is yes.

You may be asking "But David, the mall I'm at doesn't have a Koryo!" Well then, you, my friend, is shopping at the wrong mall. Do some research before you leave next time. 

No ratings for this post. Sorry Steph.