The first ever YYC Burger Week kicked off two days ago and runs till Friday, May 10th! There are 16 restaurants participating in YYC Burger Week, with each featuring a special burger creation for this event. All the burgers are $15 with $1 from each burger sold at the participating restaurants during this event goes to one of the eight local charities. After sampling burgers from the participating restaurants, you can go the YYC Burger Week website to cast your vote for your favourite burger.
With downtownfood being one of my favourite restaurants in Calgary, I was super excited to try Chef Darren MacLean’s special burger creation for YYC Burger Week. I’d already missed out on the Calgary Poutine Crawl 2013 the previous weekend and so did not have an opportunity to sample his winning Bacon Mushroom Melt Poutine. This time, I wasn’t about to let another opportunity slip by so I made reservations far in advance for the first lunch of YYC Burger Week after learning that downtownfood was a participant. Boy, was I sure glad I had made reservations as it was a full house at downtownfood for lunch last Friday.
My friend and I shared an order of the Crispy Eggplant Wontons ($13) to start. We had been really looking forward to try this appetizer on a previous visit but ended up being sidetracked by the specials they had on that day. Hence, on this visit we were determined to try these wontons that I kept on hearing rave reviews about. These Crispy Eggplant Wontons were indeed delectable. The were filled with creamy Noble Meadows goat cheese and served atop a pickled eggplant tapenade along with some edamame puree and finished with a bit of sweet mirin. The eggplant wontons were perfectly crispy on the outside. I loved the contrasting textures and flavours. All the components came together to create a harmonious bite.
When we found out what was in the YYC Burger Week feature burger, we were super excited. The Brant Lake Wagyu Double Down Burger ($15) consisted of a 4 oz sous vide ground Wagyu patty, house cured and smoked Wagyu pastrami, DTF bacon, truffle cheddar, a soft poached crispy egg, Broxburn tomatoes, arugula, garlic aioli and pickled wild leeks. What are the chances that this burger would have all the components that we’d been really wanting to try for the last while. First, it was house made pastrami. After learning last month that Chef Darren was making his own house cured and smoked pastrami for the spring menu, I’d been really looking forward to try it. Also, up until this point, I hadn’t had the opportunity to try the famous house cured DTF bacon either and I’ve been hearing rave reviews about it again and again. Then there was the soft poached crispy egg. After having seen it in an Instagram photo by downtownfood a couple of weeks back, I was intrigued and was really hoping I would have the opportunity to try it on a burger one day. It was like our wish had come true. This was the perfect burger! We are able to try all the things we’ve been wishing to try all in this one burger.
When the burger first arrived, my friend and I were in total awe. I stared at it for several minutes trying to figure out what was the best way to eat it so that I would get a little of all the components in every bite while at the same time, I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t be “wearing my lunch” afterwards. Stacked together, this burger was almost 8 inches tall. There was clearly no hope that I could open my jaw wide enough to get it all in one bite. Hence, I needed to come up with a strategy to compress it down to a manageable height. Who knew that eating a burger would be such a challenging feat! But I was definitely up for the challenge though I must say this is the first time I’ve needed to devise a strategy on how to eat a burger. It’s definitely not as straightforward as it seems. You can’t just press down hard on it to try to compress the bun because the soft poached egg will burst, as my friend found out the hard way. My secret approach was to remove some of the pastrami. I left enough of it on so I would still get the taste but I managed to reduce the height the burger by a bit.
The combination of flavours in this burger was just out of this world. The DTF bacon alone was enough to knock my socks off. Both my friend and I agreed that as bacon lovers, we’ve had really good bacon before but this DTF bacon is in a category of its own. I will never look at bacon the same way again after this. The house made pastrami was flavourful and delish! And then there was the perfectly soft poached crispy egg. I loved the runny yolk contrasted by the crispy exterior and the tender egg white. I wish I could have my eggs prepared this way from now on. The sous vide ground Wagyu patty was on the mark. It was perfectly cooked to medium rare and the flavour of the beef really sang through. Even the tomatoes were spot on. The flavour was sweet and bright. It’s the way tomatoes should taste, not like the flavourless varieties that we often find at the local supermarket. I also loved the fluffy house made bun. It was soft but yet sturdy enough to keep everything together. The one component that really surprised me was the pickled wild leeks. When I read the menu, I didn’t think too much of them initially. But boy, did they give the burger that extra punch of flavour. Without a doubt, this burger had wow factor. Off all the burgers I’ve eaten to date, I can easily say this was one of the most memorable. It was also definitely the tallest. All of the components worked really well together. They each played a role in making this to be a foodie’s dream burger.
Initially, the burger didn’t seem all that big by appearance as it was only slightly larger than a slider. But don’t let the appearance food you. With all the toppings combined, it turned out to be really filling and I probably wouldn’t want it to be much bigger than what we were served. It was the perfect portion without feeling like you’ve overeaten afterwards.
The burger was served with double blanched fries and housemade spiced ketchup along with a Broxburn strawberry shake. Even though I’m usually not a huge fan of fries (as it is a bit too much in carbs for me), I really enjoyed these fries. They were perfectly crispy and not greasy at all. I liked that the housemade ketchup had a spicy kick to it.
As the first of many burgers that I plan to try for YYC Burger Week, this Brant Lake Wagyu Double Down Burger definitely set the bar quite high. The flavour of the sous vide Wagyu beef patty alone is hard to beat. Never mind the DTF bacon, which I reckon will be Chef Darren’s secret weapon to winning the hearts and tastebuds of all the burger tasters. Then there was the soft poached crispy egg, which was totally unlike anything that I’ve had before. Without a doubt, this Brant Lake Wagyu Double Down Burger will be one of the contenders for my vote on best burger for this event. I can’t wait to see what some of the other competing restaurants have in store. If you do want to try this Brant Lake Wagyu Double Down Burger, there is one catch. As of right now, this burger is only available for lunch at downtownfood. I don’t know if that will change in the next few days as downtownfood hinted in a tweet yesterday about a “surprise announcement [this] week” so keep checking on twitter for updates.
628 8th Ave SW