Alright friends, how's everyone doing?? I hope you all had a fabulous week! I've got something really fun for you guys today.
So, if you live in Calgary and don't live under a rock, you will know that it has been a food frenzy over the past few weeks. We kicked off a series of food weeks with Poutine Week at the end of April. Then we shimmied our way into YYC Taco Fiesta, and now we are celebrating Alberta Burger Fest!
These food weeks are just one of the many reasons I love Calgary. It is one of the most community-minded, supportive cities I have ever had the pleasure of living, working and playing in. And because each one of them supports various charities around the city, how could you not try at least one poutine or taco or burger?!
Burger Fest is special because I have been invited to be an ambassador for participating restaurants. I think this is such a cool opportunity to help some incredible local restaurants, and I just wanted to take the time to tell you about some of these great restaurants I have had the pleasure of enjoying.
First, let's talk about Burger Fest. It's an province-wide competition where restaurants create a burger to compete in one of three categories: $10, $15, and $20. People go to these restaurants and then vote on the entries they enjoyed. And you can rest easy knowing that the burgers are made with Alberta beef. But the best part is that 10% of all the proceeds are going to five incredible organizations in Alberta. Check 'em out:
- Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern Alberta
- Kids Up Front
- Kids Cancer Care
- Missing Children Society of Canada
- Bullying Ends Here
Ready for the amazing burgers now??
Le Parc Cafe and Brasserie
I have this undeniable and unquenchable affair d'amour with the French culture. From the language to the lifestyle to the food, it's always been a part of what makes me, me. I always imagine retiring in my villa in Southern France, spending my final years rolling in butter, red wine, ratatouille and espresso.
I chose Parc for a couple of reasons: I heard great things, and I've wanted to go since it opened. The restaurant, from the the food to the service to the ambience, reminds me of the day in Paris where I walked down the street from the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed a lovely sandwich de jambon (ham sandwich) on the patio. That day might have been one of the happiest days of my life so far.
The whole evening at Parc was exceptional. From the moment we walked in to the moment we left, Parc delivered an experience that not only was full of amazing food (I'm looking at you, charcuterie board.), but took me back to one of my fondest memories. If a restaurant can make that connection, it is truly something special.
But you want to know about the burger. It was a oxtail burger with double smoked bacon, a few delicious dressings and served on a house-made brioche bun. I don't know what else to say other than "YUM!!" The burger ate more like a pulled pork than a traditional burger, but there was nothing traditional about this. Our burgers were served with a side of pomme frites and a garlic aioli. But between the impending dessert and the heavenly charcuterie, I left those for another time.
If you are looking for a fresh night out or just a good dinner, I will not only recommend this burger which of course you will only be able to get during Burger Fest. However, we had a chance to try a few things on the menu and every one of them was divine. Even if you aren't crazy about French food, I highly recommend trying out their fantastic selection of French wines. We drank a white wine so smooth and velvety, we found it in Calgary and ordered a case. So, next wine night is on me!
The number one reason I chose to be an ambassador for One18 Empire was their brown liquor list. One of the reasons behind the name of this blog is my novice love for bourbon. So when I got the opportunity to visit for Burger Fest, I took it! My knowledge and my palette are both very limited when it comes to bourbon. Tasting the different notes and nuances is a bit of struggle, so I left it in the capable hands of the general manager to choose a nice drink to start dinner with.
The burger was a little more on the traditional side, but with a surprise punch. It was an 8 oz Alberta Beef patty, with whiskey-smoked bacon (YASSS!), Worcester aioli, pickled jalapenos, American cheddar, tomato and lettuce, served on a house-made sesame bun. I loved that One18 Empire took the traditional burger and elevated just slightly to add some personality with the whiskey. To keep it traditional, our burgers were served with a side of fries and bourbon ketchup. Except I made the terrible decision to sub kale salad. KALE SALAD, guys! Not one of my finest choices. Kale salad aside, this was a fine burger and a real contender.
I think I'll be back to try a few more bourbons and a few small plates.
The Living Room
My final stop on my Burger Fest ambassador tour was The Living Room. First I need to comment on the restaurant itself. You know those moments when you make macaroni and cheese and curl up on the couch to eat it and everything is good for those few minutes? That's what The Living Room felt like. From its comfy, over-sized chairs to its warm and inviting fireplaces, it felt like my living room. It was warm and comforting.
This burger was less on the traditional side and more on the wow-blow-your-socks-off side. We enjoyed a cured, quick-aged (about 3 days) brisket patty with fried mortadella, sauerkraut, talleggio, and mustard aioli served on a house-made brioche bun. And instead of the traditional fries, it came with a creamy brussel sprout slaw, which was crunchy, cool, sweet and creamy all at once. It is a hefty meal, so come very hungry. Or spread the burger love and split it with a friend. And then enjoy a chocolate fondue to finish.
If you are looking for something middle of the road in terms of originality, I highly recommend this place!
You've only got a few days left to get out there and enjoy some great burgers! Remember that 10% of all burger proceeds will benefit five amazing organizations in Alberta. So you have zero excuses!
Let me know which burgers you've tried and which ones you loved by either leaving a comment below or tweet me at @BrittanyBrander.
Happy festing, burger lovers!