Call me a sandwich ‘cause I’m on a roll! This is my second blog post in 2 weeks, far more frequent than I am used to. My ultimate Frisbee teammate Jason wanted to go on Hamburger Pants (like I’m Christiane Amanpoure of the hamburger world, or so I like to think), so we organized an expedition, originally to the Toque International Lounge. But something was amiss. I didn’t crave a trip to the Toque, there was nothing special about its menu, nothing unique to draw me in. But should I just go to get the review over and done with? NO! I wanted to review somewhere that interested me, and hopefully other readers. So I started doing a little more research.
Urbanspoon has been an integral tool in my search for burger euphoria. With diner reviews, approval ratings and a user friendly mapping feature, it’s easy to find what’s around you and what people are saying about it. So one day while cruising the “in the area” column, I see something called the Upper Deck Public House. So what, another pub. They’re a dime a dozen in this town, and they’ve all got their signature pub burger. But then I started cruising its pictures and I saw the “infamous Double Decker Burger”. Hold on a second. Were those…grilled cheese sandwiches? Yes, the menu boasts the first burger challenge I have ever seen in Calgary: Finish the Double Decker Burger with a side of poutine and you get a free t-shirt! Ok, I’m GOING!
I grew up on Man vs. Food, it inspired me to get involved with food blogging in the first place. I love the way that Adam Richman, the show’s host, balances content between extreme eating challenges and delicious neighborhood favorites. This was to be my Amy (and Jason) vs. Food moment. So I ask Jason and we agree to meet at Upper Deck. Parking isn’t too hard, but be wary if you’re trying to get to Upper Deck as it is on 6th Ave and that is one of the main routes out of the downtown and it can get crowded on weekdays when the oil and gas camps let out. I ended up parking (needlessly) on 7th St. and 6th Ave and had to hoof it the surprisingly far 4 blocks to 11th St.
The Upper Deck is a great summer patio. There is also a spacious bar area, and the entire restaurant is on the upper floor, giving you a great view of the surrounding condos. For those who work downtown and are constantly being dwarfed by these monstrosities, it’s nice to be just a little higher, even if for a short while. I really liked the ambiance of the Upper Deck. The service was good and the place wasn’t too crowded, a perfect place for the downtown crowd to unwind after a hectic day at the office.
We glanced over the menu, as there are several burger choices. But we were here to try the challenge. The Double Decker is two eight-ounce patties, onion rings, cheddar, sautéed garlic mushroom, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and house dressing “nestled” between 2 grilled cheese sandwiches. Be still my heart. No, seriously, I need that thing to live. “A necessary evil”, as it was described by Jason, one must conquer it. Agreeing to split it, we placed our order with the server, who gave us the classic “you’re crazy” eyebrow. Still enjoying the thrill of placing the order, we sat back and waited.
Upon its arrival, the Double Decker doesn’t look THAT scary. But as we deconstructed the burger, putting a patty in each of the grilled cheese sandwich and splitting up the fixings, it seemed to multiply. We bit in and began the challenge. The burger was surprisingly good. I never expect great quanitities of food (like buffets) to be especially good, given the length of time to prepare and the variety of ingredients. But the meat was juicy, not overcooked, and the crispy grilled cheese added a different sort of texture and richness that other burgers just don’t have. It’s not my favorite but it was decent. Jason says it was the best burger of the summer.
The poutine was delicious. Everyone who knows me knows that my favorite poutine comes from North America’s favorite bulk wholesaler giant Costco, but this poutine ranks in the top ten! Maybe it’s because they’re trying to fill you up, but the steak- cut fries are generously covered in a blanket of gravy, dotted with cheese curds. My only complaint was that the cheese curds melted too quickly, but you can’t have it all. The poutine is delicious, however, it cooled down quickly and then the hardened gravy/cheese/fry mass was not as tasty.
In the end, Jason managed to finish his half, but I was only able to finish half of my half. I was disappointed in my performance, the burger was truly a lot larger than I had anticipated. This is not the end of my Double Decker experience though, I definitely want another crack at the ol’ beast.
The Upper Deck was a real Hamburger Pants milestone for me, because it’s the first time that I reviewed a restaurant that hasn’t already been reviewed by another Calgary blogger, e.g. YYC eats or Burger Quest (if you haven’t seen these blogs yet, check them out!). In light of Neil Armstrong’s recent passing, I would liken my quest for burger blog supremacy to USA’s Space Race against the USSR. Every time I have reviewed a restaurant, someone else has been there first. I was the Buzz Aldrin to Neil Armstrong, the second man on the moon. Imagine how it feels to the second reporter on the scene, no longer everyone’s focus but rather a rehasher of the same information. But this day, I planted my Hamburger Pants flag on the Upper Deck first! I climbed to the top of their staircase and ordered the Double Decker! That’s one small step for Amy and one large step for Hamburger Pants.