Once upon a time, right here in our lovely city, we had malls. And in those malls we had fast food courts. That was it. That was the extent of our dining options—a handful of forlorn-looking grease pits masquerading as fast-food establishments. So sure, you could eat in mall. You just couldn't eat well.
But Bourbon Street in West Edmonton Mall provides a totally different experience, one where you can actually go to a restaurant. A restaurant with tables and chairs and cooks who can do more than just plunk things in a deep-fryer.
So that's how I found myself in Delux Burger Bar in West Edmonton Mall—yes, the same Delux Burger Bar that's been serving up gourmet burgers in a Crestwood strip mall for a few years now. I was shopping with a friend, we got hungry and we wanted real food.
The funny thing about our choice? Delux is located on Bourbon Street, a place not exactly renowned for its peace and quiet. And Delux does rely heavily on a deep-fryer—it's a burger place with fries, after all. But it's also a sit-down restaurant, the food isn't exactly what you'd call "fast" and the cooks are more than just deep-fryer savvy.
We nixed the first table offered to us, one right at the front of the restaurant. With no walls or partitions or anything separating Delux from Bourbon Street, it would have been kind of like plunking ourselves right in the midst of the crazy Friday night chaos.
Our hostess heeded our pleas and guided us past the modern but somewhat stark booths and tables to a much more sedate space at the back of the restaurant. Lots of booths, lots of browns, and much fewer people per square inch were very welcome sights. The music was still loud, though.
For the slightly sensitive souls out there, take note: one whole wall is devoted to cows. Four very large black and white cows, with big, black doleful eyes that stare at you relentlessly. Cows, burgers, well, you get the idea.
OK, so the food. Delux is essentially an upscale burger joint, complete with modern decor, a menu sporting some pretty lofty ingredients—namely lobster and Kobe beef—and quite the impressive selection of beers from around the world.
We veered away from the exotic and settled on an Urban Classic Burger ($9.50) and a "From the Garden" veggie burger ($8.50). Since the burgers don't come with fries, we also ordered the Delux Duo ($5.50), a combination of sweet potato and French fries. And for a touch of colour, I added a side order of mixed greens ($3) to my veggie burger.
Burgers require drinks, and for us that meant beer—a Brazilian Brahma ($6.50) and a Jamaican Red Stripe ($6.50). Both beers came with a much appreciated tall frosty glass and both, being quite smooth and mild, were consumed rather quickly.
As for the burgers and fries, well …
First, the fries. Yes, they came in an oh-so-cute mini shopping cart, complete with wheels and a little red handle, and yes, they came with a rather tasty dipping sauce. But we ended up taking the basket of fries out of the cart to actually eat them–they were too hard to get at otherwise. And yes, they were nicely seasoned, but they were soggy. And it seemed like our cute little cart was loaded with mostly just sweet potato fries. We later discovered there were regular fries–on the bottom, a place we didn't quite get to since the fries weren't very good.
Now, the burgers. My "From the Garden" burger wasn't stellar. Sorry, Delux. The bun was big, toasted and whole wheat-y, but it was dry. And tucked inside was a rather spongy, rather bland veggie patty, one that wasn't made in-house, incidentally—I asked the waitress. Four paper-thin and very unripe tomato slices did nothing for the burger, nor did the little dollop of basil pesto aioli—there just wasn't enough of it. But the pickle was quite lovely, and so was the very fresh and lightly-dressed side salad.
The Urban Classic Burger fared a bit better. The hand-shaped patty was declared flavourful and juicy, but it was overwhelmed by the large bun. And it, too, was saddled with the sorry tomato impostors. Overall, it was rated "just OK." Great burgers are about more than just the patty.
I couldn't leave without sampling a vanilla milkshake ($6.50). Dessert, you know. Made with three scoops of the always-lovely Pinocchio ice cream and topped with a dollop of whipped cream, it was decadently indulgent and a nice way to finish off a rather unimpressive night—as was the little mound of cotton candy that made a surprise appearance with the bill.
So yes, when you find yourself ravenously hungry in a mall you can avoid the perils of the food court. That doesn't mean your dining experience will be a perfect happily-ever-after one, though. V
Sun – Thu (11 am – 11 pm); Fri & Sat (11 am – 12 am)
Delux Burger Bar
Bourbon Street, West Edmonton Mall, 780.487.3589