New establishment’s burgers, smokies and hot dogs are all certified halal
Burgers have been doubly degraded as currency in the food marketplace. First by ubiquitous multinational fast food chains that turned it into a cheap commodity, then by the gourmet burger joints that arose in response to that downgrade, until they too failed to satisfy and became part of the problem for three times the price.
The sole salvation, to my mind, lies in mom ‘n’ pop burger joints—one-off outlets that make an honest burger that doesn’t skimp, but doesn’t burden your burger with fussy preparations and novelty toppings.
That’s where Yeg Burger comes in. It’s a spiffy new space—the monochrome crest that dominates one wall proclaims “Est’d 2017”—in a lesser trafficked byway of Castle Downs. I was led there by a friend, let’s call her Julie, who grew up nearby and was stoked to see a new eatery crop up close to her childhood home. It says something about the character of the northside neighbourhood—oft derided as some mix of blue collar and white trash—that YEG Burger is both proudly Edmontonian and certified halal.
The night of our visit, the place seemed to be in a state of minor disarray. The harried owner, still wearing the identification tag from her day job, lamented that her husband had picked this particular night to go to the hockey game as she unscrambled a couple of take-out orders and doled them out to delivery guys, all the while keeping an eye on her three youngsters in the dining room.
Julie had been once and had already decided on the house specialty, the buttermilk chicken burger ($9). Co-diner was feeling meat-shy that night and ordered the falafel burger ($8). I dithered for a while between the breakfast burger, mushroom-swiss burger and one with coleslaw, chips and barbecue sauce, but finally opted for the Go2 burger ($8) with beef bacon ($1) and some fries ($4). I also had the choice of a parmesan burger, a chili burger, one with both a patty and donair meat, and one where two Havarti grilled cheese sandwiches take the place of the bun.
One of the Ice Age sequels flashed above our table as we waited for the food. The owner came out to apologize that it would not all arrive at once, but it mostly did. The burgers were not small, nor was the portion of hand-cut fries less than generous.
The main component of Julie’s burger was a buttermilk-brined chicken breast, lightly battered and deep-fried so perfectly that it didn’t need more than lettuce, tomato and mayo set it off. I made no secret of coveting her order.
Co-diner’s falafel burger delivered on its promise—crispy balls of fried chickpea batter, slathered with garlicky tahini sauce, with tangy Lebanese pickles (the purple ones made with turnip and the green quasi-dills) and spicy banana peppers.
My burger was almost preposterously juicy, a thick fresh-ground patty with the faintest seam of pink at its very centre that blows the doors off every name brand burger stand in the vicinity.
The cheese was real cheddar, the bacon was made with beef and thus not really bacon at all, but it added a nice smoky dimension along with some chewy texture. The so-called ‘YEG sauce’ resembled the Big Mac’s legendary special sauce (a.k.a. Thousand Island dressing), so the addition of mayo seemed like creamy overkill, especially when the last of the bun disintegrated over the last few bites. Still, it slaked my burger craving, even if it lacked the pickles I requested from the handsome young man at the till.
The owner emerged again to apologize that our milkshakes ($5) were arriving toward the end of the meal. But they were the real thing all right, ice cream blended with our choice of candy or fruit. Co-diner’s candy-based shake attenuated the excessive sweetness of Ferrero Rocher with smooth vanilla. Mine was made with real bananas and real honey so you really can’t go wrong (unless you don’t blend the milkshake thoroughly and there’s a chunk or two of banana clogging up the straw).
I’m sure it was not the first impression YEG Burger was hoping to make, but it was still pretty good and I really wish I had ordered my own chicken burger. Folks in the neighbourhood and patrons of bring-me-food apps alike should be tickled by the unpretentious novelty of a indie burger joint in their midst (that just happens to be halal).
15131 121 St.