Saturday, December 14, 2013

Heart Attack Grill - Las Vegas, NV

Double Bypass Burger


Burger Club spares no expense in our quest for the best burger. This week our committed reviewers went international to Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas. Only three of us cleared customs though, with the rest of Burger Club denied entry for various nefarious activities. To maintain our minimum standard of six reviewers, we enlisted the help of three local burger experts who happened to be sitting at the table next to us.

Heart Attack Grill is located amidst the seizure inducing cacophony of light and sound that is Fremont Street in downtown Fun-Vegas. They have slogans like “Over 350 lbs Eats Free”, and make a butterfat shake with the “World’s Highest Butterfat Content”.
The menu includes Triple and Quadruple Bypass Burgers as well as Flatliner Fries cooked in pure lard. Heart Attack Grill is also known for its nurses and spanking. If you don’t finish your burger, you get spanked.

When you enter you're greeted by nurses who put on a wristband and help you into your hospital gown. My bacon Christmas Tree t-shirt was met with squeals of delight from the nurse-hostess who immediately wanted a picture.
That was fine with me.

The service can’t be beat. One of our new burger friends had a story about forgetting his glasses at Heart Attack Grill last year and how they FedEx’d them back the next day - no charge.
Our enthusiastic nurse-waitress Katya was lots of fun, and when asked, she said “it’s a B+ burger but people come for the atmosphere.” Yup.

I ordered a Single Bypass bacon chili burger that comes standard with five slices of bacon. The double has ten slices on it. Brett ordered the double because he wanted to make sure he couldn’t finish his. “I did not come to Vegas NOT to get spanked.“ Burgers taste even better with a milkshake, and in Las Vegas style they are made with Vodka – lots of it.
I had the vanilla ice-cream with whipped cream flavoured Vodka. I highly recommend it. Brett opted for the chocolate with bacon flavour. The shakes were large and came in their steel mixing cups and made me very happy before I was even halfway through. If you order wine, it comes in an IV bag.

We didn’t wait too long before our burgers were served in little check paper lined baskets. They were very handy for containing the inevitable fallout. The burgers were skewered with a toothpick so bonus points for assembly.
Brett commented the patty was “a bit gristly and not well seasoned, otherwise good!” We all liked the bacon as Jacques noted on his little review slip: “Bacon was thick and flavourful.
The chili made up its own stratum in the burger; it was more sweet than spicy and added some nice texture and sloppiness. The fresh Kaiser bun was right-sized to the job. The burger was big, but of course you don't actually want to be able to finish it. I think Brett was looking forward to his impending spanking “Katya was worth every bite!

The three of us enjoyed our burgers, but the other table of judges *really* enjoyed theirs. I suspect the more beads you’re wearing when you come to Heart Attack Grill, the better the burger tastes.

Jacques pointed out that the “Burger is not the main attraction. Even though I finished I got a spanking.” To be fair though, Jacques didn’t finish his burger - he left a tiny morsel in his basket. In the end, we all got a spanking.
Our waitress Katya clearly enjoyed this part and had a huge grin on her face as she stepped into her swing with a wooden paddle. Jacques wrote afterwards “Our waitress was a meanie” and “That proves it! I'm not into BDSM!

One of our new burger friends summarized nicely: “Awesome experience. Great food, great service. Recommended!!!

Heart Attack Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Angelo's Chip Shop: 3.9/5

$4.20  ($4.75 with taxes)
Score: 3.8

Bacon Cheeseburger
$5.10  ($5.75 with taxes)
Score: 4.2

This week Burger Club visited a hidden-in-plain-view burger gem in the North End. It’s red and white striped, right on Main Street and has a festive sign over the window proclaiming itself as Angelo’s Chip Shop. How could I have missed it?
Two weeks ago I walked in and was greeted by Angelo like a long lost friend even though we'd never met. I took one look at the burger patty covered grill, and the stools lined up along the counter across from the stainless steel milkshake machine, and I knew Burger Club had to dine here!

On Tuesday I called to let them know we were coming, and when we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see three booths set aside for our group. That's more than half the restaurant! Geoff remarked “The restaurant is one of those places you can drive by dozens of times without noticing, but once inside, it's memorable. An old school style diner.”
We got there early and beat the rush, but by the time we left people were waiting for our tables. Angelo greeted each of us as we came in, his wife Susan took our orders, and his mom Helen made sure the tables were all set up and clean and we had everything we needed. It’s truly a family restaurant! Angelo’s father, John, opened the diner as the North End Chip Shop in 1974 but later renamed it to Angelo’s. Angelo has been running it since 1990. John is still a regular visitor at supper time.

When taking my order, Susan made sure she got my burger specifications right and there were no misunderstandings. She looked me in the eye and said “Do you want relish?”A burger is a personal experience and everyone likes theirs differently.
As I was ordering and trying to decide if it was a single or double patty day, my gaze took in the grill that was already loaded up with patties. I could see they were thin, so a double it was! It was only $6.20 (the $7 menu price includes taxes), so why *wouldn't* you order a double, bacon cheeseburger? The best part of the patty is the grill seared crust and with a double, your patty has four sides!

April commented “My burger was served within a few minutes of ordering. Accommodating my needs of removing stuff from the burger (pickles, chili, relish, onion) didn't faze them.“ A thin patty cooks fast, and the food came out quickly. Angelo and his family are on top of their game when it comes to service! Angelo's mom made me feel like I was in my own mother’s kitchen and brought me a wet wipe when she noticed I was covered from head to toe in chili. I loved the chili, and with fried onions too - that's my kind of burger! Russ wrote “Nicely flavoured beef.“
Dani liked it too: “Bacon tasted nice, light and smoky. Patty was nicely spiced, very flavourful.” My double had a big slice of processed cheese between the patties and two full slices of bacon making an “X marks the spot” so I knew where to dig in! I thought the Kaiser bun was perfect - soft, right-sized, and held together to the last bite. The crust was slightly elastic – it absorbed all the handling without crumbling. The buns are from City Bread and Angelo told me when he picks them up in the morning, still warm from the oven, sometimes he can't help but eat one right out of the bag.

The Fat Boy was loaded with fresh produce, and if you'd like to get a good taste of the beef too, make it a double for only $5.30. Brian noted on his review slip “Burger thin but tasty, crispy lettuce and tomatos.”
Dave wrote“I am used to not being able to finish, but quantity of burger and fries was perfect.” Like V.J.’s, Dari-Wip, Mrs. Mike's and Burgerbend, Angelo’s has a chili sauce that makes the whole burger package come alive. Make sure you ask for chili!

When he brought out my double bacon cheeseburger, Angelo asked if I wanted fries. I said "No thanks, I'm going to eat his" gesturing at my booth-mate Brian. When Brian's plate came Angelo pointed out that he'd heaped it up even more so I could have some too. The fries were fantastic - crispy on the outside, soft and hot on the inside. Nobody left wanting for fries. Cary said “Chili fries good.” Esther wrote “Nice buns! I was unable to finish my Poutine. The fries were really good too. Nice fresh ingredients. Did I mention the buns are great?
Russ had the Poutine too: “The fries are as good as they say. Great tracts of .. Poutine.” Dani had Poutine envy: “Just got  a gander at Russ' Poutine. It's a work of gravy slathered art!” Everybody seemed to really enjoy their fries and Geoff summed it up best “The real prize here though, are the fries (with gravy). There's something about the oil they use, the temperature, or how long they cook for, but they nailed it at Angelo's. Worth coming back for indeed!

Angelo's Chip Shop on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chaise Cafe: 4/5

The Frenchman Burger
Platter: $13
Score: 4.2

The Behemoth Burger
Platter: $15
Score: 3.8

The Super Burger
Platter: $16
Score: 4.2

Chaise Café knows how to show Burger Club a good time! It all started with an e-mail from Chef Sopel that said simply “My grill holds lots of burgers.” The Chaise Café’s regular menu includes three burgers -  their popular veggie burger, a grilled chicken burger, and the Frenchman. Now these all sound great, but at Burger Club burgers are made of beef so Chef Sopel created a special “Burger Club Menu.” In addition to the Frenchman we could choose from the Behemoth and the Super burger.

Chaise Café is a stylish new restaurant in the French quarter that opened in the spring. April commented “The décor is really nice - great lighting and ambient music.” Bess added “Very classy décor! The jazz added a touch of sophistication to the meal.“ There were 18 of us dining and they were ready for us. We were setup in the private room upstairs and it was nice to be able to put all our heavy winter coats on the couches in the adjacent lounge. The lounge was also a nice space for conversation before and after the burgers arrived. Our tables were already set with side plates, linen serviettes, cutlery and waters. Our waitress, Jamie, was great. She really made it all a pleasurable dining experience. Robin summarized nicely with “Great local restaurant and loved the personal service - chef came up to chat!”

We usually dine early and this week we pre-ordered to save time in the hope we’d continue to have jobs to go back to. Chaise asked when we’d like our food on the table and I said 11:45. Well, the meals started arriving at 11:48 and we all had out burgers by 11:51. This was all the more impressive as Chaise had a full dining room downstairs as well. The meals were beautifully presented on square dishes with a closed burger and the plate rounded out with salad, fries, dip  and a quarter dill pickle.

The burgers seemed to give everyone plenty to think about – people write their reviews in tiny illegible script on the back of little rating slips, and this week I had to squint at over 950 words to transcribe onto the official Burger Club spreadsheet.

Chaise makes everything in-house including the bacon, and a lot of bacon was smoked in preparation for Burger Club. They also have their own baker and created a new “bun” to try out on us. It was a large flat pan of soft multi-grain bread carved up to fit the burger and it was very good!

At least half the group wanted to try more than one burger so several diners paired up with a “burger buddy.” Of course I wanted to try the new burger creations and Karen and I shared a Super and a Behemoth. Brett used a different selection criteria: “I thought we had to order based on nationality, super powers or body size … so I ordered the Behemoth.”

The Super Burger was “made with AAA Hanger steak ground and spiced in house, the burger stuffed with haloumi cheese, seared and fried in bacon drippings, topped with bacon and all the groceries.” It was snuggled between two slices of the flatbread. I quite enjoyed the flavour of the patty, the beef was rich, but lightly seasoned. Like any good steak chef, the kitchen seemed loath to overcook a fine cut of beef so it was prepared very moist and soft. Some diners commented they would have preferred a firmer textured patty. Esther observed “Everything looked great until I actually tried to eat the burger then it disintegrated on me.“ Nelson liked it: “The Super melted in my mouth. “ Dani commented “The meat was beautifully moist and tasty. Nicely spiced. I'm amazed it's all staying in one piece and not falling apart.“
The nugget of Haloumi cheese in the stuffed burger presented a firmer texture than the surrounding patty. It added some nice saltiness. I quite enjoyed the slightly sweet, soft leathery bacon. It was one more flavour and texture for the party in my mouth! The bun to burger ratio was good and as the Super burger had a steak knife impaled in it, I cut mine in half so had pretty good success keeping it all together. The softness of the bun matched the patty and didn’t present any incompatible stratum issues. The always eloquent Scott wrote “Taste was very balanced. All floors of my "burger tower" could be identified. The first bite was as good as the last. I was 4 bites in when I found the gooey cheese tucked inside. It was gratifying to have the line of cheese going from the burger to my lips. It had the excitement of pizza, with the taste of a burger!

My tomato was very ripe and the greens, both on the burger and in the salad, were fresh and tender. Chaise Café is known for its in-house flavoured Balsamic vinegars and the salad dressing was blueberry, honey, chili flake and Dijon.  It was delicious and had the occasional nice kick. Les agreed “Tasty salad.” The fries came with a garlic/basil aioli dipping sauce on the side. Bess commented “Frites were delicious! Loved the dipping sauce.”

The other burger I tried was the Behemoth, made “with beer sautéed onions and mushrooms between two grilled cheese sandwiches, the grilled cheeses have smoked provolone, jalapenos, and bacon in them.” Many of us had a similar creation at Rudy’s back in August 2012 and found ourselves comparing the two. For me the Behemoth was all about the grilled cheeses. They were squished crispy-good and filled with provolone - the cheese flavour stood out. There was also plenty of yummy bacon and the occasional bite of a pleasantly spicy Jalapeno pepper. The amount of bread wasn’t excessive (as was the common complaint at Rudy’s) but it still trumped the burger patty. Some thought the patty could use more seasoning to compete, others thought it was perfectly seasoned.
The grilled bread crusts were fairly hard and a few of our group thought it would be better with the crust removed.  April wrote “Behemoth was tasty. I liked the Jalapeño cheese; however the bread was a little too toasty/crispy.” Russ noted “Yummy burger. Once you get through to it.“ Most burgerers today ordered the Behemoth, I think because it’s hard to get past the allure of a burger between two grilled cheeses even though you know it’s going to be a lot of bread! The patty was firmer than the Super so stood up to the pressure plates of bacon-grilled bread. My Behemoth was topped with a big delicious slab of Shitake mushroom and that was a little bit of heaven for me. The fried onions were delicious and added moisture. This week it was Russ’s turn to unhinge his jaw to devour the Behemoth! As big as it sounds though, I finished mine and I think most people did. Karen said “Great size servings.”

Several people had the Frenchman: “Our spicy beef burger with arugula, cheese curds and a fried egg on top.” Stan had this to say: “Everything was perfect for me! The burger patty was done just right and had a very nice flavour. I especially liked the "bun". All the other components were just right! I wasn't sure how I'd like the egg on top, but it really worked for me.” Bess commented “The Frenchman burger was messily delicious with a mix of subtle flavours.” Mike liked his Frenchman: “That's some fancy burger. Patty was extremely flavourful, I'm still wondering what spices were in that patty.” Robin’s experience was “The yolk made this burger. Patty was a bit dry and the bun crumbled after first bite.” Robin has the pulse of dining in Winnipeg and writes the Peg City Grub blog. You can read her review of Burger Club’s visit to Chaise Café here.

As usual, I was running around taking pictures of burgers and Esther asked me “How many pictures on your camera are of burgers?” All of them - there’re no baby pictures on my camera!

When it came time to pay, that all went smoothly too. Chaise already had the separate bills broken out and printed at the till, and I don’t think there were any mistakes. The pastry cooler might have caught a few people on the way out though – it’s hard to resist!

Chaise Café really is the whole package. It’s a beautiful setting. Staff are clearly enjoying themselves and it shows – the service can’t be beat. They pay attention to the details from table settings to delivering a pre-order on time to refilling drinks and making sure everyone’s happy with their meals. Where many restaurants look elsewhere for their baking, Chaise has a very talented baker. I’m a fan!

This week the question of record keeping came up. If there was an audit of the Burger Club results, could I produce the original review slips and ratings? Yes, yes I can. I have a highly secure envelope (it has a little string to hold it shut) that now contains more than 700 tiny little pieces of paper.

April baked some cookies for a Movember fundraiser and some people tried theirs on. I ate mine.

Chaise Cafe on Urbanspoon