Before we realized we’d even have a shot at getting our mitts on an Alley Burger while in Calgary, we were craving beef. A quick search on Chowhound led us to Loungeburger, an upscale casual joint whose lineage we couldn’t help but link with Edmonton’s Delux.
It was insanely packed – or maybe it has just been a while since we had to compete for seats during the Saturday night rush hour. The restaurant does accept reservations (which, of course, we did not have), but curiously also honoured reservations in their so-described first come, first served lounge. We waited about half an hour before being ushered to a table.
As mentioned, Loungeburger falls into the genre of restaurants popularized by Joey’s, Earls and Cactus Club, sharing the traits of pulsating background music, dim lights, and servers in form-fitting clothing. But perhaps because of its burger-forward menu, this restaurant also seemed to draw its share of families with young children.
The dining room, dressed in all wood and shades of brown, was not appealing. My friend Jill would have called it regretful feng shui, but to me, it just did not have a sense of flow – with oddly placed columns, a raised enclosure in the centre of the space, and a poorly planned combination of open tables and booths, I couldn’t help but think they should have consulted the designers of Local Public Eatery (a great example of how to combine the best of booth and table worlds). Thankfully, the food didn’t reflect our opinion of the décor.
Though Loungeburger isn’t quite a one-note restaurant (they do offer a range of appetizers and non-burger options), their burger menu is mighty impressive. Not only are there eighteen different burgers, but with the possibility of customizing your own, the true count is endless. They also serve six kinds of fries, alongside ten different dipping sauces (at extra charge).
The lounger ($23) Mack chose was made for him– with a 1/2 pound blend of Kobe and triple A beef stuffed with applewood smoked cheddar and bacon (two of his favourite things!), it’s a wonder his photo wasn’t on the menu itself. And boy, did it live up to his expectations – it was a hefty burger, with an acceptable amount of grease, and in between bites of bacon, beef and cheese, Mack declared it “money.”
The Lounger with homestyle fries
Mack digs in
My burger was a little more straightforward – I embraced the opportunity to try a Kobe beef burger ($21), sandwiched between Loungeburger’s pretzel bun. It was a satisfying meal, but for me, nothing really out of the ordinary. The beef had a nice rounded flavour, and like Mack’s patty, had a perfectly charred crust. I just wasn’t sure I’d be able to distinguish the Kobe from any other type of beef. I was also expecting a little more from the pretzel bun – it certainly looked good, with a twisted top and a nice sheen. And though its dense interior was able to hold together with the assault of the patty’s juices, it reminded neither of us of a pretzel. The curly fries were the best of the two kinds we ordered, and tasted like those served at Arby’s.
Kobe beef burger with curly fries
Service was steady, and our waitress deserved props for her efforts to try and fix our wobbly table. Based on that, and the fact that they didn’t disappoint on their namesake dishes, we would definitely return. Especially on nights when the Alley Burger isn’t in session.
#270, 14 Avenue SE, Macleod Trail South, Calgary