Alley Burger 2013

I was craving a burger all week, so the 2013 resurrection of the #yegalleyburger last Friday was the perfect timing! Set for 10pm, I chose to have a light dinner after work, while Mack opted to forego supper altogether.

We headed down to Hundred at around 9:10, but there was not a soul in the alley yet, so we stretched our legs a bit more by walking around the block. Ten minutes later, we joined a line-up of just four people. Mack and I wondered why Edmonton is such a last minute town; we were certain that if CHARCUT had put out an #alleyburger announcement the crowds would have been out in full force an hour before curtain.

Alley Burger

The line (can you spot Mack?)

Anyway, just before 10pm, Chef Andrew Cowan came out to trade $5 cash for a Century Hospitality Group poker chip, good for one burger each. We heard that in total, over 50 burgers were sold.

Alley Burger

Chef Andrew Cowan serves ‘em up!

Things were running a little late, and we weren’t handed the burger until twenty after ten. But what a burger it was, a medium-rare patty with cheese curds embedded in the centre, topped with fries, gravy and a slip of lettuce.

Alley Burger

The poutine alley burger

In the time that we were waiting, the temperature seemed to drop five degrees, so we couldn’t stick around to enjoy the burger outdoors – maybe next time! Make sure to follow Chef Cowan for details on future alley burgers!

#yegalleyburger Redux

Back in April, my sisters and I lined up for Edmonton’s alley burger, offered by the enterprising Century Hospitality Group. Modelled after Charcut’s popular venture in Calgary, chefs at Hundred tweet out the time the burgers will be served so hungry patrons can plan to line up early to guarantee themselves some grub. This time, Felicia and I had Jeff and Mack in tow too – the two of them hadn’t yet tried a #yegalleyburger.

On Friday, we arrived in the back alley around a quarter after nine (the burgers were to be served at 10pm) and found that we were the first ones there! Over the next half an hour, thirty people or so arrived and joined us in line.


The line-up

At 9:50, Chef Andrew Cowan came out to trade $5 for a poker chip that we would ultimately exchange for a burger.

Chips 'r us!

Mack and Jeff will gamble for good eats

Right on time, Chef Cowan came out with a tray full of burgers. He said that the kitchen had decided to do a classic cheeseburger, with lots of garlic, leaf lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo.

Chef Cowan

Chef Cowan

Alley Burger


Mack’s patty in particular was cooked pretty rare, but he didn’t mind. They were also quite serious about the garlic – roughly chopped, it was definitely the dominant flavour of the burger. Though both Felicia and I preferred the previous alley burger incarnation featuring egg and arugula, this was still one tasty burger.



The main difference between Edmonton’s alley burger and Calgary’s edition is the creativity Hundred’s kitchen demonstrates each time – patrons never know what to expect. It will be interesting to see how late in the year Hundred will continue this – how cold will they go?

Edmonton’s Own Alley Burger

When an idea is as great as Charcut’s alley burger – involving $5 versions of their upscale burger sold from their back alley door – you know it is just a matter of time before it appears in other cities as well. Edmonton has jumped on the bandwagon, with Century Hospitality Group’s Hundred embracing their back alley to purvey $5 gourmet burgers.

Friday saw the debut of #yegalleyburger, widely publicized in both the Journal and Metro. For that reason, I figured it would be best to line up early, just in case, so we joined the line-up of half a dozen people at 9pm.


Felicia and Amanda made sure to dress for the weather

Hundred’s alley was without a dumpster, patrolling security guards, or the threat of passing cars, so it provided a bit of a different experience than standing in line outside Charcut. But perhaps the biggest disparity was the lack of devices and cameras being used. Sure, there were a few people snapping photographs and updating their statuses, but relatively few when compared with that night in Calgary.


The line at about 9:15

Eventually, there grew to be about 30-40 people standing in line, eagerly awaiting the back door to open. A few minutes before 9:30, Chef Andrew Cowan appeared, trading $5 for a Century Hospitality Group poker chip that would guarantee the bearer a burger.


Doesn’t it look like a shady exchange?



The kitchen was on top of things, as the burgers started coming out right at 9:30. We grabbed our burgers, loosely wrapped in paper, and headed back to the warmth of the condo.



It was well worth the wait – the patty was well cooked, with a ton of flavour, and the duck egg was a nice touch, but what the three of us were most drawn to was the peppery hit of the arugula. I’m sure that even Mack, ever the rocket-hater, would have enjoyed it as a fresh counterpoint to the beef. On that note – Jerry posted a video of his friend devouring a burger – warning: don’t watch it while hungry!

We read later on Twitter that some people were turned away, so if you are planning on snagging one next week, make sure to get there early! It was fun, Hundred – looking forward to the next one already!

Follow @cheftonyle, @chefcowan and @chefpshoey to find out the details of the next #yegalleyburger!

The Charcut Alley Burger Experience

Is there anything more appealing than a gourmet burger purchased in a dark alleyway? There must not be, given the resounding success of Charcut’s foray into their version of street food, sold from the side door of their swanky downtown restaurant.

Many people (including Andree and Jerry) have blogged about Charcut’s novel idea, which involves tweeting out the availability of their “alley burgers” on select Fridays and Saturdays. For $5, diners wait in the alley next to Charcut for the chance to buy an individual version of their Share Burger. Of course, it’s never just about the food, as Mack and I discovered first hand.

Thanks to Andree, we found out that Charcut would be offering their alley burger that night at ten (two Saturdays ago). At 9:30, we put on our winter gear and headed downstairs; we happened to be staying at the Le Germain, the building that Charcut is housed in.

Charcut Alley Burger

The alley

We joined the five people in line ahead of us, but we didn’t have to round out the back for long. In the half hour that followed, more and more people arrived, some in pairs, many in small groups. A truck illegally parked in the alley, its driver jumping out to join the fray. The woman behind us shivered in shoes without socks – her partner didn’t inform her that their bite to eat involved spending some time outdoors first. We also spotted a Mariott employee further back in the line. All in all, we estimated that there were about forty people waiting.

Charcut Alley Burger

The line

Except for those dragged unknowingly (like the sock-less woman), the crowd – ourselves included – were a bit self-congratulatory – no doubt there were numerous Facebook updates made, tweets sent and photos captured in that alley, everyone wanting to share the fact that they were in line to snag a limited edition burger. But as the clock ticked down, it was difficult not to get caught up in the anticipation, watching the door for any sign of movement – not as individuals, but as a hungry hoard.

I think it’s remarkable that Charcut has built up this amount of buzz in the community, using nothing more than the social media tools available to them – already, the Century Hospitality Group in Edmonton is looking to do something similar in the coming months.

Just after 10pm, a staff person peeked his head out – he commented that there were more people than he was expecting in line. A few minutes later, he returned, flipping up an adorable “open” sign (in the shape of a pig, naturally), and wandered down the line collecting money, remarking that he felt very much like a drug dealer. Unfortunately, he had to cut the line off halfway – apparently, they only had enough burgers for the first twenty people.

Charcut Alley Burger

No burgers for you!

With a bit too much glee, we took our burgers upstairs to enjoy. The juicy, flavourful patty and the thick slice of melted curd cheese hit the spot (never mind that it was the second burger for each of us that night – hello, gluttony!). We were also not sure if it had to do with the “alley burger” package, but the meat tasted less like sausage and more like a well-formed patty this time, as opposed to our encounter with it in Share Burger-form.

Charcut Alley Burger


Almost regardless of the burger, if you are in Calgary, I’d recommend the alley experience – it was like nothing else we’ve ever done before.