It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesey!

The draconian overlords in my faculty have determined that grad students are not allowed to have fun this summer. Case and point: first drafts of our thesis work were due Stampede week. Thus, began my death spiral into the land of research and editing…until now. I am taking a stand and reclaiming my summer!

Scene:

 As the sun peaks out from behind the gloomy storm clouds, thousands of Calgarians rejoice below. “Our anti-rain dances and chanting have appeased the gods”—someone screams, “our prayers have been answered,” another exclaims.

 Alas, summer has arrived. I thought to myself, I’d better enjoy this now…winter is coming.

End scene.

Okay, that didn’t make sense. It is my roundabout way of procrastinating. Whatever. As the young kids say, YOLO (?)

I finally got the chance to try out Clive Burger over the weekend. I’m sure that you’re thinking: WHAT?! Have I fallen into my hot tub time machine and landed back in 2011 where burgers were in again? I mean, I’ve bitten into heaven before. Thy name is SHAKE SHACK. And everybody knows it. So I bet you’re screaming at your monitor: get with the program, J– just because some hipster joint decides to use real beef rather than dehydrated entrails, a good burger it does not make…

Or does it? As an Albertan, the burger options available are endless. In Calgary, especially in and around the core, there are typically ten burger places within walking distances of each other. Arguably, all these places have something going for them; be it their specialty fries, patty prep/cooking method, secret spices, ect.; Clive Burger is no exception. While I came for the burgers and fries, I stayed for the whimsical décor and prime position for people watching. Clive Burger serves up “yum in a bun for the entire family” with a focus on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The patties are made without fillers/trim and are both 100% antibiotic and hormone-free.

2013-07-26 17.23.12 I ordered both the double cheese burger with swiss + all the toppings and the cheese burger (cheddar) with all the toppings. This was rounded out with a coffee custard shake and a large order of fries with Clive sauce. Only the cheese burger is pictured because I ATE the other one. I waited over thirty minutes for my order on a Friday night. This wouldn’t have been usual except that it was only 5:30PM and it didn’t seem that busy? Maybe they do a lot of take out? Maybe the abundance of friendly cashiers exceed the number of skilled burger chefs in the back? A sad, I haz one.

Lets break it down Pro/Con style:

Fries:

  • The fries are double fried, resulting in a crispy fry goodness– however, the first fry period could have been shorter as the potato-y insides of most of the bag had a mealy, dry texture (similar to the texture and overly starchy taste of an overcooked potato chip). The absence of a fluffy, luscious center completely negates the satisfying crisp achieved by the second fry period
  • The available condiments were top shelf. There was black pepper and salt mills as well as malt and white vinegar on each table. The Clive sauce appears to be some sort of spicy mayo based concoction with Parmesan cheese. I enjoyed this unique flavor, but I preferred the pairing of  the fries with good ol’ ketchup and liberal amounts of fresh ground pepper, as the acidity masked much of the fries’ starchy-ness.
  • Overall impression: Mostly Pro (but that’s because I have a weakness for crispy fries and the peppered ketchup was able to save the day)

Burgers:

  • Both burgers had too much sauce to burger ratio, resulting in a wet, drippy mess. If it was only the sauce, I wouldn’t mind it so much– but the tomato and lettuce on both burgers appear to have been recently washed, and the pickles were not drained enough. The combined effect caused much of the water-diluted burger sauces to drip out of the wrapper before the unit was opened (CON x infinity!)
  • I imagine that all the excess moisture had compromised the structural integrity the buns? The first bite into the double cheese burger caused the double patties to collapse entirely
  • The patties were seasoned well and cooked properly to ensure bite, after bite of juicy delight
  • Overall impression: Con. The burgers were tasty, much better than chains such as Five Guys and Fat Burger– but better burgers can be found else where for less

Coffee Custard Shake:

  • Good flavor, I’d describe it as a fragrant shot of espresso folded into a custard base. This was similar to a milkshake, only slightly thinner, easier to drink and with a more intense flavor (compared to Peter’s Drive In’s milkshakes)
  • The portion was small but perfect considering the richness of the custard
  • Pro all the way! I will have to try out the other flavors next time

Vibe:

  • The service was quite impressive (minus points for long wait time though). The staff are up-beat and cheerful. No complaints there (Pro)
  • When given the light up paging system, a Pavlovian response occurs in me. No matter how hard I try, I liken the experience to going to the Olive Garden when presented with one of these contraptions. My mouth begins to water uncharacteristically, my stomach aches with hunger ten fold. Unfortunately my fears of the restaurant pager being equated to a looooonnnnnnng, long wait were not alleviated. My “simple burgers” did not come within an acceptable time frame. While I understand that I am not at the golden arches and this is gourmet fast food, over half and hour for burgers seems unreasonable (major CON). Fortunately there was good people watching out on the patio (Pro)
  • Brightly lit interior and well maintained walls/furniture/washrooms
  • Clear and easy to understand menu (Pro)
  • Excellent hours of operation considering the location. Perhaps I may drop by again for some late night noshing (but with a slightly less empty stomach… After all, I won’t know how long the wait will be and the paging systems unfailingly draw my Hulk-like rage to the surface)
  • My first impression of  Clive Burger is that it’s an adequate place for burgers, but maybe not the perfect place for me. Everything that I liked about Clive, lies within the beef patty in combination with the Clive sauce. The abundance of toppings (just look at the picture, the toppings to bun and patty ratio is way off) which watered down the sauce did not allow me to appreciate the beef itself. I wanted a simple burger. They say that’s what they make, but the evidence suggests otherwise…too many toppings is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Verdict: One slightly grumpy Butters in a toilet paper roll skirt. Go tell your mom.

Ò

Clive Burger on Urbanspoon

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