YEG Burger serving up 'ho-hum' imitation, says Edmonton AM food critic

When it comes to burgers that stand the test of time, the proof is in the patty, says Edmonton's Twyla Campbell.

Despite the hype, the burgers were bland, says Twyla Campbell

Even YEG Burger's signature cheese patty failed to hit the spot for Twyla Campbell. (YEG Burger/Facebook)

If you want to find the best burger in Edmonton, a good place to start is by mining the hashtag "yegburger" on social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram.

That hashtag will reveal eight years of burger-related tweets in YEG, the airport code for Edmonton.

In those results, you'll also find tweets about an actual restaurant by the name of YEG Burger. If you type that hashtag in Instagram's search box, the restaurant comes up as number one in the results.

Naming your business after a popular hashtag is like throwing a magnet into a pile of paper clips. Everything (or everyone) is drawn to you.

In choosing that name, what YEG Burger has done is guaranteed customers to its door, but does it live up to the name? 

The new eatery is the work of a few childhood friends from Caernarvon in northwest Edmonton who call themselves the "152 Crew."

Realizing the neighbourhood was in dire need of a burger joint, they bought out the old Chef Lou's Kitchen space and scooped up the name "yegburger,"

They gave the tired dining room some fresh paint — including a colourful 20-foot tall graffiti-style "152 Crew" swath on the wall — and opened for business.

The thick and the thin of it

There are two camps when it comes to a burger's patty thickness: thin and thick. 

At about half an inch thick, the patties at YEG Burger are on the thin side and done on a flattop – like The Local Omnivore in Edmonton, or Jack's Burger Shack in St. Albert, two establishments that make mighty fine burgers.

Omnivore stays basic with cheese and bacon as the only upgrades; Jack's offers an extensive menu and uses high-grade beef sourced from Darcy's Meat.

All meat used at YEG Burger is halal, meaning the beef comes from animals slaughtered in accordance to Islamic law. It doesn't necessarily speak to the quality of the meat — good or bad — only the processing method.

No matter the size or toppings, YEG Burger would be wise to remember that when it comes down to frying meat sandwiches, the meat itself makes all the difference in the world.

'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'

Burger fans familiar with Jack's will notice similarities between its menu and the one at YEG Burger. Their 152 Burger is almost a dead ringer for Jack's popular BBQ Crunch.

YEG Burger's mushroom burger, the chickpea burger, and the style of chocolate bar milkshakes are also similar.

Like Jack's, YEG Burger offers to "lettuce wrap" your burger instead of using a bun, and like Jack's, YEG Burger offers a house-made sauce. The similarities didn't happen by chance.

Word on the street is that the 152 Crew performed a couple of reconnaissance missions at Jack's before opening their own doors in January.

For being a signature burger, the 152 arrived with little fanfare.

A few broken chips dressed one side of the open-faced sandwich; barbecue-sauced coleslaw dressed a patty on the other. It was banished, largely uneaten, to the corner of the tray.

The mushroom, despite its over-sauced goopiness, looked good at first glance. But after two bites with no flavour, it was left uneaten. The patties in both cases had fine appearances — hand-formed with a decent char — but zero flavour. 

The buns, too, were run-of-the-mill and their light toasting did nothing to save them from a verdict of ho-hum.

Rarely-seen chili cheese dog?

We were so perplexed by the owner's claim that no one else in the city offered a chili cheese dog that we had to order said rarity.

Perhaps there was something unique about this one? A new trick, perhaps, from a standard old chili dog?

No. It was a hot dog, with chili and cheese. Plain and simple. Can't fault them for giving us exactly how it's described on the menu, but to claim it as the sole chili dog in the city?

No matter. Like the other offerings that had come before, this too was underwhelming.
We can answer some of the biggest questions in the universe, but who's really got Edmonton's best burger? Food Explorer Twyla Campbell investigates. 7:58

Our last hope remained in the chicken and waffle "burger": a lightly breaded chicken breast sandwiched between waffles and served with maple syrup. It is a study in brown: brown waffles, brown coating, brown syrup. Surprisingly, it was the most satisfying dish of the lot.

The waffles were consistent with the rest of our choices — bland — but the chicken had a hint of flavour, not much, probably heightened by the amount of salt in the coating. The meat had a passable amount of juiciness to it.

A self-proclamation of being the best does not make one great, nor does a quick flick of a "like" button on Facebook.

When it comes to burgers that stand the test of time, the proof is in the patty.

YEG Burger is located at 15131 – 121st Street. 

You can hear Campbell's reviews on Edmonton AM every second Friday. You can also see more of her reviews on her blog, Weird Wild and Wonderful, and can follow her on Twitter at @wanderwoman10.