Twyla Campbell joins The Burger's Priest fold
Fresh-ground beef, grease and crazy combinations make burger joint a classic, says Campbell
Can eating a burger be a holy experience? Edmonton AM food reviewer Twyla Campbell has made pilgrimages to not one — but two — locations of new chain The Burger's Priest.
Chain owner Shant Mardirosian opened the first Burger's Priest on Toronto's Queen Street in 2010, and the joint was an instant hit.
Six other Toronto-area locations soon followed, and in March, the chain's first prairie shop opened in Edmonton on Jasper Avenue, just west of 109th Street.
When you visit the chain's website, the first thing you see is the message "We are a classic cheeseburger joint."
Each burger starts with premium beef, ground daily into four-ounce patties which are then smashed, then grilled on a flat top.
"No fillers, just salt and pepper," Campbell says. "[But] where they deviate from the classic is with these crazy combinations, and the size of these burgers, and also these in your face religious overtones."
Owner Mardirosian considered joining the priesthood before finding his calling in burgers — and that background has left its mark, says Campbell.
Each location has a different gospel passage scrolled on the wall. In the Edmonton shop, the Gospel of John is scrawled on the wall in both English and Greek. That theme carries over to the names of the burgers themselves, with such offerings as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Vatican City.
But it isn't meant to taken seriously, says Campbell.
"Yes, the owner is a religious man, but the words on the wall, the decor, it's all tongue in cheek. It's playful and people need to understand that."
The Burger's Priest offers up two menus: a standard menu mounted above the order counter, and a secret menu which is only available online. Customers wishing to view the latter must first answer a skill-testing question about Noah's Ark.
The uninitiated, however, are left with eight beef burgers, one chicken and one vegetarian burger (two roasted portobello mushrooms, breaded and deep-fried) to choose from.
There are also two french fry offerings: plain and chili.
For sweeter options, The Burger's Priest also serves up milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches and "The Vatican on Ice" — ice cream sandwiched between two grilled cheese buns.
Campbell has tried three burgers to date:
- The Vatican City (ordered in Toronto): A double cheeseburger served between two grilled cheese buns. "It's everything you want in a burger — I mean, really, it's one hot mess," says Campbell. "These burgers are not for lightweights and they are not first date food, that's for sure."
- Peter's Denial: Brined chicken breast served southern fried-style, with gravy and sweet corn. "This was the best chicken burger I've ever had."
- The Magnum: A double burger served with bacon and blue cheese. ""Anyone who likes blue cheese will appreciate this burger."
As for the rest, Campbell says the fries are good, but salty. She has not yet tried The Vatican on Ice.
Overall, Campbell is a fan of the restaurant's "just the beef" approach — provided the eater isn't opposed to a little grease with a side of a little silliness.
"It's not going to be everybody's style and really there's nothing like burger preference to divide people — but what I'll say is grease is omnipresent here. You will eat it, you will wear it, you will smell it long after you've left — but maybe that's part of what makes it a classic."