You know what I look forward to every week? THE END OF IT. Weekends are what I live for these days, as sad as that sounds, but looking forward to another two glorious days where I’m free from the shackles of my work desk helps to keep me going. It probably doesn’t help that winter has been going strong for 6 months – not even joking here – so I think the entire mood of Calgary is on the “generally grumpy” side.
One of the greatest weekend pleasures is going out to eat. We try not to do it very often, but when we’re eating really healthy all week and sticking to our exercise regimen, taking a bit of a break from it all is incredibly motivating to keep ourselves pushing through week after week. After all, what is life without delicious food? It would lose all meaning for me. Especially since the main reason I continue to exercise is so I can eat my face off without getting tremendously fat. Whatever works, right?
Saturdays can be a little tough for me because we complete the hardest workout of the week in the morning. But what better way to celebrate getting through another punishing round of P90X2 Back & Base than undoing all the calorie burning with a stacked burger and bucket of fries? Like I said, this is the reason I exercise – breaking even on calorie input and output is the reward. FOOD4LYFE.
We headed over to a relatively new joint that just opened on 10th Avenue SW, Briggs Kitchen & Bar. Headed by a trio of experienced chefs/restaurateurs, their concept is all about simplicity and bringing food back down to earth. In one of those “it’s a small world” twists, I worked with the mother-in-law of one of the owners, Xavier Lacaze (who is recognizable from his stint on season 2 of Top Chef Canada) a few years ago when we were both contractors at a large Oil & Gas company. She told me the story of when he first moved to Calgary to start his life here, driving him around in the frigid cold winter as he dropped off resumes at numerous restaurants. It’s nice to see that he’s had great success since those early days.
The interior of Briggs is contemporary, with exposed brick walls, minimal industrial-style décor, and tall windows lining one side of the space. They also have an open kitchen concept and tons of seating; I was surprised to see that the space is as big as it is. Despite it being 2pm on a Saturday, the place was lively with patrons laughing and chatting over their plates. We got a booth seat at the back near the bar.
The menu has a lot of variety, but a number of familiar dishes. I can’t pinpoint the type of cuisine they do – it’s more a mixed bag approach that you would typically find in casual eateries. Besides their standard offerings, they have “sharing plates” that are more tapas-style (a lot of which sounds amazing), and a weekend brunch that we’d just missed the window for. To try not to completely blow our calorie-burning efforts, we skipped the appetizers this time around.
Mark got the Smoked Brisket Sandwich and substituted a green salad for the fries. We have an unspoken deal that when we go out and order sandwiches or burgers, I get the fries and he gets a salad so we can enjoy a bit of both. The salad was a nice mix of tender greens, cranberries, and nuts. Mark enjoyed the sandwich, but found that the bread was buttered too aggressively. The meat was tender and smoky, the coleslaw gave it a nice textural crunch and cut through the richness, but it could’ve used some sauce (maybe some on the sandwich or on the side). Otherwise, a pretty solid sandwich.
I went with their 100% Chuck Burger based on the reviews I’ve read from others that proclaim it as the best burger in Calgary. Since I haven’t had all the burgers in Calgary, I can’t comment on whether or not that claim is true, but what I can say is that it’s one delicious burger. Definitely in my Top 5. I wish I would’ve taken a better picture to show just how stacked and tall this thing was, but I guess my hunger made my meagre photography skills even worse and this is the best shot I have. It comes with the usual fixings (I asked for no cheddar though – my thing with cheese and all) and I added on a fried egg, mushrooms, and avocado. I had a really dumb moment when I read the menu because the way the extras were presented, it looked like they came in a “set” instead of being able to pick and choose. But my extras ended up working really well on the burger. Thanks for that interpretation error, brain.
As for how I ate this… I attempted to pick it up and eat it like a man, but it was just impossible given my dainty hands could hardly keep the thing together. So it ended up being a fork and knife job. There are only 2 things that I need in a good burger: 1. the vessel in which the burger ingredients are contained, 2. good quality beef patty. This delivered on both. The egg bun vessel is the bread of my dreams. Soft, rich, yet substantial enough to hold up to all of the ingredients. Was it made with the tears of angels? Probably. I could eat a dozen of those egg buns on their own in one sitting. As for the beef – perfect! Two thin, beautifully charred patties. What more could I ask for? Oh right, the big bucket of fries, which were perfectly seasoned with generous amounts of salt and pepper.
To round out the meal, I ordered the Lemon Pie…
…which had a generous helping of lemon ice cream in the middle. Score! The meringue, piled high like a cloud of happiness, was just a touch on the sweet side, but the rest was simply divine. My favourite part of pies are the crust and this one was soft and tender. The lemon filling and ice cream were pleasantly tart and bright.
Overall, we had a really good first experience at Briggs. Our server was friendly and efficient (our water glasses never went empty) and the prices are quite reasonable ($12 for the burger without the extras is a pretty good deal in Calgary). Briggs would be a great place for a group gathering to take advantage of their share plates and casual atmosphere.
As for me, I will go back for their burgers because my life needs more burgers in it. BURGERS4LYFE.
Briggs Kitchen & Bar
317 10 Ave Southwest
Calgary, AB T2R0A5
Phone: (587) 350-5015