The Burger Questers find patty affirmation at Alumni Sandwich and Liquor Bar

White Gravy’s Review

Fellow Questers … my faith has been shaken.

You may have noticed that it has been a few weeks since our last Quest.

Sure, life gets busy, but in reality the Quest had become difficult. Our journey … fraught with mediocrity and disappointment. Our spirits … broken.

Far too long, has it been, since we bestowed our certification on a worthy entry.

Most recently, our hopes dashed again, when a hot lead, led to more disappointment in a S.W. pub, not even worthy of writing up.

The hard questions have been asked:

“Perhaps you’ve eaten too many burgers?”

“Are your standards too high?”

“Maybe you don’t like burgers as much as you once did?”

Indeed, I’ve asked myself these same questions, and struggled to find answers.

Dark times my friends.

But fear not. I’ve been pulled back from the brink by a new sandwich shop in the heart of the Beltline.

Alumni Sandwich and Liquor Bar (725 17th Ave. S.W.) has been open since May, taking the space over, ironically, from a Subway.

I had not heard of this place at all until The Bun suggested it. And they are even harder to find now, as the 17th Ave. construction has continued its seemingly glacial pace further west, now directly in front of Alumni.

A brief detour here: Construction is a necessary evil of any city, but the 17th Ave. work has been particularly difficult for several small businesses. So I urge you to go out of your way to support the shops, restaurants and bars that call the strip home. Let’s get them through this, shall well?

With that out of the way …

Alumni offers up a Double Burger with all the standard toppings — American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and red onion (held as always) — all placed with care on top of a what is alleged to be a brioche bun, but seemed like something more. There’s nothing groundbreaking about this burger, but everything is near perfect. The meat is fresh, tender and full of flavour. Each topping plays its part, whether it be to offer a bit of crispy crunch, or to hit you with the right balance of flavours. There is a bit of heat here – the right amount.

I suspect everything Alumni makes is great, and I will go back to sample the rest of their menu.

But while you are there, I recommend pairing your double stacker with an order of their Florentine Deviled Eggs.

Strange combo? Perhaps

Does it work? Oh yes indeedy.

So it is with renewed enthusiasm and restored hope that we bestow BQ certification upon Alumni.

Well done. And thank you.

We needed this one.

Wonderbun’s Review

I hear “You gotta try the burger at …” all the time. I have a lot of love for people excited about the Quest, but so many burger recommendations leave me feeling that the owner of those recommendations may have used a dirty sock as a soother.

As mentioned by Gravy, between life’s grind and poor choices, we had Quested a few places that left us begging for the dirty clown to jam McSelfloathing down our gullets instead of eating another $15 burger that leaves you feeling suckered. 

Our goal is to lead you to Burger Mecca, not just chart a path that avoids the swamps and dumps of a burger wasteland. And for the last few Quests — that is all we have been able to provide. Well, burger squires — we have been to the edges of burger peril and we have endured the dusty stacks of burger wastelands. Our mouths have burned with the thirst for bovine transcendence. As we pushed to the rise of dune after dune, our tastebuds prepared themselves for a sandy mouthful of another bitter mirage.

But this time we found Shangri-La. 

Slung up in a ’50s-inspired diner feel, Alumni Sandwich and Liquor Bar fell into our laps with yet another “You gotta try …” We got there early and nabbed the table in the front window — offering a stunning view of the safety fencing and the tops of backhoes tearing up 17th Ave. Rumbling earth packers made my water dance like the, now ubiquitous, Jurassic Park moment. They only have one burger so it was a simple choice.

“I’ll have the Double Burger please.”

“Sure, I’ll have a side of macaroni salad with that and a Coke.”

Some good commiseration on life with White Gravy until:

What is this stunningly neat stack you have placed in front of me? Glistening dark golden yellow brioche that has been kissed repeatedly by little dew drops of sticky renderings that have jumped up from the grill that you were toasted on. Tongues of processed cheese that appear to have been placed in perfect off-axis symmetry to your centre and offset to a tight grouping of shredded lettuce and pickles. Your two patties hold a glisten in toothy gems seared to perfection. Onion and tomato dressed crisp in cool fresh uniform and a quick wink from some special sauce that appears to be applied with that exactness that finds you watching synchronized swimming a little longer than you thought you would.

And that is just how this burger fed my eyes. 

First bite: nirvana. A bite that progresses perfectly through the journey of salty, sweet, sour, starch and tangy that evolves as mastication refines the blend of this culminating moment leading to a taste bud mosaic that forces you to swallow before the blood leaves your head. Again, and again, until you find an empty plate of please don’t let this be over.

Truly a certified masterpiece that sits in confidence with the echelon of the BQ Certified.

Note: Outside of the near perfect execution (which is mind blowing) this burger is not spectacled with anything other than fresh balanced standards for a classic cheese burger except for a very special and unique tasting pickle. This has to be someone’s heirloom recipe made with the care of a hundred or so years. It is the perfect monogram on a perfectly tailored stack that stands apart.

White Gravy wonders out loud why no one has made a burger yet with a deviled egg as a topping, though he may just DIY that himself next time he goes to Alumni. Wonderbun reserves the right not to be as well put together as the Alumni burger.