8123 104 St.
Dish by Stephen Notley
Reviewing the restaurant right underneath
your apartment seems
like a conflict of interest somehow. Even though there's no financial
connection they're still my neighbours; perhaps I'm biased. But y'know,
very fact that they feel like neighbours rather than downstairs donair
makes me want to declare my bias openly, proudly. I'll say it. I'm
Jack's is an industrious, hardworking little Mom-n-Pop burger joint and
been a welcome relief from the young and angry Turks who ran a failing
fractious donair joint in the same space last summer. They're
friendly and polite and they even accepted a Purolater package for me
otherwise would've been re-routed to
Yeah, yeah, they're nice people; what about the food? In three words, plentiful, good and cheap. Hungry Jack's is a newcomer, opening just last Christmas, but their expansive attitude towards cramming cooked beef into your gut puts them on a par and then some with the other powerhouse burger joint on Whyte Ave, Marco's.
Hungry Jack's doesn't just do burgers, of course. They also sling donairs, beef and chicken, delicious in their own rights, and they have a huge pizza menu though they don't typically have slices on hand for individual sale. And one time I came in and saw a plate of baked chicken, asked how much it was and bought it. It was particularly delcious, flavorful and falling off the bone; only later did I learn I'd bought and eaten the lunch they'd made for themselves. Whoops.
Having eaten at Hungry Jack's before I knew what to expect so I got a Jack's Mom Burger Deluxe, which is sauce, pickles, lettuce, tomato, cheese and bacon --your standard fully loaded burger, and it comes in just under $4.25.
They bring it out on a shiny white plate, the top bun swaying slightly on its tower of toppings. On the side I'd gotten some Onion Rings, three bucks, and a dandy snack on their own when you don't feel up to a full meatjob. Here the rings are light and crispy, salty with a bit of somethin' else. About half of them are the good kind of onion ring, the kind where the onion bites off when you bite it rather than slurping out of its toroid shell and splatting up against your chin. The other half splats up against your chin, but hey, it's the nature of onion rings.
But it's a mistake to fill up on fries or rings, not when there's a Mom's Burger to be dealt with. Picking it up the first time I could already feel the bottom bun start to sunder; it's a good idea to flip the whole thing upside-down straight off, put the weight on the top bun. This is a burger that needs to be gripped, controlled, held together through constant aplication of will and strength; one or two careless bites can disrupt the structure and transform the whole thing into a sliding finger-gooing avalanche of meat, toppings and sauce.
Blobs of sauce and bacon drip off the side when I go in for my first bite; oh god, it's already falling apart! No, no, it's holding together. And that first bite's so good, so burgery! One bite and I already feel stuffed. I have to pace myself with this sandwich, let it know who's boss, work away at its defenses, chewing around the sides then going in for carefully timed strikes at its heart. Only when I'm down to about 40% can I even begin to relax, and by then the bottom bun's already mostly given up the ghost, reduced to a smear of bread under my fingers. As I pace myself off to the last few bites I reflect on the Jack's Dad burger, just like this one except with two patties. Who, I think, who could need that much burger?
Hands on a Hard Body champion J.D. Drew once wisely remarked that "a burger, that's heavy food, it'll bring you right down." Of course he was speaking in the context of not eating too much if you wanted to stay awake for three days to win a truck by being the last person to take your hands off it, but his words ring as true now as they did then. A Hungry Jack's burger is a mountain of meat that'll fill you up to bursting and get you thinking immediately about a nap. It's good burger, folks.