The Heart Attack Burger

(Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON) Ah, Test Fest 2012! I rolled in early and I blew out late, in a Land Rover LR4.

The annual showdown of the finalists for Canadian Car of the Year was on the menu. I’m a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada – though not a very powerful or influential one – and I and all my little media-weasel friends were there to sample the goods; down here in lake and wine country.

Because I arrived the day before the car-tests were to begin, I had some time to drive around, and just across the highway and down the road from my hotel – in the shadow of GM’s parts plant in St. Catherines, Ontario, I found the Good Eats Diner.

I stopped in for a late breakfast, as I was fresh off an overnighter and had basically hopped off a plane in Toronto and driven down to the region in my LR4.

It’s my kind of place: an unpretentious little roadside stop offering good food at reasonable rates, and I had a plate of ham and eggs with a side of buttermilk pancakes in an atmosphere full of friendly staff and happy regulars.

The food was good – and I will draw your attention now to that oft-overlooked side dish, “home-fries”, which are excellent here.

Must have something to do with the potatoes used, or the grapeseed oil I assume they are cooked in, from the amount of grapeseed oil bottles I saw around; but what caught my attention was the mention on their sign out front, of something called the Heart Attack Burger.

They weren’t making them the first day I stopped in, but I knew right then that I had to have one. It happened that I finished up the last day of Test Fest drives way early on the final Friday of the test-fest (because hey bubba, I am just that good) and immediately struck out from the Niagara airport (staging ground for the CCOTY contest for the past several years now) for my new favorite diner.

Once again, I draw your attention to them fries.

The star of our show – the mighty HAB

As you might imagine, the Heart Attack Burger is a giant oversize novelty sandwich guaranteed to fill you up real good with everything that is, technically, bad for your weight-loss aspirations.

The ‘buns’ are two grilled cheese sandwiches (with bacon!) bookending a big meat patty and the usual fillings; tomato, onion, lettuce. It comes to the table stuck through with a knife to hold the thing together, as it towers above your plate.

It’s magnificent, of course, but I hesitate to recommend it – I couldn’t finish mine – the HAB is something you order once, just to say you’ve done it. I’ll go back, of course, next year’s Test Fest is already on the horizon; but next time I’ll get a normal one. And more of those excellent fries.

I survived a Heart Attack burger, and so will you, but now I am in Burger Rehab and on the road to full Burger Recovery.

The diner is run by a right-on bro named Paolo Miele (here’s the deets! follow his Tweets!); make sure you hit the Good Eats Diner if/when you find yourself in the St. Catherines area.

Wade Ozeroff © 2012

Cup-O-Meat, To Go!

My usual food scientists, E & R, weren’t available for a trek to Smokehouse Barbecue in Leduc. He was away discovering a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, and she was having a shower with a bunch of other women, which I was not allowed to attend or watch.

“Drat the luck”, said I, but sallied forth anyway, powering down the highway in my 2012 Dodge Charger, this week’s test vehicle (AWD with Pentastar engine).

The food was great; a three-meat combination of pulled pork, St. Louis ribs and an extra-succulent beef brisket that I will totally go back for again, with the usual barbecue sides: cornbread, slaw and beans.

I couldn’t eat it all, for I am a dainty little fellow of restrained appetites, but I couldn’t leave it there, either. I had a lot more driving to do that afternoon in the Charger, and carting a styro-container full of meat in the car on a hot day didn’t seem like a good thing to do; when the idea hit me:  the tester is equipped with cupholders that are both heated and cooled.

I asked the server for a take-out coffee cup with a lid to use as a container – once I explained what I was planning, she stopped staring at me like I’d left my shirt open and my parasitic twin was hanging out – and filled it with the remaining meats.

Possibly the cleverest thing I’ve done all day, so far, and an excellent showcase for this unusual Chrysler feature; which I’m sure is exactly what they intended when they built it.