Burger Baron Rules

An Edmonton Original

Okay, this here is one of my favourite places in the city for quality diner fare – Burger Baron!

This my lifelong favorite – the Double Mushroom with cheese.

It’s a chain (albeit, a small one) and you can find several locations here in town; but my go-to stop has always been the landmark 82 ave spot, just a little east of 75th street, in its iconic A-frame building.

I can remember my dad taking the family there starting back in… well, since just about as far back as I can remember (I was born in ’64, and apparently the first BB opened up in 1963). It was always a real treat, and I swear ta gawd, it still is!

So when you inevitably find yourself in Edmonton, seriously, go out of your way to get to the BB, and order the Double Mushroom with cheese. They’ve got other ones too, of course – you won’t go wrong with a Rudy’s special for example, but if you want my two bits worth, double mushroom avec cheese.

The ‘shrooms are fried on the spot, the beef is good quality and the bun is the crowning touch – a nice, fresh one toasted to perfection!

This is a proper drive-through or dine-in hamburger, right here my friends; and it isn’t overpriced and it isn’t pretentious and it isn’t cluttered.


Just look at this and you’ll know right away you want one.

I want another one right now; and here’s the thing: you patronize the Baron and you’re doing business with a really good, likeable hometown team that deserves your dollars and earns it, one burger at a time!

Can’t recommend them highly enough! Eat here. Check out their Yelp reviews.

Good Lovin’

Like all good, decent people, I’m a big pizza fan, and here’s place that deserves some word of mouth. Nice people, a good location with free parking in the strip-mall lot (which is a real plus the downtown area), and most importantly, very good pizza made well and with quality ingredients. Prices are reasonable as well.

Here’s a couple photos, including my go-to choice, the “Meatatarian”, but check out their full menu online here. Oh, and their FB page, too.

Customers can watch their pie being assembled at the order counter, and run through the nifty transport oven; then have it boxed up for takeaway or eat it on site – which is what I recommend. Nice ambience during the lunchtime rush, and bottles of olive oil on the table (both regular and spicy).

Relatively new to the Edmonton scene, Love Pizza now has two locations in our fine town. I’ve eaten at the downtown location a couple of times now (10196 109st in the Canterra strip plaza), and highly recommend them.

Viphalay Restaurant

Pad Thai at Viphalay, downtown.

I can’t think of any sort of rhyming punditry for the restaurant’s name (I almost went with ‘Viphalay A-OK’, but then I remembered the sophisticated audience I serve, here on the world’s finest website and realized no way would my readers tolerate that), so instead just have a look at this over on the right:

This is a lunch I had at Viphalay (the downtown one, they have two locations) with my classmates from MicroBusiness Training Center. It’s a wildly popular lunch spot downtown, specializing in Laotian/Thai influenced food, and it rocks!

I recommend the Pad Thai, but the selection of curries that a number of my Microbusiness alumni ordered also looked and smelled worthy of consideration.

The fare isn’t cheap, but it isn’t wildly high-priced, either (everybody’s entree came in at under $20, not including tip).

Reservations are a must, particularly for the lunch crowd, and it is a great spot in an interesting repurposed older house for a sit-down meal that doesn’t disappoint.

BMW X5 40e

Electrifying Bavarian Design

BMW’s X5 utility vehicle lineup expanded back in the 2015 model year to include a fourth choice when they added the 40e to the family (there are three other X5 choices, two gasoline engine models and a diesel), and the 40e was the first of the company’s more mainstream vehicles to inherit the technology they developed for their more futuristic-looking i3 and i8 cars.

There aren’t a lot of PHEV vehicles in the premium/luxury segment, yet, but there a lot in the pipeline as everyone rushes into hybrid and fully electric automobiles – but Porsche’s Cayenne is already available with a similar drivetrain, for example.

Looking at it from the outside – and the inside, for that matter – the plugin X5 isn’t greatly different than the rest of the lineup, the readily identifiable grille and headlamps, and side-and-rear profile of the eDrive model are near identical, its mostly the badge and distinctive cover of the chargepoint on the driver’s side front panel that give it away.

All around, it retains the appearance, and that’s a good thing; as the X5 in general has been one of the company’s best sellers, and certainly their most practical offering for this time of year, out here in majestic Edmonton; the Paris of the Canadian prairies. I’mma apologize that the car is dirty in the test drive photos and Youtube vid, but you know, it’s hard to keep anything clean right now.

As a hybrid, the 40e is powered by a combination of electric motor and gasoline engine, in this case a 351v lithium ion battery mates with a 2.0L inline four-cylinder, aiming to optimize fuel economy with the electric assist, as well as lowering emissions. It can be run in strictly electric mode, as well, BMW claims for a distance up to 40km. So in theory, if you lived very close to where you work, you might scarcely ever have to fill up the tank. In theory, that is. In reality the cold conditions had me running on gasoline power for most of the week.

The gas engine on its own peaks at 241 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque, and combined output with the electric motor shoots up to 313 horses. The hybrid X5, like all X5s, has EcoPro, Comfort (default) and Sport modes, which change the vehicles behavior by changing the shift point and throttle response.

Now, where a PHEV differs from a regular hybrid is that the battery can be recharged by – you guessed it – plugging the vehicle in. The 40e can be recharged on household current, although I’ll level with you, that takes a long time; but will also accept charging with level 2 or level 3 high-voltage fast chargers.

The problem with this, though, is that not a lot of people have an extra 220v panel at their homes, and at least there I live there aren’t a lot of Level 2 chargers available. Check this out, though, my test vehicle is equipped, through it navigation module, to find and locate charging stations. Pretty cool, eh? I found one at an Ikea store, and a row of three of them at one of Edmonton’s public libraries.

Screw these people.

But, prepare to gasp in horror and dismay, my friends, ‘cuz look what happened when I tried to use the library ones. Yeah. Do any of those look like plugin/electric vehicles to you?

Driving experience the X5 is very much like any of it’s linemates – it displays tight and responsive steering, great performance and acceleration in all of its drive modes, and does a good job of holding the road in corners; but I want to tell you, the hybrid is a heavy vehicle and you’ll feel that in the handling. It is almost 200kg heavier than the 35i gasoline only model, and actually weighs more than a Toyota Tacoma, for example. So, um, stopping distances are affected, as I learned in my first day in the car on icy roads.

The price jump for selecting the 40e may also influence your decision here, with a rather hefty premium coming with this power train. Here’s a breakdown of the pricing, if you’re interested: MY17 X5 40e Price

Consider that a 35i model starts at $68,500, and that jumps to $74,950 for the 40e plugin, but the test vehicle we are looking at here powered that to a frightening $88,500 when loaded up with option packages that take it to the level that I figure a premium-brand buyer would want.


2018 Honda Odyssey

I always like to start stories about this type of vehicle by restating the point that if you need a minivan, you should buy a minivan. Don’t try to weasel out and get an SUV with third-row seats because they look cooler, you’re a grownup now.

The vehicles make the most sense for many situations, and needn’t reek of soccer-dad mediocrity, particularly with some of the models available today, like this one here: a 2018 Honda Odyssey.

One of the more highly regarded minivans out there, and offering a nearly complete collection of practical function and usefulness (and seating for up to seven passengers in the case of my test van here), Odyssey brings more than family-friendliness, particularly in the Touring trim.

Spoiler: it also becomes one of the more expensive family vans you can buy if you select the Touring model, although not the most expensive well-equipped van I’ve seen for 2018 (that award would go to Chrysler’s latest Pacifica – you can find a look at it here).

I will stress also that while my Odyssey Touring test vehicle tipped in at over 50K, the lineup starts at $34,890, so the case can be made that it competitive with Kia’s Sedona or the Toyota Sienna.

The whole lineup gets the same engine, a redesigned 3.5 litre six-cylinder (built in Alabama) for this fifth-generation van, which has received a power boost for 2018 that pumps up the output to a pretty robust 280hp and 262 lb.-ft. of torque.

It’s a FWD drivetrain that handles well for a vehicle of its type, with steering that is likewise appropriate for this shape and size. Definitely a lighter feel than what you’d find in an Accord, but I wouldn’t want it to be overly ‘sporty’ anyway, for fear of throwing around the passengers in the rear seats.

The styling of the Odyssey hasn’t received the radical reworking of the sheetmetal that Honda’s Civic and latest Accord received; it’s still recognizable when parked side by side with the outgoing generation.

The 18 has a new-look grille and headlamps, a bit of extra pizzazz added stamped into the side panels, and the recognizable ‘lightnining bolt’ of the side window trim has been smoothed out a bit.

The body has been lightened, cabin sound insulation and overall ride improved, and two new transmissions added to the lineup; including a Honda’s ten-speed automatic (the company is awfully proud of the ten-speed, and offering it in a number of their vehicles in the upper trim levels, notably the latest Accord).

The 10-speed is one of only a few features that a buyer needs to move up to the Touring trim to get, though – if you can get by with only nine cogs, well, the rest of the lineup may do you just fine.

A couple of other exclusives for the Touring trim are worth noting, and mostly fall into the additional bells-and-whistles category, but my favorites are:

An upgraded, 11-speaker sound system (and rear seat entertainment package with Blu Ray player), ventilated front seats, a wi-fi hotspot app and additional ambient lighting; and perhaps most notable is the rear cross-traffic sensor – probably my favorite part of the modern safety suites being added to a lot of vehicles these days.

Also, an interesting techno-bit for parents (I am figuring that parents are the number one buyer of a van like the Odyssey) is the Cabin Watch and Cabin Talk components of Honda’s in-vehicle. It pulls up a wideangle view of the rear seats, and allows you to keep an eye on the kids in the back rows, and verbally admonish them if they’re, like, eating laundry pods or whatever back there. No more need to raise your voice as you threaten to turn this car around and drop them off at military camp.

The first two rows are the best seats in the Odyssey (the second rows captain’s chairs also slide, for easy access to the back, and space all ‘round is very good, as is outward visibility from the driver’s position).

In terms of the value case, well, as stated way back at the beginning, the Odyssey in Touring trim is one of the pricier family vans, but a buyer may not find it necessary to go all the way to the top-end to get a satisfying package – here’s a bit of trim walk through the lineup: 2018 Specs_Odyssey_EN

As for criticism of the ’18 Odyssey, well, the info interface isn’t as evolved as what I found in the latest Accord – there’s a volume button for the sound system, but most everything else is still touchscreen. Also a few people I showed the Touring to didn’t care for the unusual strip-of-buttons gear selector (very much like what you find in a number of vehicles from Acura).

This 2018 Touring level test van cam with an MSRP of $50,290 CDN, before freight and taxes.

Check out the Youtube video here!