Get Stuffed!

Naina's, 121 17th Avenue, SE...just a few short blocks to Stampede of the few dining spots--possibly the only spot-- on the Avenue that offers free event parking—a real bonus if you’re going to an event  on the grounds.

Once, when I was a senior in high school, I was fortunate to travel to London on a theatre trip with some classmates. It was my second trip abroad (and no, Canada was not my first).   

In a week: four plays in the West End, the British Museum (I still remember the mummies), Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London and its bridge, and a different pub or restaurant every night of the week.

In one, I can’t remember what I ate, but it was obviously very filling, because when the waitress came by to check on us and ask if we needed anything else, I recall very politely thanking her and then telling her I was stuffed.

The look of shock on her face, hearing these words from a 17-year-old American kid, and the deep shade of red that flushed across her cheeks told me that her interpretation of that word and mine were two very entirely different things. I learned the valuable lesson that day that it’s well worth the time it takes to understand and learn the local customs and terminologies before heading anywhere.

Now, whenever I hear someone say they’re stuffed after a meal, that episode comes to mind. Every time.

Imagine, then, venturing out with Sarah to Naina’s Kitchen, a small restaurant at the eastern edge of my 17x17x17 zone that specializes in…you guessed it…stuffed burgers.

Early on, when I asked people for suggestions of where to eat in my 17x17x17 quest, I was told by several that Naina’s Kitchen was the place to go for award-winning burgers (Naina's received the 2016 Alberta Burger Fest Winner in the $15 category, and was the runner up for the same award in 2015; the place was also chosen as the YYC Burger Week runner up in the $15 category in 2014, and it won Burger Week in 2013).

Originally over in an industrial area of the city, the restaurant just moved—less than a year ago—to its new location, and between roadwork on the Avenue (a massive rebuild project and some new construction on buildings that will yield customers down the road) and a relatively short Calgary Flames hockey season (ahem),  Naina’s is working to build a customer base.

No doubt about it, once people rediscover this place, they’ll be back for more and they’ll bring their friends.

Sarah is a fan of plain food. She has a couple of little boys, and, if as I recall little boys, they, for the most part, like plain food too. So it was great that she took a break from her mom duties to join me at Naina’s. And it was even more special that she agreed to try something new.

We went fairly early, so the place was kind of quiet, with just a few tables filled.  It’s a nice open room with choices of tall or regular tables—we picked a tall one, near the kitchen and facing out into the restaurant.  The owner, Erin, came out to say hello, and she explained to us that “Nain” is the Welsh word for “grandmother”, but that her daughter had added the “a”, both on the name of her grandma (Erin’s mom, who, until recently was a school teacher in northern Saskatchewan) and the name on the sign above the door.

Works for me.

In a corner is a chalk board that lists all the combinations of “stuffed” burgers they’ve ever made….and the menu appears to show many of those combos available on the evening were there..

Essentially, these are half pound burgers with stuff in the middle—every kind of cheese, fruits and vegetables, other types of meat—and it’s tough to decide what to order. 

Sarah keeps it fairly basic, as she has some mozzarella cheese inserted in her hamburger; I opt for the “Nainalicious”, which Erin says is the restaurant’s most popular.  

It’s filled with pulled barbecue pork, Granny Smith apples, cheddar cheese and sautéed onions. 
You can't see it here, but this is the Nainalicious (I can tell because Sarah didn't have lettuce on hers).  There's a lot of stuff stuffed into this stuffed burger.
Both come with a basket of fries, and we decide to try the homemade mac and cheese as well (you can guess what I ate for lunch the next day).  

Holy cow, that was a lot of food.  And since we’re not in the UK, it’s ok to say we most definitely got stuffed at Naina’s.

Tip: Go to Naina's for a delicious burger.....but make sure you go hungry!