Drumheller may be the finest Alberta destination outside the Rocky Mountain parks, best reached by the fine drive along Secondary 840 through Rosebud. There’s spectacular badlands, a rich coal-mining history, swinging bridges and ferry rides, a narrow, winding road to a ghost town and a tiny church built by prison inmates. I haven’t even mentioned the top draw, the Royal Tyrrell Museum, arguably the top dinosaur museum in the world. The dining options for day or overnight road trippers don’t yet match up, but things are definitely improving.
Bernie & the Boys Bistro certainly knows how to make a burger joint fun and funky. Hope you like primary colours, in this case bright yellow walls with red trim and vibrant tables painted by a local artist. The only subdued tones are the black shirt and pants worn by chef Bernie Germain, wife Carol and the rest of the friendly, family-based staff of this Drumheller institution.
The relaxed atmosphere extends to the menu, where the Blair Wing Project chicken wings are so hot diners “must be at least 18 years old to order and must sign our waiver.” The real action, though, is the roster of a dozen hearty, no-nonsense burgers.
I wisely go with just a single patty ($8.50) of the G’s Special Burger. When you add all the fixings—cheese, mushroom sauce, thick chunks of bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and G’s special sauce—it’s gotta weigh well over a pound. This is one serious burger, sufficiently messy that I abandon my usual hands-on approach for a knife and fork. Thank God, I don’t opt for a double or triple patty or, the masochist’s special, the 24-ounce Mammoth.
If you need something to wash all this down with, check out the long, long list of milkshakes, including toasted marshmallow and toffee crunch. If you need something to keep you awake after this caloric overload, head to downtown’s Café Olé (Railway Avenue and Centre Street) for a stiff coffee, using Canmore’s Mountain Blends beans.
Bernie & the Boys Bistro
305 4 Street West, Drumheller
Tuesday to Saturday 11 am-8:30 pm, except till 9 pm Friday. Closed Sunday and Monday
It’s not often I get to eat in the shadow of a giant Tyrannosaurus rex. I mean giant, as in 26 metres tall. Sure, it’s just an oversized replica. But 70 million years ago, dinosaurs did indeed rule this area, and I would have been a mere sliver of protein in a T-rex’s teeth.
Today at Sublime Food and Wine, I’m a carnivore at the top of the food chain, gnashing my molars on the tender, slow-roasted prime rib melt. It’s a fine sandwich, with thin slices of meat topped with sautéed mushrooms, horseradish mayo, melted gouda and a sprinkling of pea shoots. My $12 melt is accompanied by yet more protein—a hearty turkey soup featuring pearl onions.
Sublime is a casual step up in Drumheller’s dining scene. Owned by young local couple Stasha and Dennis Standage (he’s a Red Seal-trained chef), it’s located in a cozy old downtown Drumheller house, right across the street from that dinosaur. You can climb up into the beast’s lofty jaws. But that might be tempting fate.
Sublime Food and Wine
109 Centre Street, Drumheller
Tuesday to Saturday 11 am-2 pm, 5 pm-9 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday