BURGER WEEK: Maaaaan, I’ve heard bingo halls that rocked harder than this!

With the mercury rising to 27 degrees by lunchtime, the objective was to find an outdoor patio–preferably with plenty of shade.  The Hard Rock Cafe at Yonge and Dundas perfectly provided this, though I’m not sure the shade didn’t come from the delivery trucks parked in the lane.  Anyhoo, the HRC offered its Burger Day fare a few days early, with a trio of sliders covering three meat groups for five bucks (regular $8.99, though I didn’t see it on the menu).

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Unfortunately, the cheeseslider was a little overcooked.  Not hockey-puck overdone, but it had probably achieved “little patty cooked as long as a big burger” status.  The pulled pork redeemed the plate with a nice, tangy chew, the crisp coleslaw cabbage adding a little more bite.  And while not exactly “pulled chicken” (it was more like sliced chicken burger), said slider was still quite tasty.  It’s just a shame that they butchered the beef…

Of course, three little burgers hardly makes a meal, and I would’ve gone back to work hungry were it not for the massive maze of onion rings I ordered on the side:

002Let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t order fries.  Interestingly enough, the rings came not with ketchup, but rather a tub of BBQ sauce.  But I dipped ‘em anyways, cuz I’m kind of a compulsive dipper.  That being said, my biggest beef–even above the burned beef–was with the afternoon’s musical selection.  Although they say they’re the Hard Rock Cafe, they didn’t play anything heavier than Bruce Springsteen.  Instead, I was treated to the musical stylings of Katy Perry, One Direction(!), Carly Rae Jepsen and…  wait for it…  Sugar Ray.  Believe it or not, those guys are coming to town in July.  With Smash Mouth.  And the Gin Blossoms.  Three bands I thought went away with Y2K–and may or may not still be on the Hard Rock Cafe’s playlist.

Anyways, I’d give this overall dining experience an “R” (out of R-O-C-K) and a “Play ‘Free Bird!’”

Location: 279 Yonge St.

Reservation: Nope

In-and-Out Time: 35 minutes

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ONE WEEKEND IN PITTSBURGH: How did they get incline from funiculaire, anyways?

I had originally planned to check out the Warhol Museum on Monday–but it turns out they’re closed Mondays, for whatever reason.  So I took to the net to find out what else there was to do downtown.  Couple things popped up: Station Square, the self-proclaimed “premier dining and entertainment destination with unique specialty shops” and the Pittsburgh inclines, old-school cable cars that take you up to the hoity-toity Mt. Washington neighbourhood and a great view of the city from the top.

Unfortunately, most of the bars and restaurants that make up Station Square aren’t open for lunch on Monday, and the “unique specialty shops” are few and far between.  I did buy some local chocolate from a candy store and picked up a Larry Flynt biography for the super-low price of $1.98, though.  There was also a massive store selling all kinds of Steelers stuff, but I didn’t dare set foot in that one.

This is the view of the Square coming in from across the bridge.

Pittsburgh’s first-ever steel furnace, or something like that…

Had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, where along with the AC/DC, Nirvana and Poison memorabilia, a Danzig road case, some stuff from shitty nu-metal bands–including a 10X platinum plaque awarded to fuckin’ Creed that almost made me lose my appetite–I was surprised to see this piece of Canadian rock history:

A signed Gil Moore bass drum head!  Oh, and some dude named Cobain’s guitar, off to the bottom right.

After lunch, I headed up on the Monongahela Incline, to see what I could see.  This thing is fully automated, with an operator at the top, and the inside looks a little like this:

The site of Pittsburgh’s first coal mine (as per this sign below), Mt. Washington is now an upscale neighbourhood (think Forest Hill) with nice restaurants, big houses, churches–even houses that look like churches.

Case in point.

The view from the lookout points along the aptly-named Grandview Ave offered a picture-perfect outlook down onto the city.  So naturally, I took a few photos.

Heinz Field, home of the Steelers, off in the distance.

The Wyndham hotel (where I stayed) is the beige building in the foreground, with PNC Park just across the river.

A closer look at Heinz Field.

I figured I’d take the Monongahela Incline up, then walk across and take the Duquesne Incline back down, since the latter was closer to my hotel.  Only problem was that there’s no way to get across the river from there, so I had to walk back to Station Square.  Let’s just say I got a lotta exercise on Monday…

View of Heinz Field from the Duquesne Incline.