The dirt on ‘The Dirty Burger’ – Is Vancouver’s “best burger” at Campagnolo Upstairs?


Campagnolo Upstairs - The Dirty Burger Gang Bang

“The Dirty Burger Gang bang”

The dirt on ‘The Dirty Burger’

Mijune Pak — Westender

So, I was ready to do “The Dirty”… burger that is, but things got out of control. Like, really out of control. It was the type of dirty where you roll up your sleeves, use both hands, open your mouth really, really wide and prepare to get sauce all over your… okay, there is no way to make this sound “good”, but boy was it good.

“The Dirty Burger” is one of the signature items at Camp Upstairs, which opened earlier this year.

The creator is chef and co-owner Robert Belcham, arguably the Martin Picard of the West Coast.

If you like pig and real “nose-to-tail” dining, not just pork belly (junior “nose-to-tail” dining), then you’re likely familiar with Belcham’s food.

The man has brought us to heaven and back again… and sometimes I feel like a cat with nine lives.

Usually I only go this hard when I’m in Montreal due to the nature of French-Canadian food, or in the South. But it was go big or go home, and I wasn’t going home.

The standard Dirty Burger comes with one beef patty, good old American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. I’m sure it’s fine as is, and I’ve only heard rave reviews, but I wanted the “secret menu”.

Sorry Camp crew, but I’m about to expose your dirty little secrets… or should I?

Maybe not; it’s one of those Fight Club things. Rule No. 1: You do not talk about Fight Club – and similarly, I shouldn’t really be “talking” about this… so instead I’m writing about it.

I’ve already given it away on my Instagram account, and I don’t want to get banned, but I also don’t want to be selfish, so I have to share some secrets.

Similar to In-N-Out Burger, there are “secret phrases” and an unwritten menu to upgrade the “Dirty Burger”, and here they are.

Extra patty = Extra patty (+$4) and this is on the menu.

The patty should be the highlight of any burger, and this was. It’s 100 per cent beef neck, dry-aged for 40 days, and house ground. The meat is loose and crumbly without being dry. One patty is enough, but I was aggressive and had two.

“Foghorn, Leghorn” = Fried chicken skin (+$2). It’s the “new bacon”. I named bacon as one of the “food trends” I wanted to see die in 2013 and suggested crispy chicken skin as an alternative. I also had chicken as a “food trend for 2013”. Don’t get me wrong, I love good quality, well-made bacon, but sometimes it’s overdone, used as a crutch, or just crappy bacon.

“In the Sun” = (+$1) See photo.

“Protester Style” = 80g of grade-A quality f*** (the f stands for foie)(+$28)

I added everything, which made it a $45 burger. Not cheap, but considering the quality and the ingredients, it’s fair. The same thing in New York would probably be $80 or more.

I admit, a good burger just needs good meat and a good bun, and I always appreciate simplicity (like The Pourhouse Burger), but sometimes you need to indulge.

And don’t confuse this crazy “Dirty Burger” with other oversized novelty burgers either. I’ve eaten novelty burgers double this size, and even tried the deadly “Double-Down” at Joe Beef. This one deserves credit and is actually legit and delicious.

I do not recommend the deluxe Dirty for amateurs, and don’t order it if you’re not prepared or excited. Maybe start with the standard Dirty Burger and work your way up to the “Gang Bang”; however, no one will judge you for going all the way on the first go.

I was the second person to ever order the works and yes, I finished it… along with some appetizers.

It’s gluttonous, but remember: you wanted it. Enjoy it.

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