The Burger Shack

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Burger Shack

Location:

233 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, M4R 1A9

Ah… The Burger Shack. Another old school burger joint in Toronto that people have been eating at for years. It’s the typical old school diner variety and it’s been open for a very long time. I’m going to say (I’m not really sure) at least since 1970. I’ve eaten there a few times and was never that impressed but it’s been years and I might never of actually tried their homemade burger.

So I decided to go out and try it for purposes of eating a burger and reviewing a burger. I parked (in a full minus one spot lot) and walked in. The layout hadn’t changed since I was there last. Signage on top of the order counter with the menu listed, the cashier in the centre of the counter, drinks to the left and toppings (like old Harvey’s) to the right.

I ordered my home made burger, my fries and my drink. Then I sat and waited to be called up to pick my toppings. While I waited I spent my time slyly (maybe not that slyly) staring at this amazingly gorgeous girl who was with three friends eating. My burger was ready, they called me up and can you guess what I had on my burger? Lettuce, mustard, pickles, ketchup, onions, tomato, surprise surprise.

I took it to my table along with the fries and coke and grabbed a refillable squeeze bottle of ketchup for the fries. I tasted the fries. Mmm mmm good. So tasty, so yummy, so fresh cut, so delicious. Then I squeezed some ketchup onto the burger wrapper and dipped the fries in. Yuk! It was that age old ketchup that tastes kind of off. Unlike Heinz you can’t slather fries in this ketchup. You have to use the bare minimum or else you risk tasting that off putting off taste. No matter I ate more fries without the ketchup and they more than satisfying on their own.

Next the burger. It was 6 ounces, it was cooked to perfection, it looked yummy. It fit the bun well with no extra bun girth. The bun was a nice soft traditional kaiser. The toppings looked fresh enough, the lettuce shredded and green, the pickles and tomato not to thick and not to thin and the onions chopped up and a plenty. I bit into the burger.

First impressions from the first two bites. Delicious and much better than I remembered or previously thought. This impression though didn’t last long. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this burger because I did. And it’s not that it tasted bad because it didn’t. And it’s not that it wasn’t ground well or that the texture was off because it was (ground well) and it’s texture was perfect.

No the problem was that the patty itself was just not big enough. It was 6 ounces but honestly it felt more like 3 or maybe 4. It just wasn’t enough meat on the burger. You could taste the burger itself at times and it tasted good. Not as good as Apache (not homemade) and nowhere near as good and as juicy as Golden Star (homemade) but it still had a nice flavour. It was a little dry but not enough to throw me off. It just bothered me with every bite more so that there was not enough beef. The bun and toppings and condiments overpowered the minimal beef that was in my mouth, on my tongue, going down my throat.

It is that reason alone that I cannot 100% recommend this burger. It’s good and it works in a pinch (and late at night as they are open pretty late). And maybe a double would work better although the price goes up significantly (if they even will serve you a double). Ever eat at Johnny’s in Scarborough (not reviewed here yet)? They say their burger is 4 ounces but I tell you it’s the biggest 4 ounce ever and probably twice as big as this burger.

So in short: really good fries, shit ketchup, decent burger (and choice of Coke or Pepsi products). It was good but too small. Maybe I should of got a double like I usually do. Ah well, you live and learn.

Out of 7 The Burger Shack scores 4

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Burger Factory

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Burger Factory

GTA Location:

5130 Dixie Road, Mississauga, L4W 1C9

Website:

www.myburgerfactory.com

I walked into Burger Factory after deliberating for weeks if I should trek all the way out there to try and review their burger. I decided to do it and so off I went. Walking in I was glad I did. Eating the burger, not in the least.

Burger Factory is a Halal burger joint which means no bacon on the premises. So if you are a bacon lover this ain’t the place for you. Interestingly enough they have a burger called the Juicy Lucy which is a patty stuffed with cheese. It is interesting as there is a placed called Moe’s (or Big Moe’s) which is also a Halal burger place and also has a Juicy Lucy which I think is a patty stuffed with cheese.

So I walked in and I liked what I saw. I wasn’t too hungry so I ordered a single with fries and coke. The usual toppings made the burger. I paid (nine bucks and change–not bad) and then watched as the grill gal took out a fresh ball of beef and through it on the flattop. My good will dropped a little at this point as the fresh ball of beef was kind of brown and not very, if at all, red.

About 8 minutes later I had a burger and fries and coke in front of me. I, of course, dug into the fries first. Not bad they were. Different to most they were. Very good they were. They were super thick and had an almost batter on them. I say an almost batter because it felt like a batter but I couldn’t really see much of a batter or seasoning at all. It looked like straight up fresh cut potato deep fried but ultra thick. Ultra crispy on the outside and super moist and delicious on the inside. But a slight flavour of seasoning or better, I’m just not sure.

Then I bit into the burger. Right away I wasn’t happy. It tasted, how do I say, off? Not so much off as crappy. I looked at the patty and saw black specs all over it. Was it pepper or something else? Whatever the seasoning used was it sucked. I continued to eat the burger not liking it as I went. Sure the tomato was fine but that was about it (okay the ketchup and mustard was fine too). The lettuce was wilted and tasteless and the onion was way to thick making it overpowering in flavour and uncomfortably placed on the burger itself. The biggest offender of the toppings though was the pickle. It was like an ultra sweet and briny pickle with no distinct flavour. It was just so over flavoured and not in a good way that I had to take it off the burger.

The bun was a decent bun, I’ll give them that and the 5oz patty sure did fit it nicely. It had good bounce, was just the right amount of starchy and was probably the best thing about this burger. The worst thing about this burger was the patty. As I ate more and more I just wasn’t enjoying what I was eating. It was a bad tasting burger and got worse with every bite.

In the end I never finished it. I filled up on fries and left maybe two or three bites of the burger on my tray which promptly went into the garbage. I tell you, it was better than Hero Burger but since I started doing this blog Burger Factory could be up there as one of the worst burgers I’ve tried. I will not be back.

Out of 7 Burger Factory scores a 1

Liberty Burger and Wings

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Liberty Burger

GTA Location:

144 Main Street North, Markham, L3P 5T3

Website:

www.libertyburgers.ca/

So it was a few days ago and I wanted to go to a new burger place, one I had never been to before. I went online, I googled, I chowhounded, I yelped, I googled some more. I came across this place, Liberty Burger and Wings, with plenty of well received reviews. Located in Unionville, it wasn’t that far so off I went.

I get to Main Street, Unionville and already I am annoyed. Traffic was bad and I had no idea that Unionville was as far away as it ended up being. But I was finally there and I’m driving along Main Street looking for number 144. I see 140 and then 144 but it’s closed up, papered windows, no Liberty Burger, nothing. Now I’m even more annoyed. I’ve driven forever, I’m hungry, and once again the quest for finding a burger to review is becoming fruitless and exhausting.

I leave Unionville upset and hungry and then think to myself ‘How could it be closed?’ I google it on my phone (after I have pulled over) and I see that it is actually on Main Street, Markham, a little further east. I decide to go since I’m already four fifths of the way there. I drive east, there is no traffic, I’m there in less than ten minutes, I get a parking spot right in front of Liberty Burger. Things are looking good.

I take a patio table, I order the old faithful (single) burger with the Onion, tomato, lettuce and pickle I so do like. I order it with fries and a coke. The coke comes and I see wings being delivered. They look amazing!!!!! I take a sip of the coke, it’s not very good. It’s more soda than syrup or should I say it’s not enough syrup. I don’t say anything to the waiter.

My burger comes. Boy does it look good. A nice bun which I press on. Dense, thick, spongy, toasted. The toppings all look fresh, the pickles are from the Harvey’s school of burger pickles. The patty looked juicy, cooked to perfection and tasty. I taste a fry. Yummy. i have a few more. Not the greatest of fries I have ever had but pretty damn good. Home made too, not (from what I remember) frozen fries from a bag.

It was time to dig into the burger. I put on my own ketchup and mustard and took a bite. Things were bad at the beginning of this trip, things were starting to get better, things suddenly went downhill. The bun and toppings were fine but that patty. No thank you. This was one of those patties you couldn’t tell if they were fresh or frozen. It was one of those patties that was either cooked on a flattop, grill or oven, you just can’t tell. It was one of those patties that tasted pretty bad.

I will liken this to my experience at Yellow Griffin Pub which, other than hero Burger, is the worst burger I’ve had since doing this blog. Liberty burger reminded me of that burger. It had the same kind of taste and the same kind of overstuffed texture, like there was too much meat in too little a space. I did not enjoy eating this burger but I was hungry and it was a burger. It was a little better than Yellow Griffin but not by much. As such I am giving it a three only because it was incrementally better. Otherwise it would get a two. What a waste of time.

The wings looked good though…

Out of 7 Liberty Burger and Wings scores a 3

         

The Burger Cellar

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The Burger Cellar

Location:

3391 Yonge Street, Toronto, M4N 2L8

Website:

www.theburgercellar.com

Once before, many moons ago, I ate at The Burger Cellar. I sat at a table by myself and ordered a double burger. This was about a week after The Burger’s Priest opened two stores over. I didn’t think to highly of the burger and thought why go here when you can go to the priest. Cut to today and I’ve returned to rank, blog and review (if these can be called reviews) the Cellar from my discerning and critical eye.

Having parked, gone to the parking meter and being unable to pay due to it being out of order, crossing the street to pay at the next meter, recrossing the street to pay and display the parking receipt, crossing the street for a third time and finally entering the Cellar, I had a decision to make. Would it be the restaurant, the bar, or the patio. I considered the dining room and the patio but being by my lonesome I chose the bar. There is something sad about being served when by yourself. (And yes this is a sit down, server at your table kind of burger joint).

Sitting at the bar I looked over the menu and ordered a drink. I ordered an orange pop because they had Pepsi and I try my hardest not to drink Pepsi. I’m a Coke guy, always have been, always will be. I looked over the menu which was smaller than I remember and saw a bunch of traditional ‘new wave’ signature burgers listed. I wanted my regular and I decided to go for a single as last time, if memory serves correct, a double was to much.

Ordering my burger though wouldn’t be so simple. It wasn’t just ordering a hamburger with my toppings (onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato — condiments you do yourself) it was choosing between Angus, Prime or Bison. Bison was out right away because I’m a beef guy and a burger should be beef and every other burger on this blog is beef. So Angus or Prime? Speaking with the barkeep he told me the Prime was fattier. I chose the Angus.

Ten minutes later my orange pop was refilled and my food had been delivered to me. The side was of course fries and of course I dug into those first. Crispy, hand cut, skin on, delicious. The best fries I’ve ever had? No. The worst? No. In the middle of the road? No, these fries were better than middle of the road. In fact they were very good, very tasty and delicious. In three words: better than average.

But let’s get to the burger. That’s why I’m here, why you are here reading this and what this blog is all about. The bun was a gourmet white bun. The patty looked to be about 5 ounces. The toppings were sitting on the patty. Lettuce, a full leaf (but sparing); tomato, two slices; onions, not enough; pickles, less than two, no more than one. I spooned on ketchup and then spooned on mustard. It was time for a taste.

I mentioned earlier that I wasn’t so impressed all those years ago. This time around it was much better. The patty had a nice flavour, the toppings didn’t overwhelm, the bun was tasty, different and original. It had good heft, was nice and airy, and like the toppings it didn’t overwhelm. My patty was a grilled patty a la Big Smoke and many of the old school burger joints. Grilled perfectly it was juicy, flavourful and the texture was perfect. Not to fine a grind and not to tough a one. Yeah, I was happy with this burger, happier than I thought I would be… but there were problems, two of them in fact.

First problem: I ordered a single, not a double. As mentioned, the double was huge last time. This time it would of been a perfect amount. The single patty was too small. It was like a kids patty which brings me to problem number two: the patty to bun ratio. It was a kid’s patty on an adult bun. There was way to much bun and not enough patty. I didn’t measure but I am pretty sure there was at least a centimetre of bun around the whole edge of the burger patty, a big no no. Think a pizza from Domino’s where the cheese and sauce is the patty and the crust is the left over bun.

With those problems on the table I still had a more pleasurable burger experience than I expected. I enjoyed the burger and the fries and I can’t really complain. So would I be back? Umm… maybe. It’s tough. A single burger and fries and drink was almost twenty bucks with tip. I imagine a double, or signature burger adding at least five bucks. So the price, too small a patty and being right next to the Priest makes the Cellar a hard sell. Even though I am giving it a ranking of five, I’d be hard pressed to return. It could happen though…

Out of 7 The Burger Cellar scores 5

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Sinners Burger

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Sinners

Location:

2777 Steeles Avenue West, Toronto, M3J 3K5

Website:

www.sinnersburger.com

Well its another day and it’s time for another burger review. Just when you think you are getting close to covering all the burgers in your area (let alone the GTA) a new place always pops up. This time it was Sinners Burger, a place I would not know existed had it not been for my good old yet aloof dad.

I was sitting at home and my dad tells me that he passed a new burger place on Steeles called Sinners or something like that. I asked him where and he said Dufferin and Steeles, in the plaza with the Loblaws. It’s actually a Real Canadian Supercentre but let’s not be picky. I thought it a little odd though as the plaza already has a Wendy’s and a South Street Burger.

The next day I drove over to the plaza. I drove up and down the fairly long lot looking for this Sinner or whatever it was called. No luck, it didn’t exist. I pulled over and called my dad. Are you sure it’s in this plaza? I asked. He was positive. Well it didn’t exist and I was wondering where he could of seen it. Then it hit me. Closer to Keele there was once a place called Blueberry Hill which turned into Al’s Diner which then closed down. I was betting that’s where it was. I drove to the spot and low and behold there it was, only it was closed.

Two days later I drove back (after calling to see if they were open). They were, and after I parked I walked into the place. Nicely designed, a nice logo, clean, 3 or 4 people eating. I walked to the cash and looked over the menu. A smaller menu but very similar to the Burger’s Priest.

I ordered my usual, a double, the usual toppings, with fries and a coke. Thirteen bucks and change, the going rate it seems for most burgers these days. It was hard to see the grill as it was behind a glass partition but I managed. It wasn’t a grill, it was a flattop and the burgers were smashed and griddled, my favourite.

I grabbed my can of coke out the fridge and took my seat and waited. Not soon after my burger was ready. I tried the fries, I tried a few more, I dug into them. Yummy. Maybe not the best fries I’ve ever had but still damn good. So far everything was to my liking.

I took my burger out of it’s bag and opened up to look at the burger goodness. Fresh tomatoes, very thinly sliced pickles a la McDonald’s, a fair amount of onions, greener than green lettuce and a good sized amount of ketchup and mustard. The patties were charred on the outside yet still juicy. I could see the juices ready to burst out of the patties; some had already escaped onto the bag. I replaced the white, typically American (soft white a la wonder bread but much better quality) bun back on the burger and was ready to see if I was about to be happy or disappointed.

Well what can I say, do I have a new favourite burger? No? Yes? I don’t know. All I know is that this is another in the delicious burger places that have popped up in Toronto. It was juicy, it was cooked to perfection, the beef was ground just the right amount (in house), the texture was perfect, the flavour was fantastic, the bun patty ratio was spot on, the whole experience was just fantastic.

Perhaps the burger could be bigger, but then you wouldn’t need fries. Basically it’s a choice between a triple or a double with fries. A double with fries is a lot and I could not finish said fries. The burger no problem though. I got to say, a smashed burger, a coke and good fresh cut fries might just be the greatest thing ever.

It’s really hard to mess up a griddled burger. It can be done wrong but never badly (even the worst is usually better than most burgers). Sinners does it right and considering it is so close to my place it might just become my regular. I highly recommend you check this place out, especially if you live close by. If you live far it’s worth the drive.

Last note and caveat. There are now seven places that I can think of off the top of my head that make these smashed/griddled burgers in the GTA: Five Guys, Stockyards, BQM, Burger’s Priest, Holy Chuck, Fresh Burger and now Sinners. I’m going out on a limb and saying that six of these seven are in my top burgers in the city. Where each one falls is hard to say and would need a lot of thinking but I will say this. I wonder how many more will need to open before the novelty wears off? How many more until the smashed burger has more establishments that are not that good or jsut bad compared to excellent? Here’s hoping that never happens…

Out of 7 Sinners Burger scores 7

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Woody’s Burgers Bar and Grill

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Woodys

GTA Locations:

3795 Lake Shore Blvd W, Toronto, M8W 1R2

Website:

www.woodysburgers.ca

I’ve heard so much about Woody’s (on the internet that is) that I just had to try it and since I was somewhat in the area I thought what better time than now. So I googled the location, drove over, almost missed it due to it being right there after turning from Brown’s Line, parked and went in.

First impression: Very fancy.

Second impression: Not as fancy as I first thought.

So their menu is listed on chalkboards. They got burgers, pulled pork, chicken, specialty burgers, more specialty burgers, lots and lots of toppings. I ordered my usual burger with the usual toppings. I ordered the single burger as it was 7 ounces. If it was 6 I’d get a double. I also ordered fries and a Coke. Toppings for the burger were placed on the burger at the time of pick up.

I watched the burger go on the grill. Fresh patty, made in house, pre flattened and papered. On the grill it went and then I awaited my food. I asked for my Coke when the meal was ready but I started to cough, got real thirsty and dry and had to ask for my drink between gasps and coughs. So with my drink in hand I waited maybe 10 minutes (pre and post drink) and my burger was ready.

I got the usual toppings and asked for crispy onions on the side. Once I tasted the burger for the review I would add them to it because if crispy onions are available then crispy onions I will get. Sadly I couldn’t dig into the fries first like usual as they weren’t ready yet. So I took my burger over to my table sat down and looked it over.

Everything looked good and fresh and delicious. Nothing wilted and old. Before biting into the burger I took a sampling of crispy onions to my palette. Delicious. Then I dug into the burger. Tasty, very tasty. Very good. One of the better grilled burgers I have had. The bun was fresh, bouncy, hearty. All the toppings flavours came through and nothing ended up overpowering each other.

The meat too was very good. It had a good texture, a nice flavour and was cooked just the way I like (well done) and it was juicy. I was very pleased with what I was eating. It also fit the bun perfectly, leaving no scraps at the end.  I have to be honest. I was expecting a generic, same as everyone else burger but I was surprised, pleased and happy that it wasn’t. When I put the onion crisps on it took it to a whole other level.

My fries came half way through the burger. They were good. They were the kind that had maybe one or two that were two thick. The kind that tasted better once they cooled from the frier (just a few minutes–like 3 maybe) rather than fresh out. They were fries that I liked but not that I rave about.

So that’s my Woody’s experience and I would love to go back. I’m not sure I will though as it is really far out of my way but if I’m craving one or I’m close by I promise you dear reader, I promise the owner of Woody’s and I promise myself: I will be back.

Out of 7 The Burger Hut scores 6

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OBQ Burgers

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OBQ BUrgers

GTA Locations:

602 Browns Line, Etobicoke, M8W 3V3

Website:

www.obqburgers.com

It seems like Toronto, or the Greater Toronto Area, has an endless amount of burger joints around and there are more and more popping up all the time. Some are amazing, some are okay, some are pretty crappy, some are generic and no different than a million other places. One thing that is very common is the Signature Burger or Burgers on the menu. ‘Chef’ inspired toppings to make their burgers unique and different from the competition.

But it is not the toppings that make a burger different or better than it’s competition. It is most importantly the meat and secondary the bun and lastly the condiments and toppings. When it comes to the meat it is based on freshness, taste, quality, texture and juiciness. The bun is all about its bounce, freshness, taste and how it holds together as you eat. The toppings and condiments need to be fresh, cut correctly and taste good. That’s it. It’s not rocket science to make a good burger.

So a few days ago I hit up a place called OBQ Burgers out west in Southern Etobicoke. It’s another gourmet burger shop located in a nondescript mall with very little signage. I almost drove right past it. Walking in there were two tables, a bar rail to eat at and the counter to order from. It was small, there was not much design to the place but the food looked good.

This was another place with those signature burgers on the menu. I of course opted for my regular plain burger with the usual toppings. I had to decide between a 6 0z double or or 4 oz double. I went for the double 4 oz (8 oz is the perfect amount) with fries and a Dr. Pepper. This was a Pepsi establishment and Pepsi is like the bastard son of Coke that never lives up to his dad’s greatness.

So after my order the cook takes out two fresh balls of ground beef. He puts them on the flattop and smashes them with a spatula. I’m very excited at this as fresh smashed burgers are the best burgers. Once they are smashed though he takes them off the flattop and throws them on the grill. My excitement dissipates.

Maybe 6 minutes later I have my food. First things first I taste the fries. Oh! My! God! Are these the best fries I have ever had? I think so. Words cannot describe how amazing these fries were. I was super stoked for the burger. I took a sip of the doctor then unwrapped the burger and took a bite. And that’s where the glorious OBQ experience came to an end. That may of sounded like the burger was terrible but it wasn’t. It just wasn’t as good as I was (at this point) expecting.

You see, this burger falls into the generic category. The bun was good, hefty and starchy and a good size. The tomatoes, pickles and onions were fresh and tasty and cut just right but the lettuce could of used some work. Then there was the meat. Not bad but generic. It was fresh but it wasn’t that juicy. It had a good texture but I don’t think it was the greatest quality (or cut) of beef used. Let’s just say cut, the quality was fine.

But it was really the taste that left me wanting. I drove quite a distance for this burger and it tasted like a burger I could get anywhere. Stupid Burger and Big jack’s come to mind. And those are about a 10 minute drive from me. It wasn’t a bad taste, like Mama’s Boys was, but is just wasn’t anything special. Am I asking to much? I mean how different can ground beef taste in the end if you go to 100 different places. Well I’m not asking for every burger to taste different (Burger’s Priest and Holy Chuck are very similar; Retro Burger and Apache are too) but when it tastes like this burger does, to me, it just doesn’t cut it. It’s generic, it’s average, it’s what I expect when I go to a generic American chain restaurant. Maybe I’m the only who feels this way about this kind of burger (and taste) but it’s my blog and I’ll say what I want.

Yeah I’d eat this burger again but only if I was passing it and was hungry. I wouldn’t go out of my way and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who has to drive more than 10 minutes to get there but it was edible and okay and I wasn’t unsatisfied by the end. But the fries. They were worth the drive alone.

Out of 7 The Burger Hut scores 4

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Retro Burger

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Retro Burger

GTA Locations:

105 Unit 18A Bayley St. W, Ajax, L1S 7K7

1684 Danforth Ave, Toronto, M4C 1H6

2420 Eglinton Ave. E, Toronto, M1K 2P3

Website:

www.retroburger.ca

A few months back I joined a poker club in east end Scarborough. I have a few routes I travel to get there, one of them being Bloor Street which turns into the Danforth and I just keep going straight through Greek Town and all the way till I hit the Scarbs. I tell you this because as you drive along the Danforth you will pass a plethora of burger joints. I want to eat at all of them eventually but the one that stuck in my mind the most was Retro Burger.

Well after a few weeks or so I finally made it out there. Not to the Danforth location mind you but the Eglinton location (which is also pretty close to my club). I apple mapped it on my phone, drove over making many a red light and finally pulled into their small parking lot. I was hungry, excited and ready to try a new burger.

Walking in there were a few (3 or 4) tables, one guy waiting for food, a condiment counter and signage on the walls of the type you would find in a 60’s style diner. You know, metallic pepsi ads and such.  i Walked up to the counter and read the menu that was posted above the counter a la McDonald’s and the like. I knew I was getting fries and a Dr. Pepper (sadly no Coke) but I couldn’t decide between a single or double. At 5 oz a patty I opted for the double (I love my doubles) and placed my order. I think the whole thing was just over ten bucks. Not bad.

Before I took a seat I glanced over at the cook and the grill/flattop. He took my patties out of a drawer and placed them on the grill. They were of the frozen variety of patty. This in itself is not a bad thing but it’s up in the air on how it could taste. It could be A1 like Apache Burger or just okay like Steer Inn. It didn’t take long for them to call me up to place the toppings on the toasted kaiser bun; pickles, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mustard, lettuce as per usual.

I went back to my table and dug into the rather larger order of fries that came with the burger. What can I say but that they were yummy. Perfectly cooked, perfectly crispy and mighty delicious. But, and I say but hesitantly, the fries from Steer Inn that I had eaten not to long before were so good and made such a long lasting impression on me that I couldn’t help compare and they weren’t as good. Pretty damn close though.

Let’s get back to the burger… Before I bit into I looked it over. Honestly, just by looking I could tell this was not going to be a great burger. It was going to be just like Steer Inn considering it looked identical. I don’t think I’d be able to tell which was which in a quiz. The bun was large, soft, dense, a typical kaiser burger bun, the patties fit perfectly on it, the toppings looked pretty fresh. Well I figured it was about time to taste the burger, the average nothing special burger. I bit into it and…

I was wrong. It was better than Steer Inn. It was tasty. It was juicy. It was great. Now it wasn’t as good as Apache but it was like I said better than Steer Inn. It was in effect a mix between the two of them. Considering these three places are very similar it’s an easy comparison to make. Apache sits at the top of the list (and probably always will) and Steer Inn at the bottom. Retro Burger fits nicely in the middle.

It’s very hard to describe why it’s better than one and not as good as the other or why it’s a combination of the two but I’ll try. Steer Inn throws a burger on the grill and cooks it. When you eat it it tastes okay but generic. Apache throws a burger on the grill and uses a spatula to almost chop it up as it cooks. When you eat it it tastes better than average and just awesome. Retro Burger doesn’t go as far as Apache in flavour and taste or awesomeness but it trumps Steer Inn quite nicely. Maybe it’s the charcoal they use or something? They pretty much have the same texture, the same toppings and the same bun (Apache probably has the freshest toppings but they are the busiest).

I’m not sure I conveyed how this burger is exactly or even discussed it’s merits well enough so let me know in the comments but I hope I but across the experience I had and the experience you will have if you eat here. And you should cause it’s a good burger. Fresh patties are all the rage but every once in a while a classic style frozen patty burger hits the spot if it’s done right and Retro Burger fits the bill. Especially if you are on the east end of the city (and nowhere near Apache).

Out of 7 Retro Burger scores 5

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Steer Inn Burgers

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Steer Inn

Location:

9839 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill, L4C 1V2

For a few weeks, if not months I have tried to review Steer Inn Burgers for this blog. It is the last burger stop in my general area and it was high time I reviewed them. The first time I went it was closed due to a power outage. The second time it was closed still and I thought they must be closed for good.

Then I was passing the area one fine day and lo and behold Steer Inn was still open. I made a plan to return within the week and that I did. It wasn’t the first time I’d be eating this burger but it would be the first time since I started reviewing burgers, the first time sober and the first time during the day.

So Steer Inn is like Golden Star and so many other old school burger joints in the GTA. By that I mean it is a typical truck stop style burger joint with a 60’s/70’s feel and decor, with the menu listed above the counter and consisting of burgers, steaks on buns, souvlaki and such.

From the somewhat crusty and bad tempered cook/cashier/owner (s) (they are actually nice guys once you get to know them) I ordered a double burger, fries and a coke. The patties was placed on the grill right away and the fries in the fryer. The patties were of the frozen variety, the fries fresh cut.

Not long after my freshly toasted bun was ready, the patties were placed on top and I was ready to pick my condiments from the condiment counter a la Harvey’s. What did I pick? Onions, ketchup, mustard, tomato, lettuce and pickles of course. The mustard wasn’t a squeeze bottle, rather a large silver bowl and it kind of seemed old and crusted, like it had been sitting in this bowl for a long time untouched.

I asked for a side of BBQ sauce and I was told it would be extra. Having already paid I opted out of it and a little peeved about it I grabbed my food and went to sit down. I tasted the fries and then kept eating them. Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! Thick and crispy with a soft centre and an abundance of flavour. After about a quarter of them I unwrapped my burger and took a look.

The patties looked delicious, they fit the large unseeded kaiser bun perfectly and most of the toppings looked fresh enough. Chopped onions (perfect) sliced pickles, fresh looking tomatoes and just the right amount of ketchup. The mustard I already mentioned as looking old and the shredded iceberg lettuce looked a little wilted and old as well.

Taking a bite a little bit of beef juice dripped from the burger, so yeah it was juicy enough. And it tasted alright, nothing to complain about there and the toppings were all fine tasting. The pickle a tad overpowering; the lettuce almost non existent. The bun though was excellent, sturdy, starchy, held together well and tasty. Great bun and the best part of the burger.

I say this because now I return to the patties. All beef? Check. Tasty? Check? Quality? Ummm… Fresh? Nope. While I don’t mind eating this burger there is a reason why I haven’t been so many times times throughout the years when I have lived a stone’s throw away.That reason is that there is nothing different or special about this burger in the slightest. It is a typical frozen patty (that has been defrosted) and grilled to order. It tastes just like a million other places (Dairy Freeze and Golden Star’s non homemade burger just to name a few) and I could honestly make the exact same burger at home, if not better.

Maybe in 1979 when there was very little to no competition for burgers this placed rocked but today it’s very very generic. It’s not bad, I’ve had worse but honestly I wouldn’t ever run back and I never have. It’s not inedible, it’s not dry, it’s not bad but in the end it’s just not very good. It lacks distinction and originality and just knowing this alone sends me to anywhere but here (unless it’s two in the morning on a Saturday and I don’t want McDonald’s).

Now the fries (and the onion rings) that’s a different story and they make this place worth a visit (at least once).

Out of 7 Steer Inn Burgers scores 3

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The Burger Hut

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burger hut

** I want to thank Tasty Burgers for letting me use this image (that I stole). Please visit and follow their blog as well at: www.tastybugers.ca

Location:

804 Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto, M2K 1C3

Today I went to The Burger Hut, a small hole in the wall type place that has been around forever, hasn’t changed it’s look, and that people love. I had never been there before and based on what I heard, it’s longevity and my need to try every burger under the sun in the GTA I thought it was high time to give it a shot.

Entering The Hut at around 4:00 on a Saturday there was one other person waiting for there food. I walked up to the counter and took a minute to peruse the menu. Only looking at the burgers I had options. A 4 oz or 6 oz steakhouse burger. Asking the difference I was told size but same meat. Instead of two 4 oz patties I opted for the 6 oz single with fries and coke. All in it came to less than ten bucks. Not bad.

The burger was ordered and I watched it cook on the grill. The cook placed a preformed patty on the grill. It looked like it could of been frozen but it might not of been. It took a few minutes, a few flips and then it was ready. Placed on a decent sized bun I got to pick my toppings. I chose, as per usual, tomato, onion, mustard, ketchup, lettuce and only one pickle (they were thick and large).

Sitting down I dug into the fries, which were generic frozen straight cut McCain style fries but none the less they were tasty. Sometimes you just can’t go wrong with these type of chips. After about a dozen fries I looked over my burger before I was to taste it. The patty was thick, it covered the majority of the bun, which was a traditional white bun with enough heft and bounce to seemingly keep it all together. Tomatoes were fresh, lettuce was shredded iceberg, onions were diced white (the best way) and fresh looking and the pickle was very thick and looked mighty vinegary.

I took a bite, and based on my last burger (Mama’s Boys) I was expecting to be heavily disappointed. There was after all nothing special looking about this burger. But it defied my bad thoughts and was actually quite tasty. It had a nice flavour, if somewhat generic, it was juicy enough (maybe a tad more would of been better) and the topping flavours all came through nicely. Even the pickle was better than expected.

Sure it wasn’t the best burger or the most gourmet but for a potentially frozen patty in a place that doesn’t look all that great and could serve up mediocrity on a bun this burger worked surprisingly well. It was tasty, juicy enough, flavourful and I had no problem finishing the whole thing. The texture was maybe a bit tougher than I wanted but again the burger was pretty damn good. I have had much worse at many places and many times.

While enjoying my burger, sipping my coke and picking at my fries at least a half dozen more people came in and ordered burgers off the menu. They have other things on the menu too but these people all knew right away what they wanted. It was burgers burgers and more burgers. I’d be back for one if I was in the neighbourhood for sure.  I wouldn’t run back but I’d be hard pressed to say I wouldn’t eat that burger again.

Out of 7 The Burger Hut scores 5

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