Food Cabbie

28 Sep

cabbie
Location
: It’s a truck, so check Twitter to see where they’re parked
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Food-Cabbie/137387466356927

Food Cabbie is one of those places I’ve been meaning to check out almost since I started this blog.  As one of the earlier food trucks in Toronto’s recent food truck boom, they obviously have staying power, which you’d think would indicate they’re serving up some pretty good food.

You’d think.

They have a few burgers on the menu: quarter pound, half pound, and a chili burger dubbed the L.A. Tommy Burger.

If it weren’t for this review, I wouldn’t have ordered anything.  I would have gotten the hell out of there posthaste.  My dining companion ordered first; he got the L.A. Tommy, and since we could see the man doing the cooking, we could clearly see him pull out the saddest looking pre-cooked burger I’ve ever seen and slap it on the griddle.

I suddenly got PTSD-esque flashbacks to BBQ Express, an experience I was doing my best to completely erase from my memory.  Like with that burger, every bone in my body was telling me to high-tail it out of there and never look back, but you know what?  My self-imposed burger blogging duties mean I have to take the bad with the good.  I’m here to eat this garbage so you don’t have to.  I’m here to jump on that grenade for you.  

I steeled myself and ordered the quarter pound burger.

cabbieA

It comes topped with mayo and tomato, with further condiments available on a picnic table just next to the truck.  I figured I’d keep it simple and eat the burger as it comes.

I just… I don’t…  What.

I think it might have been a frozen patty, but I honestly couldn’t tell because it wasn’t quite like any other pre-fab burger that I’ve had; it was worse.  It certainly looked like a frozen burger, but… Everything about it was wrong.

I’m not sure if it was the reheating or what, but it was just awful on every level.  I don’t even know what to make of the texture, which had that chewy, hot-doggy texture typical of frozen burgers, but which was also horrifically mushy.  Like, I’m not even sure how to describe that texture, other than to say it was horrible, and — I’m pretty sure — mere steps away from triggering my gag reflex.

The taste wasn’t much better.  Acrid and burnt around the edges, it had a gamy, downright nasty flavour that, at the very least, was somewhat disguised by how incredibly salty it was.  I’ve obviously never eaten cat food, but this is what I’d imagine it would taste like if you mashed some Fancy Feast into a patty and griddled it.

It’s one of the worst hamburgers I’ve ever had.  It’s certainly right down there with Hero Certified Burgers, which I didn’t even think was possible.  Like with that burger, I couldn’t finish it (an exceedingly rare occurrence for me).  I got a bit more than half-way through and I just couldn’t stomach another bite.

I actually feel kind of bad.  I felt no remorse whatsoever ripping into Hero Burger, a soulless corporation whose modus operandi is to fleece Canadians by using slick marketing and sheer omnipresence to trick them into buying a shoddy (at best) product.  I only gave them what they had coming.

Food Cabbie, on the other hand, seems to be a mom and pop operation.  No one opens a food truck to get rich; these are people who, presumably, wanted to share their food with the city, and thought they could make a living doing so.  That’s what makes the complete lack of care in the food they’re serving so baffling.  I’m honestly quite confused by it, but I can only comment on the food I was served that day, which was atrocious.

And the sad fact of the matter is, this burger was so thoroughly horrible on every level that it’s very difficult to speculate that they were just having a bad day.  It was bad food, period.

They must have been serving something worth eating at some point, otherwise I don’t see how they could possibly survive in the GTA’s ever-expanding food truck scene, but those days are clearly long gone.

As for the fries, they were almost as bad as the burger. Pale, with a soggy, grease-soaked exterior and a chalky, undercooked interior, they joined what was left of the burger in the garbage.

Yikes.

0 out of 4

Food Cabbie - the truck Food Cabbie - the truck Food Cabbie - the fries Food Cabbie - the burger Food Cabbie - the burger
Food Cabbie Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Daisho

21 Sep

momo
Location
: 190 University Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://momofuku.com/toronto/daisho/

When I heard that Daisho was going to start serving the Momofuku collaboration with Shake Shack that reportedly caused the longest line-up in Shake Shack history, I was pretty excited. And by “pretty excited”, I mean crazy excited.

Alas, it turns out that this burger is only served at lunch, and Daisho only serves lunch during the week. Seeing that I work in Mississauga, trying this burger suddenly seemed like an impossible dream (see here for an approximation of my reaction to this fact).

But then I remembered that I was taking a week off for TIFF, and all was right with the world again. I made sure to leave a gap in my schedule, and I was off to the races.

The Momofuku Shrimp Stack is described on the menu like this: “beef, hozon mayo, kohlrabi slaw” (very descriptive, I know — because everyone loves menus that just list a few ingredients and tell you nothing about what the dishes are actually like.  I’m sorry, did I say loves?  Because I meant hates).

Not that you’d know this from the super vague menu description, but the thing that makes the Shrimp Stack a shrimp stack is the thin shrimp patty resting atop the burger’s more traditional toppings (cheese, pickles, etc.).

momoA

The best thing about this burger? The beef patty. It’s ridiculously juicy. It is amazingly, awe-inspiringly juicy. It also had a good amount of crust from the griddle, a great texture, and a decent (if not particularly overwhelming) beefy flavour.

It’s pretty great. Also great? The soft, pliant, incredibly fresh bun that held up to the rest of the burger amazingly well. It added just the right amount of breadiness without ever over-asserting itself or getting in the way. It was perfect.

I wasn’t quite as crazy as the burger’s eponymous shrimp patty, however. While it was tasty enough, it was deeply shrimpy and was easily the burger’s strongest flavour. Of course, the burger is called Shrimp Stack, so perhaps criticizing it for being too shrimpy is ridiculous. But this is a burger blog, so obviously that’s where my head’s at.

My other main objection is that the burger’s flavour is overwhelmingly rich. Between the melty American cheese, the juicy beef patty, and the concentrated shrimpiness of that patty, the flavour is a bit one-note. You’d think the pickles (traditional pickles and pickled onions) would cut the richness, but you can honestly barely even tell they’re there.

Still, though the whole thing wasn’t quite as earth-shakingly delicious as I had hoped, it was still pretty damn tasty, flaws and all.

The onion rings, with their delicately crispy batter and perfectly cooked onions, were outstanding. I’m normally not a dipping-my-onion-rings guy, but it came with a curry-tinged ketchup that was too good to resist. The kohlrabi slaw was also well above average.

Momofuku Toronto - the outside Momofuku Shoto - the restaurant Momofuku Shoto - pickles Momofuku Shoto - the Shrimp Stack Momofuku Shoto - the Shrimp Stack
Momofuku Daishō on Urbanspoon

Burgatory

7 Sep

burgatory
Location
: It’s a truck, so check Twitter to see where they’re parked
Websitehttp://www.burgatoryfoodtruck.com/

After the surprisingly mediocre Kevin’s Burger Obsession, the prospect of another food truck specializing in burgers didn’t exactly fill me with glee. One lousy food truck shouldn’t be able to ruin it for the rest of them, but still — I wasn’t super enthused to try the place.

But then I checked out Burgatory’s website; one line in particular caught my eye, regarding the patties being ground daily from “brisket, short rib and shoulder by Cumbrae’s Meats.”

Well, that’s… that’s actually a pretty well thought out blend of cuts, not to mention that Cumbrae’s sells top-shelf meat. This is in stark contrast to the numerous Toronto burger joints that proudly proclaim how lean their burgers are, and boast using inappropriate cuts like sirloin. And then I inevitably wind up facing down the latest sad, dried-out patty, chewing and chewing and chewing while another little piece of me dies.

Basically, my expectations were suddenly a little bit higher.

Actually finding the truck proved to be surprisingly difficult, however; they don’t seem to be particularly active on the weekends, and have the vexing tendancy to wait until the last second to post where they’re going to be parked (I almost missed them on this particular Saturday, as there wasn’t a peep on their Twitter account until 11:00am the same day. And then of course it was a ghost town, because it helps if people actually know where you’re going to be if you want them to buy your product, but I digress).

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They have a few choices based on the seven deadly sins; sadly, they were all a little bit more busily-topped than I’d like. I went with the Sloth Burger: “Sloth Sauce, Velveeta, Hickory Sticks, Tomato and Lettuce on a Brioche Bun”

The patty was cooked all the way to well done, and was sadly not quite as juicy as I had hoped — but it was still fairly juicy, especially considering how thoroughly cooked it was.

More importantly, the beef was very obviously above average. It had a really satisfying beefy flavour, though the rest of the burger was doing its best to drown that out.

Most egregiously, the sloth sauce was sweet, tangy, and in the quantity it had been applied to the burger, completely overwhelming. They are not shy with that sauce, that’s for sure.

It says a lot about the beef, then, that even with the cloying sauce, the beefy flavour of the patty was still able to elbow its way through.

The other toppings were okay; the tomato and lettuce were the usual, and the hickory sticks added a pleasant amount of crunchiness that suited the burger well. The Velveeta, on the other hand, never had a chance — with that aggressive Sloth sauce, you can’t even tell the Velveeta is there (there wasn’t even a hint of cheesy flavour).

The bun was quite fresh and just substantial enough to hold up to the very messy burger, though it was a little bit too wide for the patty.

As for the fries, they were liberally tossed in grated Parmesan, and were definitely above average.

Burgatory - the truck Burgatory - the truck Burgatory - the burger and fries Burgatory - the burger

Sliders

24 Aug

sliders
Location
: 704 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://twitter.com/_SLIDERS

Sliders is on a shrinking list of places I’ve been meaning to review since I started this blog. I went there once a few years ago (pre-Tasty Burgers) and found it to be passable but fairly mediocre — the kind of unremarkable place that almost immediately recedes from your memory.

Time after time I’d think “Maybe I’ll finally review Sliders this week!” only to find an excuse to go somewhere else instead. I’m not going to lie: I didn’t particularly want to go back.

Long story short: I went back and it was pretty much exactly as I remembered. It was fine — I would theoretically eat there again, but with a Burger’s Priest location less than five minutes away, it’s not going to happen.

True to their name, they serve sliders — though what they serve are just mini hamburgers, not actually sliders by the true meaning of the term (to my knowledge, no one in Toronto serves that style of hamburger). That being the case, I went with a normal-sized burger instead. I got the Double Stacker with Cheese and had it topped with Slider sauce, pickles, and tomato.

slidersA

The griddled patties were cooked to well done were a tad on the dry side, though they did actually have some juiciness to them. There was also a little bit of crust from the griddle, but not nearly as much as there should have been.

Though I wouldn’t exactly call this a meatloaf burger, there was definitely something other than salt and pepper mixed into the patty. It’s subtle, but it’s definitely there. Still, some beefy flavour remains, which, however mild, is pleasant.

The cheese was American, perfect for a classic cheeseburger like this. The slider sauce was a spicy mayo that actually did have a small kick to it; the other toppings were fine. The bun was fresh and suited the burger well.

Again, it’s not a bad burger — but with Burger’s Priest nearby serving a burger done in a similar style that’s so, so much better, Sliders feels redundant.

The fries, however, were really excellent. It’s close, but they probably have Burger’s Priest beat in that department.

Sliders - the outside Sliders - the restaurant Sliders - the burger and fries Sliders - the burger
Sliders on Urbanspoon

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

10 Aug

mildred
Location
: 85 Hanna Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.templekitchen.com/

It’s been a while since I’ve visited a place from Toronto Life’s list of the best burgers in Toronto, and though my last experience wasn’t particularly great, I figured it was about time to check another one off the list.  This week: number 17, Mildred Temple Kitchen.

I actually tried to go here a couple of weeks ago for brunch, but the restaurant was packed, with a 40 minute wait for a table.  It’s a popular place.

My second attempt was more successful.  I scanned the menu and quickly found the MTK Burger: “topped with tomato relish & crispy tobacco onions, served on a pain au lait bun.”

I’ll get the bad out of the way first: It’s a meatloaf burger, and not a subtle one at that, with all kinds of spices and other stuff mixed in (I definitely saw onions, and there may or may not have been garlic as well).

I’ve laid out my problems with meatloaf burgers a few times before, but my main objection is this: a beef patty on its own (seasoned with salt and maybe pepper) and a beef patty with spices and onions and who-knows-what mixed in are two very, very different things.  They look similar, but they taste so radically different that I don’t know how, in good conscience, you can call them both the same thing.  On a very fundamental level, one is a hamburger, and one is an imitation of a hamburger.  I’ve made this analogy before, but It’s like comparing authentic Chinese food to chop suey; you can call both Chinese food if you want, but no one’s buying it.

mildredA

The patty at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is tasty enough, but all the other stuff mixed in with the beef completely annihilates its flavour — the burger could have been made from ground pork or lamb and it would have made zero difference.  There’s no flavour whatsoever from the beef.  None.

I will say, however, that the burger is otherwise superlative; super juicy and cooked to a perfect medium rare, it has a really satisfying texture with none of the sausage-like consistency that you get from a lot of meatloaf burgers.  There’s also an addictively crispy crust from the grill.  The meatloafy taste of the patty is a bit on the salty side, but otherwise pretty good.

The condiments are quite good as well — the menu doesn’t mention the garlicky aioli, which is quite tasty, if a bit strong.  The abundant crispy onion strings add some texture and compliment the burger quite well.  As for the tomato relish, the burger’s other flavours are so assertive that I honestly couldn’t even taste it.

The pain au lait bun is a bit on the dense side, though with a burger this juicy and this messy, a more substantial bun is definitely needed, so it works quite well.

Seriously, I can’t say enough about how juicy this burger is; in a city filled with overly-lean, dried-out burgers, that alone is a huge plus in its favour.

Pretty much everything about this burger is above average; it’s just a real shame that the beef’s flavour (i.e. the star of the show in a hamburger) has been completely wiped out. Still, for what it is, it tastes pretty good.  It might just be the best meatloaf burger I’ve ever had.

As for the fries, they too were above average, particularly when dipped in the aforementioned garlicky aioli.

Mildred's Temple Kitchen - the patio Mildred's Temple Kitchen - the restaurant Mildred's Temple Kitchen - the burger Mildred's Temple Kitchen - the the burger
Mildred's Temple Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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