Nader’s Middle Eastern Grill & Bakery

22 Nov

: 3900 Grand Park Drive, Mississauga

Have you ever been bored, browsing Instagram, seen a photo of a burger that looked good from a restaurant you wouldn’t expect, then thought “hey, I should review that for my burger blog!”

No? That phenomenon is weirdly specific to me? Well then.

Let’s face it, a burger isn’t exactly the first thing you’d typically order at a Middle Eastern joint like Nader’s. Or the second. Or the third. Or even the tenth. It’s weird that it’s even on their menu, but hey – it’s there and I’ve got this burger blog, so let’s do this.

I visited around lunchtime on a Thursday, and despite the fact that the impressively enormous restaurant was about 90% empty, the people behind the counter seemed frazzled. My burger took about twenty minutes, and I overheard another customer complaining that he had been waiting for his shawarma plate for over half an hour.

There were other issues. The guy behind the counter asked what I wanted on my burger; after telling him mayo, pickles, and tomato, he immediately started putting ketchup on the burger. I clarified what I wanted. He apologized, then reached for the lettuce.

Yeah, the service wasn’t great.


This is the part of the review where I wish I could say “but it was all worth it once I tasted that burger. I definitely didn’t waste my time eating the latest in a long line of depressingly mediocre hamburgers!”

You have no idea how much I wish I could say that.

I ordered the single patty option, and it came glistening, with an impressive amount of crust from the griddle. I often complain about burgers that are weakly browned, with little to no crust. I have the opposite complaint here; the exterior of the patty was borderline burnt. It had a dark, crunchy exterior that makes you realize that yes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

I think they mostly use the griddle to crisp up already-cooked shawarma, which necessitates a surface that’s far hotter than you need to cook a burger.

Though the beef actually has a pretty nice flavour, it’s finely ground, tightly packed, and lean. Which means it was crazy dry and unpleasantly tough, despite being cooked to medium with a bit of pink remaining.

The toppings were fine, though the bun, despite being toasted on the griddle, was stale and dry.

As for the fries, they were pale and underwhelming, both in appearance and flavour. They were about on par with the burger.

1.5 out of 4

Nader's - the outside Nader's - the restaurant Nader's - the burger and fries Nader's - the burger

Broncos Slider Bar

8 Nov

: 127 Strachan Avenue, Toronto

Broncos Slider Bar – a spinoff of Branca, a tapas joint – is the latest restaurant in the city to specialize in so-called sliders.

No, they’re not sliders in the original sense of the term, but I’ve come to accept two things about this:

1) The definition of the word “slider” has now lost all connection to what it used to mean. It went from referring to a very specific style of hamburger, to a small burger of any style, and now to any small sandwich that’s served on a bun. And the way things are going, it will soon refer to any food that happens to be bite-sized. The English language is constantly evolving; no point in trying to fight it.

2) The specific style of burger that originally birthed the word “slider” will never be served in Toronto – or at least, not until I finally make good on my idle chatter and open my own burger joint.

Both points make me sad (particularly number two), but it is what it is.

Anyway, word-nitpickery and burger-style-snobbery aside, Broncos actually serves a pretty good hamburger.


It’s a classic, fast-food-style cheeseburger – griddle-cooked, and topped with melty American cheese.

The patty has a good texture, a decent amount of juiciness, and a satisfying beefy flavour. Combined with the nice brown crust from the griddle and the gooey cheese, it’s clear that someone in the kitchen knows their way around hamburger cookery.

I would, however, ask for it without mustard next time, or at least ask for less mustard, because the amount applied here just detracted from that great patty.

The other toppings are solid – the pickles did their usual hamburger-improving thing, and even the onions were pretty good. I’m normally not crazy about raw onions on a burger (or anywhere, for that matter), but these weren’t too strong, offering some mild oniony flavour and a little bit of crunch, without overpowering.

Sadly, the bun was an absolute disaster. It’s way, way, way too big and dense for the task at hand. It works well on their other sandwiches, which tend to be messier and crammed to the gills with stuff, thus necessitating a bun with more heft. On the burger, however, the substantial bun throws the beef-to-bun ratio so far off that it’s almost ruinous. Seriously: it comes alarmingly close to flat-out ruining the hamburger. It completely overwhelms the beef. It’s a damn shame, because with a better bun this would be a great burger, and now it’s merely good.

The fries, on the other hand, were great. They look kind of pale but they taste amazing – crispy, creamy, perfect.

3 out of 4

Broncos Slider Bar - the restaurant Broncos Slider Bar - the restaurant Broncos Slider Bar - sliders and fries Broncos Slider Bar - the cheeseburger Broncos Slider Bar - the cheeseburger

Tom’s Burgers

25 Oct

: 5775 Highway 7, Markham

Yep — another old school burger joint serving a grilled, meatloaf burger.

Hey, at least it’s not frozen — that’s an option, of course (because that’s the rule: every burger place that opened before, say, 1990 needs to have a frozen burger on the menu.  Don’t ask me why), but they also serve a burger labeled as homemade.

I ordered the homemade, because I’m not a crazy person, but if you really like your burgers rubbery with an indiscriminate meat-like flavour, the frozen burger is there.

The sky was still blue and up was still up, so I knew that it was going to be a meatloaf burger, and it was.  No; pigs have not learned to fly quite yet.


It was okay.  It was super meatloafy, with the flavour coming predominately from the seasoning, and with a vaguely mushy texture from the sheer volume of non-meat-related gunk they’ve got mixed in.

It wasn’t overly dry and it didn’t taste bad, I guess, so it’s got that going for it, but even by the standards of meatloaf burgers it was middling.

It was grilled, with a nicely crispy, smoky exterior; this was a highlight.  Actually it was the highlight, because there wasn’t much else that stood out here.

But again, it wasn’t bad — people like it (in fact the impetus for this particular visit was a recommendation from a friend on Facebook), and I guess I can kind of see why.  I’ve certainly had worse.

I ordered it as a combo with fries and a drink, and a ten dollar bill netted me some small change, so it’s definitely not overpriced.

As for the fries, they were typical frozen fries.  Bland, but they get the job done.

2.5 out of 4

Tom's Burgers - the restaurant Tom's Burgers - the menu Tom's Burgers - the homemade burger and fries Tom's Burgers - the homemade burger Tom's Burgers - the homemade burger

Dac Biet Burger

11 Oct

: 213 Church Street, Toronto

As you can probably guess from the name, Dac Biet Burger isn’t a traditional burger joint — all of their burgers feature Asian-inspired flavours, from Vietnam to Japan to Korea.  And sure, why not?  I think we have enough traditional burger places in the city that a little bit of experimentation is not unwelcome.

Normally I’d order a simpler burger (the classic, in this case — their one non-Asian-themed burger) but hey, when in Rome, right?  So I went with the Banh Mi burger, which the menu describes as coming topped with “lemongrass pork / pickled daikon & carrots / cucumber / cilantro / mayo.”

There’s something strange about this burger: though the menu implies that the pork is a topping, I think maybe this isn’t the case?  I think the patty itself is pork?  I suppose I could have just asked, but what do I look like… Asky McGee?

Even the Toronto media seems a bit confused; Toronto Life says that the Banh Mi burger “tops a beef patty with lemongrass pork,” while Now claims that “the banh mi burger has its own lemongrass-infused pork-belly patty.”  I’m going to guess that Now is correct, since there was no pork atop the patty, and no beefy flavour to be found.

Hey, Dac Biet?  Maybe be a bit more clear with your menu?  When you have a sign on your wall touting the custom blend of beef you use for your burger patties, people are going to assume they’re going to get those burger patties.  Crazy, I know!


Oddly enough, my dining companion ordered the pho burger — and surely this one is made with beef?? — and experienced the same lack of beefy flavour and oddly sausagey texture, so who knows what the hell is going on here.

Because yeah, the “burger” patty is essentially a sausage that’s been formed into the shape of a hamburger.  The texture is sausage through and through, and the flavour comes entirely from whatever they’ve got mixed in there (lemongrass, I guess).  But even as a sausage it’s not all that great, with a muddled, neither here-nor-there flavour that never particularly pops.

The toppings are pretty much classic banh mi and tasted fine, though the pickle mix was a bit over-applied.

Overall it’s not a terrible sandwich — it’s nothing special, but it doesn’t taste bad, I guess.  But as a so-called hamburger, it’s a complete failure.  I mean, it looks like a burger, I guess — but if it doesn’t have any of the flavours or textures that you associate with a hamburger, and it’s not that great even as its own thing, then what’s the point?

Seriously, that’s not a rhetorical question; what’s the point?  If it’s not as good as an actual banh mi (and way, way more expensive than any number of traditional banh mi shops across the city), and it’s not as good as an actual hamburger, then what’s the point?

It’s the type of fusion cuisine that gives that term a bad name; it’s all style, no substance.  Eating it reveals no discernible reason why these two cuisines needed to be fused.

The fries were good, at least.  They had a bit of an oily flavour and about twice as much salt as they needed, but overall they were still above average.

1.5 out of 4

Dac Biet Burger - the outside Dac Biet Burger - the restaurant Dac Biet Burger - the banh mi burger Dac Biet Burger - the banh mi burger


27 Sep

: 5200 Dixie Road, Unit 55, Mississauga

In my continuing quest to check out any halfway decent burger near my work (which is no easy task when you work in Mississauga, a horrifying burger wasteland), I did my semi-regular “best burger in Mississauga” search, and found a top 15 by Foursquare.  Number 13 on that list: Galito’s.

Wait, Galito’s?  That Galito’s?  The peri peri chicken joint?  Do they even have a burger on the menu?

Apparently they do.  I was fairly certain it was going to be bad (because why does that place even serve a burger??), but I figured, sure – why the hell not?

Ordering a hamburger here is so bizarre that I was honestly a little bit embarrassed even asking for it; I glanced around furtively as I ordered, like a guy buying a Hustler at a convenience store.


I was asked how spicy I wanted it, which certainly isn’t a question you expect when ordering a burger.  I thought, at the very least, that this might be interesting.

Well, I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I got was a run-of-the-mill frozen patty – grilled – that had been slathered in peri peri sauce.  It was also topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion.

The frozen patty was what it was: with its chewy texture and anemic flavour, it’s identical to the hamburger you’ll find at any number of crappy old-school burger joints, hospital cafeterias, and company picnics. The spicy, lemony peri peri sauce adds some heat and some zip, which kind of helps, but there’s no saving a patty like this.

The burger came with one side — I went with the peri peri fries, which were just mediocre frozen fries that were dusted with some kind of peri peri seasoning.  With the hamburger, I can barely even blame them for going the frozen route – no one but a madman would order a hamburger from a restaurant that otherwise so single-mindedly specializes in chicken. The fries, on the other hand, I have a much harder time forgiving them for.

1.5 out of 4

Galito's - the outside Galito's - the restaurant Galito's - the burger Galito's - the burger Galito's - the burger


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