Ground Burger Bar

30 Aug

ground
Location
: 352 Doug Duncan Drive, #2, Newmarket
Websitehttp://www.groundburgerbar.ca/

I’m not gonna lie: I needed this.  I haven’t had a burger that I’ve wholeheartedly liked since April, and I haven’t had one that I thought was better than average since December of last year.  Suffice it to say, I was more than due for a really good hamburger.

Enter Ground Burger Bar, a brand new burger joint up in Newmarket that seems to be an instant hit; we came on a Friday night and the place was packed, with a wait upwards of forty minutes (reservations are advised).

The menu has the usual assortment of topping and meat choices, featuring burgers with names like “The Crazy Korean” and “The Dirty Bird’ger.”  I went with the Ground Signature, a beef burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles.

It’s a damn good burger.  It’s grilled, with a nice bit of char from the grill and a lightly smoky flavour that doesn’t overwhelm.  Most importantly, the quality of the beef is obviously above average, with a nice beefy flavour that comes through loud and clear.

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Loosely packed with a nice course grind, the medium patty was a bit on the dry side, but was otherwise pretty much exactly where it needed to be from a texture standpoint.

The brioche bun (you also have the choice of pretzel, multi-grain, or gluten-free) is slightly too dense, but otherwise suits the burger quite well.

I ordered some mayo on the side, and even that was above average — I’m not sure if they make it there, but certainly, it is a step above the usual Hellmann’s.

The fries, too, were pretty great.  They’re liberally tossed with rosemary, so if you don’t like that herb you might find its presence here a little bit overwhelming, but personally I found it quite tasty.  The fries otherwise had that crispy/creamy combo you’re looking for down pat.

3.5 out of 4

Ground Burger Bar - the outside Ground Burger Bar - the restaurant Ground Burger Bar - the menu Ground Burger Bar - the burger and fries Ground Burger Bar - the burger Ground Burger Bar - the burger

The Battered Fish

16 Aug

battered
Location: 224 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://thebatteredfish.ca/

Like with my last review, of the burger at Cineplex, this was probably my own fault. I mean, who gets a burger at a fish and chips place? But the signage outside of the restaurant advertises BURGERS in big, bolt font, and a poster on the inside boasts that their “gourmet burgers” are made with brisket, so I figured it was something more than just an afterthought to fill out the menu.

The place is laid out fast food style; the menu’s up on the wall, and you bring the food back to your table on a tray.  I ordered the burger as a combo with fries and a drink, and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo (they threw in lettuce, too, for some reason).

It could have been worse, I guess?  All things considered, I guess I should be glad it wasn’t outright terrible.  Again: quite possibly my fault.  Go to a fish and chips joint and order a hamburger, and you’re going to get what you’re going to get.

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In this case, what I got was a griddled burger with a vague amount of crust from the griddle, but not as much as you’d like.  The main thing is that it was dry.  The patty was finely ground, tightly packed, and cooked all the way to well done (and beyond), with a dense, tough chew, like a well done steak.

But it had none of the flavour of a good steak, of course.  The beef was actually pretty bland.  It didn’t taste off, at least, but then it didn’t taste of much at all — off or otherwise.

The fresh, toasted bun was quite good, and the toppings were mostly fine — though the pickles were actually sugary-sweet cornichons that were way too cloying as a topping on a hamburger.

This being a fish and chips place, I figured that at least the fries would be a highlight.  And they weren’t bad, mostly, but they had an oddly dense, almost chewy texture that I’m really not sure how to account for.  They weren’t undercooked, and I don’t think they were overcooked — at least they didn’t taste like any overcooked fries I’ve had before.  But that oddly gummy texture was a bit of a turn off, even if they otherwise tasted okay.

2 out of 4

The Battered Fish - the restaurant The Battered Fish - the menu The Battered Fish - the restaurant The Battered Fish - the burger and fries The Battered Fish - the burger The Battered Fish - the burger

Outtakes Backstage Bistro

2 Aug

outtakes
Location
: 3555 Highway 7 West, Woodbridge
Websitehttps://www.cineplex.com/Microsite/OutTakes

What do you do if you’re planning on eating a burger before seeing a movie, and the burger joint turns out to be closed? And the backup place, too? If you’re a rational person, you’d say to yourself “Well, I guess I’m not eating a burger today,” and then move on with your life.  If you’re me?  You eat a movie theatre burger.  Because how could that possibly go wrong?

Let’s be honest: I probably shouldn’t be reviewing this.  No one in their right mind would order a hamburger at the movies, and even if they did, they’d do it with the full knowledge that they’re going to get something pretty lousy.  If you order anything other than popcorn, nachos, or candy at the movies, you are fully complicit in the food crimes that follow.

They have a few different burgers on the menu; I went with the simplest one they had, which is a plain cheeseburger topped with ketchup, mayo, mustard, lettuce, and tomato.  That’s a bit heavier on the condiments than I typically like, but in this case I figured the burger would need all the help it could get.

It’s a frozen patty, because of course it’s a frozen patty.  This is one case where I can’t even get mad at a place for taking a taste-compromising shortcut like that.  I mean, is anyone really expecting the pimply-faced teens at the theatre to grind and cook fresh beef?  The fact that they even sell stuff like burgers and chicken sandwiches at a movie theatre is kind of crazy; of course it all comes from a freezer.

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Though I’m pretty sure the burger actually started its life as an above average frozen patty, it was held for who-knows-how-long in one of those stupid warming drawers that have pretty much ruined fast food, and was thus completely devoid of anything even resembling moisture.  It was sucked dry, with a salty, off flavour that didn’t even taste vaguely of beef.

The cheese — which was cold and unmelted — actually tasted like real cheddar, with a surprisingly sharp cheesy flavour that helped distract from the generic frozen patty taste.  The lettuce and tomatoes were fine, and the various condiments tried their best to disguise the burger’s flavour.

The bun was the best element here by far. It was soft and fresh, with a slightly sweet flavour and just enough substance to hold up to the burger nicely.

I’m sorry to break this to you, bun: you did great, but you died in vain.

This would normally be the part of the review where I’d talk about the fries.  I decided to spare myself.  I mean, how much awful food are you expecting me to eat for your amusement?  I think the burger is probably enough.

1 out of 4

Outtakes Backstage Bistro - the restaurant Outtakes Backstage Bistro - the seating area Outtakes Backstage Bistro - the burger Outtakes Backstage Bistro - the burger

Quickies’ Subs & Burgers

19 Jul

quickies
Location
: 18 Rambler Drive, Brampton
Websitehttp://www.quickiesfast.ca/

So the other day I was watching Top Five Restaurants on the Food Network; they were counting down the best burgers in America, and I was getting hungrier and hungrier (sometimes the picks on a show like this can be questionable, but every burger in that episode made me want to quit my job and jump on a plane).

I think by burger number two I had decided that I was going to need to have a hamburger for lunch the next day — sadly, I work in Mississauga, which isn’t exactly a burger-lover’s paradise. It doesn’t help that I’ve already reviewed the few burgers that are actually worth eating out here (as far as I know, at least).

Which is how I ended up at Quickies, maybe the sketchiest place I’ve visited for this blog — and I’ve been to a lot of sketchy places, particularly out in the wilds of Mississauga and Brampton.

I’m not even going to sugar-coat it: the restaurant is flat-out gross. Everything looks like it was in desperate need of renovation about a decade ago, and there was a visible layer of grime on pretty much every surface. Most of the things I touched — the tray, a ketchup bottle — were slick with grease. At one point I dropped my phone while taking pictures of the burger, and when I went under the table to retrieve it, I saw that it had landed next to a dust-caked, cobwebbed French fry that appeared to have been under there for weeks if not months.

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After I left, I felt like I didn’t just need to wash my hands, I needed to wash everything. I needed one of those jailhouse fire-hose showers.

It’s the type of place where, if I weren’t already planning to write about it, I would have taken one step through the door, looked around and walked right back out.

The menu features a four ounce single, and an eight ounce double. I went with the single, and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo. The burger was six bucks as a combo with a drink and a very generous portion of fries, so if nothing else it’s crazy cheap.

This being an old-school burger joint in the GTA, the burger was, of course, grilled. There’s really not a lot to say about it — it’s a frozen burger, and though it’s a small step above some of the real bottom-of-the-barrel frozen burgers that I’ve had, it still had that overly processed “is this a hamburger or is it a hot dog?” taste and texture that typifies cheap frozen burgers.

The bun was nicely toasted and suited the burger fairly well, aside from being a bit too big, and the toppings were what you’d expect.

As for the fries, they actually weren’t too bad, surprisingly enough. Given that the place smelled quite strongly of stale grease (oh, did I not mention that the place stunk? Because the place stunk), I had very low expectations for the fries. And though some of them were bordering on undercooked, for the most part they were crispy and tasty, with none of the rancid oil flavour I had feared.

1.5 out of 4

Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the outside Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the restaurant Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the friest Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the burger Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the burger

Town Crier Pub

5 Jul

town
Location
: 115 John Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://towncrierpub.ca/

The burger at Town Crier Pub could have been a lot worse. I know, I know — not exactly a ringing endorsement. But considering the epic amount of European beers this place has on tap (over fifty, with the tap-lined bar being quite a sight to behold), it’s obvious enough that Town Crier is more about beverages than food.  They could have very easily just backed a Sysco truck into their kitchen and called it a day.

So even if I didn’t think the burger was particularly great, I applaud them for making it as decent as it was when they clearly didn’t have to.

The Town Crier Burger is pretty simple — it’s topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion, with other condiments available by request (I asked for mayo).

townA

The grilled burger is cooked to medium, and is actually pretty juicy, which is a pretty big plus in its favour.  But it’s a meatloaf burger, with a really ho-hum flavour.  Nothing about it stands out. It’s basically the meatloaf burger equivalent of Jai Courtney: serviceable, but generically bland and unmemorable to a fault.

The texture wasn’t bad, though — a lot of meatloaf burgers tend to be overhandled or sausagey, but this one was loosely packed and fairly tender.

The nutty whole wheat bun would have been disastrous with a more traditional hamburger, but the meatloafy flavour here is able to stand up to it.  I still would have preferred white, but it was fresh and generally suited the burger okay.

The fries, too, were much better than they needed to be.  Billed as Belgian frites, they weren’t quite as crisp as you’d like fries of that style to be, but they were definitely above average.

2.5 out of 4

Town Crier - the restaurant Town Crier - the burger Town Crier - the burger Town Crier - the burger

(Image of the outside of the restaurant in the header photo courtesy of Caroline’s Culinary Delights. It was quite rainy when I visited and I didn’t particularly feel like getting soaked trying to take a photo.)

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