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.)

John Anderson’s Charcoal Broil Hamburgers

21 Jun

anderson
Location
: 1069 Dundas Street West, Mississauga
Website: None

Mediocre frozen burger, mediocre frozen fries, THE END.

Seriously, I think I’ve written enough of these at this point that I really don’t need to go much further than that.  I could just point you in the direction of any number of reviews I’ve written of places that serve mediocre, industrially-produced frozen burgers just like this one.

I wouldn’t be surprised if all the old-school burger joints serving crappy frozen burgers get them from the same supplier, so can’t I just cut-and-paste the same review every time?  Why should I go to the trouble of writing a review from scratch when they can’t be bothered to make a burger from scratch (which is, I should add, probably the easiest thing you can make, so WTF)?

The sad thing is, I discovered this place through random “best burger in Mississauga” searches; clearly, the burger boom that’s hit Toronto in the last few years has left Mississauga almost entirely untouched.

andersonA

John Anderson has a regular burger and a “Big Puck” burger on the menu.  I was told that they’re both exactly the same aside from the size, so I went with the regular, and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo.

I’m not particularly going to get into it, because why should I, but it was a frozen burger and it tasted like so many other frozen burgers: it had the same overly-processed hot dog texture, and the same disturbing lack of any kind of beefy flavour.

The bun was fine and the toppings were fine — though again, like with so many other old-school burger joints, the mayo is actually Miracle Whip, which I’ve just come to expect at this point.

As for the aforementioned frozen fries, they were well-prepared and slightly better than average, but they were still pretty lifeless compared to the real deal.

1.5 out of 4

John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the outside John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the outside John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the restaurant John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the restaurant John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the burger and fries John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the burger

Hole-E Burger Bar

7 Jun

hole
Location
: 2419 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.holeeburger.com/

Hole-E Burger Bar’s gimmick is that all their burgers are punched with holes pre-cooking.  Why?  To justify the name?  Their website claims that the holes allow the burgers to be “evenly cooked to perfection,” though common sense would dictate that the opposite should be true.  They also claim that they fill the holes with sauce; whether a burger really needs more places to cram sauce is questionable, but that’s probably a debate for another time.  Because in this particular case, the whole thing is moot (get it?  Whole thing??  Ah, get out of here, no one appreciates puns).

There were no holes in my burger.  Like, not one single hole.  So… that’s odd (or not odd at all, since a burger really shouldn’t have holes in it to begin with).  There were a few dimples where maybe some holes had once been, but it otherwise looked like a standard patty.

So without any oddball hole gimmicks to fall back on, how was the burger?  Not great.

I ordered the standard, plain burger, and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo.  The well done patty is griddled, with a decent — if not exactly awe-inspiring — amount of crust.  It was also reasonably juicy, which is always a good thing.

holeA

But there were problems, the foremost being the downright weird texture.

You know when you eat a steak, and you accidentally get a mouthful of gristle, and you really have to chew it thoroughly before you can swallow? To a certain extent, that’s what every mouthful of this burger felt like. You’d chew and you’d chew, and you’d think you were done, but then nope — there was this tough, oddly ropey beef still hanging out in your mouth, refusing to get fully chewed.

It was bizarre, to put it mildly, and I really don’t even have a theory as to how it could have happened.  It was definitely too finely ground, but that alone can’t account for the textural weirdness going on here.  And my dining companion had the exact same issue, so this wasn’t just a one-patty issue.

The beef mostly tasted okay, but had a slightly off flavour.  It was also way over-peppered, but both of those complaints fade into the background when the texture of the burger is so wonky.

The bun and toppings were okay, at least, and the fries were pretty great.  The restaurant is also right next door to some really delicious cupcakes via the Cupcake Shoppe, so the outing wasn’t a complete bust.

2 out of 4

Hole-E Burger Bar - the outside Hole-E Burger Bar - the restaurant Hole-E Burger Bar - the burger and fries Hole-E Burger Bar - the patty Hole-E Burger Bar - the burger

Fran’s Restaurant

24 May

frans
Location: 20 College Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.fransrestaurant.com/

I was perusing the menu at Fran’s with no particular desire to order the burger — but then something caught my eye.  On the menu, they claim to have invented the banquet burger.  A banquet burger, for the unaware, is another name for a bacon cheeseburger.

I’m a little bit skeptical that the bacon cheeseburger was created at a diner in Toronto; I’d say it’s more likely that they invented the term banquet burger, but hey, who knows?

Either way, they’ve clearly been serving it for a long, long time (they’ve been around since the ’40s), so I figured I’d be remiss in my burger blogging duties if I didn’t give it a try.

fransA

The menu also states that they make their burger patties with a “special blend of spices and seasoning.”  I’m generally not a fan of burgers with stuff mixed into the patties, so I’m not going to lie: I was skeptical. But you know what? Sometimes places like this can surprise you.

This was not one of those times.

It’s so meatloafy.  Like, crazy meatloafy.  I could talk about how strongly spiced it is, how the flavour of the beef is completely gone. I could talk about how it’s ground way too finely, and has a texture that’s closer to sausage than to hamburger.  I could talk about how a burger like this completely misses the point of what makes a burger so great in the first place.  I could talk about all that, but instead:

.
The banquet part of this burger is actually the highlight; the creamy mild cheddar is nicely melty and gooey, and the thick-cut bacon was way above average.  Too bad they’re both resting atop a mediocre patty.

The fries are even worse. At least they put some effort into the burger, even if that effort is ill advised. The fries are just bottom-of-the-barrel frozen fries.  I am continually baffled by how terrible frozen fries like this continue to be served at restaurants.  They taste so lousy, and really, is it that hard to cut a potato into strips?  Get out of here.

1.5 out of 4

Fran's Restaurant - the outside Fran's Restaurant - the restaurant Fran's Restaurant - the burger and fries Fran's Restaurant - the burger

Smash Kitchen and Bar

10 May

smash
Location
: 4261 Highway 7, Unionville
Websitehttp://www.smashkitchen.com/

The problem with the abundant, booming popularity of hamburgers in this city is that for most restaurants, having a burger on the menu is more of an obligation than an option.  Unless a restaurant is dedicated to a very specific type of cuisine, there’s gonna be a hamburger on the menu.

Remember that scene in Chef where Dustin Hoffman crushes Jon Favreau’s dreams of cooking a personal menu, telling him that he’ll continue to cook what he’s become famous for, and he’ll like it?

I imagine that some variation on that scene plays out every time a chef in a restaurant like Smash Kitchen and Bar decides he has no interest in making a hamburger.

Oh, you don’t want to serve a burger?  Do you still want to be employed tomorrow?

This is all a fairly roundabout way of saying that the burger at Smash feels perfunctory. It feels joyless. It’s not bad; it’s alright.  But it’s clearly made by someone who doesn’t quite understand what makes a good hamburger so special.  By someone who doesn’t really care.

smashA

I ordered the Smash Burger, which is described as being topped with “Cheddar cheese, onion rings, Smash sauce.”

I normally like to mention whether a burger has been griddled or grilled, but honestly, the burger was so middle-of-the-road that  I don’t remember.  Nothing about this hamburger is particularly memorable, other than its in-your-face mediocrity.

It wasn’t horrible, but the patty is vaguely meatloafy and oddly sweet, with a middling, barely-there beefy flavour and a slightly mealy texture.

The condiments were fine and the bun was fine.  The whole thing was fine. It’s certainly not great, but it tastes okay and it basically gets the job done.

It’s clear that the kitchen at this restaurant can put out food that’s better than okay, because the fries were quite good, as were the appetizer and dessert that I tried.  But it’s also clear that they serve a burger not because they want to, but because they have to.

Basically: it’s obligatory.  And it tastes obligatory.

2 out of 4

Smash Kitchen and Bar - the outside Smash Kitchen and Bar - the restaurant Smash Kitchen and Bar - the burger and fries Smash Kitchen and Bar - the burger

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 106 other followers