Location: 1240 Bay Street, Toronto
I’ve seen things done to burgers. Bad things: frozen burgers, overly-spiced burgers, too-lean burgers, burgers ground too finely, burgers with filler, burgers with bad quality meat… I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong.
BBQ Express is one of those places I’ve walked by many times, though it took the prospect of reviewing it for this blog to actually walk in. It’s a tiny place; there’s basically just enough room to stand there and order.
They advertise a homemade burger, so I ordered it thinking “how bad could this be?”
Then something happened I don’t think I’ll ever forget. The woman who took my order moseyed on over to the grill, opened a foil bag with a stack of pre-cooked hamburgers, and slapped one on the grill.
I stood there in shock. Did I really just see that? Is that really a pre-cooked hamburger, cooked who-knows-when? Is she actually going to reheat that and serve it to me?
My pulse quickened. Fight or flight kicked in. A voice in my head screamed “Run! Run now and never look back!” And if it hadn’t been for this blog, there’s no way I would have eaten that hamburger. I would have politely given the grill lady some excuse, and I would have high-tailed it out of there.
The things I do for you.
I got my hamburger topped with pickles, tomato and mayo, and I walked across the street to sit outside and eat my meal.
I took my pictures of the uncut burger, then, as I am wont to do when I’m reviewing a burger for this blog, I cut it in half so I could take a picture of the burger’s innards. Cutting into the burger, it was immediately clear that something was wrong. The hamburger was suspiciously difficult to cut in half. The meat was tough, almost like trying to cut through a steak.
Hesitantly, I took a bite. The burger was — surprise, surprise — unusually dry. It was also tough and leathery with an almost jerky-like texture around the edges.
This was also a meatloaf-style burger. It wasn’t too strongly-spiced, though this was one instance where I actually would have preferred for the beef to be disguised by other flavours; the beef had a funky, vaguely unpleasant flavour.
The only reason I’m not going to give this burger zero stars is that I actually managed to finish the whole thing, so I guess it wasn’t completely inedible. But then that probably speaks more to my gluttony than to the general quality of this burger. Seriously: this was a terrible, terrible hamburger. I’m pretty sure I’ve had worse in my lifetime, though I’m having a hard time thinking of any right now.