Location: 602 Brown’s Line, Toronto
OBQ Burgers is one of the sketchier looking places that I’ve visited for this blog; it’s a tiny place in a run-down little plaza that’s basically in the middle of nowhere, and its sign/logo looks like it was designed in about five minutes in MS Paint. But sometimes hole-in-the-wall places like this can have some seriously tasty food, so I’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover.
Though I dined in, it’s pretty much a take-out place only — the seating options are limited to a small counter with four stools, though they do have a couple of tables outside, so if it’s a nice day that’s probably your best bet.
The burgers are listed on a blackboard next to the register; there’s actually a pretty good variety to be had, though as per my policy I zeroed in on the eponymous OBQ Burger. I think I’m going to have to go back to try the Halo Burger, which reminds me of a burger that I read about in Hamburger America, from a place called Shady Glen (and if you’re reading this blog, that’s probably a book that will interest you). It’s a essentially a cheeseburger in which the cheese has been allowed to overflow onto the griddle, creating a ring of crispy cheese surrounding the burger. If I go back and try this I will update this post.
As for my OBQ Burger, I was heartened to see the man behind the counter get out a ball of fresh beef, and then smash it down on the griddle; no frozen burgers here. After searing the burger on the griddle for 30 seconds or so, he transferred the patty to the grill, which struck me as an interesting way to cook a burger.
A few minutes later the burger was ready, and I took my tray, sat down on a stool and dug in. The OBQ Burger is described as being “served with cheddar, lettuce, pickles, onion & GABAGOO!!” I asked the man behind the counter what Gabagoo was, and was informed that it’s their special sauce, and a secret recipe.
The burger was okay. After eating it, I told my dining companion that I wish the burger had either been better, or worse, because writing about an agreeable but generally middling burger like this one can be a bit of a challenge.
It’s a meatloaf burger, though it wasn’t too aggressively-spiced. It didn’t have that sausagey texture that a lot of meatloaf burgers tend to have, which I definitely appreciated. The beef itself had a fairly neutral flavour — it obviously wasn’t bad quality beef, but it wasn’t great, either. It was also too lean and a bit on the dry side, though I have certainly had worse.
The cheddar was shredded and mounded on top of the burger, a questionable choice that resulted in cheese that was melted around the edges and cold and uncooked in the middle. There’s clearly a reason why 99 percent of the cheeseburgers out there use slices. The cheddar was also fairly low quality, and as such I kinda wish they had just gone with good old fashioned American cheese — it melts much more consistently and is a good match for a burger such as this.
The Gabagoo sauce essentially tasted like sweet honey mustard, so I’m not sure what all the “top secret” business was about. I like honey mustard when it leans more toward mustard than honey; this leaned very strongly in the other direction, and I found it to be a bit too sweet and overpowering for my tastes.
I got the burger as a combo with fries, and received a very generous portion of crispy, tasty fries. They were probably better than the burger itself, actually.