Top Gun Burgers

Top Gun BurgersLocation: 5955 Latimer Drive, Mississauga
Website: http://www.topgunburgerto.com/

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to check out Top Gun Burgers.  I guess their original Kensington Market location opened shortly after The Burgernator, a nearby burger joint I didn’t care for, and it looked similar enough that I was never particularly motivated to try it.

In the meantime, however, Top Gun Burgers have done well enough to expand to eight locations throughout the GTA, so this review was long overdue.

Top Gun Burgers

Their fighter-plane-inspired menu has over a dozen choices, but I went simple with the Bobcat: “beef patty, fresh onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles and top gun aioli.”

It’s not the best, though it certainly looks impressive.  The smashed and griddled patty (of course it’s smashed and griddled, what else would it be??  There’s no other way to cook a burger, right???) looks great, with a picture-perfect amount of crust from the hot griddle.

Top Gun Burgers

Alas, though it’s certainly not bad, it doesn’t taste quite as good as it looks.

The patty is the biggest issue.  It’s been cooked to well done and beyond, not to mention the fact that it’s a bit too tightly packed.  It’s vaguely juicy, but still dryer than it should be. It all adds up to a patty that’s a bit of a tough chew.

Top Gun Burgers

The burger has a very mild beefy flavour; it’s nice, but not nearly as beefy as you’d like it to be.

The toppings are what you’d expect, other than the Top Gun aioli, which is zippier than the standard burger sauce, with a slightly smoky flavour.

The bun is mostly okay, though it’s a bit too dense.

Top Gun Burgers

As for the fries, they’re absolutely phenomenal.  They’re some of the best fries I’ve had in ages; they’re perfectly crispy and creamy, and the flavour is outstanding.  It’s worth coming here just for them.  Seriously, seriously good.

2.5 out of 4

Gourmand’s Burger

Gourmand's Burger (Gourmand 5AD)Location: 3100 Winston Churchill Boulevard, Mississauga
Website: http://www.gourmand5ad.ca/

It’s hard to get too excited about yet another place serving a smashed and griddled fast-food-style hamburger.  Unlike Toronto, however, Mississauga is still quite burger-starved.  There are exceptions, like Gladiator Burger and the now-ubiquitous Burger’s Priest, but great burgers are still something of a rarity in this city.

So fine, another smashed burger?  If it’s in the wilds of Mississauga?  Yeah, bring it on.

Gourmand's Burger (Gourmand 5AD)

(And yes, it’s bizarre that there are two burger joints in Mississauga with an ancient Rome theme, but as far as I can tell, this place and Gladiator Burger have no affiliation.)

Normally I’d order a restaurant’s namesake burger, but in this case the Gourmand is topped with cheese, bacon, fried onions, mushrooms, garlic aioli, and an egg.  It’s a bit much.  So I went with the simple cheeseburger instead.

The pricing is wonky; the plain cheeseburger actually costs less than the plain hamburger, at six bucks versus nine bucks.  I was told that this is because the classic burger comes with condiments (lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles), and the cheeseburger doesn’t.

Gourmand's Burger (Gourmand 5AD)

Which means that they charge for even no-frills toppings like lettuce or tomato, or at least I’m assuming they do; I should have asked, but I was too busy being flabbergasted that a plain burger cost more than a cheeseburger.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever been to a burger joint that charged for basic condiments, but based on what my bill came up to, it seems like that’s the case.

I ordered the cheeseburger and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo.  Which I had to pay for, I guess??

Gourmand's Burger (Gourmand 5AD)

It’s a solid burger.  The patty has a nice crust from the griddle, it’s juicy, and it’s got a fairly pronounced beefy flavour.  It’s not bad at all.

But the beef is way too finely ground; combined with the fact that they cook it all the way to well done, it gives the patty a slightly mealy texture.

Gourmand's Burger (Gourmand 5AD)

The cheddar-Jack cheese has a nice mild flavour, and would have suited the burger well if it were melted all the way through.  Alas.

The other condiments (which I paid extra for???) were fine, and the bun is what it looks like; it was fresh, lightly toasted, and suited the burger well.

As for the fries, they’re quite good.  They’re nicely cooked, and they have a very pleasant rosemary-tinged flavour.

3 out of 4

Ronto’s Burger

Ronto's BurgerLocation: 772 College Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.rontos.ca/

Generally speaking, if a burger joint exists in the GTA, I want to review it.  It makes no difference to me whether I’ve heard good things / bad things / nothing about it.  My impossible goal is to review every burger place in Toronto, though obviously that’s an epic task that I’ll never complete.

So the fact that I hadn’t heard a single thing about Ronto’s Burger certainly didn’t deter me from checking it out, though it did make me skeptical that it was going to be particularly great.

Ronto's Burger

As it turns out, I shouldn’t have been skeptical; Ronto’s Burger is surprisingly fantastic.

I ordered the namesake Ronto’s Burger: “One beef patty, Ronto’s sauce, lettuce, cheddar cheese, tomato, onions.”

It’s a griddled six ounce patty; it’s slightly more substantial than the typical smashed burger that’s so common in the city, and the added substance is quite nice.

Ronto's Burger

The patty is really good; it’s got a pronounced crust from the griddle and it’s abundantly juicy despite being cooked to well done.  The texture is right where it should be, with coarsely ground beef that hasn’t been overhandled.  It’s great.

It’s not the beefiest tasting patty I’ve ever had, but the beefy flavour is definitely there, and it’s quite satisfying.  I wish it hadn’t been cooked all the way to well done — it’s ever-so-slightly tough — but considering how good it is otherwise, that’s a minor complaint.

Ronto's Burger

Though the menu calls the cheese cheddar, it’s clearly American, which definitely isn’t a bad thing.  It’s gooey, salty, and perfect for this type of burger.

The Ronto’s sauce wasn’t my favourite, however.  It’s fine — it’s actually quite tasty.  It’s the usual zesty, Mac-Sauce-esque concoction, but it’s a bit too zesty for its own good.  It overpowers the beef, which is a shame when the patty is this delicious.

Ronto's Burger

The nicely toasted, soft and fluffy bun is mostly perfect, aside from being slightly too wide for the patty.

As for the fries, they’re generic battered, frozen fries, but they’re well prepared and tasty enough for what they are.  They come with a little container of Ronto’s sauce for dipping; that stuff works much, much better with fries than on the burger.

3.5 out of 4

Reds

Reds Square OneLocation: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (inside Square One)
Website: https://redsrestaurants.com/

I don’t know why I keep reviewing the burger at chains like Reds.  They’re always just as mediocre and personality-free as you fear they’re going to be, so why do I keep subjecting myself to them?  Because I hate myself, apparently?

Reds Square One

To be fair, Reds only has three locations, so it’s not quite a full-on chain like Moxie’s or Milestones.  It’s also slightly better than those types of places.  But it’s not great.

I ordered the Reds Burger: “lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, fresh baked potato bun.”

Reds Square One

It’s… well, it is what it is.  It’s mostly inoffensive.  The griddled patty is dry, because of course it’s dry, but it’s otherwise decent enough.  There’s a good amount of crust from the griddle, and the texture of the beef is basically where it should be.  The flavour isn’t particularly beefy, but it’s not unpleasant.  If it weren’t so dry, it would have been pretty good.

Reds Square One

The no-frills toppings are exactly what you think they’ll be, and the fluffy, fresh bun is actually really good.

I don’t know.  It’s a burger.  It’s mostly inoffensively tasty, but it’s so bland and unmemorable that it may as well not exist.

Reds Square One

As for the fries, they were mostly quite good, though they were a little bit undercooked.

2.5 out of 4

Station Bar & Kitchen

Station Bar & KitchenLocation: 866 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Website: http://www.stationcafe.ca/

The burger at Station Bar & Kitchen is solid.  I’ve had better and I’ve definitely had worse.  Nothing about it particularly stands out, but if you’re looking for a hamburger, it’s there.  It exists, and it won’t make you sad.

I know that’s faint praise, but what are you going to do?  Not every burger can be a home run.

Station Bar & Kitchen

The “Station Cheese Burger,” per their menu: “7 ounce beef brisket patty ground in-house with our secret spice mix, on a toasted brioche burger bun with house made burger sauce and a slice of melted cheddar.  Topped with lettuce, tomato and onions.”

The reference to a spice mix had me worried; this has been discussed ad nauseam on this blog, but once you mix spices directly into a hamburger patty, it starts losing its essential burgeriness.  It becomes meatloaf.

Station Bar & Kitchen

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here.  Though I think they had mixed spices into the patty, it was done subtly enough that it wasn’t particularly an issue.

The griddled, medium-well patty was pretty decent — most notably, it was juicy, and the texture of the grind was pretty much exactly where it should be.  It also had some crust from the griddle.  It’s a solid patty.

Station Bar & Kitchen

I wish the beef itself had more flavour, however.  The flavour certainly isn’t bad, but there’s such a distinct lack of beefiness that I briefly wondered if pork was involved.

Everything else was pretty good, from the nicely toasted bun to the zesty mayo-based burger sauce and the mild, melty cheddar.

As for the fries, they’re quite tasty, and come with a little container of gravy that makes for a delightful dipping sauce.

3 out of 4

Mama’s Boys Burgers

Mama's Boys BurgersLocation: 480 Danforth Road, Scarborough
Website: None

If nothing else, I have to give kudos to Mama’s Boys Burgers for doing something a bit different.  They serve a grilled burger that, at six ounces, is a bit heftier than the small griddle-smashed patties that are de rigueur in the city.

They also have a small griddle-smashed burger, because this is Toronto, so of course — but the grilled burger is there, and it’s called the Mama, so it’s the specialty.

Mama's Boys Burgers

I ordered the Mama’s Signature, which is a double cheeseburger with bacon and caramelized onions.  You can get it topped with your choice of condiments (I went with Mama sauce, pickles, and tomato).

I need to mention the caramelized onions first, because holy crap, those onions.  They’re so sweet.  It’s overwhelming.  They’re syrupy and cloying and in your face.  I’m pretty sure I have diabetes now.  Is that how diabetes works?  Because if it is, I have it.  Most desserts aren’t that sweet.

Mama's Boys Burgers

It overwhelms everything else to an almost absurd degree.  For the first few bites I assumed they were mixing sugar right into the meat; the sweetness is so pervasive I thought it had to be coming from the patties themselves.  It’s bonkers.

The patties aren’t bad, though I literally had to pull a piece right out of the bun to even tell what they tasted like.  They don’t have much of a beefy flavour, and they’re definitely too finely ground (they’re a bit tough), but they’re fairly juicy and agreeable enough.  They also have a bit of a smoky flavour from the grill, but again, it’s completely wiped out by the sugary onions.

Mama's Boys Burgers

The other issue is the slice of mild Cheddar.  They put it on top of the onions instead of right onto the patty, so it never gets hot enough to fully melt.  I’m sorry, but that means that this isn’t actually a cheeseburger — it’s a hamburger with a slice of cheese on it.  The only way for a hamburger to make the magical transformation into a cheeseburger is for the cheese to melt and mingle with the beef.

The other toppings are fine, though again, they’re lost in the unforgiving deluge of sugar.  I was only able to identify the Mama sauce as garlic mayo by trying it on its own.  Otherwise I just couldn’t tell.  I wish I was exaggerating about how overwhelming the onions were.  It’s madness.

Mama's Boys Burgers

As for the fries, they’re slightly underseasoned, but are otherwise very good.  They’re quite thick, but they’re perfectly crispy and creamy.  They were easily the highlight.

2.5 out of 4

Cabano’s Comfort Food

Cabano's Comfort FoodLocation: 75 St. Nicholas Street, Toronto
Website: http://cabanos.ca/

I just counted, and my list of hamburgers to try for this blog currently sits at 154.  Suffice it to say, it’ll be a while before I get to all of them.  If you’ve left a comment or sent me an email suggesting a burger I should try and I haven’t gotten there yet, that’s why.

I’ve been hearing good things about the burger at Cabano’s since they were located in Vaughan.  I’ve been meaning to check the place out for years.

Cabano's Comfort Food

Well, I finally got there, and yeah — it was worth the wait.  The burger didn’t rock my world, but it’s very, very good.

You can either get the no-frills cheeseburger, or the Cabano burger, which is a double cheeseburger that comes topped with Cabano sauce, lettuce, onions, and fried pickled jalapenos.

I got the Cabano, and it’s a quality burger; it does pretty much everything right, and very little wrong.

The patties are smashed and griddled, because of course they are.  This is Toronto.  If you attempt to cook a burger in any other style and serve it in a restaurant, the police are going to show up at your house, roll you up in a carpet and throw you into a river.

Cabano's Comfort Food

They’re cooked all the way to well done, which can sometimes be an issue, but absolutely isn’t here — they’re basically perfect.  They have a nice crust from the griddle (though only on one side), and the texture is absolutely outstanding.  They’re tender and abundantly juicy.  Perfect.

They have a pleasant but mild beefy flavour; that’s the one area where the burger is lacking.  Because the patties were otherwise so superlative, I was looking for that nice strong beefy hit that you get from truly top-shelf hamburgers, and it wasn’t quite there.

It didn’t help that the patties were overwhelmed by the gooey American cheese.  I’m not sure how many slices they used — Two?  Three? — but it was too much.  The cheese was clearly the dominant flavour.  It easily overpowers the mild beef.

Cabano's Comfort Food

Otherwise, the toppings were great.  The Cabano sauce was the typical tangy mayo you’ll find in so many burgers, and the chopped onions and lettuce work quite nicely (I’m normally not a fan of raw onion, but these were mild enough to not offend).

The fried jalapenos, however, are the highlight.   They’re crispy and a little bit spicy, with a nice vinegary bite that helps cut through the burger’s richness.

The bun — a Martin’s Potato Roll, I think, which are becoming delightfully common in the GTA — was quite good as well.

Cabano's Comfort Food

As for the fries, they weren’t great.  They tasted lightly battered, which I’m not crazy about.  They were also undercooked.  Considering how good the burger was, they were shockingly shoddy.

3.5 out of 4