The Yellow Griffin Pub isn’t a burger joint per se, though they do take pains to make sure you know that they serve over 35 different burgers, which make up the bulk of their menu… so basically, it is a burger joint; it just calls itself a pub.
Semantics aside, sitting down and looking at their menu is an overwhelming experience. There are an absurd amount of burgers to choose from, which range from relatively simple to completely over-the-top. After some deliberation I elected to go with the English Breakfast Burger: “Buckingham baked beans, HP Sauce and crowned with a royal fried egg.”
The menu proudly proclaims that the burger will take 20 minutes to cook, which seems like an insane amount of cooking time to get an eight ounce burger to well done.
The burger arrived looking very promising, with the top bun askew and the toppings and sizable patty in full view. Thinking that this could very well be a great hamburger, I started to get excited.
I took a bite. My excitement quickly turned to befuddlement.
This is a strange burger: it’s ridiculously dry, with a weird texture and no discernible beefy flavour. That’s not to say that the patty is flavourless — it has a flavour, but a funky one that I can’t quite put my finger on. I briefly thought that perhaps they had given me a bison burger by mistake, but I’ve had a bison burger before and it certainly didn’t taste like this.
The texture is almost reminiscent of kibbe, an Arabic dish in which ground beef is mixed in with bulgur (a grain) and other spices. I’m not sure what they’re putting in the patty, but there’s almost certainly a filler of some sort. It’s quite off-putting, texturally. I think the beef is also probably ground too finely, contributing to the odd texture.
Even the toppings were kind of a miss. The “Buckingham baked beans” were completely dry, and basically just tasted like they took a can of plain beans, dried them out very thoroughly, and then dumped them on the burger. I Googled the term “Buckingham baked beans,” thinking that perhaps this is a euphemism for plain beans without any sauce or seasoning, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Odd.
The fried egg was fine. It’s hard to mess up a fried egg unless you overcook it, and though the yolk was completely solid (I’m not sure if that’s intentional or not), the egg wasn’t overcooked. As for the HP sauce, if it was present, it was applied so sparingly that I couldn’t taste it.
The bun was a little too dense and a bit oversized in relation to the patty, but it was decent enough.
I think special attention should go to the sides, because they were the clear highlight of the meal. One of the choices was fried pickles, which you don’t see very often in Toronto. Of course, I had to order them. I’ve had fried pickles a few times before, but never this good. The crunchy, flavourful breading works perfectly with the zingy, crisp pickle. It also comes with a creamy dipping sauce that compliments the pickles perfectly. I would probably return if only to get the pickles again; they’re that good.
My dining companion ordered the onion rings, of which I sampled one, and which was definitely above average.
If the Yellow Griffin Pub were just a standard pub, the bizarrely awful burger would be easy to shrug off as something that’s just present to fill out the menu and give people something to eat while they drink their beer. But burgers are clearly front and centre here. For a place that purports to be serious about burgers, it’s kind of stunning how spectacularly the Yellow Griffin Pub misfires when it comes to their hamburgers.