Location: 354 Queen Street West, Toronto
When a burger joint’s menu proudly advertises the fact that all of their burgers have less than 10 percent fat, I’m immediately on my guard. A burger should strive to be many things; low fat is not one of them. It is a universally accepted fact that a good burger needs a bare minimum of 15 percent fat; a preferable number is anywhere between 20 and 30 percent. This is where a burger’s juciness comes from. So if you’re advertising low fat burgers, you’re pretty much just coming out and admitting that you serve dry hamburgers. Not a good sign.
The BQM Diner is a small-ish restaurant, with almost comically small booths. Seriously, the booth was probably the smallest one I’ve ever sat in; I’m pretty sure I could have head-butted my dining companion without having to lean forward all that much.
The menu, oddly, offers three different cuts of beef: chuck, brisket, or sirloin. Sirloin is a definite no-go; though there is the perception that sirloin is a “fancy” cut of beef, thus making it more desirable, it is actually quite lean and a terrible choice for a burger. It may work well as a steak, but a burger is a different beast altogether.
I was leaning towards the brisket, because it is the fattiest cut, and I was concerned by the menu’s 10 percent fat boast. However, the waitress came by and rendered it all moot — all they had left was the chuck. It seemed odd that they were already out of 2/3rds of the menu, given that it was lunchtime and early in the day, but since chuck is a fairly standard cut of beef for a burger, I wasn’t too perturbed.
I ordered the BQM, labeled as “the Boss’ favourite,” which comes topped with caramelized onion, horseradish, garlic aioli, lettuce, and tomato. The waitress asked if I wanted it medium or medium-well. It’s always a good sign when you get asked how you want your burger cooked; I asked for mine medium.
The burger came, and it was immediately apparent that it was a little overcharred on the grill — it was pretty much completely blackened, giving it a strong smoky flavour that did overwhelm the beef a bit.
The burger actually was fairly juicy; it helped that it wasn’t cooked to well done like at most places (the burger actually came out much closer to medium rare than to medium), but I would be very surprised if this burger truly only contained 10 percent fat. I suspect that the 10 percent fat claim only really applies to the sirloin burger.
Though its flavour was a bit obscured by the liberal amount of charring on the burger and by the horseradish, it was still pretty clear that this was an above average burger, with a nicely beefy flavour. The toppings generally suited the burger fairly well, though the aforementioned horseradish was probably unnecessary. I’m generally not a fan of assertive flavours like horseradish on a burger, because they tend to overpower the taste of what is supposed to be the star of the show: the patty. It is a shame to disguise that flavour, especially when you’re dealing with good quality beef like they’re clearly using here.
I also got the fries on the side, and though they were a bit on the soggy side, they were obviously freshly cut and quite tasty.