C & Dubbs

Location: 1706 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Website: None

I knew it was a bad sign when, while taking my order, the rotund man behind the register grabbed a handful of his apron, brought it to his mouth and let loose a hacky cough.  To be fair, I do not believe that this man was handling any food (though he did pour the soft drinks).  Still, that’s not something that you want to see.

It was another bad sign when my dining companion asked for mayonnaise on the side and was informed that this would cost him fifty cents.  Really?  You’re going to charge fifty cents to pour mayonnaise into a tiny cup instead of onto a burger?

Neither of these points have much to do with the quality of the food, but they do illustrate a certain attitude that I think is reflected in the lack of care that C & Dubbs puts into their menu.

The restaurant offers a hamburger and an eight ounce homeburger.  I ordered the latter item, thinking that this might just be the better of the two.  I sat down, waited about five minutes for the burgers to be ready, then picked out my toppings from behind the glass.  As usual, I went with pickles, tomato and mayo.

Though the burger, labeled a “homeburger,” is presumably homemade (or at least they’d like you to think that it is by sticking the word “home” in the name), it sure doesn’t taste that way.  If this is a homemade burger, then they have done an absolutely superb job at mimicking the taste and texture of a frozen patty.

I strongly suspect that it is frozen.

It’s not even a particularly good frozen burger, even by the dubious standards of an industrially-produced patty.  The taste is devoid of anything even remotely resembling beefiness, with a nebulous, vaguely unpleasant flavour that I’m honestly having a hard time describing.  It’s not very strongly spiced, which is normally a good thing, but here it just means that there’s not much else to hide the off-putting mystery-meat flavour.

It also has that spongy, sausagey texture that you associate with frozen burgers — but worse than usual, if you can believe it.  The texture is strongly analogous to that of a hot dog; in fact, the whole thing bore more than a passing resemblance to a less salty version of a hot dog, which is just as unappealing as it sounds.

Based solely on the taste and texture, this could have been emu meat and I don’t think it would have made much of a difference.  Any taste or texture that this beef once had has long since been pulverized out of it.

The bun was fresh and complimented the burger well, and the toppings were fine.  But even the best bun and the highest-quality toppings cannot overcome such a horrible patty.

The fries, though unsalted and a bit on the soggy side, were reasonably crispy, with a really creamy interior and  a nice flavour.  They were quite greasy, but not overwhelmingly so.  I think it goes without saying that they were the highlight of the meal.

UPDATE: To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to call up the restaurant and find out if they actually make any of their burgers in-house.  “We don’t do that,” the man replied. “They’re frozen.”  Can’t say I’m surprised.

C & Dubbs - the outside C & Dubbs - the menu C & Dubbs - the restaurant C & Dubbs - the burger C & Dubbs - the fries C & Dubbs - the burger
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Golden Star

Location7123 Yonge Street, Thornhill
Website: None

Before writing this review I had been to Golden Star once, several years ago, and my hazy recollection of the burger was that it was fine, but nothing special.  I was in no rush to go back, even to review it for this blog.  However, after its tenth-place finish on Toronto Life’s list of the top 25 burgers in the city (and its status as one of only four dedicated burger joints to make the list), my interest was piqued.

There’s no mistaking Golden Star for anything but an old-school burger place; it’s clean and not run-down at all, but it has the general layout and decor of an establishment that was built years before many of its customers were born.

I came around lunchtime and there was a fairly sizable line-up to order, including a guy placing a takeout order for at least a couple of dozen people.  The place is popular, that’s for sure.

The menu features a hamburger and a “homemade all star burger.”  When asked what the difference was, I was told that the regular burger is just a plain old frozen burger, and the homemade burger features a six ounce patty that’s made in-house.  Homemade it is.

I got the homemade burger as a combo with fries and a drink, and it came out to just over eleven bucks, so it’s neither particularly cheap or overly expensive.

After a wait of several minutes (I think my wait was a bit longer than average because of the man with the enormous take-out order) my burger was ready.  Toppings are laid out behind the glass; I went with pickles, tomato and mayo.

My memory, from my many-years-ago visit, was that the burger was meatloaf style.   I’m not sure if I was lucky enough to get a batch where they forgot to mix the other stuff in, or if they’re just no longer making meatloaf burgers, but if there was anything beyond salt and pepper in my patty, I couldn’t taste it.

The meat had a very clean flavour; it wasn’t the beefiest tasting burger  that I’ve had, but there were no off flavours either, so it was obviously not low-quality beef.  The well done burger was fantastically juicy, which is a rarity in Toronto, and which I definitely appreciated.

It’s grilled, a cooking method which sometimes has the tendency to overwhelm the beef with the smokiness of the grill.  However, the grilling here imparted only a mild flavour which complemented — but did not overpower — the beef.

With the current ubiquity of griddle-cooked burgers, it’s nice to know that a great grilled burger is an option, even if it is a bit out of the way.

The fresh sesame seed bun complimented the burger quite well, and the standard toppings were good.  All in all it was a very pleasant surprise, and easily the best old school burger joint in Toronto that I’ve visited.

As for the fries, they were solid, albeit a bit undersalted and unmemorable.  They were perfectly tasty, but nothing I’d swoon over.

Golden Star - the outside Golden Star - combos Golden Star - the counter Golden Star - the restaurant Golden Star - the burger Golden Star - the burger
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