Location: 3795 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
A few years ago, before Toronto’s recent burger boom in which The Burger’s Priest et al came in to show everyone how it’s done, places like Woody’s were pretty much the norm. Yes, Woody’s is relatively new, but with its good-but-not-great meatloaf-style burgers, it’s more reflective of Toronto’s old burger scene than what we’ve got now.
Woody’s is a small place just off of Brown’s Line in Etobicoke. They’ve got a small seating area, and a fairly large patio for when the weather’s nice. They sell a number of different types of burgers (turkey, chicken, bison, etc), including a bunch of customized burgers with names like Coronary, Tokyo, and California.
As is fairly clear by now, I like to keep it simple, particularly when I’m reviewing a burger; I’m reviewing the burger itself, not the toppings. I went with the plain burger topped with tomato, pickles, and mayo. As a combo with a soda and fries, it came out to about ten bucks. I ordered, was given a pager that would go off when my order was ready, and sat down.
They advertise a twenty minute wait for their burgers, and they weren’t kidding. “We’re not fast food,” the menu boasts, “we’re good food.” Umm… I guess?
I wasn’t looking at my watch, but I’m pretty sure it was about twenty minutes before the pager lit up and started vibrating. I turned it in, requested my toppings from behind the glass, and sat down with my food.
Like I mentioned earlier in the review, the burger isn’t bad. It’s a meatloaf burger, and they definitely aren’t shy with the seasonings. There’s zero beefy flavour here, which is a shame because they proudly claim that they only use local, farm-raised cattle, and I have no reason not to believe them. Why go through all the trouble of getting above-average beef only to obscure it with a bunch of other gunk? It’s baffling.
Though the beef flavour was completely absent, the burger had a nice texture that was devoid of the sausage-like chewiness that some meatloaf burgers tend to have. The well done burger also retained a decent amount of juciness, even if it wasn’t exactly the juciest burger I’ve had (I should note, however, that my dining companion found his burger to be almost inedibly dry, and proclaimed it to be one of the worst burgers he’s eaten in Toronto).
Woody’s cooks all of their burgers on a wood-burning grill (hence the name), which imparts a nicely smoky flavour onto the patty. However, as much as I appreciate a crispy crust on a well-cooked burger, the crunchy, charred exterior here goes a little bit too far. There’s nothing worse than a gray, under-seared burger; this is the other extreme.
The fresh, sesame seed bun complimented the burger quite well, though it was far too big for the patty, leaving a wide ring of bread overhang. It’s pretty clear that they shape their patties to the size of the bun, without bothering to compensate for the shrinkage that occurs while cooking.
As for the fries, they were a tad undercooked, but were otherwise pretty tasty. They had some kind of seasoned salt on them, which was sparingly applied (unlike, say, at Five Guys) and which definitely complimented the fries quite well.