Bier Markt

Location199 North Queen Street, Etobicoke

Bier Markt is an upscale Toronto-area chain, akin to Milestones or Earl’s.  They’ve recently expanded into the west-end with an Etobicoke location, which is the one that I checked out.  I went on a Sunday afternoon and they had a musician performing live, which thankfully wasn’t too loud, as I didn’t particularly feel like having to yell and strain to hear my dining companion (how much of an old curmudgeon am I, exactly?).

The menu features two burgers: the Classic Burger, and the T-Bone Burger, which is made with Kobe beef.  The T-Bone Burger is 24 dollars (!), so I went with the Classic Burger, which isn’t cheap itself at 15 dollars.

No, this place isn’t exactly the best deal in the city.

I wasn’t in a beer mood, so I just went for a soda, but the place has an impressive beer list (over 150, according to the website), which is probably one of its bigger selling points.

The burger comes topped with lettuce, tomato, onion (which I removed), and pickles, with two small ramekins of ketchup and mustard on the side.

The grilled burger was (of course) cooked to well done, and had a pleasantly beefy flavour.  Clearly, they’re using above-average meat.  As well, the burger had some char from the grill, which added a good amount of flavour and texture.

Sadly, there’s a big caveat here: what should have been a great burger was marred by excessive dryness.

Of course, cooking a burger to well done never helps in the juiciness department, but even then it’s clear that the beef Bier Markt is using is far too lean.  The menu specifies sirloin, which if true does explain a lot.  Sirloin is an exceptionally lean cut of beef, and thus is completely inappropriate for use in a hamburger.

I’m tempted to go off on a rant about how a hamburger needs a decent amount of fat to be really good, but I think I’ve done that in at least half of the reviews I’ve written for this blog, so I’ll just point you to the archives.  Seriously: I love Toronto, but an alarming amount of people here just have no conception of what makes a hamburger great.  It’s frustrating, but what can you do?  Ultimately it’s an American food, and we’re not in America.

As for the rest of the burger: the toppings were all quite good, and the fresh brioche bun complimented the patty perfectly.

All the components were there — good toppings, good quality beef, good cooking technique, and a nice, fresh bun.  If only they were using fattier beef, this could have been an amazing burger.  C’est la vie.

Oddly, the burger came with “root vegetable crisps” on the side instead of fries.  They were essentially like thickly-cut chips, and were a bit bland, but were satisfyingly crunchy and kind of addictive.

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The Works

Location2245 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Though it’s been around in Ottawa for over a decade, The Works has only recently made its way into Toronto, opening a location on the Danforth earlier in the year, and more recently, in Bloor West Village.  There are supposedly more locations on the way; if my recent experience at the Bloor West location is any indication, this is definitely, as Martha Stewart would say, a good thing.

Unlike many (most?) of Toronto’s burger joints, The Works is a full service restaurant, so don’t expect to pop in for a quick bite.

The menu is full of choices, with six different patty choices, three buns, and over 70 customized burgers, with toppings ranging from standard fare like bacon and various cheeses to more bizarre selections like mac and cheese and peanut butter.

Scanning right past the novelty items on the menu (peanut butter!), I landed on the Plain Jane, and asked for it topped with my usual mayo, tomato, and pickles.

Most of the burgers seem to be in the 12 dollar ballpark, which does seem bit pricey; that does, however, include a side, so it’s pretty much in line with what other places are charging.

The grilled burger came out looking nicely charred and attractive; I took a bite and was heartened to discover that it tasted just as good as it looked.  It’s not a great burger — but it was a very, very good one.

For one thing, the well done burger was actually reasonably juicy.  It could have certainly been juicier — the meat was still, like pretty much every other burger in Toronto, a bit too lean.  But it was far from dry, and I guess that’s all you can really hope for in this city.

The loosely packed patty, seasoned only with salt and pepper, also had a nicely beefy flavour, and a decent amount of crust from the grill.

The soft, fresh bun complimented the burger perfectly, and the toppings were fine (though the burger did come out with onions instead of pickles, a mistake that was quickly rectified).

It’s not exactly a burger I’ll remember forever, but it was one that was very well executed on every level.

As for the fries, they were a tad soggy, but were otherwise perfectly cooked and quite tasty.

The Works - the restaurant The Works - the menu The Works - the burger and fries The Works - the burger The Works - the burger
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