Location: 1087 Queen Street West, Toronto
UPDATE: The restaurant is closed, apparently. Can’t say I’m too surprised.
The Samuel J. Moore just opened a few weeks ago, and the early word is that they’ve got a burger worth eating. Obviously, I had to give it a shot.
I came at around noon on a Saturday during brunch service. I was hoping to get the regular hamburger off the dinner menu, but sadly, only the Brunch Burger was available.
Before I get into the less-than-great things about the place, I will say that the design of the restaurant is quite nice. Spacious, with a classy old-school diner aesthetic and lots of sunlight streaming in from the windows, it’s certainly a pleasant enough place to have a relaxing meal.
And when the burger came, it looked pretty darn good. This is a place that seemed to have it all figured out — or so I thought, until I actually took a bite.
The Brunch Burger comes topped with a fried egg, peameal bacon, smoked cheddar, and coleslaw. There are a lot of flavours here, and sadly, they never coalesce into anything particularly satisfying.
It looks good, though, doesn’t it?
But let me talk about the patty, because that’s really where this burger takes a wrong turn and never comes back. Finely ground,densely packed, overly lean, and cooked all the way to the tippy-top of well done, it’s a perfect storm of density and dryness.
The patty also has a distinct lack of beefiness that was so pronounced I felt compelled to ask my server if it was all beef, or some kind of beef/pork blend. It’s all beef, apparently, so I’m not sure how to account for its almost complete lack of beefy flavour. It didn’t taste bad, at least. It just tasted like nothing. Chewy, tough nothing.
Of course, I was only able to discern this in the bites I took of the patty alone, because this is a hamburger with a lot going on. The dominant flavour is the peppery, tangy coleslaw, which is surprisingly spicy and completely inappropriate as a topping for a hamburger. It might have been okay on its own, but as a condiment it is ridiculously overpowering and tragically misguided.
The somewhat dry, tough peameal bacon also didn’t do the burger any favours.
The fried egg, however, was perfectly cooked with a satisfyingly runny yolk. It couldn’t do much to save the burger, but it was nice. The fresh, toasted brioche bun was also pretty great, and definitely deserved to be part of a better burger.
And I guess there was cheddar in there, too, but with all the other stuff going on I honestly couldn’t even taste it.
The burger also came with a side of perfunctory hash browns and bland house-made ketchup. They were on par with the burger, which is to say not good.