Canyon Creek

1900 The Queensway, Toronto

Just once, I’d like to go to a casual chain restaurant  and get a burger that’s actually really good.  I mean, that’s not such a tall order, is it?  A good burger isn’t all that difficult to make.  Just start with decent quality beef that’s reasonably fatty, and you’ve won half the battle.  Alas, the burgers at places like this tend to either be just okay, or outright bad.

This being a restaurant that specializes in meat, I thought that perhaps it could be the one to buck the trend.  I ordered the Canyon Burger and hoped for the best.

The menu describes the burger as coming topped with “crisp leaf lettuce, vine ripened tomato, dill pickle, red onion, Canyon aïoli on a fresh sesame bun baked in-house daily.”


Well, it’s not bad, I’ll give it that.  But sadly, it does not rise above its casual chain restaurant brethren; it’s merely okay.

The biggest issue here is that the grilled, well done patty is — like an absurd amount of Toronto-area burgers before it — made with beef that is too lean.  It’s dry.  I just…  I can’t even muster up the motivation to get particularly worked up about this anymore.  If you live in Toronto and you like burgers, you will be getting your mouth dried out by too-lean hamburgers.  Often.  Sadly, it just comes with the territory.

Aside from that, it’s not bad.  The quality of the beef is obviously pretty decent, as the burger has a decent amount of beefy flavour.

As for the toppings and the fresh-baked bun?  They’re fine.  It’s all pretty ho-hum, though you could certainly do worse.

The lightly battered, shoestring fries were okay.  Battered fries aren’t my favourite, and they were a bit on the crunchy side, but like the burger I have had worse.

Canyon Creek Chophouse - the restaurant Canyon Creek Chophouse - the menu Canyon Creek Chophouse - the burger and fries Canyon Creek Chophouse - the burger
Canyon Creek Chophouse on Urbanspoon


Location21 Colossus Drive, Woodbridge

I was actually kind of excited when Chili’s opened here back in 2009.  It was a much darker time for a hamburger lover in the GTA; this was pre-Burger’s Priest, Holy Chuck, and the many other burger joints serving quality smashed and griddle-cooked burgers in Toronto.  It was surprisingly difficult to find a decent hamburger cooked in this style.  Almost impossible.  Like I said, it was a dark time.

Chili’s serves through-and-through American food, and of course, this includes a classic diner-style griddled hamburger.  Or at least, it did.  Now?  Not so much.

But when they first opened here, Chili’s served a pretty decent burger.  It wasn’t anything too great, but this being 2009, a griddled burger made with fresh beef and without any onions or spices mixed in was a rare treat.

Fast forward to now.  At some point, the higher-ups at Chili’s must have taken a look at their Canadian competition — dreck like Boston Pizza, Kelsey’s, and Montana’s — and realized that Canadians have very low standards when it comes to casual chain restaurants.  So they switched over from making their burgers fresh to serving prefabricated frozen hamburgers.


On my most recent visit I ordered the bacon cheeseburger, and it was obvious just looking at it that it was a frozen burger.  It was even more obvious when I tasted it: with its chewy, hot doggy texture and its generically salty, non-beefy flavour, there was absolutely no mistaking it for anything but a frozen patty.  It was pretty bad.

The cheese and bacon were both fine, though they did nothing to disguise the off-putting patty.  The bun, too, was fine (if a bit dense), but again — there is nothing that can disguise that patty.

The burger came with a side of fries that were perfectly okay, but a bit ho-hum.

To me, the unfortunate changeover from fresh to frozen burgers sends a fairly clear message to Canadians.  Chili’s is basically saying “Yeah, we could spend a little bit extra and make our hamburgers with fresh beef, like we used to.  But you people will eat whatever garbage we put in front of you, so why should we?”  And when you look around at the casual chain restaurant landscape, they might just be right.  We will eat whatever garbage they put in front of us; there’s just no other way to explain the baffling success of the execrable Boston Pizza, among others.

Chili's - the burger and fries Chili's - the burger Chili's - the burger
Chili's Grill & Bar (Colossus) on Urbanspoon
(Images of the inside and outside of the restaurant above captured from this video on YouTube. For some reason it completely slipped my mind to take these pictures myself.  Whoops!)