Archive | January, 2014

Toma Burger Addiction

26 Jan

toma
Location
712 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://toma-burgeraddiction.com/

I am confounded.  Toma Burger Addiction confounds me.  This is a burger place that, somehow, gets almost every single element of their hamburger completely wrong.  Even if you were trying to make the ultimate mediocre hamburger, I don’t think you could succeed quite as brilliantly as Toma Burger Addiction has.

I will say that the design of the restaurant is quite nice.  Bright, spacious, and handsomely designed, it’s actually one of the more inviting-looking burger joints I’ve visited for this blog.

Unlike a lot of burger places in the city, it’s a sit-down restaurant. The service was fine; another non-food-related plus in this restaurant’s favour.

They have about a dozen burger choices on the menu.  I went with The Classic, which comes topped with “Angus beef, cheddar, caramelized onions, pickles, arugula, tomato, Toma secret sauce.”

They don’t specify how big the patty is, but I’d guess it’s about six ounces.  It’s not very good.  Though it’s not particularly dry (which is nice), the texture is off.  It’s ever-so-slightly mushy, and kind of sausagey.

There’s definitely some kind of seasoning mixed into the beef, which doesn’t help.  I also think it’s ground a little bit too finely.  It’s off.  It’s weird.

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The patty has a muddled flavour that, just like the texture, is a little bit off.  It’s nothing that’ll make you pound your fist onto the table and decry the state of humanity; it’s perfectly edible, it just doesn’t taste right.  There’s no real beefy flavour.  There’s no flavour of anything, in particular.  It’s muddled.  I don’t know.  It was weird.  It was off-putting in a way that I can’t exactly put my finger on.

The bun, on the other hand, was clearly disastrous.  It was quite possibly the worst bun I’ve ever had on a hamburger.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I was probably in trouble.  It looks dense and impenetrable.  Cutting into it confirmed my suspicions; it was thick and unyielding and surprisingly difficult to saw in half.

Impossibly dense and sugary sweet, it was completely overwhelming and should not be allowed within fifty feet of a hamburger patty.  Of all the things that are confoundingly bad about this burger, the bun is clearly the most baffling.  I honestly cannot think of a worse bun for a burger.  It’s just so chewy and doughy and intensely flavoured.  It’s actually kind of insane how terrible it is.  It’s like someone took a pretzel bun, soaked it in sugar water and then left it out in the sun until they were satisfied that it had reached a properly brick-like consistency.

The condiments don’t fare much better.  The mushy, colourless caramelized onions look and taste as though they’ve been boiled.   Granted, I’m not a professional chef, but I’m fairly certain that caramelized onions are supposed to be caramelized.

The Toma sauce was mostly just sweet and uninspired.  It’s only been a few hours since I ate this burger, and I already forget what it tasted like.  If only I could forget the rest of the burger quite so easily, but I fear it will be haunting my nightmares for weeks to come.

As for the fries, they were actually really good.  Thinly cut and perfectly cooked, they would have easily been the bright spot of the meal — but not only were they not served hot, they weren’t served warm.  They were room temperature.  Because why ruin the perfect storm of mediocrity, right?

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Toma Burger addiction on Urbanspoon

The P&L Burger

12 Jan

pnl
Location
507 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://twitter.com/thepnlburger

P&L Burger has pretty big shoes to fill. It’s sitting in the same location as the tragically short-lived White Squirrel Snack Shop, which served a downright amazing hamburger that immediately became one of my favourites in the city. Farewell, White Squirrel… you were too beautiful for this world.

This new place actually stems from Parts & Labour, whose burger was popular enough to win a reality show competition, and to justify a whole new spin-off restaurant. Armed with that knowledge, and knowing that any burger served in this location was going to have to be compared to my poor departed White Squirrel, it was obvious that P&L Burger had a pretty steep mountain to climb.

They have a handful of burgers on the menu, but I went with the signature P&L: “cheddar, bacon-onion jam, iceberg, dill pickle mayo.”

P&L’s griddled, seven ounce patty is made out of brisket, a fattier cut of beef that is much more appropriate for hamburger cookery than the lean beef that so many misguided burger joints in Toronto curse their burgers with.  What’s this?  An actual juicy burger that doesn’t completely dry out my mouth?  What is this wizardry?  Living in Toronto, it’s easy enough to forget that such a thing can even exist.

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The patty also has an amazingly pronounced crust that might just dethrone Toronto’s previous champion of the ever-desirable Maillard reaction, Burger’s Priest.  With the coarsely ground, loosely packed beef cooked to a perfectly juicy medium rare, and with that delightfully crispy crust, it’s pretty much textural perfection.

But of course, there is the inevitable White Squirrel comparison, and the P&L burger does fall a bit short.  It’s a very good burger, but it lacks that magnificently beefy flavour that made the White Squirrel’s hamburger so amazingly memorable.

It’s also a little bit over-condimented.  Between the cheese (which was nice and melty, I should point out), the tangy dill pickle mayo, and the bacon-onion jam, there’s a lot going on in this burger.   It was a tasty combo, but it was a touch too assertive; it shifted the condiment-to-patty taste ratio too far into the direction of the condiments.  It certainly tasted good and probably won’t be an issue for most, but if you’re like me and feel like the beef should be the star of the show, you might be a bit disappointed.

The sesame seed bun, however, was nice and fresh and complimented the burger perfectly.

As for the fries, they seemed like they should have been very good, but they were underdone and a bit chalky.

Like with my last review, I should note that there seem to be consistency issues.  My burger was cooked to medium rare and was juicy and amazing; my dining companion, on the other hand, got a burger that was cooked all the way to well done and was excessively dry.

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The P & L Burger on Urbanspoon

The Whippoorwill

1 Jan

whip
Location
1285 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.thewhippoorwill.com/

NOW Toronto recently called the burger from the Whippoorwill the best burger for over ten dollars in the city; it wasn’t even on my radar before that proclamation, but obviously once you make a statement like that I’m pretty much obligated to check the place out.

I showed up at around noon on a Saturday and the place was packed, so they’re obviously doing pretty well.

My dining companion ordered the burger as well, because how can you not order a burger that’s been called the best in the city by a reputable source (even if it is by popular vote, which can sometimes result in questionable results)? You have to. You have no choice.

The Whippoorwill Burger, as per their menu: “ground prime beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, Russian dressing, on a buttered bun.”

The waitress (the spitting image of Mila Kunis, I should note) asked if medium was okay for the patty; I prefer medium rare, but if I’m reviewing a burger, I’ll take it however the restaurant wants to serve it. Anyway, medium is certainly better than the ubiquitous well done, so I’m not complaining.

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The burger was quite good, that’s for sure, but best in the city? That’s questionable. For one thing, it was a bit dry. The pinker part in the middle was reasonably juicy, but closer to the gray, well done edges, it became lamentably dry. It’s a thick patty, and the edges required a bit more chewing power than I’d typically like to expend on a hamburger.

I also don’t think the quality of the beef was high enough for this to be considered as a truly top-shelf hamburger. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it lacked that satisifyingly beefy bite that you get from really good quality meat.

It probably doesn’t help that there’s a little bit too much going on, flavour-wise. Specifically, the assertively-spiced Russian dressing is completely overpowering, and pretty much punches all of the hamburger’s other flavours in the face. It’s the star of the show when it should clearly be a supporting player.  Another supporting player muscling its way to the front of the stage: the sharp cheddar cheese.  Though it was perfectly melted, it’s probably not the best choice for a hamburger.

I never thought I’d say this, but the bun was too buttery. Normally I love a buttered bun on a hamburger, but this one was greasy and soaked through with the stuff. Even with all the other flavours, the butter taste was pronounced and a tad overbearing.

It was brunch, so instead of the usual fries the burger came with home fries. They were deep fried with a delightfully crispy exterior. The inside, however, was overcooked; it was crumbly and dry, and borderline inedible without the provided ketchup to lubricate things.

I should probably note that they clearly have consistency issues, so your mileage may vary. My burger came haphazardly assembled, with the components falling out and everything askew. My dining companion, on the other hand, got a picture perfect burger and was raving about how juicy and delicious it was, so who knows. Maybe I got a bad one.

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The Whippoorwill on Urbanspoon