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.
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.