Archive | May, 2014

Hwy 55

18 May

hwy
Location
548 Trafalgar Road, Oakville
Websitehttp://hwy55burgers.com/

Though I hadn’t heard of it until recently, Hwy 55 is a fairly widespread American burger chain (they’ve got over a hundred locations) that’s making their first foray into the Canadian market with a restaurant out in Oakville. It’s in a spot formerly occupied by a Lick’s; any restaurant replacing Lick’s is pretty much an upgrade by default. It’s always sad when people lose their jobs, but one less place serving up rubbery frozen burgers can only be a boon for humanity as a whole.

The ’50s-diner-inspired decor is a lot like a Johnny Rockets or a Steak ‘n Shake (an aside: I was at a franchise show a couple of years ago, and, tantalizingly, Steak ‘n Shake was there and had a fairly elaborate booth. So they obviously have vague plans to expand into Canada, though thus far there’s no indication that it’s happening any time soon).

Like those two places, it’s waiter service. The menu highlights the Original Special combo, which is described as their “award winning” daily special (though which awards remain unclear), so obviously that’s what I ordered. I was given the choice of cheese among American, Swiss, Provolone, or Pepper Jack. I went with American, obviously; a classic American cheeseburger requires American cheese. Its creamy consistency when melted is perfect for this style of burger, and it imparts a subtle cheesy flavour without overpowering the beef, as stronger cheeses are prone to do.

There was also the choice of toppings, and as usual I went with mayo, pickles, and tomato.

hwyA

As you’d expect, the restaurant serves a fast-food-style griddled burger. It came looking pretty much picture perfect: a well proportioned patty, a good amount of crust from the griddle, a fully melted slice of American cheese, and a nice looking bun.

And it was actually pretty tasty, though sadly not quite as perfect as I initially hoped. The good? The beef was clearly of a decent quality, and had a satisfying — if somewhat mild — beefy flavour. It was, as it looked, nicely griddled, with a decent amount of crust on the patty. The toppings were fresh and well-proportioned, and the fresh, squishy bun was the absolute perfect bun for a burger such as this.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of fairly big issues that keep this burger firmly in pretty good territory. Foremost, the beef was clearly too lean, and the well done patty was quite dry. Anyone who has read a few reviews on this blog will know that overly-lean beef and too-dry burgers are pretty much my arch-foe, so I’m not going to get into yet another rant about this. Check the archives.

It was also a bit too tightly packed and finely ground, which only compounds the dryness issue. It all adds up to a patty that requires way more jaw-power than you’d like.

Another, more minor issue: whoever seasoned the burger was a bit heavy-handed with the pepper. But I’d much rather have a slightly peppery patty than one with onions, garlic, and other spices mixed in, so I can give them a pass on that one.

As for the fries, they were standard-issue frozen fries. They were well cooked and perfectly edible, but not much more.

Hwy 55 also serves frozen custard, which was the thing I was probably most excited about this place.  For those unaware, frozen custard is basically like ice cream made with a much more custardy base, which gives it that distinctive custard flavour and a very silky, rich creaminess that is unparalleled by regular ice cream.  The only place that I know of in Toronto that serves frozen custard is Jedd’s, and the one time I visited I found it to be icy and underwhelming.

I ordered a scoop of the vanilla frozen custard; sadly, even Jedd’s has this place beat.  Grainy and not particularly creamy, with only a vague whiff of custard flavour and more of a generic sweetness than anything else, it was disappointingly mediocre.  I guess I’ll continue to drive to Buffalo for my frozen custard fix.

Hwy 55 - the restaurant Hwy 55 - the menu Hwy 55 - the restaurant Hwy 55 - the burger Hwy 55 - the burger Hwy 55 - vanilla frozen custard
Hwy 55 on Urbanspoon

Jessie’s

4 May

jessies
Location
450 Matheson Boulevard East, Mississauga
Website: None

I was doing some random Google searches for the best burger in Mississauga, and Jessie’s popped up a couple of times.  I really don’t need much more of an excuse to check out a place than that, so… here we are.

Jessie’s is a Greek Deli, with standard deli sandwiches on the menu, along with stuff like souvlaki and Greek salads.  And a burger, of course.  They offer a standard burger, a cheeseburger, and something called Jesse’s Burger.  As usual, I went with the namesake item, which comes topped with Swiss cheese and peameal bacon, along with your choice of toppings.

There’s no point in beating around the bush: it’s a frozen, industrially-produced burger. By their standards, it’s better than average. It actually has some vague beefy flavour, and the texture — though chewy — isn’t quite as rubbery as some of these things tend to be (i.e. it actually tasted somewhat like a hamburger, and not like the flattened hot dog that so many of the lower quality frozen burgers taste like).

It’s not particularly good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not nearly as appalling as a lot of the frozen burgers I’m subjected to.

jessiesA

I will say that Jessie’s do their best to disguise the less-than-stellar patty. It’s nicely grilled, giving it some smokiness without the burnt flavour you sometimes get with grilled burgers, and the swiss cheese is fully melted and satisfyingly gooey.

The thickly-sliced peameal bacon was also above average. Some peameal bacon has the tendency to be so tough that your teeth can’t quite make their way through it, resulting in the entire piece of bacon pulling out of the burger while still attached to your face. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. I actually tried a piece on its own and it was quite tasty: tender, not too salty, and slightly smoky. They sell this in a sandwich by itself, and I’m quite positive that it would be much more satisfying than the burger.

The dense, crusty roll would no doubt be completely overwhelming on a better hamburger; here, where I’m happy to let the sub-par burger be overwhelmed, it was perfectly fine.

This would be where I’d normally talk about the restaurant’s fries, but oddly enough, this place doesn’t serve them.  I ordered a coleslaw instead, which was of the creamy variety and which was actually quite tasty.  I’m not sure if they make it in-house, but I’m assuming they do; if it’s a store-bought brand, it’s probably the best one that I’ve tried.

Jessie's - the outside Jessie's - the restaurant Jessie's - the menu Jessie's - the burger Jessie's - the burger
Jessie's on Urbanspoon