Location: 35 Elm Street, Toronto
The burger at the Queen and Beaver is… different. My dining companion noted that my brow was furrowed for pretty much the entire time I was eating it, which is true. It’s an odd one. I don’t know how to classify it.
The Queen and Beaver has actually been on my radar for a while now, at least since Toronto Life included it on their list of the best burgers in Toronto back in 2012.
It’s a cozy restaurant with food that’s a bit more ambitious than standard pub fare. This ambition extends to the burger, and sadly, I think their reach exceeds their grasp.
The patty is hand chopped, which means that instead of putting the beef through a grinder like with a traditional hamburger, it’s chopped by hand until the resultant bits are small enough to be formed into a patty.
It’s odd. The waitress informed me that they suggest medium rare, which was fine by me, that being my preference and all. And the grilled patty was cooked to a perfect medium rare, but… it didn’t taste like a hamburger. The hand-chopped patty was formed out of discernibly large chunks of beef, with the effect being that the whole thing tasted like bits of steak that had been mashed into the shape of a hamburger.
Honestly, I’m loathe to even call it a hamburger — it tastes more like a steak sandwich. But if it looks like a burger, is called a burger, and has appeared on a list of the best burgers in Toronto… I guess it’s a hamburger, or at least I should treat it as such.
Sadly, whatever it is, it’s pretty much ruined by an extreme case of over-seasoning. Along with the bits of steak, there are onions, spices, and something else with a very strong flavour added into the mix (Worcestershire sauce? HP? I’m not sure). Whatever it is, it is very, very strong. They are presumably using good quality beef (the steep $18 dollar price tag would certainly indicate this), but thanks to all the junk they’ve got mixed in there, it doesn’t have even one iota of beefy flavour. Maybe it’s a hamburger and maybe it’s a steak sandwich, but either one of those without any beefy flavour is unquestionably a failure.
It comes topped with some thickly sliced bacon which, though it tastes pretty good, is mushy and quite possibly the least crispy bacon I’ve ever had. There wasn’t even a hint of crispiness — it may as well have been boiled. Cheese was proffered, but I elected to go without (and I’m glad I did — there’s already more than enough going on here without adding another flavour to further muddle things).
The fresh sesame seed bun was quite good, I’ll give it that. Kinda sad that the best thing I have to say about this hamburger is that the bun is good, but here we are. Suffice it to say, I disagree with Toronto Life’s assertion that this is one of the best burgers in Toronto. I doubt it would be in my top 100, let alone top 25.
The fries were tasty, however. Thickly cut and maybe a touch underdone, they were otherwise quite good.