A few months ago, The Post called This End Up’s Better Mac one of the best sandwiches in the city. More recently, Toronto Life mentioned it in a list of seven Big Mac-esque concoctions served in Toronto restaurants (which includes, intriguingly, a pizza). That was it. A burger getting that much press and I hadn’t tried it yet? Nope. Not acceptable. I had to go. Obviously.
So it was that I found myself sitting in one of This End Up’s weirdly low chairs. Seriously: either the chair is too low or the table too high, but it’s weird. The chair-to-table-height ratio was off. That’s right — I think about chair-to-table-height ratios. Should I have admitted that? I’m going to move on now.
They have a couple of burgers on the menu: the aforementioned Better Mac, along with a chutney burger. Even if I hadn’t already been there for the Better Mac, that’s what I would have gone with. I like chutney, but I can’t imagine it being anything but overpowering on a hamburger.
The Better Mac, as described by the menu: “2×4 oz. fresh ground chuck patties / special sauce / lettuce / choice of American or cheddar cheese / pickles / sweet onion.” Not sure why cheddar is even an option in this case, but I obviously went with American.
I know that as someone who’s fairly serious about food, I’m supposed to hate McDonald’s on principle. I don’t. Not that everything there is particularly good (and in fact some of it is quite terrible), but like a Twinkie, a Big Mac can be pretty satisfying in its own junky way.
The middle bun is missing and there’s an extra slice of cheese, but aside from that this thing definitely has the essential Big Mac flavours nailed. Obviously, however, the patties are much much (much much) better.
The griddled patties came cooked to a pretty perfect medium rare. The texture was a bit off — I think it’s a bit too finely ground, and a tad on the dry side — but even still it was fairly juicy, and had a mild but satisfying beefly flavour.
There were two slices of cheese rather than a Big Mac’s one, but the patties were substantial enough that the balance of meat and cheese still felt pretty much perfect.
As for the other toppings, they were classic Big Mac. The sauce, the pickles, the lettuce, even the onion — I’m normally not a huge fan of raw onions on a hamburger, but these were quite mild and sliced very thin. They replicated the taste of the rehyratated little onions on a Big Mac surprisingly well.
So yeah, if you ever wondered what a Big Mac would taste like with actual good quality beef, get yourself over to This End Up post-haste.
As for the fries, they were outstanding. When I first got them I was afraid they’d be of the thin-and-crunchy variety, but they were perfectly cooked; crispy on the outside, and creamy potatoey goodness on the inside. Bottles of delicious house-made (I’m assuming) ketchup, mayo, and hot sauce are provided (Heinz, Hellman’s, and Tobasco they definitely were not). So good.
I should also mention the impressive selection of sodas, also house-made. I got the Grenadine Hibiscus, and it was sweet, refreshing, and kind of amazing.