I’ll admit that Tallboys was barely even on my radar before a few days ago. I had vaguely heard of it, but with their seemingly single-minded focus on curating an impressive selection of beers, I had sort of figured that food would be an afterthought. It didn’t even occur to me that they might have a hamburger worth eating.
But then, while browsing Instagram while watching a particularly boring episode of True Blood (seriously, how did that show get so terrible?? Did they replace their writing staff with a bunch of particularly dim-witted chimps?) I stumbled onto a picture of the burger at Tallboys. It certainly grabbed my attention more than the shoddy episode I was watching. It actually looked good. Not perfunctory at all.
It didn’t take much more than that for me to find myself at Tallboys a few days later, scanning the menu (they have five burger choices, all double burgers with two four ounce patties) and quickly settling on the Classic: “lettuce, tomato, pickle & scallion mayo.”
Since I was driving I didn’t partake in their impressive beer selection; needless to say, if you’re into that sort of thing, it’s reason enough to visit.
The main thing that caught my eye while browsing through Instagram was the awe-inducing crust on the patties. When you cook a patty on a sufficiently hot griddle, you wind up with a dark crust that adds a ton of flavour and texture. This seems like a no-brainer, but there are plenty of Toronto burger joints that griddle-cook their burger and still get this completely wrong.
The chef at Tallboys has clearly mastered this particular technique; the crust on their burgers is abundant and it is glorious. Based on the pictures I saw on Instagram and the burgers both I and my dining companion were served, this is something the kitchen pulls off every time. Good stuff.
The patties also had a really great, deeply satisfying beefy flavour that made this one of the tastier burgers I’ve had in quite a while. It’s kind of amazing how big of a difference using good quality beef makes, but you can tell instantly that they’re using top-shelf stuff.
I do, unfortunately, have a couple of issues. The texture is off; I think the beef has been a bit overhandled, making it denser than I’d like. It’s also, like so many other burgers in the GTA, dryer than it should be. It probably doesn’t help that it’s been cooked all the way to the end of well done, but even still it does retain a bit of juiciness.
Still, those are relatively minor complaints. Though they do hold the burger back from greatness, it’s still pretty damn good.
The condiments are above average as well — the scallion mayo in particular adds a nice kick of flavour without ever overpowering the beef.
The bun deserves special mention. Though it’s a bit too wide for the patties, it’s soft enough to not get in the way, and substantial enough to hold up very well to the patties and the condiments. It also has this lightly crispy, subtly crackly exterior that’s pretty much irresistible.
As for the fries, aside from being ever-so-slightly undercooked, they were quite tasty.