Sonny’s Drive-In — a small, rickety old take-out joint — is absolutely dripping with old-school charm. It is lousy with it. Though in other cities that might fill you with a warm fuzzy feeling, visiting an old-school burger joint in the GTA is pretty much a guarantee of two things:
1) The burgers will be grilled. I have no idea why, but prior to the rise of places like Burger’s Priest and Holy Chuck a few years ago, griddled burgers were exceptionally difficult to find in the GTA (aside from fast food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s). Everyone grilled their burgers.
2) This is the thing that always makes me hesistant to check out old-school burger joints: the burgers being served will almost certainly be of the frozen, industrially-produced variety. Or if you’re lucky and the burger is freshly made, it’ll inevitably be a meatloaf burger.
Number two is what makes it impossible for me to feel anything but trepidation when I visit an old-school burger joint, and makes me seriously confused as to how these places stay in business. I think it’s safe to say that nostalgia plays a very strong role.
Before I bury the lede much further: yes, Sonny’s serves a frozen burger. No, it is not good.
It’s a tiny little place that does mostly take-out business — there are four picnic tables outside, but aside from that seating is non-existent. The burgers can either be had plain, with cheese, or with bacon and cheese. I went plain and had mine topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo.
Accuse me of snobbery all you want, but cheap frozen burgers like the ones they serve here (and these are seriously bottom of the barrel) barely even taste like a hamburger to me. I’ve mentioned this before, but with their rubbery texture and generically salty flavour, they taste more like a flattened hot dog than like a hamburger. They’re bad.
The toppings were fine, though the mayo was actually Miracle Whip or something similar. The bun was pretty good, though when it’s part of such a shoddy hamburger, who cares?
As for the fries, they were much better than the burger, though that’s not saying much. They were soggy and a bit undercooked, but otherwise pretty good. They were also completely unsalted, which is a bit of a bummer coming from a take-out place.