It’s been a while since I’ve visited a place from Toronto Life’s list of the best burgers in Toronto, and though my last experience wasn’t particularly great, I figured it was about time to check another one off the list. This week: number 17, Mildred Temple Kitchen.
I actually tried to go here a couple of weeks ago for brunch, but the restaurant was packed, with a 40 minute wait for a table. It’s a popular place.
My second attempt was more successful. I scanned the menu and quickly found the MTK Burger: “topped with tomato relish & crispy tobacco onions, served on a pain au lait bun.”
I’ll get the bad out of the way first: It’s a meatloaf burger, and not a subtle one at that, with all kinds of spices and other stuff mixed in (I definitely saw onions, and there may or may not have been garlic as well).
I’ve laid out my problems with meatloaf burgers a few times before, but my main objection is this: a beef patty on its own (seasoned with salt and maybe pepper) and a beef patty with spices and onions and who-knows-what mixed in are two very, very different things. They look similar, but they taste so radically different that I don’t know how, in good conscience, you can call them both the same thing. On a very fundamental level, one is a hamburger, and one is an imitation of a hamburger. I’ve made this analogy before, but It’s like comparing authentic Chinese food to chop suey; you can call both Chinese food if you want, but no one’s buying it.
The patty at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is tasty enough, but all the other stuff mixed in with the beef completely annihilates its flavour — the burger could have been made from ground pork or lamb and it would have made zero difference. There’s no flavour whatsoever from the beef. None.
I will say, however, that the burger is otherwise superlative; super juicy and cooked to a perfect medium rare, it has a really satisfying texture with none of the sausage-like consistency that you get from a lot of meatloaf burgers. There’s also an addictively crispy crust from the grill. The meatloafy taste of the patty is a bit on the salty side, but otherwise pretty good.
The condiments are quite good as well — the menu doesn’t mention the garlicky aioli, which is quite tasty, if a bit strong. The abundant crispy onion strings add some texture and compliment the burger quite well. As for the tomato relish, the burger’s other flavours are so assertive that I honestly couldn’t even taste it.
The pain au lait bun is a bit on the dense side, though with a burger this juicy and this messy, a more substantial bun is definitely needed, so it works quite well.
Seriously, I can’t say enough about how juicy this burger is; in a city filled with overly-lean, dried-out burgers, that alone is a huge plus in its favour.
Pretty much everything about this burger is above average; it’s just a real shame that the beef’s flavour (i.e. the star of the show in a hamburger) has been completely wiped out. Still, for what it is, it tastes pretty good. It might just be the best meatloaf burger I’ve ever had.
As for the fries, they too were above average, particularly when dipped in the aforementioned garlicky aioli.