Location: 5 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Cardinal Rule is a cozy little diner on Roncesvalles that seems to be doing pretty well for themselves; they were featured on You Gotta Eat Here, and when I went at around 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon, they were pretty much packed.
Usually when I review a place I’ll go there with the specific intention of writing a review — in this case, I just happened to find myself there and what’s this? A burger on the menu? Well then.
I actually almost didn’t order the burger. It’s one of those brunch burgers with the works piled on top which I normally avoid, but a big kitchen sink burger actually sounded pretty good at that moment, so I went for it.
This particular hamburger — dubbed the Wallop Burger — comes topped with “a potato latke, bacon, cheddar & a sunny fried egg on a ciabatta bun.” So, basically it’s a complete breakfast crammed onto a burger.
It’s… okay, I guess. It actually should have been pretty tasty, but the burger itself is iffy. It’s a meatloaf burger, for one thing. And oh man, it’s so damn meatloafy. Seriously: at what point does a burger stop being a burger and become meatloaf? When onions are added? Spices? Breadcrumbs? Eggs? Because I’m not sure about the latter two (though I have my suspicions) but there were definitely a crap-ton of onions and spices in this “burger”.
So what makes it a hamburger and not a meatloaf sandwich? Is it just because the meat has been formed into individual patties and not into a pan? Is that it? As long as one of the ingredients is beef and it’s in a patty shape, it’s a hamburger? I just… I don’t know. Maybe I’m being a stick in the mud, but when you take something as simple as a hamburger and start cramming all kinds of other flavours into it, it changes its essential character so thoroughly that it’s no longer the same thing. It’s a different dish altogether. It’s a meatloaf sandwich.
Whatever it is, it’s over-spiced, with a face-punch of flavour but zero beefiness remaining. It’s also quite dry and a bit more dense than it should be.
As for the other stuff, it’s not bad. The fried egg has a satisfyingly runny yolk, and the cheese is creamy and melted. The patty packs such a strong salty punch, however, that the bacon is mostly superfluous. As for the latke, it’s fine, but there’s clearly a reason why you rarely find potatoes on a hamburger (or on sandwiches in general) — it’s just adding additional starchiness that isn’t really necessary when you’ve already got bread.
The bun is a bit on the crusty side, but since there’s so much stuff piled on here, the more substantial bun is definitely quite welcome.
I don’t wanna pile onto the place, but I should mention that the service was kind of questionable. It took about half an hour to receive our food, which seems a bit excessive for a casual diner like this. We also pretty much never saw our waitress aside from our order being taken and the food being delivered; getting the bill was a bit of a challenge (eventually, one of us had to get up to ask for it).