Location: 147 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
Though The Tavern by Trevor isn’t technically on Toronto Life’s list of the twenty best burgers in the city, it’s a spin-off of a restaurant that is (Trevor Kitchen and Bar), so I sort of figured I was in good hands.
The burger they serve is labelled as a Kobe burger. Excuse me for going on a brief rant, but this is misguided on several levels, not the least of which being that anything called Kobe beef in Canada is almost certainly not actually Kobe beef. Kobe beef refers to a specific breed of cattle raised in a specific part of Japan (Kobe), and is pretty much never exported to Canada — not legally, at least. It’s far more likely that what’s being served here is Wagyu beef, which is similar enough to Kobe that many restaurants feel okay labeling it as such, even if it’s not really true.
That’s not to mention that the biggest appeal of Kobe (or Wagyu) beef is its prodigious marbling, which is rendered entirely moot when you grind it up for a hamburger.
So basically, labeling something as a Kobe burger is completely meaningless. It is a marketing ploy at best, and an excuse to overcharge at worst. Fortunately the latter isn’t the case here; at ten bucks (plus an additional five for fries), the price is about on par with what you’d expect at a restaurant like this.
The 6 oz Kobe Burger is described as coming with “horseradish mayo, smoked cheddar & caramelized onion.”
The grilled burger came cooked to medium rare and was reasonably juicy. I think, however, that the heat was too high, as the exterior of the burger was thoroughly charred, with an unpleasantly acrid, bitter flavour.
The patty was also too tightly packed and, I think, a bit too finely ground. It was fine in the medium rare centre, but the well done edges were dry, dense, and unpleasant.
Still, the bulk of the patty (i.e. everything but the edges) is fairly tasty with a good texture, though the pervasive bitterness is unfortunate.
The smoked cheddar is creamy, nicely melted and not too sharp, allowing the beef to be the star of the show. The horseradish mayo also suits the burger pretty well.
Sadly, the bun was awful. Dry, unpleasantly dense, and — I think — more than a little bit stale, it’s a complete fiasco. It’s definitely one of the shoddiest buns I’ve had in quite a long time.
Basically, it’s a good burger with a few pretty major flaws. With a fresh bun and without being way over-charred it actually could have been really good, but sadly they served what they served.
As for the fries, they were outstanding. Really tasty and addictively crispy without ever becoming too crunchy, they were pretty great.