Oh Boy! Burger Market

: 296 Gerrard Street East, Toronto

Sometimes, I wanna put on a tight black T-shirt, bust into the kitchen at a burger joint and pull a Whiplash on the chef. Oh, is this the burger you’re serving me? NOT MY TEMPO.  MAKE IT AGAIN.

I just don’t get it.  It’s not like we’re talking about some finicky souffle or a complex molecular gastronomy creation that requires years of training and thousands of dollars in equipment — it’s a burger. It doesn’t require much from a chef.  You get good quality, reasonably fatty beef, you grind it coarsely, you form it loosely into a patty, and you cook it on a hot surface.  Put it on a fresh bun that’s the right size, and you’re good to go.  It’s so easy that I really don’t get why every burger isn’t great.

The myriad ways Toronto burger joints manage to mess it up can sometimes make me want to throw my hands in the air, yell out “DONE” to no one in particular, and then become a vegetarian.


Which isn’t to say that the burger at Oh Boy was particularly bad.  It was fine.  I didn’t dislike eating it.  But there are a few frustratingly common mistakes that hold it back from being anything better than “meh” (clearly, there’s a reason why it’s been around for years with so few people even knowing about it.  Even I hadn’t heard of it until a few months ago, and I go out of my way to keep up with such things, as you might imagine).

I ordered the classic burger, which comes with two four ounce, griddle-cooked patties, topped to request.  I went with pickles, tomatoes, and Oh Boy Roasted Garlic Mayo.

The quality of the beef is obviously pretty good; the patties had a decent beefy flavour that’s fairly subtle, but definitely there.  There’s some crust from the griddle (not a lot, but some), which is always good.  I also quite enjoyed the roasted garlic mayo, which has a nice pop of garlic flavour without slapping you in the face or overwhelming the beef.

But, like so many other Toronto burger joints, the well done patties are more dry and more tough than they have any right to be, thanks to beef that’s obviously too lean, that’s been too finely ground, and that’s way too tightly packed.  It’s a bit of a tough chew.

The bun was bordering on being too soft and insubstantial for the task at hand, but it basically got the job done.

The fries, at least, were great; crisp, but not too crisp, with a creamy interior and a nice potatoey flavour.  They were about a million times better than the burger.

2.5 out of 4

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Food Dudes

: It’s a truck, so check Twitter to see where they’re parked

Food trucks have really livened up events like the Canadian International Auto Show, which is currently going on at the Convention Centre.  Suddenly, the food options are a bit more interesting than a warmed over slice of pizza or a sad hot dog.

There are a couple of trucks at the show this year, both with a burger on the menu (the other one is Hank Daddy’s Barbecue).  I went with Food Dudes, which was probably a mistake.

The Truck Burger sounds appealing enough; their menu describes it as “chopped steak, aged cheddar, chili pickled onions, arugula, bacon mayo, pomme frites, brioche.”

It might have been a pretty good burger, if it weren’t for whatever the hell is going on with the patty, which has an odd, downright alien texture.  It was chewy, dense, and bizarre, like the ground beef had melted and congealed, trying its best to reassemble itself back into one solid mass.  Maybe I’m overly picky (okay, definitely), but in this case I have photographic proof.  I mean, look at the picture of this burger’s cross-section.  I’ve seen the insides of many, many hamburgers over the last few years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.


I’d say the burger is meatloafy (there’s definitely all kinds of flavouring mixed in), but I’ve never had meatloaf with this texture; it was somewhere between a sausage and Spam.  It was kind of insane how weird it was.

The menu calls the patty “chopped steak,” and maybe this is the culprit?  Chopping rather than grinding beef is ostensibly meant to give the burger a more coarse, steaky texture — but they seem to achieved the absolute opposite effect here.  Maybe instead of putting the beef through a grinder, they instead threw it into a food processor and ran it until the meat became a fine paste?  Or they chopped it by hand, and chopped it and chopped it and chopped it, until they wound up with the aforementioned paste?  I really don’t know how else to account for that texture.

It actually tasted okay, though between the assertive bacon mayo, the sharp cheddar, all the spices mixed into the beef, and the insane texture, I honestly don’t think I would have guessed this was a hamburger if I had eaten it blindfolded.  I don’t even know if I would have pegged the meat as beef, given how thoroughly disguised it was by the other flavours and that oddball spongy/chewy/gummy texture.

The patty was otherwise kinda juicy and not overcooked, so it’s a real shame that they did whatever it is that they did to it.  The toppings were pretty good too, if a bit overwhelming; I particularly liked the crispy potato strings, which added a nice crunch without being too assertive.  I also quite liked the fresh brioche bun.

But that patty.  That patty…

2 out of 4

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