I’ve been pretty anxious to check out The Carbon Bar ever since I watched this drool-inducing video; if you can watch that and not want to immediately hop into the nearest car, subway, or bus to get to The Carbon Bar, you’re clearly made of stronger stuff than I am.
The Carbon Bar is primarily a barbecue joint — albeit an upscale one, with prices to match — and has a burger that definitely fits the theme. Specifically, it’s topped with a fat slice of smoky brisket (along with American cheese, charred and pickled chili peppers, lettuce, pickles, and burnt onion aioli).
It’s really tasty. The patty has an impressive amount of crust from the griddle and is cooked to a nice pink medium rare — it’s clearly above average. It had a really good texture, and in the bites I got of the patty alone, a rich, satisfying flavour that you only get from great quality beef.
But there’s a lot going on here. The patty, as great as it is, feels like a supporting player in its own hamburger.
The generous slice of smoked brisket — probably about the thickness of the patty itself, if not a bit thicker — is the dominant flavour here. I mean, I’m not really complaining; the brisket was amazingly tender, unctuously fatty, impressively smoky, and had a generous amount of seriously tasty bark. It was easily the best BBQ brisket I’ve had in Toronto. But the burger tastes more like a brisket sandwich with a burger patty than a hamburger with brisket.
The cheese, too, was stronger than it needed to be. The menu calls it American cheese, but it definitely had the taste and texture of regular cheddar (and a fairly sharp one at that). It was a bit overpowering.
The other toppings were all pretty great, particularly the charred and pickled chili peppers — they do an amazing job of cutting the richness of the patty, the brisket, and the cheese. The sweet, fresh brioche bun was nearly perfect, though it did lose structural integrity towards the end (I had to eat the last few bites of the burger with a fork and knife).
Still, whatever faults I have as a burger purist — I really wish I could taste the patty a bit better, since it was clearly pretty amazing — there’s no question that what they’re serving here is delicious.
As for the fries, yeah, they’re delicious too. Perfectly fried, perfectly seasoned, can’t stop eating.