Location: 480 King Street West, Toronto
If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I’m constantly complaining about overly-dry burgers. Constantly. Aside from mixing superfluous gunk into the patty, I think it’s the thing that Toronto restaurants and burger joints get wrong the most.
So I really need to applaud Weslodge’s burger (“Braised beef cheek, branston pickle, English cheddar”) for the exact opposite: it was gloriously, intensely juicy. You could tell just by looking at the glistening patty; once I cut it in half, the juices came rushing out in a veritable torrent. As I ate it, they dripped readily from the patty, soaking into the bun and pooling on the plate.
It was amazing.
I should note that it wasn’t too juicy, in case it sounds that way. The patty itself wasn’t mushy or wet at all; the texture was just right. I requested medium rare and they hit it perfectly. It also had a nice coarse grind and expertly straddled the line between tenderness and substance.
In case it wasn’t already obvious that the chef here knows his way around a burger, the griddled patty had exactly the dark brown crispy exterior that you’re looking for. Suffice it to say, texturally it was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long, long time.
The flavour was quite good as well, with a really satisfying beefy, buttery flavour. This was complimented quite well by the condiments, particularly the Branston pickle (essentially a medley of cubed pickled vegetables) which performed the same function as the typical pickle, but which tasted a bit more interesting.
The bun, though a bit on the dense side, actually suited the substantial, very juicy patty quite well — a softer bun almost surely would have crumbled to bits.
My only real problem with this burger — though it’s kind of a big one — is the cheese. The patty is topped with a big, honkin’ slice of very sharp cheddar. Aside from the fact that it was doing its best to overwhelm the flavour of the amazing patty, it was completely unmelted. If you’re serving a cheeseburger with cold, unmelted cheese, I’m pretty sure you should have to go on TV to apologize to the nation. You have committed a crime against food. You are, I’m sorry to say, a monster.
I’ve mentioned this before, but a burger with unmelted cheese isn’t a cheeseburger — it’s a hamburger with a piece of cheese on top. The cheese needs to melt and become gooey and mingle with the patty to earn that distinction. Melted cheese on a hamburger patty is one of the greatest things ever; cold, unmelted cheese is an abomination.
It’s funny how thoroughly a few moments of heat can transform an ingredient, but there you go.
As for the fries, sadly they were the polar opposite of the hamburger. They were terrible. They’re insanely thick. You really have to be careful when you’re cooking fries at this thickness, because they can easily wind up undercooked, with a chalky, dense middle. That’s exactly what happened here. Thick-cut fries aren’t my favourite to start with, but undercooked thick-cut fries? They are the french fry equivalent of a cheeseburger with unmelted cheese. They are an affront to humanity.
But since I’d like to end this review on a positive note, I’ll reiterate that — unmelted, too-strong cheese notwithstanding — Weslodge serves a fantastic hamburger. If not for the cheese issue, I’d probably rank it among the best in the city. It’s that good.