Blue Goose

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Location
235 Queens Quay West, Toronto (Harbourfront)
Website: None, but they do have some info on Twitter

I’ve eaten a lot of burgers over the course of my lifetime.  This is actually the 50th hamburger that I’ve reviewed since starting this blog back in 2011.  I’ve also eaten my share of un-reviewed hamburgers over the last three years, and of course, I was a fairly profligate burger-eater pre-Tasty Burgers.    I’m going to guess that I’ve eaten a thousand hamburgers in my lifetime, and I’m going to say that this is a fairly conservative estimate.

This is all to say that when I make the statement that a particular hamburger is the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten in my entire life, this is not a statement I take lightly.  So please, imagine that I have the gravitas of Morgan Freeman and the seriousness of Edward R. Murrow when I say this:  The burger that I just had at Blue Goose is quite possibly the best hamburger that I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Blue Goose was actually started by Blue Goose Pure Foods, a producer of various types of “farm to fork” organic meats.   Knowing that the restaurant was started by a company that takes its meat seriously, I had high hopes.

It’s based out of a shipping container on the Toronto Harbourfront (along with Sully’s Honest Dogs and Lobster Roll), which is odd.  But who knows, maybe shipping containers are the new food truck.  This is actually the second group of shipping container-based eateries to grace our city (the first being the Scadding Court ones near Kensington market — including Wiggle Room, a burger place I’ve been meaning to check out).

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For obvious reasons, these ones are only sticking around until the end of the summer, so if you want to check out this burger (and trust me, you want to check out this burger) you’d better not dilly-dally too much.

Though I had high hopes from the get-go, I knew I was probably in for something special when the girl behind the grill began to prepare my hamburger.  She pulled out a glorious ball of pink and white ground beef, and as soon as I saw it my eyes widened with joy.  A Toronto establishment which knows that the words “lean” and “hamburger” should absolutely never be used in conjunction with each other is a rare treasure indeed.

She placed the beef on the sizzling griddle, smashed it down and seasoned it liberally with salt.  No other spices, no onions, no garlic, just great quality meat, salt, and searing heat.  Perfection.

And make no mistake, this is great quality meat.  Amazingly rich and almost obscenely beefy, it’s abundantly clear that Blue Goose is not kidding around when it comes to the quality of their beef.  When I rally against overly-busy meatloaf burgers, this is why.  Because I know that when you start out with really good meat and cook it properly, you can end up with an amazingly complex, incredibly satisfying flavour that you don’t want to mess with.

As for the refreshingly non-lean, fatty beef?  Yes.  It was so rich, so juicy, and so incredibly delectable.  The beef was also — as it should be — coarsely ground and loosely packed, and had such a great texture.  Seriously: perfection.

Look, I know this is all coming off as insanely hyperbolic, but what can I say?  I loved this hamburger.

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It has quite a few toppings (cheddar, caramelized onion, pickle, lettuce, and tomato); this would normally perturb me, but here all the ingredients work together such perfect harmony that I wouldn’t change a single thing.   The cheddar comes perfectly melted and adds a creamy tang without ever threatening to overpower the beef.  The richly unctuous caramelized onions compliment the meat quite fantastically.  And the lettuce, tomato, and pickle help to give the burger balance and cut the richness of the onions, cheese, and beef.

The toasted sesame seed bun was fine.  It was probably the only element of this hamburger that wasn’t knock-me-back amazing, but there was certainly nothing wrong with it and it complimented the burger well.

They serve a single burger, and a double.  I started with the single, and it was so damn good that I did something that I’ve never done before: I went right back and ordered another one.  A double this time (well, I split it with my dining companion — I’m not that gluttonous).  These are not wimpy patties, so the double was fairly enormous, but I think I liked it even better.  This one had a higher proportion of beef to the other ingredients, and was thus even more richly beefy.  It was outstanding.

As I think should be pretty clear by now, this hamburger is absolutely essential.  If you’re anywhere near the GTA and you have even a passing interest in burgers, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  I’ve only given out four perfect ratings since starting this blog: Burger’s Priest, Holy Chuck, Allen’s, and White Squirrel Snack Shop.  This one beats them all.

Go eat it.  Now.

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White Squirrel Snack Shop

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Location
507 Queen Street West, Toronto
UPDATE: Tragically, this place is no more. It has been replaced by another burger joint, P&L Burger.
Websitehttp://whitesquirrelcoffee.com/

To say that the hamburger at White Squirrel Snack Shop was a pleasant surprise would be a pretty huge understatement.  The place just opened a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve already been hearing some good things about the burger — but I still wasn’t expecting anything particularly great.

White Squirrel is an offshoot of a coffee shop, which doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence for their burger, but oh my god.  Oh my god, that burger.  Oh my god.

The restaurant is weirdly narrow, with a few seats along the wall and a couple of tables at the end.  It was pretty empty when I went, but if the place gets popular (and I expect it will with a burger this good) it might be tricky to get a seat.

The grungy, minimalist industrial decor doesn’t do the place any favours, but this is really a pop in, pop out restaurant rather than a place you’ll linger, so it’s not a big deal.  And seriously, if you’re going to serve a burger this good, you could serve it to me in a gas station bathroom and I’d eat it with a big smile on my face.  So who cares what the place looks like.

The restaurant is laid out so that you order from the man behind the bar, pay, then when your food is ready someone in the kitchen yells out your name and you pick it up.

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Here’s what the menu says about the Snack Shop Burger: “1/2 lb. house-ground chuck, caramelized onion, pickles, Dijon, steamed egg bun.”

The amazing patty is grilled to perfection, with a good amount of satisfyingly crispy char from the grill, but not so much that it overwhelms the burger.  It’s cooked to a perfect medium, with a pleasingly pink interior.

The chuck is coarsely ground and loosely packed, and unlike so many burgers in the city, it is fantastically juicy.  Seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper to let the beefy flavour shine through, it’s pretty outstanding.

The soft, rich caramelized onions compliment the burger perfectly, as do the pickles.

The Dijon mustard, on the other hand, is  superfluous.  It basically works with the burger, but its flavour is a little bit too assertive.  The pickles do a perfectly fine job of cutting the richness of the juicy patty and the onions; mustard only serves to detract from the gloriousness of this hamburger.  It is a small detraction, but a detraction nonetheless.

I have some minor quibbles with the bun as well.  Slightly sweet, soft, and fresh, it is a great bun for the most part.  However, it is slightly too chewy and substantial, which, like the mustard, detracts slightly from the gloriousness of the hamburger.   Again, it is not a large issue, but when you serve a burger this magnificent, even the smallest of imperfections will be magnified.

I also got a small order of fries, which were fine, if nothing too memorable.  They actually seemed like they had the potential to be above average, but they were slightly undercooked and a bit soggy.

But that burger… that burger.  It was so good.  I honestly think it’s one of the best burgers I’ve had in the city.  Rich, beefy, juicy, and just amazingly tasty, it’s the kind of burger that dreams are made of.  It lingered in my mind for the rest of the afternoon.  It lodged itself in my brain and refused to let go.  I need another.

Interestingly, White Squirrel Snack Shop is maybe a two minute walk from the soon-to-open third location of The Burger’s Priest.  Which means that this small stretch of Queen has become a burger lover’s paradise: a perfect griddled burger and a perfect grilled burger within mere steps of each other.  Who could ask for anything more?

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White Squirrel Snack Shop on Urbanspoon