Jamie’s Italian

jamie
Location
: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (Square One)
Website: https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/canada/

I know, a place with “Italian” right in the name probably isn’t the most obvious place to order a hamburger.  And I just got burned by an Italian place with a hamburger inexplicably on the menu.  So you’d think I’d learn.

But you know what?  Maybe I’ll never learn, because the burger at Jamie’s Italian is actually pretty darn good.

And it had better be — it’s not cheap.  It’s sixteen bucks on its own; twenty if you want fries.  That’s not exactly unreasonable by the standards of a nicer restaurant, but it’s still a decent chunk of change.  You’re throwing down the gauntlet if you’re charging that much for a hamburger.  You’re asking for extra scrutiny.

The Jamie’s Italian Burger is described as follows: “Juicy Prince Edward Island beef, balsamic onions, aged Cheddar, tomato & homade mostarda mayo.”

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Yeah, it’s good.  My biggest complaint is that the texture of grilled patty — which is cooked all the way to well done — is a bit off.  The grind is slightly too fine, and it’s a bit dry.  Still, it does have some juiciness to it, and as far as the texture goes, I’ve certainly had worse.

The patty is otherwise really tasty — it’s got a nice smoky flavour from the grill, but nothing too overbearing (as some grilled burgers tend to be).  It’s also got a mild but satisfying beefy flavour.

The toppings are pretty good too.  Aged cheddar’s stronger flavour can sometimes be a bit much on a burger, but here it worked pretty well.  And of course, caramelized onions are pretty much a hamburger’s best friend, so yeah, they worked pretty well too.

The bun looks way too big for the patty, but it’s light enough and fluffy enough that it never feels overwhelming.

As for the fries, the waitress suggested the polenta chips over the traditional fries, and I figured yeah, why not?  They were a touch on the bland side (they either needed more of the rosemary and shredded parmesan that they were topped with, or some kind of dipping sauce), but otherwise were crispy, creamy, and really tasty.

3.5 out of 4

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Cafe Boulud

boulud
Location
: 60 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.cafeboulud.com/toronto/

After a rocky start, Cafe Boulud was shut down and completely retooled last year; most notably (for readers of this blog at least) this shake-up brought us chef Daniel Boulud’s famous Frenchie burger, which no less than the New York Times dubbed as “the perfect burger.”

Obviously, I had to try it.

After an absolutely fantastic bread bowl, which came with a small disc of what might be the best butter I’ve ever had, the burger arrived looking quite impressive.  I had very high hopes.

The Frenchie Burger, per their menu: “7 oz burger, morbier cheese, dijon mustard, pork belly, tomato-onion compote, arugula, black pepper bun.”

Before I start laying into it, I will say that it’s an all-around good burger.  It tastes good.  There’s nothing terribly wrong with it.  But given its sparkling reputation and the intense $24 price tag, I expected greatness.  It is not great.

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The patty is decent enough, but given the hefty cost, it’s not quite at the level you’d hope it would be. I requested medium rare, and the grilled patty was cooked perfectly to that temperature — but I think it was a bit too tightly packed, and it was slightly more tough than it should have been.  It was also a bit over-charred on the grill, with a subtle hit of bitterness that marred things somewhat.

Otherwise, the flavour of the beef was nothing to write home about. It wasn’t bad by any means — it tasted fine, and is obviously not made with low-quality meat, but it lacked the rich beefy flavour that you’d expect from a restaurant of this caliber.

The toppings were all pretty good, though they were a bit too assertive. The beef-versus-condiments balance was tipped squarely in the favour of the toppings.  In particular, the dominant flavours here were of the zingy tomato-onion compote and the peppery arugula, both of which probably could have been reduced by half.

The Brie-like Morbier cheese was creamy and a pretty good fit for the burger, but like the other toppings, it was a bit too generously applied.

The pork belly, at least, was tasty and in the right proportion — it added porky unctuousness without ever getting in the way.

The bun was great: fresh, fluffy, and packing just enough heft for the task at hand.  Between the bread basket and this bun, Cafe Boulud’s baker clearly deserves a substantial raise.

As for the fries, they were perfectly cooked, but tasted overwhelmingly of roasted garlic.  The flavour slaps you in the face.  It’s excessive.

3 out of 4

Cafe Boulud - the outside Cafe Boulud - the restaurant Cafe Boulud - the bread and butter Cafe Boulud - the burger Cafe Boulud - the burger