Turtle Jack’s

Turtle Jack'sLocation: 108 Courtneypark Drive East, Toronto
Website: https://turtlejacks.com/

Nope.

Seriously: no.  I’m so sick of the no-effort pucks of despair that they serve at basically every Canadian chain restaurant like Turtle Jack’s.

Turtle Jack's

How?  How does this happen?  How can a restaurant serve a hamburger that’s so unambiguously bad that anyone with a mouth and functional tastebuds will immediately identify it as the off-putting garbage that it is?

That’s a legitimate question and I’d like someone at Turtle Jack’s to answer it.  Also, Turtle Jack’s?  While you’re here?  Get out of here with that horrific slop.  Get all the way out and never come back.

Turtle Jack's

The burger at Turtle Jack’s is incredibly dry and dense, and it’s an absolute bummer to eat.  It made me sadder and sadder with each mouthful.  The beefy flavour was almost nonexistent, with a vaguely leftovery funk that makes me think they might be precooking the patties and reheating them to order.  It’s bad.  Bad bad bad bad bad.

I feel no need to discuss it further, because it’s a piece of garbage that’s clearly made by people with the cynical belief that they can serve whatever the hell garbage they want and people will eat it.  If you order it, you’re proving them right.  Please don’t do that.  I ate it so you don’t have to.

Turtle Jack's

The fries were slightly better (because there’s really nowhere to go but up from that burger), but they were the boringest of boring frozen fries.

1 out of 4

Reds

Reds Square OneLocation: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (inside Square One)
Website: https://redsrestaurants.com/

I don’t know why I keep reviewing the burger at chains like Reds.  They’re always just as mediocre and personality-free as you fear they’re going to be, so why do I keep subjecting myself to them?  Because I hate myself, apparently?

Reds Square One

To be fair, Reds only has three locations, so it’s not quite a full-on chain like Moxie’s or Milestones.  It’s also slightly better than those types of places.  But it’s not great.

I ordered the Reds Burger: “lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, fresh baked potato bun.”

Reds Square One

It’s… well, it is what it is.  It’s mostly inoffensive.  The griddled patty is dry, because of course it’s dry, but it’s otherwise decent enough.  There’s a good amount of crust from the griddle, and the texture of the beef is basically where it should be.  The flavour isn’t particularly beefy, but it’s not unpleasant.  If it weren’t so dry, it would have been pretty good.

Reds Square One

The no-frills toppings are exactly what you think they’ll be, and the fluffy, fresh bun is actually really good.

I don’t know.  It’s a burger.  It’s mostly inoffensively tasty, but it’s so bland and unmemorable that it may as well not exist.

Reds Square One

As for the fries, they were mostly quite good, though they were a little bit undercooked.

2.5 out of 4

Scaddabush

ScaddabushLocation: 155 York Boulevard, Richmond Hill
Websitehttps://www.scaddabush.com

I’ve mentioned on another blog that Scaddabush is one of the better chains in Canada.  That continues to be true.  I even enjoyed the burger!  Considering that my reaction to the hamburger at chains like this tends to range from “that was extremely mediocre” to “that was so bad it makes me angry,” I was shocked at how much I enjoyed what they served here.

Scaddabush

It’s not, however, a traditional hamburger.  The Italian Burger, per their menu: “Hand-pressed Certified Angus Beef ground chuck, fresh mozzarella, arugula, bruschetta, balsamic reduction, basil pesto aioli, focaccia bun.”

There’s so much going on here that the patty itself almost feels like an afterthought.

Between the very garlicky pesto aioli, the sweet balsamic glaze, the peppery arugula, the chunky bruschetta topping, and the thick slice of fresh mozzarella, the beef is basically just another condiment.  You could slide it right out and it would barely make a difference.

Scaddabush

I’m normally not a huge fan of over-condimented hamburgers, but it’s hard to deny that what they’re serving here is tasty.  All of the toppings are quite good and compliment each other very well, and the substantial, slightly chewy bun does a great job of holding it all together.

But what about the patty itself?  It’s there, and it’s fine.  The texture is slightly sausagey, and it doesn’t have a particularly beefy flavour (not that it makes a difference with all of the other stuff going on here), but it’s otherwise a solid burger patty.

Scaddabush

It basically just adds some meatiness — this thing is all about the toppings.

As for the fries, they basically tasted like a lightly battered version of what they serve at McDonald’s.  They’re not particularly great, but I’ve had worse.

3 out of 4

Joey

Joey Sherway
Location
: 25 The West Mall, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.joeyrestaurants.com/

Are the days of seriously mediocre and/or terrible casual chain restaurants behind us?  Up until recently, the burger at a place like this was pretty much guaranteed to either be dry and unpleasant, or rubbery and industrially-produced.

But the burger I had at State & Main a couple of months ago was surprisingly okay, and so was the one I just ate at Joey.  Things are clearly looking up.

The burger here isn’t anything to get too excited about — nothing about it stands out, but it’s a solid, inoffensive hamburger.

It’s simple enough — it’s a single patty affair with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, and some kind of zesty mayo-based sauce.

I was quite enjoying the first few bites — the medium-well middle is juicy and satisfying.  But the meat is too tightly packed, and as you get closer to the well done edges of the patty, it gets dry and tough.

Still, it’s not bad.  The griddled patty has a good amount of crust on its exterior, and while it doesn’t taste particularly beefy, the flavour isn’t unpleasant.

The toppings are all fresh and tasty, and the zesty mayo adds some zip without overwhelming the beef.

The bun’s not great, however.  It’s overly dense and dry, and it’s slightly too wide for the patty.  The beef-to-bun ratio is off.

As for the fries, they tasted like a slightly inferior version of what they serve at McDonald’s.

2.5 out of 4

Joey - the restaurant Joey - the restaurant Joey - the burger and fries Joey - the burger

3 Brewers


Location
: 275 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://les3brasseurs.ca/locations/3-brewers-yonge

3 Brewers is a Canadian casual chain restaurant, which means by law, it has to serve mediocre food.

Oh, did you not hear about that law?  Yeah, parliament recently passed a law saying that every Canadian chain restaurant has to serve food that is “mediocre at best, with drab, uninspired cuisine that instills a profound sadness into its customers” (that’s a direct quote from the legislation).

So of course, the burger at 3 Brewers — I got the 3 Brasseurs burger, which comes topped with maple Amber beer sauce, smoked Gouda, bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion — is mediocre.  I mean, they wouldn’t want to break the law, would they?  The burger here stayed very firmly within the bounds of the legislation; it made me sad, just like it was supposed to.

It wasn’t the worst thing ever, I’ll give it that.  It was griddled and pleasantly crusty, and all the toppings were pretty good.  The smoked Gouda was nice and melty (if a bit too strong) — but then who cares when the burger itself is so poor?  The maple amber beer sauce must have just been globbed into one spot in the middle of the burger, because I got a couple of very sweet bites, and the rest of the burger was sauce-free.  The bun, aside from having an exterior that’s a bit too crunchy, was also pretty good.

It’s the patty that really made me sad.  It tasted like the patty from pretty much every other chain like this — it was well done, dry, and completely lacking in flavour.  The beef is lousy, but not too lousy — it’s the cheapest thing they can get away with without it being too flagrant (it’s not a frozen patty, at least).  It tastes like nothing, but it doesn’t offend.

As for the fries, they were fine.  A little bit better than the burger, but again, not good enough that they’re going to risk getting shut down.  Because of the law, of course.

2 out of 4

3 Brewers - the outside 3 Brewers - the restaurant 3 Brewers - the burger 3 Brewers - the burger

Milestones

milestones
Location: 169 Enterprise Boulevard, Markham
Website: http://milestonesrestaurants.com/

When you go to a chain restaurant like Milestones, you pretty much expect the burger to be lousy, and HEY GUESS WHAT HERE’S MILESTONES TO GIVE YOU EXACTLY WHAT YOU’D EXPECT.  Here’s Milestones to serve you garbage because yeah, you’ll eat that garbage, so why bother?

I’m not even talking about just hamburgers right now, but can someone please explain to me why pretty much every single casual chain restaurant in Ontario is the absolute worst?  Stuff like Boston Pizza, Montana’s, Kelsey’s, Shoeless Joe’s, St. Louis Bar and Grill, Moxie’s, and of course this stupid place are everywhere in the suburbs and they’re all just horrible.  Why?

Actually, don’t answer that — I know why.  Because they all do very well, so why change what works?  I have to assume that at some point they realized that we’ll all happily eat garbage, so seriously, why bother?  If they can serve grim, bottom-of-the-barrel prison food without it affecting their bottom line, why change?

milestonesa

This is all is my grumpy, roundabout way of saying that no, the hamburger at Milestones is not very good.

They have a few on the menu — I went with the Naked Burger, which is described as a “fresh, ground chuck burger seasoned to perfection, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and our signature house-made burger sauce on a toasted egg bun.”

It was so dry.  I don’t know if the beef was too lean or it was just catastrophically overcooked (I suspect a little from column A, a little from column B) but hot damn was it dry.  It was the type of patty where it’s so dry that it just crumbles into chewy little meat-pellets as you eat it.  It’s the type of patty where you have to reach for your drink every couple of bites because it’s so thoroughly sucking all of the moisture out of your mouth.

The flavour was fine — not particularly beefy, but not bad either.  A little over-peppered, but okay otherwise.

The condiments were all as you’d expect, and the burger sauce (basically a garlicky mayo) did its best to add moisture to a moisture-free zone.  The bun was soft and fresh and would have actually been pretty okay on a better burger.

As for the fries, they were completely soggy, because again: why should they bother?

1.5 out of 4

Milestones - the outside Milestones - the restaurant Milestones - the burger and fries Milestones - the burger

Bareburger

bare
Location
: 111 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://111-dundas-st-w-toronto.bareburger.com/

It makes me really happy when I think about how good it’s gotten for burger-lovers in Toronto over the last several years.  A few years ago, with the dearth of great burger choices in the city, Bareburger would have been a breath of fresh air.  But now?  Not so much.

And Bareburger is a fairly popular chain in the States, with most of its locations around New York City.  I’ve been under the impression that New York had us handily beat in the burger department, but if this place is good enough to thrive there, it might not be so clear-cut.

It’s not even that Bareburger is bad, per se.  It’s fine.  There’s just nothing particularly noteworthy about it.

It’s a nicely designed restaurant, with lots of light coming in from the windows.  Unlike a lot of burger joints in the city, it’s waiter service, with more than just burgers on the menu (and more choices than just beef for the burgers).

You can either pick one of their handful of pre-topped burgers, or you can customize your own.  I went with the Standard: “beef, colby, stout onions, dill pickles, special sauce, brioche bun.”

Like I said, it’s fine.  The griddled burger comes cooked to well done (they say medium well on the menu, but this sucker was gray throughout), and while it was vaguely juicy, it was dryer than I’d like.  It was also a little bit too dense, and somewhat tough.

bareA

The patty has a very mildly beefy flavour, which was entirely wiped out by the burger’s toppings.  In particular, the zesty special sauce completely knocked out any flavour from the beef itself.  It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong — it was just a bit overwhelming.

The other toppings were pretty good as well.  The fully melted colby cheese was mild and creamy, and the caramelized stout onions were dark brown, with a sweet, rich flavour.

I wasn’t as keen on the brioche bun. It was okay, but it was way too dense and substantial for the task at hand.  It was also a good thirty percent wider than the patty itself, leaving me with a ridiculous amount of bun on my plate after the patty was long gone.  Come on, guys.  Seriously.  This is burger making 101.

I feel like I’m piling on more criticism than this place deserves (again, it’s not bad), but I have to mention that it’s alarmingly expensive.  The burgers are all in the 12 to 15 dollar price range, and that doesn’t include a side.  Fries will run you another three bucks.  Factor a drink and a tip on top of that, and you’re looking at spending well north of twenty bucks.  I don’t always pay a ton of attention to this in my reviews, because it’s the quality of the burger that really concerns me, but these prices are a little bit intense, especially considering the only-average quality of the food.

The fries, too, were good but not great.  But hey, let me close things out with a couple of things I really liked.  They have a handful of interesting sodas on the menu — I have a hard time saying no to a unique soda, so obviously I got one.  I went with blueberry, and it was surprisingly good.  The blueberry flavour was really outstanding; it almost tasted like a blueberry pie in soda form.  It was one of the best sodas I’ve had in quite a while.

For dessert, my dining companion ordered the Snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich; I wound up splitting it with him, and oh man was it good.  I think it might even have Bang Bang beat for the title of best ice cream sandwich in the city.  The cookie was cinnamony and chewy, with the absolute perfect ice cream sandwich consistency — dense, but not too dense, with just the right amount of chew.  And the super creamy ice cream had a satisfyingly intense roasted marshmallow flavour — I think it was either from Greg’s, or very similar to what they serve there.  It was the absolute perfect match for that cookie.  I’m not even kidding: you need to go there just for that sandwich.  It was outstanding.

2.5 out of 4

Bareburger - the outside Bareburger - the restaurant Bareburger - the menu Bareburger - the burger and fries Bareburger - the burger Bareburger - the burger
Bareburger on Urbanspoon