Rick’s Good Eats

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Location
: 6660 Kennedy Road, Mississauga
Website: https://www.facebook.com/RicksGoodEats/

Remember that Food Network reality show where people competed to have their recipes featured in grocery stores? One of the best things to come out of that show was a butter chicken lasagna (trust me, it’s a lot better than it sounds), and the guy who made that has apparently used some of his winnings to open his own restaurant in Mississauga.   Not surprisingly, the menu features Indian-fusion dishes like butter chicken mac and cheese, cinnamon toast matri, and of course, a hamburger.

So, it’s near my work, looks interesting, and has a burger on the menu? Yeah, I’m all over that.

Their burger is dubbed the Punjabi Cheeseburger, and comes topped with “melted cheddar, fresh tomato, sautéed onion & Achari mayo.”

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Given the Indian-fusion label, I sort of figured this was going to be a meatloaf burger, with spices and other stuff mixed into the patty. And yeah, it’s probably the meatloafiest meatloaf burger I’ve had in a while.

I’m certainly on the record as not being a big fan of this style of hamburger, but you know what? If you’re going to make a meatloaf burger, this is the way to do it. Yes, the aggressive spicing completely wipes out all of the beef’s natural flavours, but the patty is otherwise right where it should be — it’s got a nice texture (which can be especially problematic with this style of burger), a good amount of crust from the grill (at least I think it was grilled — it was tough to tell with all the stuff going on), and was actually pretty juicy.

And even the taste, which is about as far from classic hamburger as you can get, was quite good for what it was. It’s not subtle at all — it’s pretty much a face-punch of Indian flavours — but it’s really satisfying.

The toppings — including melty, mild cheddar and the tasty Achari mayo — all suited the burger quite well, as did the soft, fresh, and lightly toasted sesame seed bun.

As for the fries, they were of the battered variety — also not my favourite, but also done quite well.  They’ve got that crispy/creamy combo in spades, and were dusted with a tasty (and not overwhelming) spice mixture.

3 out of 4

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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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Food Dudes

dudes
Location
: It’s a truck, so check Twitter to see where they’re parked
Websitehttp://www.thefooddudes.com/

Food trucks have really livened up events like the Canadian International Auto Show, which is currently going on at the Convention Centre.  Suddenly, the food options are a bit more interesting than a warmed over slice of pizza or a sad hot dog.

There are a couple of trucks at the show this year, both with a burger on the menu (the other one is Hank Daddy’s Barbecue).  I went with Food Dudes, which was probably a mistake.

The Truck Burger sounds appealing enough; their menu describes it as “chopped steak, aged cheddar, chili pickled onions, arugula, bacon mayo, pomme frites, brioche.”

It might have been a pretty good burger, if it weren’t for whatever the hell is going on with the patty, which has an odd, downright alien texture.  It was chewy, dense, and bizarre, like the ground beef had melted and congealed, trying its best to reassemble itself back into one solid mass.  Maybe I’m overly picky (okay, definitely), but in this case I have photographic proof.  I mean, look at the picture of this burger’s cross-section.  I’ve seen the insides of many, many hamburgers over the last few years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

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I’d say the burger is meatloafy (there’s definitely all kinds of flavouring mixed in), but I’ve never had meatloaf with this texture; it was somewhere between a sausage and Spam.  It was kind of insane how weird it was.

The menu calls the patty “chopped steak,” and maybe this is the culprit?  Chopping rather than grinding beef is ostensibly meant to give the burger a more coarse, steaky texture — but they seem to achieved the absolute opposite effect here.  Maybe instead of putting the beef through a grinder, they instead threw it into a food processor and ran it until the meat became a fine paste?  Or they chopped it by hand, and chopped it and chopped it and chopped it, until they wound up with the aforementioned paste?  I really don’t know how else to account for that texture.

It actually tasted okay, though between the assertive bacon mayo, the sharp cheddar, all the spices mixed into the beef, and the insane texture, I honestly don’t think I would have guessed this was a hamburger if I had eaten it blindfolded.  I don’t even know if I would have pegged the meat as beef, given how thoroughly disguised it was by the other flavours and that oddball spongy/chewy/gummy texture.

The patty was otherwise kinda juicy and not overcooked, so it’s a real shame that they did whatever it is that they did to it.  The toppings were pretty good too, if a bit overwhelming; I particularly liked the crispy potato strings, which added a nice crunch without being too assertive.  I also quite liked the fresh brioche bun.

But that patty.  That patty…

2 out of 4

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The Opera House Grill

opera
Location
: 737 Queen Street East, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/theoperahousegrill/

I’m going to keep this one relatively brief.  If you’ve read my recent rant about the Opera House Grill’s inclusion on Toronto Life’s new list of the city’s 25 best burgers, then you already pretty much know what I think about this burger: it’s made with a frozen patty, and it doesn’t belong within a million miles of any kind of “best of” list.

Still, that’s not to say that it’s the worst thing ever.  It’s actually pretty okay, as far as frozen burgers go.  The Shaggy Burger (the one that made Toronto Life’s list) is an impressively ridiculous behemoth of a burger.  Piled high with sweet griddled onions, crispy onion rings, bacon, tsatziki, and a healthy mound of cheddar cheese, not to mention the standard burger toppings like lettuce, pickles, and tomato, it’s pretty much the definition of a kitchen sink burger.

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And I won’t lie: it’s pretty good in the middle.  It’s topping overload, but everything in the pile is fairly tasty, and it all tastes pretty good together.  The big mound of shredded cheddar cheese never quite melts as much as it needs to, but aside from that the toppings are solid.

Where the burger really falls apart (figuratively — the bun held up surprisingly well to all the toppings) is around the perimeter of the burger, where all of the many condiments begin to fade away. That’s when you really taste that hot-doggy, mediocre frozen patty, and realize that greatness is simply never going to be in this burger’s vocabulary.

As for the fries, they clearly came out of the same freezer as the burger patty, and were about as middling as you’d expect.

2 out of 4

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