The White Brick Kitchen

: 641 Bloor Street West, Toronto

I’ve gotta say, it was a bit of a struggle to order the burger at this place.  Having just watched this restaurant’s episode of You Gotta Eat Here, I was seriously tempted to order one of the dishes featured on that show; they looked so damn good.  But at this point, checking off more restaurants to add to this blog has become a borderline obsession.

Must… review… every… burger…

Impossible, I know.  Still, it’s a nagging enough compulsion that I was able to resist the siren song of some of the best looking fried chicken I’ve seen in my life.  My dining companion was getting the Joe Fries and said I could try some, which did help strengthen my resolve.

The White Brick Kitchen has two burgers on the menu — the revolving Featured Burger, and the 6oz Brisket Burger.  I went with the latter, which is described as coming with “house dill pickles, fry sauce.”

After last week’s Senator fiasco, I was very relieved to see a patty with some crust and colour.  The Senator’s deathly gray, colourless patty will be haunting my dreams for weeks to come, I’m sure.


And after the grim mediocrity served at that diner, this was just what the doctor ordered.  Though the well done patty was a bit too tightly packed and slightly on the dry side, it was still fairly juicy and otherwise well above average.  First and foremost, the quality of the beef is obviously pretty high, giving the burger exactly the sort of rich, beefy flavour that you hope for.  Really good.

The aforementioned crust could have been more pronounced, but still adds a good amount of taste and texture to the hamburger.  The toppings were pretty good, too, with the pickles adding some nice vinegary crunchiness for contrast without ever overwhelming the beef.  The fry sauce did a great job of adding some flavour, but letting the beef shine through.

Though the bottom got a bit soggy, the bun otherwise complimented the burger perfectly.  The griddled, buttery crunch on the inside of the bread was a nice touch.

I ordered the cider slaw in lieu of the fries since I knew I’d get to sample the Joe Fries.  It tasted more like a less-fermented sauerkraut than like coleslaw, but it was pretty good for what it was.  As for the Joe Fries, they were just as amazing as I had hoped.  I think I’m going to have to come back just to get those.

Oh, and the fried chicken.  And the shepherd’s pie.

I think I might have to come back a couple of times.

3.5 out of 4

The White Brick Kitchen - the restaurant The White Brick Kitchen - the restaurant The White Brick Kitchen - the burger The White Brick Kitchen - the burger
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Momofuku Daisho

: 190 University Avenue, Toronto

When I heard that Daisho was going to start serving the Momofuku collaboration with Shake Shack that reportedly caused the longest line-up in Shake Shack history, I was pretty excited. And by “pretty excited”, I mean crazy excited.

Alas, it turns out that this burger is only served at lunch, and Daisho only serves lunch during the week. Seeing that I work in Mississauga, trying this burger suddenly seemed like an impossible dream (see here for an approximation of my reaction to this fact).

But then I remembered that I was taking a week off for TIFF, and all was right with the world again. I made sure to leave a gap in my schedule, and I was off to the races.

The Momofuku Shrimp Stack is described on the menu like this: “beef, hozon mayo, kohlrabi slaw” (very descriptive, I know — because everyone loves menus that just list a few ingredients and tell you nothing about what the dishes are actually like.  I’m sorry, did I say loves?  Because I meant hates).

Not that you’d know this from the super vague menu description, but the thing that makes the Shrimp Stack a shrimp stack is the thin shrimp patty resting atop the burger’s more traditional toppings (cheese, pickles, etc.).


The best thing about this burger? The beef patty. It’s ridiculously juicy. It is amazingly, awe-inspiringly juicy. It also had a good amount of crust from the griddle, a great texture, and a decent (if not particularly overwhelming) beefy flavour.

It’s pretty great. Also great? The soft, pliant, incredibly fresh bun that held up to the rest of the burger amazingly well. It added just the right amount of breadiness without ever over-asserting itself or getting in the way. It was perfect.

I wasn’t quite as crazy as the burger’s eponymous shrimp patty, however. While it was tasty enough, it was deeply shrimpy and was easily the burger’s strongest flavour. Of course, the burger is called Shrimp Stack, so perhaps criticizing it for being too shrimpy is ridiculous. But this is a burger blog, so obviously that’s where my head’s at.

My other main objection is that the burger’s flavour is overwhelmingly rich. Between the melty American cheese, the juicy beef patty, and the concentrated shrimpiness of that patty, the flavour is a bit one-note. You’d think the pickles (traditional pickles and pickled onions) would cut the richness, but you can honestly barely even tell they’re there.

Still, though the whole thing wasn’t quite as earth-shakingly delicious as I had hoped, it was still pretty damn tasty, flaws and all.

The onion rings, with their delicately crispy batter and perfectly cooked onions, were outstanding. I’m normally not a dipping-my-onion-rings guy, but it came with a curry-tinged ketchup that was too good to resist. The kohlrabi slaw was also well above average.

Momofuku Toronto - the outside Momofuku Shoto - the restaurant Momofuku Shoto - pickles Momofuku Shoto - the Shrimp Stack Momofuku Shoto - the Shrimp Stack
Momofuku Daishō on Urbanspoon

The Harbord Room

: 89 Harbord Street, Toronto

I was a little bit wary of Toronto Life’s list of the best burgers in Toronto after my most recent experience with one of their choices.  The Queen and Beaver served a muddled mess of a burger that was part steak sandwich, part hamburger, and all failure.  It was Toronto Life’s 23rd best burger in the city.

The Harbord Room, however, has drawn raves for its burger from all corners, and is the number one pick on Toronto Life’s list.  So: a much safer bet.  I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to check it out, honestly.

They sell a lot of burgers.  Of the people sitting around me, pretty much everyone got the hamburger.  Which pretty much makes it a burger joint at heart; my kind of place.

The menu describes the burger as follows: “Dry Aged ‘West Grey Farms’ Beef Burger – Sharp Cheddar, Caramelized Onions on an Egg Bun with Fries & Slaw.”  It’s 17 bucks, which is actually not bad for the amount and value of food you get.

What the menu doesn’t mention, however, is the sharply lemony aioli that cuts through the burger’s other flavours like a laser.  My dining companion and I noticed it immediately: why is this burger so lemony?  It packs a punch, and I really, really wish I had asked for my burger without it.


The grilled patty came cooked to a perfect medium rare.  I guess you could get them to cook it differently, but why would you?

Sadly, the flavour wasn’t quite as knock-me-back beefy as I had hoped; it didn’t have any of the rich, complex flavour you associate with dry-aged beef (or at least if it did, it was completely overpowered by the aioli).  Still, there certainly was some beefy flavour there, and it was clear enough that they were using above average meat.  Perhaps my expectations were too high.

Though the medium rare parts in the middle were quite juicy, the more well-cooked edges were a bit drier than I’d like.  It’s likely that the beef is a little bit too lean, and maybe slightly too tightly packed, but I’ve certainly had worse.

The cheese was creamy and fully melted and the onions were perfectly caramelized, but that aioli aggressively elbowed its way to the front of the line, overpowering everything else and rendering most of the burger’s other flavours moot.  The sesame seed bun, however, was perfect: pillowy and super fresh, with the perfect amount of density to hold up to the substantial burger without ever getting in the way.

So no, it’s not exactly the burger of my dreams; I certainly wouldn’t pick it as my personal favourite burger in Toronto, but I don’t begrudge Toronto Life for picking it as theirs.  It’s quite good.

As for the fries, they were pretty much perfect.  Seriously: they weren’t as hot as they probably should have been, but were otherwise right up there with the best fries I’ve ever had.  The aioli, though clearly overpowering as a burger condiment, was outstanding as a dip for fries, as was the tangy house-made ketchup.

The Harbord Room - the restaurant The Harbord Room - the patio The Harbord Room - the burger The Harbord Room - the burger and fries The Harbord Room - the burger
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450 Matheson Boulevard East, Mississauga
Website: None

I was doing some random Google searches for the best burger in Mississauga, and Jessie’s popped up a couple of times.  I really don’t need much more of an excuse to check out a place than that, so… here we are.

Jessie’s is a Greek Deli, with standard deli sandwiches on the menu, along with stuff like souvlaki and Greek salads.  And a burger, of course.  They offer a standard burger, a cheeseburger, and something called Jesse’s Burger.  As usual, I went with the namesake item, which comes topped with Swiss cheese and peameal bacon, along with your choice of toppings.

There’s no point in beating around the bush: it’s a frozen, industrially-produced burger. By their standards, it’s better than average. It actually has some vague beefy flavour, and the texture — though chewy — isn’t quite as rubbery as some of these things tend to be (i.e. it actually tasted somewhat like a hamburger, and not like the flattened hot dog that so many of the lower quality frozen burgers taste like).

It’s not particularly good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not nearly as appalling as a lot of the frozen burgers I’m subjected to.


I will say that Jessie’s do their best to disguise the less-than-stellar patty. It’s nicely grilled, giving it some smokiness without the burnt flavour you sometimes get with grilled burgers, and the swiss cheese is fully melted and satisfyingly gooey.

The thickly-sliced peameal bacon was also above average. Some peameal bacon has the tendency to be so tough that your teeth can’t quite make their way through it, resulting in the entire piece of bacon pulling out of the burger while still attached to your face. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. I actually tried a piece on its own and it was quite tasty: tender, not too salty, and slightly smoky. They sell this in a sandwich by itself, and I’m quite positive that it would be much more satisfying than the burger.

The dense, crusty roll would no doubt be completely overwhelming on a better hamburger; here, where I’m happy to let the sub-par burger be overwhelmed, it was perfectly fine.

This would be where I’d normally talk about the restaurant’s fries, but oddly enough, this place doesn’t serve them.  I ordered a coleslaw instead, which was of the creamy variety and which was actually quite tasty.  I’m not sure if they make it in-house, but I’m assuming they do; if it’s a store-bought brand, it’s probably the best one that I’ve tried.

Jessie's - the outside Jessie's - the restaurant Jessie's - the menu Jessie's - the burger Jessie's - the burger
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