Union Burger

4188 Living Arts Drive, Mississauga

I was driving to the movies the other day (to see Gravity, which is amazing, and which you should see immediately if you haven’t already) and saw the newly-opened Union Burger right nearby.  Intrigued, I pulled up their website on my phone; they’re a chain, apparently, with about a dozen locations.

I hadn’t planned on eating a burger that day, but plans change.

The place is very similar to South St. Burger, right down to the round metallic trays they serve the burgers on.  They have a handful of elaborately topped signature burgers, but I went with the original burger topped with tomato, pickle, and mayo.  I got it as a combo with a drink and fries and it came up to less than eight bucks.


They have a convenient pager system to let you know when your order is ready, so you can sit down and wait for your disc to light up.

The grilled burger is very, very okay.  It is quite possibly the most middle-of-the-road hamburger I’ve reviewed for this blog.  It’s neither particularly good or particularly bad; it’s just there.

The patty doesn’t have much flavour at all, with pretty much all of the taste coming from the grill.  I wouldn’t exactly describe it as juicy, though I wouldn’t call it dry, either.  It tasted fresh, though it also had a very slight amount of the chewiness that you tend to find with frozen, industrially-produced burgers.  I’m not sure what to make of that.

The bun and toppings were fine.  The whole thing was fine.  Very innocuous.  I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to eat at a Union Burger again, but if I found myself there, I wouldn’t object.

As for the fries, they were actually a bit better than average, so I guess they were the highlight.

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Golden Star

Location7123 Yonge Street, Thornhill
Website: None

Before writing this review I had been to Golden Star once, several years ago, and my hazy recollection of the burger was that it was fine, but nothing special.  I was in no rush to go back, even to review it for this blog.  However, after its tenth-place finish on Toronto Life’s list of the top 25 burgers in the city (and its status as one of only four dedicated burger joints to make the list), my interest was piqued.

There’s no mistaking Golden Star for anything but an old-school burger place; it’s clean and not run-down at all, but it has the general layout and decor of an establishment that was built years before many of its customers were born.

I came around lunchtime and there was a fairly sizable line-up to order, including a guy placing a takeout order for at least a couple of dozen people.  The place is popular, that’s for sure.

The menu features a hamburger and a “homemade all star burger.”  When asked what the difference was, I was told that the regular burger is just a plain old frozen burger, and the homemade burger features a six ounce patty that’s made in-house.  Homemade it is.

I got the homemade burger as a combo with fries and a drink, and it came out to just over eleven bucks, so it’s neither particularly cheap or overly expensive.

After a wait of several minutes (I think my wait was a bit longer than average because of the man with the enormous take-out order) my burger was ready.  Toppings are laid out behind the glass; I went with pickles, tomato and mayo.

My memory, from my many-years-ago visit, was that the burger was meatloaf style.   I’m not sure if I was lucky enough to get a batch where they forgot to mix the other stuff in, or if they’re just no longer making meatloaf burgers, but if there was anything beyond salt and pepper in my patty, I couldn’t taste it.

The meat had a very clean flavour; it wasn’t the beefiest tasting burger  that I’ve had, but there were no off flavours either, so it was obviously not low-quality beef.  The well done burger was fantastically juicy, which is a rarity in Toronto, and which I definitely appreciated.

It’s grilled, a cooking method which sometimes has the tendency to overwhelm the beef with the smokiness of the grill.  However, the grilling here imparted only a mild flavour which complemented — but did not overpower — the beef.

With the current ubiquity of griddle-cooked burgers, it’s nice to know that a great grilled burger is an option, even if it is a bit out of the way.

The fresh sesame seed bun complimented the burger quite well, and the standard toppings were good.  All in all it was a very pleasant surprise, and easily the best old school burger joint in Toronto that I’ve visited.

As for the fries, they were solid, albeit a bit undersalted and unmemorable.  They were perfectly tasty, but nothing I’d swoon over.

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Golden Star on Urbanspoon