Oh Boy! Burger Market

ohboy
Location
: 296 Gerrard Street East, Toronto
Websitehttp://ohboyburger.com/

Sometimes, I wanna put on a tight black T-shirt, bust into the kitchen at a burger joint and pull a Whiplash on the chef. Oh, is this the burger you’re serving me? NOT MY TEMPO.  MAKE IT AGAIN.

I just don’t get it.  It’s not like we’re talking about some finicky souffle or a complex molecular gastronomy creation that requires years of training and thousands of dollars in equipment — it’s a burger. It doesn’t require much from a chef.  You get good quality, reasonably fatty beef, you grind it coarsely, you form it loosely into a patty, and you cook it on a hot surface.  Put it on a fresh bun that’s the right size, and you’re good to go.  It’s so easy that I really don’t get why every burger isn’t great.

The myriad ways Toronto burger joints manage to mess it up can sometimes make me want to throw my hands in the air, yell out “DONE” to no one in particular, and then become a vegetarian.

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Which isn’t to say that the burger at Oh Boy was particularly bad.  It was fine.  I didn’t dislike eating it.  But there are a few frustratingly common mistakes that hold it back from being anything better than “meh” (clearly, there’s a reason why it’s been around for years with so few people even knowing about it.  Even I hadn’t heard of it until a few months ago, and I go out of my way to keep up with such things, as you might imagine).

I ordered the classic burger, which comes with two four ounce, griddle-cooked patties, topped to request.  I went with pickles, tomatoes, and Oh Boy Roasted Garlic Mayo.

The quality of the beef is obviously pretty good; the patties had a decent beefy flavour that’s fairly subtle, but definitely there.  There’s some crust from the griddle (not a lot, but some), which is always good.  I also quite enjoyed the roasted garlic mayo, which has a nice pop of garlic flavour without slapping you in the face or overwhelming the beef.

But, like so many other Toronto burger joints, the well done patties are more dry and more tough than they have any right to be, thanks to beef that’s obviously too lean, that’s been too finely ground, and that’s way too tightly packed.  It’s a bit of a tough chew.

The bun was bordering on being too soft and insubstantial for the task at hand, but it basically got the job done.

The fries, at least, were great; crisp, but not too crisp, with a creamy interior and a nice potatoey flavour.  They were about a million times better than the burger.

2.5 out of 4

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Little Fin

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Location
: 4 Temperance Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://littlefin.ca/

Little Fin is, as the name implies, mostly a seafood joint; it probably would have been very low on my list of places to check out for this blog, but then I saw the header photo on Toronto Life’s write-up of the place and that was pretty much that.  A visit was inevitable.

It’s a tiny little place that’s obviously meant to be a take-out joint for local office-dwellers, though they do have a few narrow tables (but no stools, so prepare to eat standing up like a horse).

The menu’s up on the wall, and though it’s mostly an array of fish sandwiches, there is a cheeseburger that can either be had single, or double.  The aforementioned photo made it look a bit small, so I went with the double; bacon jam is optional for an additional $1.25, but I passed on that.

It’s actually not quite as small as it looks.  They don’t say how big the patties are on the menu, but I’m guessing they’re somewhere in the ballpark of five ounces.

It comes topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, cheddar, and a sauce that is unmentioned on the menu, but which Toronto Life calls a “sea-urchin sauce.”

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It’s good, though like last week’s review, Cardinal Rule, I’m loathe to even call it a hamburger.  The patty is so thoroughly suffused with onions and spices and who-knows-what-else that the simple beefiness that makes a good hamburger so special has been completely annihilated.  It’s meatloaf.  It certainly looks like a hamburger, but if appearances are all that matters I’m pretty sure I could take brownie batter and make it look like a hamburger, but that doesn’t make it so.  

Put simply, if I wanted meatloaf I’d order meatloaf.

I think I need to calm down.  Especially because, unlike at Cardinal Rule, what they’re serving here is actually not bad.  While I would argue until I’m blue in the face against it being a traditional hamburger, it’s okay for what it is.  It’s a decent meatloaf sandwich.  It’s not a hamburger, but it’s tasty.

It’s fairly well spiced, though it’s strong enough that the beef’s natural flavour has been almost entirely wiped out.  It’s also a bit too finely ground, with a slightly odd, overhandled texture.  It’s fairly juicy, however, which is nice, and which helps to compensate for some of the patty’s textural deficiencies.  The cheddar is also fully melted and nicely gooey.

The condiments are mostly okay, though the tomato was a bit mealy.  The very tangy sea-urchin sauce would easily overwhelm a traditional hamburger, but with a through-and-through meatloaf burger like this, all bets are off.

The bun has been off-puttingly dyed jet-black (because charcoal black is clearly the colour you want your bread to be, right guys?), but aside from its weirdly dark colour, it’s above-average.  It’s fresh, soft, and slightly chewy, and holds up to the burger quite well (though I suspect it might be a bit overwhelming with the single-patty option).

As for the side… there wasn’t one.  I’ll admit that I only gave the menu a cursory glance, but given the fairly steep $14.25 price tag for the double burger, I just assumed that a side of some sort would be included.  Nope.  Suffice it to say, it’s a bit overpriced.

2.5 out of 4

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Sliders

sliders
Location
: 704 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://twitter.com/_SLIDERS

Sliders is on a shrinking list of places I’ve been meaning to review since I started this blog. I went there once a few years ago (pre-Tasty Burgers) and found it to be passable but fairly mediocre — the kind of unremarkable place that almost immediately recedes from your memory.

Time after time I’d think “Maybe I’ll finally review Sliders this week!” only to find an excuse to go somewhere else instead. I’m not going to lie: I didn’t particularly want to go back.

Long story short: I went back and it was pretty much exactly as I remembered. It was fine — I would theoretically eat there again, but with a Burger’s Priest location less than five minutes away, it’s not going to happen.

True to their name, they serve sliders — though what they serve are just mini hamburgers, not actually sliders by the true meaning of the term (to my knowledge, no one in Toronto serves that style of hamburger). That being the case, I went with a normal-sized burger instead. I got the Double Stacker with Cheese and had it topped with Slider sauce, pickles, and tomato.

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The griddled patties were cooked to well done and were a tad on the dry side, though they did actually have some juiciness to them. There was also a little bit of crust from the griddle, but not nearly as much as there should have been.

Though I wouldn’t exactly call this a meatloaf burger, there was definitely something other than salt and pepper mixed into the patty. It’s subtle, but it’s definitely there. Still, some beefy flavour remains, which, however mild, is pleasant.

The cheese was American, perfect for a classic cheeseburger like this. The slider sauce was a spicy mayo that actually did have a small kick to it; the other toppings were fine. The bun was fresh and suited the burger well.

Again, it’s not a bad burger — but with Burger’s Priest nearby serving a burger done in a similar style that’s so, so much better, Sliders feels redundant.

The fries, however, were really excellent. It’s close, but they probably have Burger’s Priest beat in that department.

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