I told myself I wasn’t going to trust Toronto Life again after the great frozen burger fiasco of 2015 (a quick recap: they included a frozen, industrially-produced burger in their list of the 25 best burgers in the city back in 2015 and made smoke come out of my ears like a cartoon character).
But when they specifically mentioned the greatness of the burger at Northern Maverick Brewing Co. in their recent list of the best new restaurants in the city, I couldn’t ignore it. That’s like catnip for me. I can’t resist. I’m physically incapable.
(They also recently published my list of the ten best burgers in the city, so I guess they’re not all bad.)
I like Toronto Life, but they should clearly stop trying to recommend burgers, because they are terrible at it.
The burger here was an absolute disaster. The menu certainly makes it sound good: “dry-aged house ground chuck, housemade bacon, house smoked cheese, house pickle” (they sure like the word “house,” don’t they?).
I’m going to start with the bun, because holy crap that bun was so profoundly awful that I’m having a hard time believing that it even happened. Like, did I really eat that? Or was it some kind of bizarre nightmare?
I knew I was in trouble immediately, because I almost couldn’t even cut through it with the knife they provided. It was dense and impenetrable and horrible.
It made it really difficult to actually eat the hamburger — it was so dense and unyielding that it had zero give. You couldn’t compress it down even a little bit, and it’s big, so I had to open my jaw as wide as it would go, and it was barely enough.
The flavour was fine — it was slightly too sweet, but otherwise okay — but the texture was a complete disaster. It was closer to stale pound cake than to a traditional bun. It overwhelmed everything. It was the worst.
The patty, sadly, wasn’t much better. It had a decent beefy flavour and a nice amount of crust from the griddle, but it was immediately apparent that the beef they were using was way too lean, because the well-done patty was dry AF. I can’t remember the last time I had a burger that dry. Between that and the stupid bun, it required so much chewing.
The toppings were fine, at least. I was a bit worried that the smoked cheese would be overwhelming, but it was pleasantly mild and melty.
But it’s irrelevant. That bun. That patty. The horror.
Oh, and the fries were of the ultra-generic frozen variety, so how this place wound up on a major magazine’s list of the best restaurants of the year is truly baffling.