Tag Archives: French fries


11 Mar

Ozzy's in Kensington Market
: 66 Nassau Street, Toronto

Salt is a funny thing.  Add just enough of it to a dish, and it disappears into the background, enhancing flavours without calling attention to itself.  I was talking to a friend about the burger at Ozzy’s being too salty (because spoiler alert: the burger at Ozzy’s was way too salty), and he seemed surprised by the notion that a burger should even have salt.  Because done right, salt just enhances the beefy flavour of a burger without actually adding a particularly salty flavour.  It does its magic and then recedes into the shadows, happy to let the beef take all of the credit.

Done wrong, on the other hand?  You end up with the burger at Ozzy’s.

I ordered the Classic burger, which comes topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, griddled onions, and Ozzy’s sauce.

Ozzy's in Kensington Market

It’s kind of tragic, because aside from the extreme saltiness issue, the burger was top-notch.  The patty had a really impressive amount of crust from the griddle and a perfect texture, despite being cooked to well done — it was surprisingly juicy, it had a nice coarse grind, and it wasn’t overhandled.  It also had a decent beefy flavour.  It was actually pretty great.

The toppings were all solid, and the fresh, slightly sweet bun suited the burger well, though it was slightly too large.

But when I say that the patty was too salty, I mean that it was in-your-face salty.  It was unpleasant.

It’s a damn shame, because with a normal amount of salt, this would have easily been a top-tier burger.  But it was what it was (and my dining companion had the same complaint, so this wasn’t a one-off mistake).

As for the fries, bafflingly, they were completely undersalted (or maybe they just tasted that way after the salt-bomb of a hamburger).  They also had a bit of a stale oil flavour, but were otherwise pretty good.

2.5 out of 4

Ozzy's - the restaurant Ozzy's - the restaurant Ozzy's - the burger and fries Ozzy's - the burger

State & Main Kitchen & Bar

12 Feb

: 396 The East Mall, Etobicoke

I’m not gonna lie: my expectations for the burger at State & Main were quite low.  Is there something lower than low?  Like, in the basement?  My expectations were way down in the basement.

I mean, why wouldn’t they be?  Casual chain restaurants like this one typically serve a burger that’s uninspired, to put it kindly, and I really didn’t have any reason to think that State & Main would be any different.

I’m happy to say that I was dead wrong.  Not that the burger here was anything to get too excited about, but it was actually pretty good.

I ordered the Main, which is a double cheeseburger made with American cheese, and topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, and State sauce.

The patties weren’t bad at all, though I’m honestly not sure if they were griddled or grilled.  It was odd; they looked griddled, but tasted grilled, with that slightly smoky, charred flavour that you typically only get from the grill.  So…  I don’t know (I’ve eaten something like three hamburgers in the last six months, so I guess my burger sense is a bit rusty).

They were solid patties: they had a nice crust from the griddle and/or grill (??), they were slightly juicy, and they had a pleasant flavour.  Yes, they were a little densely packed, they could have been beefier and juicier, and it would have been nice if they weren’t so uniformly gray throughout — but they could have been much, much worse.

The toppings were quite good too, particularly the gooey, melty American cheese. 

I’d tell you about the State sauce, but I honestly don’t remember what it tasted like (did I mention that I’m a bit rusty at this burger reviewing thing?  Because clearly I am).  I feel like it’s safe to assume it was just the typical Big Mac-esque sauce that you usually find on burgers like this.

The bun was slightly too dense, but since this was a more substantial hamburger, it worked.

As for the fries, they were perfectly crispy/creamy.  You had the choice between gravy or dill sauce for dipping; I went with the dill, which was addictively garlicky.  It was pretty great.

3 out of 4

State and Main - the restaurant State and Main - the restaurant State and Main - the burger State and Main - the burger State and Main - the burger

Jumbo Burgers

3 Jul

: 685 Runnymede Road, Toronto
Website: None

Jumbo Burgers is yet another orange-hued old-school burger joint in Toronto, which means it’s probably lousy.  Not to be a pessimist, but these places pretty much all either serve a flat-out terrible frozen burger, or if you’re lucky, a freshly-made hamburger that has so much stuff mixed in it may as well be meatloaf.

Well, good news: Jumbo Burgers falls into the latter category, and it’s actually not too bad.  It’s not particularly good, mind you, but when the alternative is a rubbery slab of sadness bound together by pink slime (sorry: lean finely-textured beef), a freshly-made meatloaf burger is a pretty big win.

Like almost every other burger joint of a certain age, you order your hamburger and then pick your toppings from behind the glass.  I went with pickles, tomato and mayo (which, again, like most older establishments, was actually Miracle Whip or something similar).

It wasn’t bad.  The burger had a good amount of char from the grill without being burnt (like most places that were open before the fall of the Soviet Union, the burgers are grilled rather than griddled.  Yeah, these places all followed the same template back then).

The patty had a pretty pronounced meatloafy flavour, I’m assuming from garlic and other spices mixed right in with the beef, but as far as this type of burger goes, I’ve certainly had worse.  There was still a vague beefy flavour, even if it was mostly wiped out by the spices.

The well done patty was a little bit dry and a little bit tough, but again, I’ve had worse.  Like I said: it’s not particularly good, but it’s not bad, either.

The toppings were fine, aside from the aforementioned mayo substitute.  The bun was slightly too big and too dense; the beef-to-bun ratio was off, but it was otherwise a decent bun.

As for the fries, they were a bit undercooked, but aside from that they were pretty good.

2.5 out of 4

Jumbo Burgers - the outside Jumbo Burgers - the restaurant Jumbo Burgers - the burger Jumbo Burgers - the burger Jumbo Burgers - the fries

George the Greek

18 Jun

: 3575 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke

So, it turns out it’s actually not a great idea to go to a restaurant based on one post from some random guy on a message board. Who knew! (What? That’s just common sense? Literally everyone knew that? Hmm.)

George the Greek is one of those really old school places that has two types of burgers on the menu: a cheap hamburger (i.e. a bottom-of-the-barrel frozen patty) and a more expensive “homeburger” (which, logic dictates, is one that they make themselves).

I ordered the homeburger, only to find that George the Greek has pulled a C & Dubbs — it’s also a frozen burger. It’s one of the thicker, premium varieties of frozen burger, but a frozen burger is a frozen burger: rubbery hot dog texture with a mildly unpleasant, salty, off-meat flavour.

If you could see me right now, you’d see that I’m giving a very vigorous thumbs down while making a farting noise.

The burger had a pleasant, mild smoky flavour from the grill, and the toppings were fine (I went with pickles, tomato and mayo — and the mayo was actually mayo, not Miracle Whip, which a frequent and unwelcome substitution at old school joints like this. So that was nice.).  The bun was pretty good too — it was standard supermarket fare, but it suited the burger quite well.

Alas, there isn’t much you can do to make a lousy patty like this particularly palatable.

As for the fries, they were slightly better than the hamburger, but they were a bit undercooked and completely unseasoned.

1.5 out of 4

George the Greek - the outside George the Greek - the restaurant George the Greek - the burger and fries George the Greek - the burger

The Wren

28 May

: 1382 Danforth Avenue, Toronto

After seeing pictures of the various burger specials at the Wren roughly a billion times on Instagram over the last few months, my excitement level was pretty much at a fever pitch; it’s not easy to get me to venture too far east in Toronto (I’m lazy, you see), but for an amazing burger?  Yeah, I’ll go out of my way for that.

Alas, this place suffers from a very pronounced case of Sweet Jesus-itus — highly Instagrammable, but otherwise not particularly great.

I ordered the Backyard Burger, which is the most bare-bones burger they serve (they also have a much more Instagram-friendly creation called the Uncle Buck Burger, not to mention the veritable Instagram-catnip that is their rotating special).

The Backyard Burger comes topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, and mayo.

Sometimes, you can just look at a burger’s cross-section and know you’re in trouble.  If you can tell just by looking at a burger that the grind is too fine and it’s too densely packed, you’re in trouble.

And yeah, of course the grind was too fine and it was too densely packed, because just look at it.  Look at it and weep.

It was also cooked all the way to the wellest of well done, and was almost entirely moisture-free.  It wasn’t the worst patty I’ve ever had, but it was kinda unpleasant to eat.

The taste, while not offensive, was non-existent; there was no particular beefy or meaty flavour.  Aside from the subtle smokiness from the grill, it didn’t taste like anything.

Everything else was fine.  The burger comes topped with ketchup, mustard, and mayo, which is more condiment-heavy than I’d usually like.  Here, however, those condiments are actually fairly essential to provide the burger with some much-needed moisture.  I actually could have used more.

The bun, though a little bit too crackly on its exterior, was mostly quite good.  It held up to the patty and the toppings nicely, and didn’t overwhelm.

The fries were the clear (and only) highlight.  They were perfectly cooked and tossed with a seasoned salt that made them taste pretty great on their own — no dip required.

1.5 out of 4

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