McCoy Burger Company

mccoy
Location
: 3334 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://mccoyburgerco.ca/

It’s a bold move opening a burger joint on this particular stretch of Yonge Street, mere steps away from both the Burger’s Priest and the Burger Cellar, and just a few blocks north of Stack.  That area is pretty well covered in terms of burger availability.  You’ve gotta have confidence in what you’re selling to wade into that scrum.

So with cojones like that, I wanted to like McCoy Burger Company.  I really did.  And I didn’t dislike it; it was just aggressively average.

They’ve got a few pre-topped burgers on the menu, and a few different meat choices aside from beef (chicken, lamb, turkey). I did my usual thing and went with the simplest choice: the plain McCoy Burger, which I had topped with mayo, pickles, and tomato.

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The patty has a little bit of crust from the griddle, though it’s not really enough to add a whole lot of texture or flavour. The menu, confusingly, refers to the patty as being “grilled to perfection,” even though it has obviously been griddled (I think they just don’t realize that there are different words for grilling or griddling a hamburger).

The texture is actually pretty good — the loosely-packed patty had a nice, coarse grind, and though it was cooked all the way to well done, it was still a little bit juicy.

It’s the flavour that really sinks the burger.  They season the patty with some kind of spice blend; that’s generally not my favourite, but it wasn’t too overwhelming.  The biggest problem is the flavour of the beef itself; it’s just kind of tasteless, with a slightly off flavour that you typically only get from middling quality beef.

It’s a shame; with better tasting beef and with a bit more crust from the griddle (which they obviously know how to do — the video on their website shows a burger with an impressive amount of crust, so your mileage may vary), the burger could have been well above average, but instead it’s just a resounding shrug.

The fries, on the other hand, were great — featuring an addictively crispy exterior and a fluffy interior, they were really hard to stop eating.

2.5 out of 4

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Royale’s Luncheonette

royales
Location
: 1418 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.royalesluncheonette.com/

I like surprises.  Actually no; scratch that.  I like pleasant surprises.

This was supposed to be a review of the burger at The Federal, but they were absolutely slammed, with a half hour wait.  So we walked a few shops over and found ourselves at Royale’s Luncheonette, with absolutely no idea what to expect.  I’m definitely looking forward to checking out the burger at the Federal, but man am I glad they were so busy on this particular day.  Because spoiler alert: Royale’s was a very pleasant surprise.

It’s a tiny little place with just a couple of tables. The menu is posted on the wall, and you order at the counter.  The burger is dubbed the Royale with Cheese.  Given the name and rating system on this blog, I think you can guess that I approve of the reference.

It’s a fast-food-style burger done right: griddled patty, melty American cheese, shredded lettuce, pickle and tomato.  It’s topped with a sauce that, if you’ve ever had a Big Mac, is going to taste very familiar.

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I honestly wasn’t expecting all that much from this place, but I was surprised by how good it was.  The patty had a good amount of crust from the griddle, and when cooked to a pleasing medium, retained an impressive amount of juiciness.  It also had a nice, beefy flavour that easily cut through the zesty sauce.  Beefy flavour?  Juicy patty?  Not overcooked?  Why, I believe it’s time to do the dance of joy!

It wasn’t completely perfect, however.  It was way too small for the bun — the circumference of the patty was probably about two thirds of the circumference of the bread, leaving you with a lot of bun overhang.  That was a shame, as was the grind of the beef, which was ever-so-slightly too fine.  But those are minor complaints for what is otherwise a superb burger.

The lightly toasted Wonderbread bun (I could see the bag in the tiny open kitchen) suited the very unpretentious burger quite well, as did the classic burger toppings — though I wish there had been slightly less of the Big Mac-esque sauce.

No fries on the menu, sadly (I doubt that the ridiculously tiny kitchen could even accommodate a fryer), but when the burger is this good, it speaks for itself.

3.5 out of 4

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Hangry Burger

hangry
Location
: 435 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://hangryburger.com/

If you’ve ever wondered what the hamburger equivalent of a shrug is, look no further.  Hangry Burger now exists to answer that question.

That’s the thing: it’s not a bad burger.  There’s nothing offensive about it, and I didn’t dislike eating it.  But it’s not particularly good.  It’s just… it’s fine (you can’t see me right now, but I’m shrugging pretty hard).

This is going to be a pretty short review, because I honestly don’t have all that much to say about it.  It’s hard to muster up all that much enthusiasm to write about a burger that’s so thoroughly middle-of-the-road.

I ordered the Hangry Burger, which is their no-frills choice, and had it topped with Hangry sauce, pickles, and tomato.

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The patty had some colour from the griddle, though it was cooked all the way to well done and a bit dry.  It was also too finely ground, giving it a mealier texture than I’d like — but I’ve certainly had worse.  As for the flavour of the beef?  Remember all that shrugging I was doing earlier?  Yeah, I’m still doing it.

The toppings were fine, though if the Hangry sauce was anything other than plain mayo, I couldn’t taste it.

The bun, too, was fine, though it was clearly too big and dense for the simple single-patty option — the bun-to-patty ratio was way off.  The fact that it was cold and untoasted probably didn’t help.

As for the fries, they looked good, but they were a bit overcooked.  They were vaguely bitter, with a borderline burnt flavour.

2.5 out of 4

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Nader’s Middle Eastern Grill & Bakery

naders
Location
: 3900 Grand Park Drive, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.naders.co/

Have you ever been bored, browsing Instagram, seen a photo of a burger that looked good from a restaurant you wouldn’t expect, then thought “hey, I should review that for my burger blog!”

No? That phenomenon is weirdly specific to me? Well then.

Let’s face it, a burger isn’t exactly the first thing you’d typically order at a Middle Eastern joint like Nader’s. Or the second. Or the third. Or even the tenth. It’s weird that it’s even on their menu, but hey – it’s there and I’ve got this burger blog, so let’s do this.

I visited around lunchtime on a Thursday, and despite the fact that the impressively enormous restaurant was about 90% empty, the people behind the counter seemed frazzled. My burger took about twenty minutes, and I overheard another customer complaining that he had been waiting for his shawarma plate for over half an hour.

There were other issues. The guy behind the counter asked what I wanted on my burger; after telling him mayo, pickles, and tomato, he immediately started putting ketchup on the burger. I clarified what I wanted. He apologized, then reached for the lettuce.

Yeah, the service wasn’t great.

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This is the part of the review where I wish I could say “but it was all worth it once I tasted that burger. I definitely didn’t waste my time eating the latest in a long line of depressingly mediocre hamburgers!”

You have no idea how much I wish I could say that.

I ordered the single patty option, and it came glistening, with an impressive amount of crust from the griddle. I often complain about burgers that are weakly browned, with little to no crust. I have the opposite complaint here; the exterior of the patty was borderline burnt. It had a dark, crunchy exterior that makes you realize that yes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

I think they mostly use the griddle to crisp up already-cooked shawarma, which necessitates a surface that’s far hotter than you need to cook a burger.

Though the beef actually has a pretty nice flavour, it’s finely ground, tightly packed, and lean. Which means it was crazy dry and unpleasantly tough, despite being cooked to medium with a bit of pink remaining.

The toppings were fine, though the bun, despite being toasted on the griddle, was stale and dry.

As for the fries, they were pale and underwhelming, both in appearance and flavour. They were about on par with the burger.

1.5 out of 4

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Broncos Slider Bar

broncos
Location
: 127 Strachan Avenue, Toronto
Website: http://www.broncosrestaurant.com/

Broncos Slider Bar – a spinoff of Branca, a tapas joint – is the latest restaurant in the city to specialize in so-called sliders.

No, they’re not sliders in the original sense of the term, but I’ve come to accept two things about this:

1) The definition of the word “slider” has now lost all connection to what it used to mean. It went from referring to a very specific style of hamburger, to a small burger of any style, and now to any small sandwich that’s served on a bun. And the way things are going, it will soon refer to any food that happens to be bite-sized. The English language is constantly evolving; no point in trying to fight it.

2) The specific style of burger that originally birthed the word “slider” will never be served in Toronto – or at least, not until I finally make good on my idle chatter and open my own burger joint.

Both points make me sad (particularly number two), but it is what it is.

Anyway, word-nitpickery and burger-style-snobbery aside, Broncos actually serves a pretty good hamburger.

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It’s a classic, fast-food-style cheeseburger – griddle-cooked, and topped with melty American cheese.

The patty has a good texture, a decent amount of juiciness, and a satisfying beefy flavour. Combined with the nice brown crust from the griddle and the gooey cheese, it’s clear that someone in the kitchen knows their way around hamburger cookery.

I would, however, ask for it without mustard next time, or at least ask for less mustard, because the amount applied here just detracted from that great patty.

The other toppings are solid – the pickles did their usual hamburger-improving thing, and even the onions were pretty good. I’m normally not crazy about raw onions on a burger (or anywhere, for that matter), but these weren’t too strong, offering some mild oniony flavour and a little bit of crunch, without overpowering.

Sadly, the bun was an absolute disaster. It’s way, way, way too big and dense for the task at hand. It works well on their other sandwiches, which tend to be messier and crammed to the gills with stuff, thus necessitating a bun with more heft. On the burger, however, the substantial bun throws the beef-to-bun ratio so far off that it’s almost ruinous. Seriously: it comes alarmingly close to flat-out ruining the hamburger. It completely overwhelms the beef. It’s a damn shame, because with a better bun this would be a great burger, and now it’s merely good.

The fries, on the other hand, were great. They look kind of pale but they taste amazing – crispy, creamy, perfect.

3 out of 4

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Hole-E Burger Bar

hole
Location
: 2419 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.holeeburger.com/

Hole-E Burger Bar’s gimmick is that all their burgers are punched with holes pre-cooking.  Why?  To justify the name?  Their website claims that the holes allow the burgers to be “evenly cooked to perfection,” though common sense would dictate that the opposite should be true.  They also claim that they fill the holes with sauce; whether a burger really needs more places to cram sauce is questionable, but that’s probably a debate for another time.  Because in this particular case, the whole thing is moot (get it?  Whole thing??  Ah, get out of here, no one appreciates puns).

There were no holes in my burger.  Like, not one single hole.  So… that’s odd (or not odd at all, since a burger really shouldn’t have holes in it to begin with).  There were a few dimples where maybe some holes had once been, but it otherwise looked like a standard patty.

So without any oddball hole gimmicks to fall back on, how was the burger?  Not great.

I ordered the standard, plain burger, and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo.  The well done patty is griddled, with a decent — if not exactly awe-inspiring — amount of crust.  It was also reasonably juicy, which is always a good thing.

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But there were problems, the foremost being the downright weird texture.

You know when you eat a steak, and you accidentally get a mouthful of gristle, and you really have to chew it thoroughly before you can swallow? To a certain extent, that’s what every mouthful of this burger felt like. You’d chew and you’d chew, and you’d think you were done, but then nope — there was this tough, oddly ropey beef still hanging out in your mouth, refusing to get fully chewed.

It was bizarre, to put it mildly, and I really don’t even have a theory as to how it could have happened.  It was definitely too finely ground, but that alone can’t account for the textural weirdness going on here.  And my dining companion had the exact same issue, so this wasn’t just a one-patty issue.

The beef mostly tasted okay, but had a slightly off flavour.  It was also way over-peppered, but both of those complaints fade into the background when the texture of the burger is so wonky.

The bun and toppings were okay, at least, and the fries were pretty great.  The restaurant is also right next door to some really delicious cupcakes via the Cupcake Shoppe, so the outing wasn’t a complete bust.

2 out of 4

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BriSkit Gourmet Slow Cooked Sandwiches

briskit
Location
: 160 Wilkinson Road, Unit 40, Brampton
Websitehttp://www.thebriskit.com/

Most of the time, when I check out a non-burger-joint for this blog, I do so because I’ve heard something about the burger being worth eating. Every now and then, though, I visit a restaurant blind, hoping for a pleasant surprise.

What I’d really like to do is blow the lid off of some place — to find a random restaurant you’d never suspect has an amazing burger and announce their greatness to the world, at which point the burger-eating public would rally around me and we’d all dance and sing and high-five.

In this case, I had been to BriSkit a few months ago and tried one of their brisket sandwiches, which was pretty tasty. I made a mental note to come back later and check out their burger.

There are a few burgers on the menu; I went with the no-frills Classic, which comes topped as you like it. I got my usual pickles, tomato, and mayo.

Trust me, this pains me as much as it does you, but there is no lid to blow off here. There will be no dancing, no singing, and no high-fiving (yet — one day, though.  One day).

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It’s not awful, at least, though there are a handful of fairly serious problems.

It’s definitely not an all-out meatloaf burger, but there’s some kind of seasoning in the patty that I can’t quite put my finger on, and that really did nothing but get in the way. It’s not particularly strong, but it’s hard to ignore.  It hollers at you in the background: “Hey! You like this? You like how this tastes??”

No, random unwelcome flavour. No, I don’t like how this tastes.

The flavour of the patty is otherwise muddled and unmemorable; there’s no real beefy flavour to speak of, but no off flavours either. The word “meh” was almost invented for this very purpose.

The texture’s not great either. The grind of the beef is too fine, it’s too tightly packed, and the well done patty leans pretty far in the direction of dry.

Another problem? The bun. Though it works quite well on their sloppier sandwiches, it’s way too big and substantial for a hamburger. It throws the bun-to-patty ratio way off.

Oh well. Though the burger isn’t particularly worth eating, I wouldn’t write off BriSkit altogether. The aforementioned brisket sandwich is certainly quite good.

The fries were good too. Actually, they were better than good — they were superlative. A perfect combination of crispy exterior and fluffy interior, they were some of the better fries I’ve had in a while.

2 out of 4

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