Tag Archives: hamburger

Marben — Round 2

22 Jul

Marben
Location: 488 Wellington Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.marben.ca/

Yes, I’ve actually reviewed Marben before, back in 2013.  Back then, they stuffed the patty with saucy braised short ribs, a practice that made me call that burger “less hamburger and more upscale sloppy joe.”

Now that they’ve started serving a more traditional burger with a regular un-stuffed beef patty, I figured a re-do was in order.

I was actually pretty excited to try it again.  The burger is quite well regarded, and now that it’s an actual hamburger instead of an odd Frankenstein creation, I figured it would be delicious.  I was all set for burger greatness.

I guess I should have left well enough alone.  As it turns out, the whole stuffing thing was actually hiding the burger’s deficiencies, which are now in plain view.  To paraphrase the late, great Roger Ebert: I hated hated hated hated hated this burger.  It was so bad.

It’s basically the same burger it was before, but with braised brisket on top instead of short rib in the middle.  From the menu: “beef fat brioche, aged cheddar, branston pickle, braised brisket.”

Marben

I’m going to cut right to the chase: the patty itself was horrible.  I’ve had a lot of overly dry burgers since starting this blog, and this might have been the most egregiously, ridiculously, unpleasantly Sahara dry.  I don’t think there was an ounce of moisture in it, despite only being cooked to a nice rosy-pink medium.

I don’t know what cut of beef they’re using in this thing, but it’s obviously all wrong.  It’s one of those burgers that’s so dry, as you’re chewing it you’re wondering, “how am I even going to swallow this??”  The waiter must have refiled my water about five times, because I had to keep drinking and drinking and drinking just to keep my mouth from completely drying out.

The beef was also too finely ground; combined with the dryness, the texture was a complete nightmare.  It made me want to hurl the burger across the restaurant, run out, and then never eat or review a hamburger again.

I was wondering if this was just a one-off issue, but the fact that the burger wasn’t even cooked past medium and was still this insanely dry (not to mention the overly fine grind) makes me think that they’re using beef that’s way, way, way too lean and then preparing it poorly.

The flavour was okay, at least — not particularly beefy, but pleasant enough.  But with that texture, it didn’t matter.

Everything else was fine, I guess.  The brisket was okay, but like the patty, it was dry — there will be absolutely no mistaking this version of the burger for a sloppy joe.  The other toppings were good, though the cheddar was so sparingly applied that if I hadn’t seen it, I would have never known it was there.

The bun was dry too, because why the hell not, right??  I’ve had worse, but I think it might have either been slightly overbaked or a day or two past its prime.

The fries were great, though.  So there’s that at least.

1 out of 4

Marben - the outside Marben - the restaurant Marben - the burger and fries Marben - the burger Marben - the burger

Burgers Park

8 Jul


Location: 10 William Sylvester Drive, North York
Websitehttp://burgerspark.ca/

Are you familiar with Shake Shack, the very popular chain of New York-based burger joints?  Someone at Burgers Park sure is — the style of burger, the paper wrapper it comes in, the crinkle-cut fries, the hot dogs, the milkshakes, the logo, and even the faux-park setting (the original Shake Shack is in Madison Square Park in New York) are all Shake Shack through and through.

BlogTO’s profile of the place states that the owners claim that the similarities to Shake Shake are coincidental.  Anything is possible, I suppose, but if that’s a coincidence it’s like the winning the lottery of coincidences.  Feels like a long-shot.

But don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying this is a bad thing.  Shake Shack is beloved.  If you’re going to steal, steal from the best.  We’re never going to get a Shake Shack location in Toronto, so we may as well get a homage.

And it’s really good!  If it hadn’t been great then the whole thing might have felt sad, but clearly, Burgers Park is ready to roll with the big boys.

I ordered the Park Burger, which is a classic griddled cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato, sauteed onions, and dijonnaise.

The patty is great.  Like the one at Gold Standard, it’s cooked with mustard on the griddle, but unlike that one, the mustard flavour isn’t overbearing.  There’s just enough of it to compliment — but not overwhelm — the beef.

I wish the flavour were a bit beefier, but it’s otherwise pretty much perfect.  The crust is dark and impressive, the grind and the texture are exactly where they should be, and it’s prodigiously juicy despite being cooked all the way to well done.

Obligatory beautiful crust close-up:

The toppings are all great, too, particularly the gooey American cheese and the griddled onions.  The onions probably either needed to be cooked a bit longer or sliced a bit thinner, but they were still quite tasty.  I think griddled onions might be the perfect burger topping.  There’s just something about their flavour that compliments a good burger patty so perfectly.

The soft, fresh, toasted bun was also quite good, holding up to the juicy patty and the toppings without adding too much heft.

As for the crinkle-cut fries, something about their flavour was ever-so-slightly off, but they were otherwise nice and crispy on the outside, with a pleasantly creamy interior.

3.5 out of 4

Burgers Park - the restaurant Burgers Park - the restaurant Burgers Park - the burger and fries Burgers Park - the burger Burgers Park - the burger Burgers Park - the burger

Bytes Burgers ‘n’ Fries

24 Jun


Location
: 10066 Bayview Avenue, Richmond Hill
Websitehttp://www.bytesburgers.com/

I got a little bit concerned when the guy behind the counter at Bytes Burgers pulled out the grayest, saddest looking uncooked beef patty I’ve ever seen and slapped it on the grill.  Certainly, it did not bode well for the freshness (or lack thereof) of the burger.  But hey, at least it helped me to lower my expectations.

The burger here completely flummoxed me.  I don’t know what to make of it.

They have a quarter pound and a third pound burger; I went with the third pound option (the eponymous Byte burger), and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo.

It’s… strange.  I think the patty might have been frozen and industrially-produced, but the texture was so wonky and so thoroughly unlike any burger that I’ve ever had that I had a hard time nailing it down.

It was soft and mushy and weird; I have no idea what was going on there, but it wasn’t right.  If it was made with fresh beef, then it was clearly way, way too finely ground, though that alone couldn’t begin to account for the oddball texture.  And even if it was frozen, that still wouldn’t explain the mushiness.

I don’t know.  Like I said, I’m flummoxed.

The flavour (not to mention the wan, gray colour of the uncooked patty) is what makes me think this might have been a frozen burger.  It has that neither-here-nor-there saltiness and generic meatiness of a frozen patty.

The toppings were all fine, at least, and the fresh bun suited the patty well.

I’ll admit that I didn’t entirely hate eating this burger — the flavour, while not particularly good, was inoffensive, and the squishy texture was wrong, but not completely repulsive.  But “it wasn’t gross” isn’t exactly high praise, and the wonky texture makes this hard to recommend to anybody.

As for the fries, they were fine — but they were heavily battered, and that’s never going to be my favourite style of fry.

1.5 out of 4

Bytes Burgers 'n' Fries - the restaurant Bytes Burgers 'n' Fries - the restaurant Bytes Burgers 'n' Fries - the burger Bytes Burgers 'n' Fries - the burger

Gold Standard

10 Jun

Gold Standard
Location
: 385 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://thefed.ca/goldstandard/

Though the term “slider” has come to mean any little sandwich on a bun, it used to refer to a very specific type of hamburger where onions, beef, and bun all mingle together in a way that can be downright magical.  I’ve decried the absence of this style of burger in the GTA a few times over the years; most recently, in my review for Broncos Slider Bar, I predicted that we’d never get a true slider joint in the city.

Well, I’m happy to say that I was wrong.  Gold Standard, a tiny little take-out window just off of Roncesvalles, serves a Telway-style burger — a variation on a slider that originated in Detroit.

And while it’s not quite as delicious as I might have hoped, I’m very, very glad that it exists.

The burgers here feature a diminutive patty that’s been cooked with a generous amount of thinly shaved onions, which allows the beef and the onions to cook together, and for the flavours to mingle (they remain completely distinct from one another, however — this is a far cry from a meatloaf burger).  They also put a pre-cooking application of mustard directly on the patty and/or griddle to amp up the flavour.  It’s served with gooey american cheese and pickles, and comes tightly wrapped in foil so that the bun absorbs some of the flavour from the beef and the onions.

It’s a very respectable slider, but alas, nothing about it got my heart rate up.  The best part is the interplay between the beef and the griddled onions; that is a boffo flavour combination, and Gold Standard executes it perfectly.  The gooey melted cheese was also quite good, if a bit too salty.

The patty was solid — it had a good texture and it wasn’t too tightly packed — but it could have been beefier and juicier.  It wasn’t exactly dry, but it wasn’t particularly juicy, either, and the beefy flavour was more muted than I’d like.  It doesn’t help that the mustard was surprisingly intense, and dominated all of the other flavours in the hamburger.

The bun was probably the weakest part.  That’s a shame, because the soft beef-and-onion infused bun is a big part of the appeal of this style of hamburger.  I’m pretty sure that it started out as a good-quality bun, but it had been so thoroughly mashed down and squashed into oblivion that all of the fluffiness had been compressed right out of it.  It had the approximate texture of a really dense marshmallow.  It wasn’t completely unappealing, but it was firm and chewy in a way that was odd and off-putting.

This would normally be the part of the review where I talk about the fries.  There aren’t any. There are only three things on the menu at Gold Standard: the burger, a breakfast sandwich, and a vegetarian sandwich (or vegan?  I honestly didn’t even read that portion of the menu).

3 out of 4

Gold Standard - the outside Gold Standard - the outside Gold Standard - the burger Gold Standard - the burger

Joey

27 May

Joey Sherway
Location
: 25 The West Mall, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.joeyrestaurants.com/

Are the days of seriously mediocre and/or terrible casual chain restaurants behind us?  Up until recently, the burger at a place like this was pretty much guaranteed to either be dry and unpleasant, or rubbery and industrially-produced.

But the burger I had at State & Main a couple of months ago was surprisingly okay, and so was the one I just ate at Joey.  Things are clearly looking up.

The burger here isn’t anything to get too excited about — nothing about it stands out, but it’s a solid, inoffensive hamburger.

It’s simple enough — it’s a single patty affair with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, and some kind of zesty mayo-based sauce.

I was quite enjoying the first few bites — the medium-well middle is juicy and satisfying.  But the meat is too tightly packed, and as you get closer to the well done edges of the patty, it gets dry and tough.

Still, it’s not bad.  The griddled patty has a good amount of crust on its exterior, and while it doesn’t taste particularly beefy, the flavour isn’t unpleasant.

The toppings are all fresh and tasty, and the zesty mayo adds some zip without overwhelming the beef.

The bun’s not great, however.  It’s overly dense and dry, and it’s slightly too wide for the patty.  The beef-to-bun ratio is off.

As for the fries, they tasted like a slightly inferior version of what they serve at McDonald’s.

2.5 out of 4

Joey - the restaurant Joey - the restaurant Joey - the burger and fries Joey - the burger