Tag Archives: Marben

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

Richmond Station

5 Apr

richmond
Location
: 1 Richmond Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://richmondstation.ca/

People have been raving about the burger at Richmond Station since it opened a couple of years ago.  So of course, the place has been on my list for quite a while (and this is a literal list, FYI – I have a Google map that I keep updated with about a hundred burgers I need to check out.  I’ll empty out that map one day.  One day).

The chef here, Carl Heinrich, previously worked at Marben, and set out on his own after winning Top Chef Canada.  The Marben connection is super obvious when you taste the burger; it is very, very similar.

In fact, you could probably just read my Marben review and get a pretty good idea of what I thought about this one, but they are different enough that I guess I should write a few words.

The Stn. Burger, as per the menu: “lettuce, beet chutney, aged cheddar, milk bun.”

The biggest connection between the two restaurants is unmentioned on the menu.  Like the burger at Marben, the one here is stuffed with braised short ribs.

richmondA

They’re also both about the same size, and though they appear small, they’re substantial.  There’s very little risk that you’ll walk away hungry.

Fortunately, though the short ribs at Marben were a bit overpowering, they seem to have a more subtle flavour here.  I compared the burger there to an upscale sloppy joe, and that’s less of an issue here.  It tastes more like a traditional hamburger.

The ground beef at Marben was also a little bit too lean, resulting in a slightly dry burger. Again, that’s less of an issue here.  The burger is quite juicy.

What is an issue, however?  The beef (which has a mild but satisfying beefy flavour) is way too densely packed, and has an oddly chewy, rubbery texture that’s closer to sausage than to hamburger.

There’s a video online of Heinrich making the burger, and you can see him squeezing the hell out of the patty with some kind of industrial squeezing machine.  I guess that’s necessary to keep the short ribs from bursting out during the cooking process, but it definitely doesn’t do the burger’s texture any favours.

As for the sausage-like texture, I’m not sure; it’s possible that they’re making and salting the patties well in advance, with the salt affecting the beef from the outside, and the short ribs affecting it from the inside.

Still, despite the textural weirdness, it’s definitely tasty, and it’s definitely satisfying.  The melted cheddar isn’t too overpowering, and the beet chutney and pickled onions add some zing while still allowing the beef to be the star of the show.  The toasted bun is nice and fresh, and holds up nicely to the messy burger.

The patty is grilled, apparently, though I couldn’t see or taste any evidence of that on the patty.  If I hadn’t watched the aforementioned video, I honestly wouldn’t have known how they cooked it.

As for the fries, they were amazing.  Perfectly cooked and tinged with rosemary, they were delicious on their own but even better with the horseradish-infused dipping sauce.  Seriously, seriously good.

3 out of 4

Richmond Station - the outside Richmond Station - the restaurant Richmond Station - the burger and fries Richmond Station - the burger

Marben

21 Apr

marben
Location
488 Wellington Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.marbenrestaurant.com/

After the recent Pizzaburger fiasco (which I reviewed at A Hamburger Today), I kind of felt like going for a safer bet.  The awfulness of that Pizzaburger will haunt my dreams.  I needed something that actually tasted good.

So I decided to take another gander at Toronto Life’s list of the best burgers in the city, and wound up at Marben — home of Toronto’s second best burger, by their approximation.

The menu was actually fairly interesting, but of course, I was there with a purpose.  I zeroed in on John’s Burger, described on the menu as coming with “Branston Pickle, braised beef short-ribs, aged cheddar, coleslaw, fries.”

(For the unaware — and I know I was — Branston Pickle is, as per Wikipedia, “a jarred pickled chutney.”  It’s a British thing, apparently.)

This is not a traditional hamburger.  Similar to Daniel Buloud’s famous burger, which is sadly not available at his Toronto outpost, the patty is stuffed with braised short ribs.  This addition changes the hamburger’s essential character, and naturally, takes away from its burgeriness.

marbenA

Is that a bad thing?  It’s up to you, I suppose.  I certainly can’t deny that the final product is good, though whether this modification is severe enough to make a burger no longer a burger is up for debate.

The short rib has some kind of Worcestershire-esque sauce, which is tasty enough, if somewhat overpowering.

This means that the centre of the burger, which is chock-full of the saucy, shredded short rib, is less hamburger and more upscale sloppy joe.

The short rib-less outer edges is where this tastes more like a traditional hamburger.  These parts are good, but not great.

The beef is obviously of a fairly good quality, with a mildly beefy flavour.   But it’s a little bit too tightly packed and dense (I would imagine that it would be difficult to stuff a patty with short ribs without overhandling the beef).  This, combined with beef that is a bit on the lean side, results in an unfortunately dry burger.  This is not particularly noticeable in the centre, where the medium rare ground beef mingles with the saucy short ribs, but around the edges it is clearly an issue.

The rest of the burger is quite good; the cheese and the soft, toasted bun compliment the patty very well.

When the burger arrived, I was a bit shocked by how small it is.  It’s certainly not the largest hamburger in the city, but combined with the generous portion of fries, there is no risk that you’ll leave here hungry.

And those fries are seriously delicious.  They’re the polar opposite of the mediocre frozen fries I was recently served at Boston Pizza; they’re crispy, potatoey, and amazingly addictive.

As for Toronto Life’s proclamation that this is the second best burger in the city?  No.  I seriously doubt it would be in my top 20 at all, let alone number two.  It’s certainly tasty, but it’s a bit too bastardized for my tastes — and even setting that aside, it has too many issues to be considered an upper-echelon burger.

Marben - the restaurant Marben - the menu Marben - the open kitchen Marben - the restaurant Marben - John's Burger and fries Marben - John's Burger Marben - John's Burger
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