Jamie’s Italian

jamie
Location
: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (Square One)
Website: https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/canada/

I know, a place with “Italian” right in the name probably isn’t the most obvious place to order a hamburger.  And I just got burned by an Italian place with a hamburger inexplicably on the menu.  So you’d think I’d learn.

But you know what?  Maybe I’ll never learn, because the burger at Jamie’s Italian is actually pretty darn good.

And it had better be — it’s not cheap.  It’s sixteen bucks on its own; twenty if you want fries.  That’s not exactly unreasonable by the standards of a nicer restaurant, but it’s still a decent chunk of change.  You’re throwing down the gauntlet if you’re charging that much for a hamburger.  You’re asking for extra scrutiny.

The Jamie’s Italian Burger is described as follows: “Juicy Prince Edward Island beef, balsamic onions, aged Cheddar, tomato & homade mostarda mayo.”

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Yeah, it’s good.  My biggest complaint is that the texture of grilled patty — which is cooked all the way to well done — is a bit off.  The grind is slightly too fine, and it’s a bit dry.  Still, it does have some juiciness to it, and as far as the texture goes, I’ve certainly had worse.

The patty is otherwise really tasty — it’s got a nice smoky flavour from the grill, but nothing too overbearing (as some grilled burgers tend to be).  It’s also got a mild but satisfying beefy flavour.

The toppings are pretty good too.  Aged cheddar’s stronger flavour can sometimes be a bit much on a burger, but here it worked pretty well.  And of course, caramelized onions are pretty much a hamburger’s best friend, so yeah, they worked pretty well too.

The bun looks way too big for the patty, but it’s light enough and fluffy enough that it never feels overwhelming.

As for the fries, the waitress suggested the polenta chips over the traditional fries, and I figured yeah, why not?  They were a touch on the bland side (they either needed more of the rosemary and shredded parmesan that they were topped with, or some kind of dipping sauce), but otherwise were crispy, creamy, and really tasty.

3.5 out of 4

Jamie's Italian - the restaurant Jamie's Italian - the restaurant Jamie's Italian - the menu Jamie's Italian - the burger Jamie's Italian - the burger

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

Nader's - the outside Nader's - the restaurant Nader's - the burger and fries Nader's - the burger

Galito’s

galitos
Location
: 5200 Dixie Road, Unit 55, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.galitoschicken.com/

In my continuing quest to check out any halfway decent burger near my work (which is no easy task when you work in Mississauga, a horrifying burger wasteland), I did my semi-regular “best burger in Mississauga” search, and found a top 15 by Foursquare.  Number 13 on that list: Galito’s.

Wait, Galito’s?  That Galito’s?  The peri peri chicken joint?  Do they even have a burger on the menu?

Apparently they do.  I was fairly certain it was going to be bad (because why does that place even serve a burger??), but I figured, sure – why the hell not?

Ordering a hamburger here is so bizarre that I was honestly a little bit embarrassed even asking for it; I glanced around furtively as I ordered, like a guy buying a Hustler at a convenience store.

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I was asked how spicy I wanted it, which certainly isn’t a question you expect when ordering a burger.  I thought, at the very least, that this might be interesting.

Well, I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I got was a run-of-the-mill frozen patty – grilled – that had been slathered in peri peri sauce.  It was also topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion.

The frozen patty was what it was: with its chewy texture and anemic flavour, it’s identical to the hamburger you’ll find at any number of crappy old-school burger joints, hospital cafeterias, and company picnics. The spicy, lemony peri peri sauce adds some heat and some zip, which kind of helps, but there’s no saving a patty like this.

The burger came with one side — I went with the peri peri fries, which were just mediocre frozen fries that were dusted with some kind of peri peri seasoning.  With the hamburger, I can barely even blame them for going the frozen route – no one but a madman would order a hamburger from a restaurant that otherwise so single-mindedly specializes in chicken. The fries, on the other hand, I have a much harder time forgiving them for.

1.5 out of 4

Galito's - the outside Galito's - the restaurant Galito's - the burger Galito's - the burger Galito's - the burger

Quickies’ Subs & Burgers

quickies
Location
: 18 Rambler Drive, Brampton
Websitehttp://www.quickiesfast.ca/

So the other day I was watching Top Five Restaurants on the Food Network; they were counting down the best burgers in America, and I was getting hungrier and hungrier (sometimes the picks on a show like this can be questionable, but every burger in that episode made me want to quit my job and jump on a plane).

I think by burger number two I had decided that I was going to need to have a hamburger for lunch the next day — sadly, I work in Mississauga, which isn’t exactly a burger-lover’s paradise. It doesn’t help that I’ve already reviewed the few burgers that are actually worth eating out here (as far as I know, at least).

Which is how I ended up at Quickies, maybe the sketchiest place I’ve visited for this blog — and I’ve been to a lot of sketchy places, particularly out in the wilds of Mississauga and Brampton.

I’m not even going to sugar-coat it: the restaurant is flat-out gross. Everything looks like it was in desperate need of renovation about a decade ago, and there was a visible layer of grime on pretty much every surface. Most of the things I touched — the tray, a ketchup bottle — were slick with grease. At one point I dropped my phone while taking pictures of the burger, and when I went under the table to retrieve it, I saw that it had landed next to a dust-caked, cobwebbed French fry that appeared to have been under there for weeks if not months.

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After I left, I felt like I didn’t just need to wash my hands, I needed to wash everything. I needed one of those jailhouse fire-hose showers.

It’s the type of place where, if I weren’t already planning to write about it, I would have taken one step through the door, looked around and walked right back out.

The menu features a four ounce single, and an eight ounce double. I went with the single, and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo. The burger was six bucks as a combo with a drink and a very generous portion of fries, so if nothing else it’s crazy cheap.

This being an old-school burger joint in the GTA, the burger was, of course, grilled. There’s really not a lot to say about it — it’s a frozen burger, and though it’s a small step above some of the real bottom-of-the-barrel frozen burgers that I’ve had, it still had that overly processed “is this a hamburger or is it a hot dog?” taste and texture that typifies cheap frozen burgers.

The bun was nicely toasted and suited the burger fairly well, aside from being a bit too big, and the toppings were what you’d expect.

As for the fries, they actually weren’t too bad, surprisingly enough. Given that the place smelled quite strongly of stale grease (oh, did I not mention that the place stunk? Because the place stunk), I had very low expectations for the fries. And though some of them were bordering on undercooked, for the most part they were crispy and tasty, with none of the rancid oil flavour I had feared.

1.5 out of 4

Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the outside Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the restaurant Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the friest Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the burger Quickies' Subs and Burgers - the burger

John Anderson’s Charcoal Broil Hamburgers

anderson
Location
: 1069 Dundas Street West, Mississauga
Website: None

Mediocre frozen burger, mediocre frozen fries, THE END.

Seriously, I think I’ve written enough of these at this point that I really don’t need to go much further than that.  I could just point you in the direction of any number of reviews I’ve written of places that serve mediocre, industrially-produced frozen burgers just like this one.

I wouldn’t be surprised if all the old-school burger joints serving crappy frozen burgers get them from the same supplier, so can’t I just cut-and-paste the same review every time?  Why should I go to the trouble of writing a review from scratch when they can’t be bothered to make a burger from scratch (which is, I should add, probably the easiest thing you can make, so WTF)?

The sad thing is, I discovered this place through random “best burger in Mississauga” searches; clearly, the burger boom that’s hit Toronto in the last few years has left Mississauga almost entirely untouched.

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John Anderson has a regular burger and a “Big Puck” burger on the menu.  I was told that they’re both exactly the same aside from the size, so I went with the regular, and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo.

I’m not particularly going to get into it, because why should I, but it was a frozen burger and it tasted like so many other frozen burgers: it had the same overly-processed hot dog texture, and the same disturbing lack of any kind of beefy flavour.

The bun was fine and the toppings were fine — though again, like with so many other old-school burger joints, the mayo is actually Miracle Whip, which I’ve just come to expect at this point.

As for the aforementioned frozen fries, they were well-prepared and slightly better than average, but they were still pretty lifeless compared to the real deal.

1.5 out of 4

John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the outside John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the outside John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the restaurant John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the restaurant John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the burger and fries John Anderson Charcoal Broil Hamburgers - the burger

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

BriSkit Gourmet Slow Cooked Sandwiches - the restaurant BriSkit Gourmet Slow Cooked Sandwiches - the restaurant BriSkit Gourmet Slow Cooked Sandwiches - the burger and fries BriSkit Gourmet Slow Cooked Sandwiches - the burger
BriSkit Gourmet Slow Cooked Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Sonny’s Drive-In

sonny
Location
: 21 Kennedy Road North, Brampton
Websitehttp://www.sonnysdrivein1964.com/

Sonny’s Drive-In — a small, rickety old take-out joint — is absolutely dripping with old-school charm. It is lousy with it. Though in other cities that might fill you with a warm fuzzy feeling, visiting an old-school burger joint in the GTA is pretty much a guarantee of two things:

1) The burgers will be grilled. I have no idea why, but prior to the rise of places like Burger’s Priest and Holy Chuck a few years ago, griddled burgers were exceptionally difficult to find in the GTA (aside from fast food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s). Everyone grilled their burgers.

2) This is the thing that always makes me hesistant to check out old-school burger joints: the burgers being served will almost certainly be of the frozen, industrially-produced variety. Or if you’re lucky and the burger is freshly made, it’ll inevitably be a meatloaf burger.

Number two is what makes it impossible for me to feel anything but trepidation when I visit an old-school burger joint, and makes me seriously confused as to how these places stay in business. I think it’s safe to say that nostalgia plays a very strong role.

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Before I bury the lede much further: yes, Sonny’s serves a frozen burger. No, it is not good.

It’s a tiny little place that does mostly take-out business — there are four picnic tables outside, but aside from that seating is non-existent. The burgers can either be had plain, with cheese, or with bacon and cheese. I went plain and had mine topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo.

Accuse me of snobbery all you want, but cheap frozen burgers like the ones they serve here (and these are seriously bottom of the barrel) barely even taste like a hamburger to me. I’ve mentioned this before, but with their rubbery texture and generically salty flavour, they taste more like a flattened hot dog than like a hamburger. They’re bad.

The toppings were fine, though the mayo was actually Miracle Whip or something similar. The bun was pretty good, though when it’s part of such a shoddy hamburger, who cares?

As for the fries, they were much better than the burger, though that’s not saying much. They were soggy and a bit undercooked, but otherwise pretty good. They were also completely unsalted, which is a bit of a bummer coming from a take-out place.

Sonny's Charcoal Broiled Foods - the restaurant Sonny's Charcoal Broiled Foods - the inside Sonny's Charcoal Broiled Foods - the fries Sonny's Charcoal Broiled Foods - the burger Sonny's Charcoal Broiled Foods - the burger
Sonny's Drive In on Urbanspoon