Location: 832 Sheppard Avenue West, North York
Grill Gate serves the type of burger I should love. If nothing else, it’s actually different than the smashed-and-griddled cheeseburgers that have become the city’s de facto burger style over the last decade or so. That alone is kind of delightful.
And for the most part, what they’re serving here is tasty. I ordered the simplest option, the Gourmet Cheezeburger, which comes with a mix of American cheese and mozzarella, special sauce, and onion chips.
As you’d guess from the name of the restaurant, it’s grilled rather than griddled, which is a refreshing change of pace from pretty much every other burger in the city. The eight ounce patty has a nice heft to it, and holds up to the grilling quite nicely — there’s a good amount of char and a pleasant smoky flavour from the grill, which is quite enjoyable. The patty is cooked all they way to well done, but still reasonably juicy.
So what’s the problem? It’s a meatloaf burger, and a very meatloafy one at that. The spicing here is front and centre. It doesn’t taste like a hamburger to me; not even a little bit.
Actually, in this case, I shouldn’t call it a meatloaf burger; the way it’s spiced, it would be more apt to call it a kofta burger. It tastes a lot like a kofta kebab. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world — I quite like kofta kebabs! But you can’t put one on a bun and call it a hamburger. It’s tasty in a completely different way.
Other than that, it’s decent enough for what it is. It could be juicier, and the meat is a bit too tightly packed and tough, but it’s not bad. There is, of course, zero beefy flavour — the spices are absolutely the star of the show.
The cheese isn’t bad. A mixture of American and mozzarella is a bit odd, but mostly, it works. It’s a bit plasticky, even by the standards of American, but it’s also gooey and satisfying.
Then there’s the special sauce and the onion chips, and to be completely honest, I have no idea what they tasted like. I forgot to take note of them (this is my first burger review in several months, so I guess I’m a bit rusty), and neither stood out to me at all. It’s possible they weren’t there. It’s also possible they were overwhelmed by the very assertively spiced patty. I’m not sure.
I liked the bun. It was weirdly crispy on the bottom, but other than that it was nice and fluffy. It looks a bit big, but the bun-to-patty ratio was perfect.
As for the fries, they’re great. They’re battered fries, which I’m normally not crazy about, but these are surprisingly tasty. They were perfectly fried — they might have been the crispiest fries I’ve ever had, but they never tipped the scales and became overly crunchy. They’re also topped with a zippy, parsley-infused sauce that compliments them perfectly. They were easily the highlight of the meal.
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