Location: 66 Wellington Street West, Toronto
This being my 100th burger review for this blog (yeah, I can’t believe I made it this far either), I figured something special was probably in order. And what’s more special than one of the city’s most highly-regarded burgers, and at a whopping 35 bucks, probably its most expensive?
So it was that I found myself at Bymark, a restaurant several orders of magnitude classier than where I typically go for this blog. It’s the type of place where you look around and you think, everyone in this room probably makes more in a couple of months than I make in year. But do they have a blog where they get to be snarky about hamburgers? No? Well then.
The 8 Ounce P.E.I Grass Fed Burger comes with “brie de meaux, porcini mushrooms, & crisp onion rings or frites.” I figured the onion rings might be more interesting than fries, so I went with those. I was also asked how I wanted the burger cooked, and requested medium rare.
I’m not going to lie: I was pretty skeptical that this meal could possibly justify the extra-large price tag. With that price, it’s about double the cost of even the most expensive burgers I’ve reviewed for the blog thus far. I was ready to dislike it just on principle. Where do you get off charging that much for a burger??
Well… It’s a pretty amazing hamburger. It’s grilled and came cooked to a perfect medium rare — and when I say perfect, I mean perfect. Normally when you get a burger cooked medium rare, it comes out that way in the centre, with a fairly significant ring around the edges of well done beef. That phenomenon is minimized to a ridiculously impressive degree here, with amazingly consistent medium rare beef practically the whole way through. I have no idea how they managed to cook it this evenly from edge to edge (sous vide, perhaps?), but however it’s done, it is glorious.
The patty was coarsely ground and a bit densely packed — but oddly enough, not in a bad way. Though a loosely packed burger is normally what you’re looking for, this patty had a rich, almost steak-like consistency, without ever losing its hamburgery goodness. It was actually quite unlike any burger I’ve ever had, but in an amazing way.
It’s also one of the tastier burgers I’ve had in a while, with a nicely beefy flavour that’s fairly pronounced, even if it could be stronger (Allen’s definitely has it beat in this regard).
Oh, and it was super juicy, too; it made me want to parade it around to most of Toronto’s burger joints and say “See? See how juicy this is? This is how juicy a burger is supposed to be. Stop being an idiot.”
Are you getting the sense that I liked this burger? Because yeah, I kinda liked it.
The toppings were pretty great as well. The brie was super creamy, with a distinctively nutty but not overly sharp flavour that complimented the beef perfectly. The mushrooms were garlicky and intensely flavourful; they were crazy delicious, though I do think they were a little bit overwhelming — one of the burger’s few weak points.
I quite liked the bun, too. Though it was more substantial than I typically want, with a burger this big, rich, and juicy, you need that kind of substance or it’ll fall apart.
I will say that I wasn’t crazy about the onion rings. They were fine, but there wasn’t anything all that special about them. And though the smaller ones at the top of the pile were crispy and perfectly cooked, the larger ones at the bottom were doughy and underdone. That didn’t stop me from eating all of them, of course, but after that superb burger they couldn’t help but feel like a pretty big let-down.
I honestly didn’t think that this review was going to go this way, but you know what? This burger was absolutely worth the 35 bucks. It’s not something you’re going to get all the time, but as a special treat? Hell yeah. It’s amazingly rich and flavourful, with a heady decadence and an overall level of quality that really is in a league of its own.
I kind of wish that I hadn’t eaten it, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to be craving it all the time now. It’s a very strong contender for the best burger in the city.