Tag Archives: pub

The Belsize Public House

19 Aug

The Belsize Public House
Location
: 535 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto
Websitehttps://thebelsize.pub/

As much as I love the griddle-smashed burgers that are so omnipresent in the GTA, it’s hard to resist a big, fat grilled burger.  But it’s much, much harder to find a really good burger cooked in that style, so when I heard that they serve a tasty one at The Belsize Public House, I was all over it.

They have a couple of burgers on their menu; there’s the Hoser Burger, which features peameal bacon and cheddar, and the no-frills Grilled Burger, which comes topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion.  As I’m wont to do, I went with the simpler of the two.

I’ve cut through so many burgers over the years that I can pretty much tell instantly if a burger is going to be iffy.  This one was suspiciously difficult to saw in half, and the alarm bells were going off in my head.  They were screaming.

The Belsize Public House

As I feared, it wasn’t very good.  The Belsize makes every mistake you can make to end up with an unsatisfying burger.  Literally every single one: the beef was clearly too lean, the texture of the grind was way too fine, the beef had been overhandled and was too tightly packed, and it was cooked all the way to the tippy tippy top of well done (if not a little bit further).  The meat was so dense.  It was a punishingly tough chew.  There was a vague amount of juiciness there, but not even close to enough to make any kind of impact.

The flavour wasn’t much better; aside from the fact that I’m pretty sure they had mixed salt and pepper right into the patty (it was distractingly peppery), the flavour of the beef was almost non-existent.  And what little flavour there was tasted vaguely off.  It wasn’t good.

The toppings were fine, and the fluffy bun was actually pretty perfect.  That patty, though…

I will say that my dining companion had the jerk pork sandwich and really enjoyed it, and the fries and the coleslaw that came with the burger were both quite tasty.  The fries, in particular, were seriously delicious, with an addictively crispy exterior and perfectly creamy interior.  So it’s possible that everything else coming out of the kitchen is tasty.  But they bungled that burger, and they bungled it hard.

1 out of 4

The Belsize Public House - the restaurant The Belsize Public House - the restaurant The Belsize Public House - the burger and fries The Belsize Public House - the burger

Belfast Love Public House

9 Oct

belfast
Location
: 548 King Street West, Toronto
Website: http://donnellygroup.ca/belfast-love/

Despite an ostensive Irish theme, Belfast Love’s menu is pretty much all generic upscale pub — thin crust pizzas, fancy salads, the obligatory chicken and waffles (at what point did chicken and waffles graduate from an occasional novelty to something that’s 100% obligatory for every restaurant with an unfocused menu like this one?).  And there’s a burger on the menu.  Because of course there is.

Well, a cheeseburger, to be specific.  “House ground chuck, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato, mustard mayo.”

It looked good, I’ll give it that.  And I liked the toppings — the melty American cheese, the fresh tomato, the crunchy iceberg lettuce, and the mayo/mustard combo all worked quite well.  The patty itself, on the other hand…

I’m always afraid that, the longer that I do this, and the more and more that I obsess over the minutia of what makes a burger great (and vice-versa), I’m becoming increasingly out of touch with how normal people (i.e. people who don’t think about things like grind coarseness and beef-to-bun ratios on the regular) experience a hamburger.

belfasta

So it was nice when my dining companion echoed my sentiments on this burger exactly, confirming that I’m not being an overly picky weirdo (at least not in this particular case).

Because no, this was not a good hamburger.  The texture of patty was downright weird — dense, with an oddly chewy, vaguely sausagey texture.  I suspect they’re mixing salt in with the ground beef, which tends to make the texture of a hamburger sausage-like.

It probably didn’t help that the griddled patty was cooked to well done and then some, but I suspect that even perfectly cooked, this would have been a funky patty.

The taste wasn’t much better.  Whatever flavour the beef might have had was completely annihilated by the downright insane amount of pepper.  It was so peppery; it was nuts.  Literally the most peppery-tasting hamburger that I’ve ever had. I don’t know if the pepper was mixed in with the beef along with being used as seasoning on the patty, but the flavour was everywhere. It permeated every bite; there was nothing else.

The bun was fine, though it was slightly too dense, and cold throughout despite being toasted.

As for the fries, they were great.  Easily the highlight of the meal.  Not too thick, not to thin, perfectly cooked, just the right amount of salt…  good stuff.

1.5 out of 4

Belfast Love - the outside Belfast Love - the restaurant Belfast Love - the burger and fries Belfast Love - the burger

Batch

27 Mar

batch
Location
: 75 Victoria Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://batchtoronto.com/

Batch is shockingly great.  It’s a corporate brewpub — it’s owned by Creemore Springs, which is owned by Molson.  I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the food to be passable at best; something along the lines of chain fare like Kelsey’s or Milestones, with the several beers on tap being the main attraction.

Based on this one visit, at least, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The Batch burger is described on the menu as “dry aged beef + cheddar + red onion + ranch mayo.”  It’s served by default at medium rare; an immediate point in their favour.

As I cut into the hamburger, I could already see juices on the plate.  Another several points.

Yes, it’s an amazing hamburger.  As advertised, it came cooked to a perfect medium rare, with an immensely satisfying, deep brown layer of crust from the griddle.  And it’s juicy — so, so juicy, to an extent that’s almost four-leaf-clover-rare in a city that’s so dishearteningly crammed with dry, overcooked patties.

Aside from the awe-inspiring juiciness, the texture of the beef is just right.  It has a nice coarse grind that hasn’t been overhandled, resulting in a patty that has the perfect amount of tenderness without ever tipping the scales into soft and squishy territory.  It’s so good.

batchA

The flavour of the patty is also well above average, though this is the one area where the burger stops just shy of greatness.  Though it certainly has a nice beefy flavour, it wasn’t quite as pronounced as it could have been.  It’s still better than most — but when you’re a straight-A student, that one B+ feels like a failure, even if in any other context, it’s an amazing grade.

The toppings were similarly superb.  Though the menu claims that the cheese is cheddar, I’m not so sure; it was either a creamier cheese along the lines of brie, or a higher-class processed white cheddar.  Whatever it was, it was mild, creamy, and suited the burger perfectly.

The red onions were soft and griddled; to me, a hamburger and grilled onions are like peanut butter and jelly.  Best friends 4 eva.

I was a bit concerned about the ranch mayo, as that dressing has a pretty assertive flavour, but it worked perfectly.  It added a nice hit of flavour without getting in the way.  The other toppings (lettuce and tomato) were solid, as was the soft, fresh bun.

The fries, sadly, were pretty weak.  I came at brunch, so I’m not sure if they were supposed to be some kind of amalgam between french fries and home fries, but they just didn’t particularly work.  They were way too thick, slightly chalky in the middle, and just all-around unsatisfying.  The funky house-made ketchup helped, but even then, the fries couldn’t even begin to hold a candle to that outstanding burger.

The meal ended on a high note, however.  The coconut cream pie — with its rich, custardy flavour and perfect balance of coconut — easily gives the famous Scaramouche pie a run for its money.

3.5 out of 4

Batch - restaurant Batch - the brunch menu Batch - the restaurant Batch - the burger and fries Batch - the burger Batch - the coconut cream pie

The Abbot Pub & Fare

13 Mar

abbot
Location: 3367 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://theabbot.ca/

I’m not gonna lie: though I have a vague recollection of reading something positive about the burger at the Abbot, I decided to review this place almost entirely because of its proximity to the Rolling Pin, a bakery that specializes in elaborately decadent doughnuts. Two birds, one stone, and all that jazz.

(The doughnuts were great, by the way.)

Though I came at lunch and could have ordered the brunch burger, I went with the standard hamburger, which comes topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion. You can also get optional stuff like cheese or caramelized onions for an extra charge, but I kept it simple.

In the spirit of not beating around the bush, I’ll say that this was not a good hamburger and you should absolutely never order it. But I guess I should elaborate a bit?

abbotA

It’s a meatloaf burger, and a particularly strong one at that. This isn’t necessarily the worst thing ever, but oh man it was strong. The odour of garlic and spices hit me almost as soon as the plate was set down in front of me. My dining companion could smell it from across the table, which should tell you something.

This, of course, means that the flavour of the beef itself was completely gone, but if that were the burger’s only problem, it wouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker.

It wasn’t the burger’s only problem.

Worse was the hamburger’s texture, which despite being grilled and cooked to well done, was a particularly off-putting combination of mushy and stringy. I’ve reviewed mushy burgers before, but this was the worst one yet. By far.  It was the stringiness that really got me, with a texture that was soft but refused to get fully chewed, like a trying to eat wet fabric.  It was unpleasant enough that I got a bit more than halfway through and had to throw in the towel.  It’s not that I couldn’t finish it; I’ve had worse.  But I really didn’t want to.

Everything else was fine, though the bottom layer of the bun was weirdly crispy, making the burger harder to eat (and cut in half) than it needed to be.

As for the fries, they were pretty good.  They’re nothing anyone is going to lose their minds over, but they were slightly above average.

1 out of 4

The Abbot Pub and Fare - the outside The Abbot Pub and Fare - the restaurant The Abbot Pub and Fare - the burger and fries The Abbot Pub and Fare - the burger

Town Crier Pub

5 Jul

town
Location
: 115 John Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://towncrierpub.ca/

The burger at Town Crier Pub could have been a lot worse. I know, I know — not exactly a ringing endorsement. But considering the epic amount of European beers this place has on tap (over fifty, with the tap-lined bar being quite a sight to behold), it’s obvious enough that Town Crier is more about beverages than food.  They could have very easily just backed a Sysco truck into their kitchen and called it a day.

So even if I didn’t think the burger was particularly great, I applaud them for making it as decent as it was when they clearly didn’t have to.

The Town Crier Burger is pretty simple — it’s topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion, with other condiments available by request (I asked for mayo).

townA

The grilled burger is cooked to medium, and is actually pretty juicy, which is a pretty big plus in its favour.  But it’s a meatloaf burger, with a really ho-hum flavour.  Nothing about it stands out. It’s basically the meatloaf burger equivalent of Jai Courtney: serviceable, but generically bland and unmemorable to a fault.

The texture wasn’t bad, though — a lot of meatloaf burgers tend to be overhandled or sausagey, but this one was loosely packed and fairly tender.

The nutty whole wheat bun would have been disastrous with a more traditional hamburger, but the meatloafy flavour here is able to stand up to it.  I still would have preferred white, but it was fresh and generally suited the burger okay.

The fries, too, were much better than they needed to be.  Billed as Belgian frites, they weren’t quite as crisp as you’d like fries of that style to be, but they were definitely above average.

2.5 out of 4

Town Crier - the restaurant Town Crier - the burger Town Crier - the burger Town Crier - the burger

(Image of the outside of the restaurant in the header photo courtesy of Caroline’s Culinary Delights. It was quite rainy when I visited and I didn’t particularly feel like getting soaked trying to take a photo.)