The Battered Fish

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Location: 224 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://thebatteredfish.ca/

Like with my last review, of the burger at Cineplex, this was probably my own fault. I mean, who gets a burger at a fish and chips place? But the signage outside of the restaurant advertises BURGERS in big, bolt font, and a poster on the inside boasts that their “gourmet burgers” are made with brisket, so I figured it was something more than just an afterthought to fill out the menu.

The place is laid out fast food style; the menu’s up on the wall, and you bring the food back to your table on a tray.  I ordered the burger as a combo with fries and a drink, and had it topped with pickles, tomato, and mayo (they threw in lettuce, too, for some reason).

It could have been worse, I guess?  All things considered, I guess I should be glad it wasn’t outright terrible.  Again: quite possibly my fault.  Go to a fish and chips joint and order a hamburger, and you’re going to get what you’re going to get.

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In this case, what I got was a griddled burger with a vague amount of crust from the griddle, but not as much as you’d like.  The main thing is that it was dry.  The patty was finely ground, tightly packed, and cooked all the way to well done (and beyond), with a dense, tough chew, like a well done steak.

But it had none of the flavour of a good steak, of course.  The beef was actually pretty bland.  It didn’t taste off, at least, but then it didn’t taste of much at all — off or otherwise.

The fresh, toasted bun was quite good, and the toppings were mostly fine — though the pickles were actually sugary-sweet cornichons that were way too cloying as a topping on a hamburger.

This being a fish and chips place, I figured that at least the fries would be a highlight.  And they weren’t bad, mostly, but they had an oddly dense, almost chewy texture that I’m really not sure how to account for.  They weren’t undercooked, and I don’t think they were overcooked — at least they didn’t taste like any overcooked fries I’ve had before.  But that oddly gummy texture was a bit of a turn off, even if they otherwise tasted okay.

2 out of 4

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Dangerous Dan’s Diner

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Location
: 714 Queen Street East, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.dangerousdansdiner.com/

Dangerous Dan’s is pretty much a Toronto burger institution, predating Toronto’s recent burger trend by well over a decade (it opened in 1999). You know that old hipster argument? “Oh, I was into them before they were cool?” Well, Dangerous Dan’s was into hamburgers way before they were cool.

So why has it taken me over 100 reviews to check the place out? I’m going to be honest: I wasn’t super keen on trying it. Why? I mean, take your pick: they’re on the east end and a bit out of the way for me; they serve meatloaf burgers, which certainly aren’t my favourite; it’s an old school burger joint, which doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. In my experience, the overwhelming majority of older burger joints are mediocre at best. Don’t ask me why.

Anyway, better late than never.

Dangerous Dan’s is fairly well known for some of their more extravagantly-topped burgers, like the Coronary, which features a pound of beef, bacon, cheese, and a fried egg. I went much more bare-bones, with the Plain, which is an eight ounce burger topped to request.  I got mine with tomato, pickles, and mayo.

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First and foremost, it is absolutely, positively a meatloaf burger. You can see the burger being made on this episode of You Gotta Eat Here, and they mix in the works. Garlic, spices, breadcrumbs, eggs — they go full meatloaf, no doubt about it.

If you’ve read much of this blog, you know that me and meatloaf burgers generally aren’t the best of friends.  I was pretty much ready to hate it — and maybe the lowered expectations helped, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The patty is super meatloafy, but it tastes good, at least. Unlike last week’s burger at BriSkit, which had a muddled, neither-here-nor-there flavour, it at least knows what it is and goes for it. It’s not a classic burger by any stretch of the imagination, and the flavour of the beef is mostly wiped out, but it tastes good for what it is.

The grilled burger is cooked to well done, but actually remains quite juicy, which is always nice.  Though the patty was slightly over-charred from the grill, the grilling mostly added a nice smoky flavour and a satisfyingly crispy crust.

Meatloaf burgers can sometimes have an unpleasantly sausagey texture; this thankfully wasn’t the case here.  Texturally, the patty was pretty much exactly where it needed to be — it had a good grind, it obviously hadn’t been overhandled, and it was nice and tender.

The lightly toasted bun was slightly cold and a little too dense, but it mostly suited the burger pretty well.

As for the fries, they were very thickly cut, which isn’t my favourite — but for this style of fry, they were quite good (much better than you’d think seems to be a theme here).  It’s very easy to end up with an unpleasantly dense interior with fries like this, but these were lightly crispy on the outside and really fluffy on the inside.

3 out of 4

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Toma Burger Addiction

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Location
712 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://toma-burgeraddiction.com/

I am confounded.  Toma Burger Addiction confounds me.  This is a burger place that, somehow, gets almost every single element of their hamburger completely wrong.  Even if you were trying to make the ultimate mediocre hamburger, I don’t think you could succeed quite as brilliantly as Toma Burger Addiction has.

I will say that the design of the restaurant is quite nice.  Bright, spacious, and handsomely designed, it’s actually one of the more inviting-looking burger joints I’ve visited for this blog.

Unlike a lot of burger places in the city, it’s a sit-down restaurant. The service was fine; another non-food-related plus in this restaurant’s favour.

They have about a dozen burger choices on the menu.  I went with The Classic, which comes topped with “Angus beef, cheddar, caramelized onions, pickles, arugula, tomato, Toma secret sauce.”

They don’t specify how big the patty is, but I’d guess it’s about six ounces.  It’s not very good.  Though it’s not particularly dry (which is nice), the texture is off.  It’s ever-so-slightly mushy, and kind of sausagey.

There’s definitely some kind of seasoning mixed into the beef, which doesn’t help.  I also think it’s ground a little bit too finely.  It’s off.  It’s weird.

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The patty has a muddled flavour that, just like the texture, is a little bit off.  It’s nothing that’ll make you pound your fist onto the table and decry the state of humanity; it’s perfectly edible, it just doesn’t taste right.  There’s no real beefy flavour.  There’s no flavour of anything, in particular.  It’s muddled.  I don’t know.  It was weird.  It was off-putting in a way that I can’t exactly put my finger on.

The bun, on the other hand, was clearly disastrous.  It was quite possibly the worst bun I’ve ever had on a hamburger.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I was probably in trouble.  It looks dense and impenetrable.  Cutting into it confirmed my suspicions; it was thick and unyielding and surprisingly difficult to saw in half.

Impossibly dense and sugary sweet, it was completely overwhelming and should not be allowed within fifty feet of a hamburger patty.  Of all the things that are confoundingly bad about this burger, the bun is clearly the most baffling.  I honestly cannot think of a worse bun for a burger.  It’s just so chewy and doughy and intensely flavoured.  It’s actually kind of insane how terrible it is.  It’s like someone took a pretzel bun, soaked it in sugar water and then left it out in the sun until they were satisfied that it had reached a properly brick-like consistency.

The condiments don’t fare much better.  The mushy, colourless caramelized onions look and taste as though they’ve been boiled.   Granted, I’m not a professional chef, but I’m fairly certain that caramelized onions are supposed to be caramelized.

The Toma sauce was mostly just sweet and uninspired.  It’s only been a few hours since I ate this burger, and I already forget what it tasted like.  If only I could forget the rest of the burger quite so easily, but I fear it will be haunting my nightmares for weeks to come.

As for the fries, they were actually really good.  Thinly cut and perfectly cooked, they would have easily been the bright spot of the meal — but not only were they not served hot, they weren’t served warm.  They were room temperature.  Because why ruin the perfect storm of mediocrity, right?

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