Tag Archives: review

Skyline Restaurant

19 Mar


Location
: 1426 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.theskylinetoronto.com/

I wasn’t crazy about the Skyline Restaurant on my first visit, but that was before the recent change in ownership; I figured another try was probably in order.

My first impression was how delightfully cheap the burger is; for twelve bucks with a hefty side of fries, it’s very much on the low end of what you’d expect to pay from a restaurant like this in Toronto.

It’s a no-frills hamburger, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, and mayo.  The waitress asked if medium was okay; it was.  And the grilled patty was indeed cooked to a perfect medium, with a rosy pink interior.

Griddled burgers are so ubiquitous in this city that a grilled burger is almost a novelty these days.  I like a griddled burger as much as the next guy, but cooking a hamburger patty on a grill gives it a bit of a smoky flavour and a unique character, so it’s always nice to have that option.

It’s especially nice when the burger is as good as it is here; with its satisfying punch of beefy flavour, it’s very obvious that they’re using above-average beef.  It’s not the juiciest burger that I’ve ever had, but it’s very far from dry, and the texture was about 95% where it should be (it was just a bit too finely ground, making it ever-so-slightly tougher than it needed to be, but that’s a very minor complaint).

The toppings were mostly quite good, though the very thickly-sliced tomato was a bit mealy.  And the soft, fresh bun — lightly toasted — suited the burger well.

As for the fries, they were amazing.  Perfectly crisp and perfectly tender, with just the right amount of salt — very close to fry perfection.

3.5 out of 4

Skyline Diner - the sign Skyline Diner - the restaurant Skyline Diner - the burger and fries Skyline Diner - the burger and fries Skyline Diner - the burger

Planta

19 Feb

planta
Location
: 1221 Bay Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.plantatoronto.com/

When I wrote my negative review of Doomie’s a few months ago, my fear was that people would just assume that I’m being a snob and dismiss it outright — that if it’s a veggie burger, I’m going to give it a lousy review on principle. I was really hoping, walking into Planta — an entirely “plant-based” restaurant by David Lee, the acclaimed chef behind Nota Bene — that the burger would be tasty and that I could put that suspicion to bed.

Yeah, about that.

Planta’s burger is billed as coming topped with “queso, mushroom bacon, pickles, tomatillo mayo”. And it looks impressive, that’s for sure — the pictures of it in reviews like this one are what compelled me to come check it out.

Beef or no beef (and obviously I’d prefer beef) the patty itself just wasn’t particularly good. It’s mostly beans, and though it has a nice crispy exterior (I’m assuming it’s deep fried) the inside is pretty much bean mush. I’m sure there’s other stuff in there, but it basically tastes like they mashed up some beans, added a few spices, then formed that into a patty. The texture isn’t much better; it’s way too mushy, though if you ever wondered if some magical confluence would occur if you crossed baby food and a hamburger, now you have your answer.

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To the hamburger’s credit, it’s not even trying to emulate beef, which was one of my main issues with Doomie’s, so there’s that at least.

It’s topped with a vegan version of queso, which was bland but inoffensive. It’s also topped with what they’re calling mushroom bacon. This tasted absolutely nothing like bacon — it tasted like smoky mushrooms. That’s not a bad thing — they were a fine burger topping.  But using the word “bacon” anywhere in their proximity is a bit disingenuous.

There’s also a fairly generous amount of some kind of pico de gallo, which isn’t mentioned on the menu, but which is where a lot of the burger’s flavour comes from. It was actually pretty tasty, if entirely lacking in spice.

The bun was pretty bad, though — it was mercilessly dense.  This would have been an issue even in a regular hamburger, but here it was disastrous. The soft patty completely smushed out of the sides of the bun after just a couple of bites, rendering the burger completely impossible to eat with anything but a fork and knife.

I will say, however, that the burger (when served on their brunch menu, at least) comes with a side of home fries that are absolutely delicious. They were perfectly fried, with an impressively crispy/crunchy exterior and a really creamy interior. If I ever find myself back at Planta, I’ll just order a big plate of those.

2 out of 4

Planta - the outside Planta - the menu Planta - the restaurant Planta - the "burger" Planta - the "burger"

McCoy Burger Company

29 Aug

mccoy
Location
: 3334 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://mccoyburgerco.ca/

It’s a bold move opening a burger joint on this particular stretch of Yonge Street, mere steps away from both the Burger’s Priest and the Burger Cellar, and just a few blocks north of Stack.  That area is pretty well covered in terms of burger availability.  You’ve gotta have confidence in what you’re selling to wade into that scrum.

So with cojones like that, I wanted to like McCoy Burger Company.  I really did.  And I didn’t dislike it; it was just aggressively average.

They’ve got a few pre-topped burgers on the menu, and a few different meat choices aside from beef (chicken, lamb, turkey). I did my usual thing and went with the simplest choice: the plain McCoy Burger, which I had topped with mayo, pickles, and tomato.

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The patty has a little bit of crust from the griddle, though it’s not really enough to add a whole lot of texture or flavour. The menu, confusingly, refers to the patty as being “grilled to perfection,” even though it has obviously been griddled (I think they just don’t realize that there are different words for grilling or griddling a hamburger).

The texture is actually pretty good — the loosely-packed patty had a nice, coarse grind, and though it was cooked all the way to well done, it was still a little bit juicy.

It’s the flavour that really sinks the burger.  They season the patty with some kind of spice blend; that’s generally not my favourite, but it wasn’t too overwhelming.  The biggest problem is the flavour of the beef itself; it’s just kind of tasteless, with a slightly off flavour that you typically only get from middling quality beef.

It’s a shame; with better tasting beef and with a bit more crust from the griddle (which they obviously know how to do — the video on their website shows a burger with an impressive amount of crust, so your mileage may vary), the burger could have been well above average, but instead it’s just a resounding shrug.

The fries, on the other hand, were great — featuring an addictively crispy exterior and a fluffy interior, they were really hard to stop eating.

2.5 out of 4

McCoy Burger - the outside McCoy Burger - the restaurant McCoy Burger - the fries McCoy Burger - the burger McCoy Burger - the burger

Indie Alehouse

14 Aug

indie
Location
: 2876 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: http://www.indiealehouse.com/

Indie Alehouse is the type of place that could probably skate by with mediocre food and still do okay.  I mean, it’s right there in the name; their specialty is clearly their selection of interesting house-made beers.

But, if the burger is any indication at least, they’re clearly putting a bit more effort into their food than you might think.  That’s always nice.

(An aside: I don’t know what the hell is going on with their name.  They can’t seem to decide if alehouse is one or two words. On their sign, it’s “Indie Ale House;” on their menu, it’s “Indie Alehouse;” and on their website they alternate between both, though the one-word version seems to be a bit more frequent.  “Alehouse” is also slightly more common around the internet, so that’s what I’m going with.  Setting aside the confusion online, the fact that they themselves can’t seem to decide is just flat-out bizarre.)

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Of the handful of burgers on the menu, I went with the Indie Burger: “2 fresh ground ‘Indie blend’ patties, bacon, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, toasted bun.”

It’s a solid burger.  I don’t think it’s anything that you’re going to lose your mind over, but it’s good.  I don’t have any major complaints.

The two well done patties are a bit on the dry side, but they’ve got a generous amount of crust from the griddle and a good texture overall.  They’re not the beefiest-tasting patties I’ve ever had, but they certainly don’t taste bad.

The toppings, too, are all quite good.  Let’s face it, it’s hard to go wrong with bacon and melty cheese.  Plus, the zesty sauce and the pickles add some zip, and the tomato and lettuce add freshness.  It’s a good balance.

But while the sweet, fresh bun is mostly pretty good, it’s way too big for the patties.  The beef-to-bun ratio is slightly off, but more pressingly, the bun is way too wide for the beef.  We’re talking serious bun overhang.  It’s a bad scene.  Prepare to either leave a bunch of bread on your plate, or have several meat-free mouthfuls.

As for the fries, they’re about on the same level as the burger: quite good, but nothing too mind-blowing.

3 out of 4

Indie Alehouse - the outside Indie Alehouse - the restaurant Indie Alehouse - the menu Indie Alehouse - the burger Indie Alehouse - the burger

Museum Tavern

17 Jul

museum
Location
: 208 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Website: http://www.museumtavern.ca/

This blog hit its 5th anniversary a couple of months ago — I’ve reviewed almost 150 burgers in that time.  And though my love of hamburgers is as strong today as it was five years ago, doubt does sometimes creep into my mind.  Do I still want to be doing this?  Does the world really need me describing a burger’s beefy flavour for the hundredth time, or complaining about yet another dry patty?

It can get wearying.  Especially when I visit a place that I know is going to have a lousy hamburger, and then it is lousy, and I realize that I only have a finite amount of meals to eat in my lifetime and I just wasted one so I can be snarky about it online.  And there’s that voice: you don’t have to do this.

But then I eat a burger like the one they’re serving at Museum Tavern, and it’s like a choir from above.  Oh right, that voice says. This is why you do this.

Which is all a very roundabout way of saying that the burger at Museum Tavern is absolutely outstanding.  Like, top five in the city outstanding.  How can I stop this blog when there are still burgers this good for me to eat and write about?  I can’t.

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Museum Tavern serves a double cheeseburger, topped with the classics (lettuce, pickles, onion, and a Big Mac-esque sauce), and with the choice between American and aged cheddar.  I went with American; I’ve said it before, but American’s creamy consistency when melted, and its mild — and more importantly, not overwhelming — flavour makes it the perfect cheese for this type of burger (yes, some cheaper varieties of American cheese can be plasticky and horrible, but that’s definitely not what they’re using here).

The patties are griddled, with an awe-inspiring amount of crust that’s more than just a pretty face — it adds a nice amount of texture that contrasts really well with the tender beef.

I got a bit concerned when I cut the burger in half, as the patties were cooked to well done and grey throughout, which isn’t my favourite.  But everything about this burger is so great that it really doesn’t matter.  The texture of the beef is perfect — coarsely ground, not overhandled, with a consistency that perfectly straddles the line between tenderness and substance.

It’s also impressively juicy, especially for a burger that’s been cooked all the way to well done.  And the flavour is great, with a satisfying beefiness that mingles perfectly with the other flavours and always remains the star of the show.

So that’s the taste/texture/juiciness trifecta — the hamburger bullseye.

The bun and toppings were great too, which means there’s nothing to get in the way of this burger’s status as one of the best in the city.  Because yeah, I honestly don’t have a single complaint about this hamburger — it’s amazing from head to toe.  I’m a bit late to the party (the Museum Tavern has been open since 2012), so it’s quite possible that you’re way ahead of me on this one.  But on the off chance that you haven’t tried it yet?  Do it.  Now.

Oh, and the shoestring fries were great too.  Seriously though, why are you still reading this when you could be eating that magnificent hamburger?

4 out of 4

Museum Tavern - the outside Museum Tavern - the restaurant Museum Tavern - the menu Museum Tavern - the cheeseburger Museum Tavern - the cheeseburger