Tag Archives: Richmond Hill

Chef Burger

22 Feb

chef
Location
: 8910 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill
Websitehttp://www.chefburgers.ca/

Burger?  Check.  Cheeseburger?  Check.  Fries?  Check.  Onion rings?  Check.  Tongue sandwiches?  Check.  Wait, what?

You don’t often find a burger joint with multiple tongue sandwiches on the menu (both calf and lamb), but Chef Burger’s Middle Eastern owners obviously have a bit more on their mind than just burgers and fries.

I was actually kind of tempted to get one of those tongue sandwiches, but then how would I satisfy my insatiable need to review more and more burger joints for this blog?  I ordered the namesake Chef Burger, and had it topped with their special sauce, along with pickles and tomato.

The grilled, well done burger is somewhat juicy, but it’s too finely ground, giving it a vaguely mealy texture.  I’ve certainly had worse in this regard, but I do wish that the grind was a little bit more coarse.

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It’s also a meatloaf burger — but as far as these types of burgers go, the flavouring is pretty subtle.  I definitely noticed onions in there, but it otherwise wasn’t very aggressively spiced.  You’d think this would allow the burger’s beefy flavour to shine through, but not really.  It’s surprisingly bland.  It doesn’t taste bad, but it’s very neutral-tasting beef.

Any issue with the flavour of the burger itself, however, is almost entirely moot if you get your burger topped with their special sauce — a garlicky, tzatziki-esque concoction that, while tasty, completely overwhelms any other flavour that the burger might have.  It’s good, but man, it is seriously in your face.

The other toppings are pretty good, and the bun is surprisingly good.  It looks like it should be too big, but it’s fresh, light, and fluffy, and suits the burger perfectly.  It also has a very lightly crispy exterior, which is always delightful.

The fries, however, aren’t great.  They’re not terrible; they’re just run-of-the-mill frozen fries.  They suit their purpose, but don’t do much more than that.  My dining companion got the onion rings, which are pretty much the same deal: frozen, mediocre, okay.

2.5 out of 4

Chef Burger - the outside Chef Burger - the restaurant Chef Burger - the fries and onion rings Chef Burger - the burger Chef Burger - the burger

Stein Burger and Koop

7 Dec

stein
Location
: 1285 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill
Websitehttp://www.steinburgerandkoop.com/

This was actually my second time going to Stein Burger and Koop.  It wasn’t my second time eating there, but it was my second time at the restaurant.  A couple of friends and I visited a few months ago; we were seated and handed menus, and then promptly ignored for the next half hour.  None of us were in a particularly confrontational mood, so we eventually just left, sad and burgerless.  The amazingly bad service (or non-existent, more accurately) would have been impressive if it weren’t so frustrating.

I guess everyone deserves a second chance, so I recently found myself back at the restaurant; the service was much better this time (well, there was service, which by default means it was better).

Stein Burger and Koop is essentially a sports bar, with mostly burgers and wings on the menu, and the usual generic selection of sandwiches and wraps to round things out.  I went with the Steinburger, which is no-frills with just lettuce, tomato, onion, and their “signature sauce.”

It’s a smashed and griddled burger, because apparently that’s the law.  Didn’t you hear?  They passed that law.  All burgers have to be smashed now.

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It’s fine.  There’s not much crust from the griddle, and the well-done burger was quite dry, but it was okay.  Nothing about it offended me.  There wasn’t much beefy flavour (or any flavour at all, really), but again, it was perfectly edible.

The toppings, too, were fine.  The onions were too strong for my taste (but then I find most raw onions too strong, so that’s on me) and the “signature sauce” basically tasted like plain mayo, but it all got the job done.

The soft, fresh bun was mostly okay, though it wasn’t quite up to the task at hand; even with the fairly dry patty, the bottom bun sogged up and was close to falling apart in the last few bites.

But whatever.  There are certainly worse burgers in the GTA.  You can eat here, I guess.  When you do, you’ll think to yourself “Yes, that was a burger I just ate.”  Then you’ll stand up, walk out the door, and never think about it again.  It will be consigned to the trash-dump of your memory, where all the hundreds of anonymous, unmemorable meals that you’ll eat throughout your lifetime will go to be forgotten about forever.

Maybe a few months later someone will ask you about it.  “You ate there, right?” they’ll ask, looking to you for some form of guidance.  “How was it?” You’ll rack your brain, straining to remember if you’ve ever even been there, let alone how the burger was.  This will be for naught.  It’s gone.  Nothing about that visit has remained.

On your deathbed, in that brief moment after your heart stops beating and your brain shuts down, a synapse — unused for decades — will suddenly fire.  You will remember that meal, that mediocre burger.  “Oh yeah, I guess I did eat there” you’ll think, and then darkness.

2.5 out of 4

Stein Burger and Koop - the restaurant Stein Burger and Koop - the inside Stein Burger and Koop - the burger and fries Stein Burger and Koop - the burger
Stein Burger & Koop on Urbanspoon

Big Jack’s Burger Shop

5 Oct

big
Location
: 8384 Woodbine Avenue, Markham
Websitehttp://www.bigjacks.ca/

Every burger joint I visit, I go in hoping I’m going to love it.  I know I can occasionally come off as nitpicky, but I eat every hamburger looking for things to love, not things to criticize.  Nothing would please me more than to spend the rest of my days writing nothing but glowing reviews.

That being said… some burgers just aren’t very good.  Sometimes I’ve gotta pick nits.

Big Jack’s is actually in the same location as Prime Burger, one of those really old school burger joints that was probably older than many of its customers.  I had meant to check it out for ages, but alas, I never got around to it.  Such is life.

It’s a fairly small place, but there are a decent amount of tables inside.  They have a handful of signature burgers on the menu, but the topping selections — including one with pulled pork, and one with grilled cheese sandwiches instead of a bun — were a little bit too busy for my liking, so I went with the plain burger.  I got it topped with my usual tomato, pickles, and mayo; with a drink and a generous portion of fries, it came up to about eleven bucks.

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I wish it were better than it was, but sadly it just wasn’t very good.  For one thing it’s a meatloaf burger, and an especially strong one at that, with the spices and who-knows-what mixed into the patty effectively steamrolling whatever beefy flavour it might have had.  It didn’t taste bad per se, but the spicing just seemed to be there to be there; it had no real purpose.  It didn’t enhance the taste of the beef, it only obscured it.

The griddled patty was cooked all the way to well done, and featured the unholy trinity of dry hamburger cookery: beef that is overly lean, too finely ground, and too tightly packed.  This results in a burger that’s dry, dense, and tough.  When a burger practically requires as much chewing power as a thick steak, you’ve got problems.

The toppings were fine, however, and the fresh sesame seed bun suited the burger perfectly.

As for the fries, they were the clear highlight.  Thinly cut and perfectly fried, they were delicious.  If this blog were called Tasty Fries, I’d be giving this place a pretty high rating, but it’s not so I won’t.

1.5 out of 4

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Big Jack’S Burger Shops on Urbanspoon

Tilted Kilt

9 Feb

tilted
Location
157 York Blvd, Richmond Hill
Websitehttp://www.tiltedkilt.com/

The Tilted Kilt is basically a Hooters knockoff — it’s got lots of TVs playing whatever sporting event happens to be on at the moment, and of course, lots of busty, very cleavage-y waitresses for the clientele to gawk at.

I don’t know if it’s even fair for me to shine too bright of a light on the food, because let’s face it — food isn’t high on the list of reasons that people come here.  And while the discussion of whether a place like this is completely misogynistic or just harmless fun is certainly a conversation worth having, this is a burger blog, so… let’s forget about that and talk about the burger.

They have a handful of hamburgers on the menu, but the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger is the only one labeled as a signature item, so that’s what I got.  It’s topped with “Applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, crispy shoestring onions and Guinness BBQ sauce.”

The patty is promisingly described on the menu as being made from their “choice butcher’s blend” and “always fresh,” so I had hopes that it would perhaps be a bit better than your standard chain fare.  These hopes were quickly dashed, but it was a nice thought.

The burger was grilled (though perhaps incinerated is a better word) and was cooked about as far past well done as a burger can get and still be served in good conscience.

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It didn’t have that telltale rubbery texture that you tend to get from frozen patties, but it certainly tasted prefabricated.

And  it was dry.  Oh dear lord was it ever dry.  It may have been the driest burger I’ve ever had; if not, it was certainly a strong contender.  It was very tightly packed and super dense, which certainly didn’t help matters.

It had surprisingly little taste.  There was a slight off beef flavour, and some acrid bitterness from the charred exterior, but mostly it just tasted like a big unpleasant hunk of tough, chewy nothing.  Towards the end I was actually dreading each mouth-drying bite, but I soldiered on and I finished it.  Partially because I was reviewing it, but mostly because I’m a glutton who will eat pretty much anything you put on a plate in front of me.

The burger also — oddly enough — had a funky, vaguely fishy aroma that made it all the more off-putting.  That was a first.

This was labeled as a BBQ burger, and while I typically find BBQ sauce to be a little bit too overwhelming as a topping on a burger, they either applied it so sparingly that I couldn’t taste it, or they forgot it altogether.

There were also supposed to be crispy shoestring onions on there, but like the BBQ sauce they seemed to be missing in action.  Normally I appreciate a sparsely-topped hamburger, but in this case the patty was so dry and horrible that these condiments were sorely missed.

The bacon and cheddar were both definitely present, and they were both fine, though they couldn’t do much to make this hamburger even remotely worth eating.

The bun was the sole bright point.  Buttery, slightly sweet, and just dense enough to hold up to the burger without ever becoming overwhelming, it absolutely deserved to be a part of a better hamburger.

As for the fries, they were about on par with the burger — they were bland, cardboardy, and required gobs of ketchup to be even remotely edible.

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Tilted Kilt on Urbanspoon

Fresh Burger

15 Dec

fresh
Location9206 Leslie Street, Richmond Hill
Websitehttp://www.fresh-burger.com/

It’s always unfortunate when a restaurant flirts with greatness — comes so very close — but just can’t quite get there. Fresh Burger is, sadly, such a place. And they’re close; they really are. But they bungle one key element. Alas, greatness is just out of their grasp.

Fresh Burger sells classic American-style hamburgers a la Burger’s Priest, Holy Chuck, or Five Guys, which involves placing ball of fresh ground beef on a hot griddle and smashing it into a patty. It’s a style of burger cookery that was almost impossible to find anywhere in the GTA even a few years ago, and which has now become increasingly abundant. This, as I’ve mentioned before, warms my heart.

(A note about the picture — they provided plastic forks but not knives. I probably should have just asked them to cut the burger in half for me, but instead I attempted to cut my burger in half by turning my fork upside down and using the stem. As you can tell from the mangled remains, this was not my best idea ever.)

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I’m just going to get the bad news out of the way first, because this is a restaurant that otherwise has so much going for it. The beef they use is too lean. If you’ve read many of the other reviews on this blog (or if you eat a lot of burgers in the GTA), you’ll know that this is a distressingly common issue in the city.

In this case, the problem is advertised right on their menu: they use ground sirloin to make their burgers, which is an exceptionally lean cut of beef, and which is pretty much the last thing you want to be making a hamburger out of.

A note to all burger joint owners: Lean burgers = dry burgers. A good hamburger needs at least 20% fat content, if not a little bit more. Hamburgers are not, and never will be, health food. Fat is your friend.

The hamburger was cooked all the way to well done, par for the course at GTA burger joints. If you’re going to salvage a lean burger, you really shouldn’t cook it too far past medium. A well done burger made with lean ground beef is one hundred percent guaranteed to be dry. That is not my opinion; that is fact.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that the hamburger at Fresh Burger was quite dry. Happily, this is the only misstep for an otherwise above average burger.

Most notably, even if the meat is too lean (and it is), it’s definitely above average in quality, with a rich beefy flavour. The coarsely ground, loosely packed beef has a really great texture which actually helps mitigate the dryness quite a bit — it’s dry, but thanks to the the satisfying texture, it doesn’t feel nearly as dry as many other offenders in this category.

Another plus: the patties have that great, dark brown crust that you can only get by cooking a burger on a really hot flat-top griddle.

The menu is fairly bare-bones, with either a cheeseburger or a double cheeseburger to choose from. I went with the double, but the single is probably the better choice with a burger as lean as this.

The burgers come topped with pickles, onion, tomato, lettuce, secret sauce (a mayo-based Mac-sauce-esque concoction), and nicely melted American cheese. Classic toppings for a classic, fast-food-style burger.

The fresh, squishy bun has just enough heft to hold up to the patties and condiments; like the toppings, this is a perfect fit for a classic burger such as this.

As for the fries, they weren’t anything I’d get too excited over, but they were above average and quite tasty.

Fresh Burger is frustrating. One small change could instantly transform it from a very good burger into a great one, and place it on a shortlist of the GTA’s best burgers.  But it is what it is, and despite my one fairly substantial reservation, it’s still quite tasty and certainly worth eating.

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Fresh Burger on Urbanspoon