Tilted Kilt

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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Fresh Burger

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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