Location: 1132 Dundas Street West, Toronto
The Lakeview was just featured on the popular Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, which probably explains why it was so packed when I checked it out on a recent Sunday afternoon. Though the burger wasn’t one of the items sampled by Guy Fieri, I figured I’d give it a shot.
This, it turns out, was a blunder. If you go to a restaurant featured on that show, you should probably get what Guy gets. Or, just skip The Lakeview altogether. That’ll work too.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Why should you skip The Lakeview? Read on, friend. Read on.
The Lakeview was originally opened in 1932, and its charmingly retro diner decor is probably the best thing about it. I think it’s likely a big reason for its inclusion in DDD.
They have a few burgers on the menu, but as per my general policy, I went with the namesake item: The Lakeview, topped with “Peameal, Melted Cheddar, Grilled Portobello, Onion Ring + Fixings.”
It took a while to arrive (like I said, the place was packed), but it came looking impressively large and fairly appealing. A big red flag went up when I struggled to cut it in half; my knife was just barely sharp enough to make it through the despairingly tough patty.
Still, I took a bite hoping for the best; the burger quickly took those hopes, smashed them against the wall and stomped on them for good measure. This was not a tasty burger.
The first thing that hit me? Not only is this a meatloaf burger, it’s an especially meatloafy meatloaf burger. The spices and whatever other junk they mix in there completely knock you back. I honestly don’t even think they should be allowed to call this a hamburger. It is a meatloaf sandwich, plain and simple.
If you served this “hamburger” to an American, they’d laugh in your face. Here’s an analogy that I think pretty much sums it up: the Lakeview’s burger is to a real, American-style hamburger what chop suey is to real Chinese food. It is imitation; a photocopy of a photocopy.
That’s not to say that an imitation can’t be tasty. A meatloaf sandwich can be perfectly delicious. This, however, was not.
It was absurdly dry, for one thing. Make sure you’ve got a big glass of water handy when you eat this, because it’ll suck the moisture right out of your mouth. The patty is way too tightly packed, too lean, and overcooked. The grilled burger was also over-charred and blackened in spots. Burger jerky, essentially.
I normally like my burgers sparsely topped, and this is the opposite of that. In this case, however, the myriad of toppings are a godsend; they’re the only things keeping your mouth lubricated against the assault of the mouth-drying patty.
Between the peameal bacon, the cheddar, the onion ring, and the mushroom (not to mention the lettuce, tomato, and pickle) there is a hell of a lot going on here. Unlike the burger at The Samuel J. Moore, however, the toppings are good and the flavours all meld together in a somewhat cohesive fashion, so that was good at least. The toppings didn’t taste bad, I’ll give it that. But they still weren’t enough to save the insipid patty.
The sesame seed bun bun was too wide for the task at hand, resulting in a fair amount of bun remaining after the patty was but a memory. The dry bun was also a bit more on the stale side than I would have liked.
The burger came with a side of fries and a salad. The salad had clearly been dressed far too long in advance, and was vaguely mushy and kind of horrible. The fries, on the other hand, were surprisingly decent and easily the highlight of the meal.
I will note that my dining companion had one of the items featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (the freedom toast — essentially a peameal grilled cheese sandwich with French toast for bread), which he quite enjoyed. So if you absolutely have to go to the Lakeview, stick with what Guy ate; if someone offers you the burger, run screaming in the other direction.