Tag Archives: sausage

Belfast Love Public House

9 Oct

belfast
Location
: 548 King Street West, Toronto
Website: http://donnellygroup.ca/belfast-love/

Despite an ostensive Irish theme, Belfast Love’s menu is pretty much all generic upscale pub — thin crust pizzas, fancy salads, the obligatory chicken and waffles (at what point did chicken and waffles graduate from an occasional novelty to something that’s 100% obligatory for every restaurant with an unfocused menu like this one?).  And there’s a burger on the menu.  Because of course there is.

Well, a cheeseburger, to be specific.  “House ground chuck, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato, mustard mayo.”

It looked good, I’ll give it that.  And I liked the toppings — the melty American cheese, the fresh tomato, the crunchy iceberg lettuce, and the mayo/mustard combo all worked quite well.  The patty itself, on the other hand…

I’m always afraid that, the longer that I do this, and the more and more that I obsess over the minutia of what makes a burger great (and vice-versa), I’m becoming increasingly out of touch with how normal people (i.e. people who don’t think about things like grind coarseness and beef-to-bun ratios on the regular) experience a hamburger.

belfasta

So it was nice when my dining companion echoed my sentiments on this burger exactly, confirming that I’m not being an overly picky weirdo (at least not in this particular case).

Because no, this was not a good hamburger.  The texture of patty was downright weird — dense, with an oddly chewy, vaguely sausagey texture.  I suspect they’re mixing salt in with the ground beef, which tends to make the texture of a hamburger sausage-like.

It probably didn’t help that the griddled patty was cooked to well done and then some, but I suspect that even perfectly cooked, this would have been a funky patty.

The taste wasn’t much better.  Whatever flavour the beef might have had was completely annihilated by the downright insane amount of pepper.  It was so peppery; it was nuts.  Literally the most peppery-tasting hamburger that I’ve ever had. I don’t know if the pepper was mixed in with the beef along with being used as seasoning on the patty, but the flavour was everywhere. It permeated every bite; there was nothing else.

The bun was fine, though it was slightly too dense, and cold throughout despite being toasted.

As for the fries, they were great.  Easily the highlight of the meal.  Not too thick, not to thin, perfectly cooked, just the right amount of salt…  good stuff.

1.5 out of 4

Belfast Love - the outside Belfast Love - the restaurant Belfast Love - the burger and fries Belfast Love - the burger

Bar Buca

3 Jan

buca
Location
: 75 Portland Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.buca.ca/bar/

Though I think it’s fairly clear that no one should be taking Toronto Life’s new list of the best burgers in the city seriously, Bar Buca serves their number one choice.  As much as I’d like to pretend that list doesn’t exist, that’s hard to ignore.

Bar Buca’s burger — dubbed the Bombolone Burger for the bun it’s served on — costs 14 bucks, isn’t particularly large, and doesn’t come with any sides.  So no, it’s not cheap, but this is a high-end place; I don’t have any qualms paying a premium for a truly exceptional burger.

The thing that really stands out about this burger is the fact that they’ve mixed lardo (essentially cured pork fat) into the patty.  Mixing pork into a burger is a bit of a bastardization, but I hoped the lardo would add richness without overwhelming the flavour of the beef.  I was cautiously optimistic.

I was a bit concerned just by looking at the burger.  The griddled patty looks more like a meatball and isn’t wide enough for the bun — I know this is an Italian restaurant, but learn how to form a burger patty, guys, jeez.  It’s not rocket science.

bucaA

Much more concerning is the fact that the burger lacks anything even remotely resembling a beefy flavour, with a taste that I had a hard time putting my finger on.  I knew that it reminded me of something; after several bites, I finally placed it.  It tastes like a slightly muted version of a Bob Evans sausage patty.  I don’t know if this is solely from the lardo, or if they’ve mixed anything else into the beef that would solidify that connection.  Certainly, it wasn’t the most strongly-spiced burger I’ve ever had, but that breakfast sausage taste and texture was undeniable.

The patty was also surprisingly laden with inedible parts that should have been trimmed away long before the meat ever saw a grinder; even hours later, I was still picking stringy bits of gristle from my teeth.  This is inexcusable anywhere, but coming from a high-end restaurant like this (with high-end prices to match), it’s all the more galling.

The menu describes the patty as coming rare, and that’s definitely how they cook it; my burger came almost blue.  Personally, I like my burgers on the rarer side, but if you prefer things a bit more well done, keep in mind that they’re not kidding around.

The patty is topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, and rests atop some peppery coleslaw made with castelfranco lettuce.  These toppings work well enough; the soft roasted tomatoes give the burger a zingy sweetness, and the coleslaw adds crunch and a reasonable amount of peppery bite.

The bun, which the waiter explained is essentially an Italian-style doughnut (a bombalone) that’s baked rather than fried, was a good match for the burger.  It’s a bit more substantial than usual, with a texture that falls somewhere between a traditional bun and a biscuit. Since this is a sloppier burger, the heft of the bun feels right.

The whole thing was decent enough, but best in the city?  Not by a long-shot, but then does it really shock you to learn that a list that includes a frozen burger isn’t entirely reliable?  Would it also shock you if I said that the sky is blue, and grass is green?

2.5 out of 4

Buca - the restaurant Buca - the restaurant Buca - the burger Buca - the burger Buca - the burger

Dac Biet Burger

11 Oct

biet
Location
: 213 Church Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.dacbietburger.com/

As you can probably guess from the name, Dac Biet Burger isn’t a traditional burger joint — all of their burgers feature Asian-inspired flavours, from Vietnam to Japan to Korea.  And sure, why not?  I think we have enough traditional burger places in the city that a little bit of experimentation is not unwelcome.

Normally I’d order a simpler burger (the classic, in this case — their one non-Asian-themed burger) but hey, when in Rome, right?  So I went with the Banh Mi burger, which the menu describes as coming topped with “lemongrass pork / pickled daikon & carrots / cucumber / cilantro / mayo.”

There’s something strange about this burger: though the menu implies that the pork is a topping, I think maybe this isn’t the case?  I think the patty itself is pork?  I suppose I could have just asked, but what do I look like… Asky McGee?

Even the Toronto media seems a bit confused; Toronto Life says that the Banh Mi burger “tops a beef patty with lemongrass pork,” while Now claims that “the banh mi burger has its own lemongrass-infused pork-belly patty.”  I’m going to guess that Now is correct, since there was no pork atop the patty, and no beefy flavour to be found.

Hey, Dac Biet?  Maybe be a bit more clear with your menu?  When you have a sign on your wall touting the custom blend of beef you use for your burger patties, people are going to assume they’re going to get those burger patties.  Crazy, I know!

bietA

Oddly enough, my dining companion ordered the pho burger — and surely this one is made with beef?? — and experienced the same lack of beefy flavour and oddly sausagey texture, so who knows what the hell is going on here.

Because yeah, the “burger” patty is essentially a sausage that’s been formed into the shape of a hamburger.  The texture is sausage through and through, and the flavour comes entirely from whatever they’ve got mixed in there (lemongrass, I guess).  But even as a sausage it’s not all that great, with a muddled, neither here-nor-there flavour that never particularly pops.

The toppings are pretty much classic banh mi and tasted fine, though the pickle mix was a bit over-applied.

Overall it’s not a terrible sandwich — it’s nothing special, but it doesn’t taste bad, I guess.  But as a so-called hamburger, it’s a complete failure.  I mean, it looks like a burger, I guess — but if it doesn’t have any of the flavours or textures that you associate with a hamburger, and it’s not that great even as its own thing, then what’s the point?

Seriously, that’s not a rhetorical question; what’s the point?  If it’s not as good as an actual banh mi (and way, way more expensive than any number of traditional banh mi shops across the city), and it’s not as good as an actual hamburger, then what’s the point?

It’s the type of fusion cuisine that gives that term a bad name; it’s all style, no substance.  Eating it reveals no discernible reason why these two cuisines needed to be fused.

The fries were good, at least.  They had a bit of an oily flavour and about twice as much salt as they needed, but overall they were still above average.

1.5 out of 4

Dac Biet Burger - the outside Dac Biet Burger - the restaurant Dac Biet Burger - the banh mi burger Dac Biet Burger - the banh mi burger