10 Disera Drive, Unit 120, Thornhill

Fatburger is the latest American burger chain to open their doors in the GTA.    Five Guys is pretty well entrenched at this point, we just got Hwy 55, and Carl’s Jr. is right around the corner.  I’m still waiting for Steak ‘n Shake, Shake Shack, or In-N-Out (fat chance on that one), but we’re doing pretty well as far as fast food burger choices go.

The setup is somewhat similar to Five Guys, but instead of calling out your number when the food is ready, they bring it to your table.

Unlike Five Guys, they have a bunch of elaborately topped burgers on the menu; I went with the Original Fatburger, which comes with lettuce, tomato, mustard, relish, onion (which I skipped, because nuts to onions) and pickles.

Like pretty much every burger joint opening in the GTA these days, the patty is griddle-cooked.  There was some signage on the table proudly proclaiming that they “use the leanest beef around,” which had me concerned that the patty was going to be yet another overly dry burger (just go through the archives if you’d care to read me railing against the tragically common issue of overly lean beef and dried-out burger patties).

Thankfully, the well done burger was actually fairly juicy, so the sign is clearly not particularly accurate — and this is one case where I’m very happy for a restaurant’s claim to be completely untrue.  Lean burgers are nothing to be proud of, or to aim for.


The patty actually has a pretty great texture; it’s loosely packed, coarsely ground, and fairly juicy.  A more pronounced crust from the griddle would have been nice, but it wasn’t entirely crustless.

My biggest issue is that the flavour of the beef itself was a bit lacking.  It definitely wasn’t bad, but it had that distinctively muddled, not-entirely-appealing flavour that you get from so-so quality beef.  It was fine, but it is a bit of a shame; with slightly tastier beef, this could have been a top-tier hamburger.

The burger was more busily-topped than I normally like, but since the flavour of the beef wasn’t exactly stellar, I was actually pretty happy to have a handful of condiments to smooth things out.  This is not a burger to get plain; in fact if I ever go back I’ll likely opt for cheese as well.

The toppings were all pretty standard, and were fine.  The most noteworthy was the lettuce; it’s a round, whole slice of iceberg that gives the burger a satisfying crunch.  I’ve had lettuce served like this at burger joints in the States, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it in Toronto.  I like it.

The bun was slightly on the dense side, but it was fresh and suited the burger fairly well.

As for the fries, they were pretty bad.  They were McCain (the clearly marked boxes were in full view), and tasted like the blandest, frozeniest frozen fries that I’ve ever had.

Fatburger - the outside Fatburger - the restaurant Fatburger - the burger and fries Fatburger - the burger
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Golden Star

Location7123 Yonge Street, Thornhill
Website: None

Before writing this review I had been to Golden Star once, several years ago, and my hazy recollection of the burger was that it was fine, but nothing special.  I was in no rush to go back, even to review it for this blog.  However, after its tenth-place finish on Toronto Life’s list of the top 25 burgers in the city (and its status as one of only four dedicated burger joints to make the list), my interest was piqued.

There’s no mistaking Golden Star for anything but an old-school burger place; it’s clean and not run-down at all, but it has the general layout and decor of an establishment that was built years before many of its customers were born.

I came around lunchtime and there was a fairly sizable line-up to order, including a guy placing a takeout order for at least a couple of dozen people.  The place is popular, that’s for sure.

The menu features a hamburger and a “homemade all star burger.”  When asked what the difference was, I was told that the regular burger is just a plain old frozen burger, and the homemade burger features a six ounce patty that’s made in-house.  Homemade it is.

I got the homemade burger as a combo with fries and a drink, and it came out to just over eleven bucks, so it’s neither particularly cheap or overly expensive.

After a wait of several minutes (I think my wait was a bit longer than average because of the man with the enormous take-out order) my burger was ready.  Toppings are laid out behind the glass; I went with pickles, tomato and mayo.

My memory, from my many-years-ago visit, was that the burger was meatloaf style.   I’m not sure if I was lucky enough to get a batch where they forgot to mix the other stuff in, or if they’re just no longer making meatloaf burgers, but if there was anything beyond salt and pepper in my patty, I couldn’t taste it.

The meat had a very clean flavour; it wasn’t the beefiest tasting burger  that I’ve had, but there were no off flavours either, so it was obviously not low-quality beef.  The well done burger was fantastically juicy, which is a rarity in Toronto, and which I definitely appreciated.

It’s grilled, a cooking method which sometimes has the tendency to overwhelm the beef with the smokiness of the grill.  However, the grilling here imparted only a mild flavour which complemented — but did not overpower — the beef.

With the current ubiquity of griddle-cooked burgers, it’s nice to know that a great grilled burger is an option, even if it is a bit out of the way.

The fresh sesame seed bun complimented the burger quite well, and the standard toppings were good.  All in all it was a very pleasant surprise, and easily the best old school burger joint in Toronto that I’ve visited.

As for the fries, they were solid, albeit a bit undersalted and unmemorable.  They were perfectly tasty, but nothing I’d swoon over.

Golden Star - the outside Golden Star - combos Golden Star - the counter Golden Star - the restaurant Golden Star - the burger Golden Star - the burger
Golden Star on Urbanspoon