Thursday, June 24, 2010

Toronto Burger Round-Up

From glitz and glam to dirt and dram; Toronto has it all! On one magical night of revere I saw a homeless guy's dick AND Miley Cyrus. Yes it's all there for you to explore in Toronto, and explore I did! You can't get as close to the stars in TO as you can in Victoria, but you can sure get close to some great burgers!

So sit back, relax, and enjoy not only the triumphant return of Guy Alaimo to the blog, but also not a single review of a place you guys recommended in the comments section (thanks nonetheless). Here we go in no particular order...

Craft Burger
Craft Spicy
add $1.25 for Blue Cheese

Craft Burger shows up on a lot of Toronto best-of lists, and not without good reason. There really isn't much in the way of a weak link in this messy little dish. The Craft Spicy is in fact one of those rare burgers that is probably better WITHOUT cheese and other add-ons.

The flame-grilled patty is wonderfully textured; endless strands of beef intertwined like lover's limbs on a warm, moist night. The subtle flavour is mixed expertly with a low-medium level spicy chipotle mayo which is piled on in great globs. Unlike many other chipotle mayos, this one is far from middling (and it actually has the desired affect of tweaking pleasure zones).

The sesame seed kaiser is a perfect match for this classically styled burger too. Much like the rest of this unit, it is designed with nothing but comfort in mind.

As alluded to, there is, however, one weak link in this burger. The caramelized onions have fine flavour, but are unfortunately burdened with just a slightly mushy (as opposed to soft) texture. It's not a factor that is overtly noticeable, but it did stop the burger from reaching perfection for me.

My last thought on this one: the cheese is great, but totally unecesary here; this burger stands alone.

The Deliciously Slimming Guy Alaimo Chimes In!!!!!!!!!

Delicious. Worth the money. Every bite was like being seen standing beside good looking people that you don't know, but the people who see you think you chill with them, so they respect you more (which is awesome). Being inside Craft Burger made me feel more important. It made me feel like my existence meant something. How can you disagree with that? Craft Burger fucking delivers. The burger was probably a little more moist than I would've liked, but that could have been easily solved by putting the onions and sauce on separate sides of the bun.

Old York Bar and Grill
add $1 for Cheese

What does a HGTV Restaurant Makeover get you? Well I can tell you what it doesn't get you: a lock on the men's bathroom door. At least there are "funky" street signs accenting the indoor dining area, and stools with no-doubt carefully ripped vinyl seats at the bar. If those street signs said "Cadillac Ave." and "Blackhawks Boulevard" you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the Old York and your uncle's basement.

The episode of Restaurant Makeover (which just reran on the Food Network on the 15th) that features the Old York still remains unseen by my eyes, but it's clear that the team at least did enough to the menu here to keep the place open (the show originally aired over 4 years ago I believe).

The rest of the menu aside, this burger is certainly nothing worth immortalizing on the small screen. This is just a flat-out average affair. Guy said it best as we were dining, "This is the type of burger that people who don't know better would rave about." He couldn't have hit the nail on the head any better—this is an offering for the much more casual burger connoisseur.

Yes the beef is of good quality, but whatever advances it could have made were stopped dead by a bad bun:burger ratio. You know that Dizzee Rascal song where he's doing the back and forth with the girl and she says, "You were with that girl." and he says, "She was just any girl."? Well I was with this burger, and it was just any burger.

A Man With a Stunning New Asian Haircut Chimes In Lamb-Style!!!!!!!!!!!

Fuck this burger. I paid $14.95 to taste lamb. Hey guys; I know what lamb tastes like. But you're so proud of yourselves for selling a burger made out of ACTUAL lamb, that you forgot to put condiments on it. Just because you use fresh garden greens with the red spiky stuff in it doesn't mean you can get away with serving anything you fucking want to. Bottom line is this: the Old York Pub Lamb Burger is "baaaaaaah; baaaaaaah". I AM NOT A SHEEP. I am a trend-setter. I AM AN INDIVIDUAL. But I still wish I could look as good as the bartender with the V-neck hemp sweater, pendulum necklace, tight black jeans, and awesome neck beard. Never going to happen—I know.

UFO Restaurant/3 Star Food & Groceries
Bacon Cheeseburger

Now here we have something really special. As I've said before on this blog; convenience store/lunch counters are a dime-a-dozen on the east coast, but not so much here in Victoria. In fact I only know of two, and neither is much of a gem. It's a much different story at UFO though.

You can be hard-pressed sometimes to find a pub in Victoria that serves a decent homemade patty, let alone a lunch counter. Amazingly, UFO actually gives you the option of homemade or pre-fab. I don't know why you would ever choose pre-fab, because the homemade option here is an insanely generous size for this type of establishment. If I didn't know better I'd assume the restaurant takes it name from the appearance of this saucer-like patty.

The flavour and texture of the patty is a mix of Chinese-Canadian and pub-style (verrrrrrrrry slight jelly feel, but mostly just big and beefy). When you mix everything in the package together it strays from the pub-style to a more ballpark flavour (brought on by the condiment mix of ketchup/mustard/relish). This may not be some other-worldy burger triumph (uggh what a horrible pun), but you couldn't hope for anything better from a place like this. A fun burger in a gem of place, served with loving care by an old Greek woman and a dude that looks like Manny Pacqiauo with a softer face. I wish I could eat here ever day.

Guy Alaimo Chimes In Part Three!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Being a cheap-ass, I opted to go for the regular burger which is 75 cents cheaper then the homemade patty. But when I saw the Greek grandmother unwrap Don's homemade patty, I opted to change my decision. This left me with 3 dollars to my name instead of 3.75; good enough for a single ride on the TTC, and another example of my incredible budgeting skills. The patty was very big and home-madey. The fact I was eating this thing in a convenience store while watching the world cup on a grease stained 13-inch Samsung, gave me a bulging erection. You can't really argue with a great price, a great burger, or a grade 8 erection, so why not give this place a try?

Lee Restaurant
Chef Susur Lee's Famous Cheeseburger Spring Roll
$5 (1 ticket at Luminato Festival)

Wowzers! It's like six degrees of mahfuckin Restaurant Makeover separation in this blog post! First Old York, and now a creation from frequent star of the Makeover program: Chef Susur Lee! RUNNIN' WITH THE BIG DOGS IN TO YO!

I don't believe Mr. Lee is the inventor of the Cheeseburger Spring Roll (I think that title goes to chef Doron Wong of New York), but wherever it came from it's a winner. Think upscale 7-11 taquito—a late-night snack for the lovelies. There is just enough of an Asian spice mix in this roll for it to emerge as comfort food with class. Now normally this would be a negative thing. Adding an air of distinction to parking-lot cuisine is generally incredibly pretentious, and overwhelmingly unecessary. For instance: who'd want a grilled cheese on focacia with fucking organic pesto and mead glazed, farmyard-massaged ham (oh wait, I basically just described a panini didn't I? FUCK PANINIS!).

Thankfully Lee's Spring Roll maintains a fine balance. Is the spicy mayo an essential element? Maybe not, but it does help enforce the cheeseburger theme. This would be a perfect late-night nosh if it were a little cheaper. Heck, even at this price it's a good buy. Perhaps not the original cheeseburger spring roll, but maybe the best?

OVERALL TO VERDICT: Beat a G20 protester and grab a burger! Consider a Toronto vacation today!


Happy_pats said...

Excellent word-smithing, great read. Glad Guy is doing well!

Kevin said...

Great round up.

I'm trying Craft Burger today. Walked past it after I had lunch at Susur Lee's restaurant today on King St, and was mighty tempted to attempt to cram more food down my throat...but alas, no.

You still in TO?

Zeke said...


So when are you coming to Montreal?

Anonymous said...

While I am sad that you did not go to Sneeky Dees, I am very delighted to see you went to UFO and The Old York! Both of these places were just up the street from where I used to live! I have gone to both and I have to say that UFO is even better than Old York.. Anyways nostaligia aside, a solid post with much good information. Next time Sneeky Dees!

Were you not miffed by the pig slaughter house across the street from the Old York?

dk said...

I am long gone from TO.

Was totally oblivious to the pig-slaughter house. Mostly we were just miffed that Old York was not nearly as cheap-eaty as yelp and urbanspoon suggested it was.