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!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Toronto Burger Recommendations?

Give 'em if you've got 'em cause I'm goin' today.

Also Pizza AllNite is looking for recommendations on how to jazz up their burger with new and exciting toppings or condiments. Any toppings you're dying to have available? Let me know and I'll pass it along.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Felicita's Pub | Student Union Building, UVIC | | 250.721.8626

$5.75 Wednesday Special (w/fries)
add $1 for cheese
$1.50 for bacon

Regular price burger w/fries: $7.25

A mostly flavourless bore from a place that has seen it's fair share of excitement over the years (what with people jumping off the roof and whatnot).

The grill marks on this pre-fab (likely frozen) charbroiled patty provide the only bold flavour distinction from the imposing bun in this unit. Even the bacon here is sadly devoid of any sort of salty goodness. You can tell there's some meat in this thing... but just barely. Not a terrible burger, just reaaaaallly realllllly boring—even with the glut of mayonnaise. Certainly nothing compared to the great, inexpensive pre-fab frozen burgers you can get at Pizza AllNite, or just about any local little league ballpark.

VERDICT: UVIC is certainly conducive to wild, drunken, earth-shattering parties; but its on-campus burgers lack the same raucous excitement.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Burgers WILL NOT Become a Standard Menu Item at Pig

Went to Pig in Colwood today and was told that the burgers they have been serving up as specials will not end up on the static menu when the new downtown location opens (nor will they ever be on the static menu in Colwood). The reason for this being that, "If you you start selling burgers, all you sell is burgers," and that is obviously not what Pig wants to focus the majority of its energy on. I was assured, however, that burgers will be a more regular special when the downtown location opens. For now, keep checking Pig's twitter to find out when burgers are served in Colwood (it's generally once every two weeks or so).

On a completely unrelated note: holy fuck are Pig donuts incredible.

Spinnakers Redux

Highland Beef Burger

(add $2 each for bacon and cheese)

It's been about a year since I first sampled this superior pub burger, so last weekend I figured it was time to get reacquainted. I'm happy to say it still get's the job done.

I'm still not entirely sure the herbed foccacia is the best bun choice, but Spinnakers gets a lot of other little things right. Though it's likely exactly the same as what is used at Heron Rock (Hertel's); for some reason the bacon has a stronger flavour, and melds better with the burger at Spinnakers.

Something this burger does, that many others find impossible, is use ruffage exceptionally well. The greens are super fresh, and the pickled cabbage is an absolute revalation. The cabbage lends a sweet kiss to this burger that really makes it unique, and provides a more exciting flavour mix in the mouth. The texture of the beef might not be perfect (a smidge rubbery, as if it had been frozen, though I doubt this was the case), but this is a hard one to hate.

VERDICT: Attention given to the supporting cast pushes this one into the top tier of pub burgers in Victoria.

ps. Although Blossom Blue is my favourite cheese, I wouldn't recommend ordering it with this burger. It's great, but just a little too overpowering here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

B.C. Beef Day

Hot on the heels of National Hamburger Month and National Hamburger Day in the U.S. came B.C. Beef Day yesterday! I missed it, but the provincial government announced (right here in Victoria!) June 2nd as the first annual Beef Day. If you'd like to belatedly celebrate; Pizza AllNite, Spinnakers, Pink Bicycle, Canoe Club, Nourish Garden Cafe, Bistro Cache and Heron Rock Bistro all serve burgers made with B.C. Beef.