Posted Monday December 7, 2009 9:59AM
Categories: "gourmet" fast food burger, Dave N., South St. Burger Co., Toronto On
Visited: Saturday November 28, 2009 1:30PM
Ordered: Veggie Burger Combo with fries and root beer (x1)
Total Cost: $9.84
Dave N.’s Review
My girlfriend Caryl and I decided to eat vegan for the month of November. That means no dairy, no eggs, and certainly no burgers. Or does it?! Veggie and soy burgers were obviously a possibility, but it’s pretty hard finding ones that a) are completely vegan, and b) don’t taste like a cardboard asshole.
By the end of the month I had eaten one burger at home that was really gross, and I was dying to get out and have something delicious. I found out that South St. Burger Co. — a newish burger chain owned by New York Fries — had a veggie burger, so I gave them a shout via their Twitter account to find out if it was truly vegan. I got a fast, friendly and helpful reply with the information I needed, and made plans with Caryl to eat there (though we did so in different cities).
Now, my vegan diet may not have been as strict as some, and my research into their ingredients was fairly limited. If you are interested in a veggie burger from South Street, I recommend emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org for a full list of ingredients, to make sure it fits your needs.
So far, my (pre-visit) experience with the company had been super good. I was impressed and happy. Once I got to the clean, modern-looking restaurant, things stayed more or less positive. The ordering procedure is like a Harvey’s or Lick’s: order your burger, shuffle down the line and, once your burger has been grilled up, order your condiments. The staff were fast and friendly, and the whole thing was efficient.
But I did say "more or less", didn’t I? There was something that came close to ruining my whole meal for me: Rush. The restaurant had the radio (Q107 I believe) on really loud. I generally like Q107, but having it on in the restaurant sucks:
- In addition to really loud music, I have to listen to really loud commercials. I’ve already paid for my meal, I don’t want to also have ads drilled into my brain while I’m eating it.
- If terrible, terrible music comes on, like fucking Rush, I can’t change the channel. I have to sit and listen to their 14-minute epics about trees, all the while gritting my teeth and wishing that I were deaf. I hate fucking Rush, man.
So yeah, the music situation was not cool. Significant points lost there, but your mileage may vary.
Another problem that I think is actually a bit of a bigger deal: the drink that came with my combo was tiny. The cup itself seemed like a decent size — smaller than I’d like, but decent — but it was packed with ice. Completely full. The amount of actual pre-melting liquid in there was enough to get me through about half my meal, after which I just had to suffer. I know there have been lots of points made about how much pop sizes have grown over the years and how bad it is for you, etc. But I don’t care, man. Give me a drink that’s big enough that I don’t get thirsty while eating. Pop costs practically nothing for these companies; skimping on that is pretty bushleague in my opinion.
A word about the fries: mmmm. I’ve always loved New York Fries, and having them with a burger was a nice treat.
South St.’s veggie burger is actually mostly soy-based. Before going to South St. I was very conscious of the fact that I’d never had a soy burger I’ve really liked. And… much to my surprise, I found myself really enjoying this burger.
So I can set the flavour-scene a bit: I got my burger on a white bun (you could also get whole wheat if you like), with Dijon mustard, ketchup, lettuce, guacamole, banana peppers, salt and black pepper. There were lots of toppings to choose from, which was nice. There are some sauces (e.g. garlic aioli and I think a Dijon horseradish or something like that) that I’d like to try if I go back.
I must admit, my tastebuds were pretty confused while eating the burger. At no point did I think it was bad. I did, however, have all of the following thoughts (all of which I wrote down, naturally):
- Smells not burgery.
- Tastes good! Not really like a burger, but good!
- OK, it is pretty burgery. Not exactly like meat, but totally decent.
- Nice seasonings. I can’t exactly place what it tastes like.
- Maybe it does taste like meat, but not like a burger.
In hindsight, I’d say it was like a comedian doing a funny impression of another comedian. The impression will have some of the same characteristics of the original, some exaggerated and some understated. Though the original is good, the impression is also good, albeit in a different way. That’s a bit laboured, but I think you get what I’m trying to say.
All that said, there were aspects of the burger that could have been better. First, the burger seemed a bit small. I’m not sure if this was an illusion caused by a slightly too-large bun, or if it was actually small. I didn’t leave hungry, so that’s something to consider. Second, the toppings were applied skimpily, especially the guacamole. I’d say for more than half my bites, the toppings were more or less undetectable. The only saving grace is that none of them cost extra, which is nice.
Despite my weird ramblings and those two complaints, the bottom line is that South St. delivered a tasty burger in my hour of need, and I left a happy customer. I have no doubt I will return at some point to try their real burgers out, and maybe even give the veggie burger another go.