Archive for Dave N.

South St. Burger Co., Toronto, On

Posted Monday December 7, 2009 9:59AM

Categories: "gourmet" fast food burger, Dave N., South St. Burger Co., Toronto On

South St. Burger Co., Toronto, On Address: 2383 Yonge St, 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

The Experience

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 info@southstburger.com 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Experience rating: 3.7/5

The Burger

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.

Burger rating: 4/5

Bottom Line

Average rating:

3.85/5

 

Wendy’s, Toronto, On

Posted Saturday November 21, 2009 5:17PM

Categories: Dave N., fast food burger, Toronto On, Wendy's

Wendy's, Toronto, On Address: 2 St Clair Avenue East, Toronto, On (inside the St. Clair Centre, lower level)
Visited: Thursday October 29, 2009 11:23AM
Ordered: #2 Combo: 1/2lb Double with cheese (x1), Fries (x1), Root Beer (x1)
Total Cost: $8.23
 

Dave N.’s Review

The Experience

Wendy’s restaurants tend to offer very few surprises.

As is fairly typical, I was in a rush and needed something fast and to-go. I hit up Wendy’s before getting on the subway. This particular Wendy’s was clean and tidy, but unfortunately it was also crazy slow with my order. When I arrived there were no other customers, so I’m not really sure why it took so long.

As my aggravation mounted, a family arrived — including two loud, yelling children. Now, it’s not Wendy’s fault that these kids were annoying, but this kind of thing is not atypical for a fast-food scenario and does impact the experience. So, points lost.

By the time I got my burger I was running late and had a headache. At this point every little minor aggravation was likely to set me off. Minor aggravations like:

  • The fries were far too hot, possibly dangerously so.
  • The fries were tossed into my paper bag haphazardly, creating greasy spots in the paper and ruining the structural integrity of the bag.
  • The service was not unfriendly, but certainly not overly hospitable either.

So anyway, I pretty much had a terrible time of it there.

Experience rating: 1/5

The Burger

Wendy’s burgers have the potential to be pretty greasy, but they’re also pretty tasty. This one wasn’t an exception. When I was finished eating it, there were somewhat-gross grease puddles left over in the burger’s foil wrapping. Despite this, the burger had a decent, fresh-ish taste for a fast food burger. It was also pretty soft and squishy, which I like in fast food.

Burger rating: 3.8/5

Bottom Line

Average rating:

2.4/5

 

Volo, Toronto, On

Posted Saturday November 21, 2009 5:15PM

Categories: "gourmet" burger, Dave N., Toronto On, Volo

Volo, Toronto, On Address: 587 Yonge Street, Toronto, On
Visited: Wednesday October 21, 2009 5:30PM
Ordered: Veal Burger special (x3), Beer (x5), Juice (x1)
Total Cost: $93.88
Photo from urbanspoon, by Robert.
 

Dave N.’s Review

The Experience

I’m not sure exactly what this place is called. I’ve seen Caffevolo, Caffe Volo, Cafe Volo, Bar Volo and just plain Volo. I’m sticking with Volo, because it’s easier.

Anyway, this is a really nice Italian beer bar and restaurant on Yonge, near Wellesley. It’s a bit pricey, but it generally has great food and always has an amazing selection of beers. Their normal menu is always good, but it’s often worth checking out what’s on special (for both drinks and food).

The day I was there I was in a bit of a bad mood, as I was meeting a friend to help me resolve some labour/money issues I was having. (Bad mood because of issues, not because of friend helping me.) I offered to buy him drinks if he’d help me talk through it, which he agreed to. Dickhead that I am, I forgot to pay for his share, but I’ll pay him back later, I swear.

We ended up staying for more than just a drink, and we were eventually joined by his girlfriend, and the whole thing turned into quite a nice evening.

I’ve found that the service at Volo can be spotty, but that night I had absolutely no complaints. Our servers were fast, friendly and accurate.

My only complaints about the experience are that, as I said, Volo can be expensive; it can also be fairly dark in there, and I like a well-lit restaurant.

Experience rating: 4.6/5

The Burger

The night we were there, Volo’s panini special was a 5oz veal burger with caramelized onions, mushrooms, pancetta bacon, and gorgonzola cheese on an egg brioche bun served with potatoes and mixed greens, all for $15. All three of us ordered it — mine without mushrooms, naturally – and I believe we all enjoyed it.

You can’t really go wrong with toppings like that — I mean shit, man. Onions, pancetta and gorgonzola? Fuck yeah. Why don’t more burgers have pancetta? Pancetta is great! And Volo’s not really the kind of place to dick around; the ingredients were top-notch, and the burger tasted awesome. Sure it was smallish, but it was really densely flavoured and rich. I loved it. Also, the bun was really nice. Why aren’t more burgers served on brioche? Brioche is great!

So, I’m not 100% sure if Volo even has burgers on their menu normally, but if you happen to be there and if there happens to be a burger special, for the love of God, order it. And have some great beers, too.

Burger rating: 4.8/5

Bottom Line

Average rating:

4.7/5

 

Duke of Somerset, Toronto, On

Posted Saturday November 21, 2009 4:17PM

Categories: Dave N., Duke of Somerset, pub/diner burger, Toronto On

Duke of Somerset, Toronto, On Address: 655 Bay Street, Toronto, On
Visited: Monday October 5, 2009 8:30PM
Ordered: Big Ben Burger (x1), Beer (x2)
Total Cost: $21.74
 

Dave N.’s Review

The Experience

I had been working late, and needed to grab some food. I ended up meeting up with some friends, who highly recommended the burgers at this pub, so we hit the mother up.

The Duke of Somerset is part of the ‘Duke’ chain of pubs that can be found around Toronto. I had been in here a long time ago, when my girlfriend used to live nearby. I’m pretty sure it’s undergone some renos in the years since I had last visited and the place looks really nice. I’m a big fan of pubs, and this one hits a really sweet spot where it’s nice and classy and clean, without being pretentious.

The service was excellent, we got a nice big table in a prime location, and overall the night was good. There was some weird music playing that straddled a fine line between amazing and terrible. Selections included a disco medley of The Streets Have No Name and Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, and some Blur.

Also: really good fries.

Experience rating: 4.5/5

The Burger

Despite my friends’ recommendations, I didn’t actually intend to have a burger. However, the Somerset had this Monday night special that I found impossible to resist: any burger on the menu plus a pint of Keith’s for $12.99. Considering the burgers can cost $12.99 anyway, that’s a good bargain.

I opted for the Big Ben Burger, which has Stilton cheese, mushrooms, and beer-braised onions. I got it without mushrooms because mushrooms are gross, y’all. The burger was really beefy, in a good way; the meat had a nice, strong flavour. Oddly enough, the sesame seeds on my bun were also surprisingly strong (which is also good in my book). Unfortunately, these robust tastes just made the very lackluster stilton and onions all the more obvious and disappointing. While they tasted good, they also definitely struggled to be noticed under the beefy-sesamey double-whammy.

The burger was definitely good, but I was not satisfied with the toppings at all. I would definitely return to give the Duke of Somerset another shot, but I probably wouldn’t have the Big Ben Burger again.

Burger rating: 3.3/5

Bottom Line

Average rating:

3.9/5

 

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