Local Leaside

Location: 180 Laird Dr, East York, ON M4G 3V7

Website: http://localleaside.com/

Price: $17.50

What We Ordered:

  • Brooklyn Burger
Outside the Local on Laird Drive in Toronto (East York)

Burger Review:

I was meeting my Mumzie for lunch and she suggested the Local because (as per her text) “The Local is good” and she had an errand to run close by. There’s free parking in the back and I’m down for going anywhere as long as there is free parking. They had some really nice salads on the menu. But this isn’t a salad blog. It’s a juicy meaty burger blog. So I got the burger, natch.

They have a few burger options, but the Brooklyn Burger jumped out at me because A) I’m a fan of New York and B) there is Red Pepper Jelly on it. I loooove red pepper jelly and was excited to try it on a burger. This burger did not disappoint! I really liked it and would totally recommend it. My first bite impression was peppery (black pepper, not the red pepper jelly), and the cheese reminded me of a classic grilled cheese which was delicious. My only issues with this burger is they cook it well done and there wasn’t enough of that yummy red pepper jelly on it so there were a few bites that felt it was lacking in the sweet and vinegary flavours that I like to have in my burg. But I didn’t have to add ketchup – which is usually a good sign of a near-perfectly topped burger.

How the Brooklyn Burger arrived at our table

Meat: Their patty is ground off-site and hand pressed into a mould and is cooked from fresh (not frozen). I wasn’t asked how I like it cooked which isn’t unusual in Canada but I think if I did have the option to get this cooked medium instead of well-done it would have made a world of difference to improving the patty overall. My first bite I could taste lots of black pepper, but it was not too salty. The patty was a size I like (not too thick), but the bun overpowered it at times due to the thinness.

Toppings: These toppings were perfect together. It comes with mayo, rocket lettuce, onion ring, aged white cheddar, house-made red pepper jelly. My only issue with the toppings was that there wasn’t enough red pepper jelly which meant some bites were missing that sweet/vinegar taste. But other than that, I can’t complain. It was good!

Bun: The bun is a baked in-house brioche bun which was so light and fluffy. I later learned this is because they don’t use egg in the recipe. They top their bun with black and beige sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Maybe some other seeds too but I couldn’t tell. The bun was slightly too big for the thickness of the patty so the breadiness overtook the overall flavour on some bites. But it was a treat to have a well thought out bun that was clearly crafted with lots of love and care.

Cross section of the Brooklyn Burger

Other Food:

The burg comes with fries on the side. They were ok. Very thin and lightly fried. I didn’t feel super heavy after eating them or anything. There was very little salt on them which I think is a refreshing change. About halfway through I wished I’d gotten some salt and vinegar to liven them up a bit. Actually, they would lend themselves really well to being tossed with parmesan cheese, garlic oil, and herbs prior to serving. If you’re reading this Local, think about it!

Atmosphere & Staff:

The atmosphere is industrial cool with lots of TVs and big bright windows. We got the last booth during the lunch rush which was good for us because otherwise all their seating is uncomfortable high-tops. They bring a jug of water to your table right away. I adore getting a jug so I don’t have to fuss for refills. The staff were very friendly and cheerful. And there’s free parking in the back (bonus!)

Inside the Local

Final Verdict:
4 stars

This burger was close to a 5-star for me. Maybe I caught it on an off day because very minor tweaks that were related to preparation would otherwise send this burger into the hall of fame. Not to say the cooks did a bad job at all because I would totally recommend this burger any day. I’ll be dreaming of that red pepper jelly. Yum!

The Beech Tree

Location: 924 Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M4E 3L7

Website: http://www.thebeechtree.ca/

Price: $41

What We Ordered:

  • Char-Grilled Burger
  • Fresh Baked Cheddar Scone
  • Grilled Flat Bread
The Beech Tree in the Upper Beach in Toronto. This is from Google Maps because I forgot to snap a pic of the exterior as I was leaving (we got too excited for a clothing sale near by)

Burger Review:

This burger is listed on Thrillest as one of Toronto’s best under-the-radar burgers, so of course I suggested this joint when I was invited to a lunch meeting in the area. The presentation of the food is really beautiful. Each dish comes with its own style of plate. The burger came on this wooden circle with the salad and dip in pretty farm kitchen dishes. It all looked delicious and Instagram worthy. The burger was good, but the meat was a bit overcooked and it was missing the sweetness that toppings like tomatoes, onions, and certain condiments bring to the overall taste. If this burger had a tomato and maybe a richer type of lettuce (like green leaf or butter lettuce) I think it would taste much better. As it was, I was dipping it in the aioli to counter some dryness from being overcooked and I did end up asking for ketchup to get some sweetness and moisture into it.  

The char-grilled burger at The Beech Tree in Toronto

Meat: I completely forgot to shake down the waiter for details on the burger meat. It was definitely hand formed and not frozen, but I can’t say if it’s ground on site or local or what quality of meet it is. It’s like I completely forgot I was writing a burger blog haha. I can say it is char-grilled and seasoned with salt, pepper, and something else that I couldn’t put my taste bud finger on. I’d say it was slightly over-cooked as you can see by the cross section picture below. 

Toppings: This burger comes with thyme aioli on the burger and extra on the side. There is also cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, and pickled onions. I was most excited about the pickled onions because I love pickles and I love onions so… pickled onions sounds right up my alley. They were good, but a bit soft which I don’t like in a burger. I’m a textures person when it comes to food so I prefer a crisp onion to caramelized onions or soft pickled onions on a burger. The iceberg lettuce was not the right choice for this burger. The blandness of iceberg lettuce just didn’t compliment the richness of the other toppings. I think they did iceberg because it’s crisp and that makes up for the soft onions. But who knows. 

Bun: Brioche style bun that was really nicely charred on the top and inside. The bun was nice and toasted on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I really liked it. 

Cross section of the char-grilled burger at The Beech Tree

Other Food:

The burger came with a green salad – literally everything in it was the colour green. I could have had chips instead but I find chips and burgers are a weird combo. The salad was just ok and I didn’t finish half of it because it was mostly lettuce with too much dressing on it. My lunch partners had a cheese scone and a flat bread with pea falafels. They were both really good, although incredibly bread-heavy.   

Atmosphere & Staff:

The interior was quite dark except in front by a large open window (big enough to potentially be a door). The one guy who was serving us was nice. There was no one else in the place except two women beside us, which surprised me since it was about noon on a Sunday and this place does brunch in the residential and trendy Upper Beach. 

The interior of The Beech Tree. This smiling lunch partner is my sister Laura.

Final Verdict:
3 stars

I may have gotten this burger on an off-day. It was a bit too well done and the type of lettuce wasn’t the right choice to really highlight the artisan feel of this burger. It was good, but not something I’ll crave or insist on going back for seconds. 

No Bull Burgers

Location: 1019 Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M4E 1T3

Website: https://www.nobullburgers.ca/

Price: $7.75

What We Ordered:

  • Lil’ Burger with Blue Cheese
No Bull Burgers exterior (captured from Google Maps because I forgot to snap a picture as I was leaving)

Burger Review:

No Bull Burgers does organic and locally sourced meat that is ground and pressed daily on site. They have a host of premium toppings starting at $1, like bacon and cheddar. But they also get fancy with grilled cheese buns or fried egg which means you could create an epic monster burger if you wanted to. I do really like this burger because the meat is organic and local. You don’t get that kind of quality at other locations. The price isn’t the most expensive, but it’s not cheap which makes it not ideal if you want to bring the whole family for a meal.  The patty is thin and the bun is a bit too big so the meat gets overwhelmed by the bun and toppings. I still love it though! If I had to fix it to make it 5-stars, I’d make the patty a little thicker, use a higher fat content in the meat, and make the bun a bit smaller. 

Look at that glorious burger with blue cheese

Meat: 4oz organic, local, extra lean, AAA Angus beef. Ground daily on site and pressed so that it’s formed into a perfect circle disk of meaty goodness. They do a light shake of an “in-house secret spice” blend on these burgers but I couldn’t tell what it was exactly (I’d guess salt and ground celery seed as potentially in the mix). I can tell this burger is extra lean but it was juicy.

Toppings: I got blue cheese as a paid topping and the free ones were: chipotle mayo, sweet BBQ sauce, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion. The lettuce is a green leaf lettuce, onions are circle cut red onions, the pickles are ripple cut which makes them thick and crunchy (yum!) and they are generous with the toppings. 

Bun: Traditional hamburger style bun with sesame seeds. It did look toasted slightly on the inside. The bun was a bit too big for a 4oz patty and caused the meat flavor to get lost.  

Cross section of the Lil’ Burger at No Bull Burgers in Toronto

Other Food:

I didn’t order any additional food this time, but I have had the fries and they are hand cut, skin on, fresh and delicious. They do have malt vinegar which is heavenly on these fries.

How the Lil’ Burger came to the table

Atmosphere & Staff:

Always very clean inside and out. They have a few picnic tables with umbrellas for outdoor seating. Once you order your burger at the counter, the staff bring it to your table which is nice service for a strictly burger joint. The staff has always been very pleasant and one of them learned my name after only two visits which I thought was impressive considering I don’t go every week. The atmosphere and staff combine to make it an overall great experience.

The interior of No Bull Burgers is always spotlessly clean and the staff is friendly

Final Verdict:
4 stars

I love that this burger is organic and local. Minor tweaks as mentioned above would give this burger a 5-star rating. I do recommend to put it on your list as a must-go for burger lovers.

The Burger’s Priest

Location:  1636 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L 1G3

Website:  https://www.theburgerspriest.com/

Price: $11.68

What We Ordered:

  • Blue Steel
  • Fries

Outside The Burger’s Priest at the Queen and Coxwell location

Burger Review:

This burger is so juicy the bottom bun gets soggy, and that’s what burger meat should do. I got the blue cheese burger which comes with a choice of standard toppings. The Burger’s Priest has a selection of premium burgers to choose from, including a “secret menu” with contents piled high in unique combinations. For me,  this burger is as close to perfection as I’ve ever had from a take-out joint. The combination of the bun with the juicy meat and toppings is a home run.

Blue steel burger looks perfect. I swear that’s how it came out of the bag, I didn’t do anything extra to make it look this pretty.

Meat: Custom blend of premium beef. The meat is ground by The Burger’s Priest daily, but they prepare it at another Toronto location which means at this restaurant the meat is prepared off site and undergoes some transportation. They cooked this burger perfectly! You can see in the cross section image below that the meat is just a little bit pink. And that’s exactly what keeps a burger juicy and delicious.

Toppings: Blue cheese, plus choice of free toppings. I ordered “the works except mustard” and got: mayo, ketchup, one piece of leaf lettuce, two small slices of tomato, two thin ring cut white onions, three round cut pickles. I would have liked a little bit more onion, but next time I’ll just order “extra onions”. The blue cheese was the sliced square kind you see in grocery stores that are burger or sandwich ready, instead of crumbles on top which is sometimes how blue cheese comes.

Bun: Classic hamburger bun, almost has a sweet quality to the crust. I could eat this bun on its own and it would still be delicious. Goes perfect with the burger. They lightly toast the inside of the bun on the grill top so it is slightly golden on the edges.

Cross section of the Blue Steel burger from The Burger’s Priest. You can see the meat is slightly pink which is exactly how it should be.

Other Food:

The fries are fresh with skin on. They come out golden and a bit soft. My first bite was a bit too salty, but the rest were fine. I think it was just the one fry I grabbed that had a salt cluster on it. They do have malt vinegar which is a must for these fries. Tasted delicious. I didn’t try it this time around, but they do have a vegan burger, vegetarian options, and a gluten free keto bun if you have dietary restrictions.

Blue steel burger and fries as take-out from The Burger’s Priest

Atmosphere & Staff:

The Burger’s Priest on Queen St. East is a small space and crowded during lunch hours. Really just enough room to line up and wait for your burger. They do have a small wall table with a few high top chairs but it would be uncomfortable to eat on location as patrons are pressed up against you waiting for their food. Staff looks cramped and hot and it shows in their attitude while taking your order. Not that they’re unpleasant or rude, but you can tell they’re a little agitated. Do not try to pack the kids into this joint. Quick in and out to eat elsewhere is your best option.

Inside The Burgers Priest on Queen St. East is a little cramped. Best to order quickly for take out.

Final Verdict:
5 stars

So far it ranks as one of the best take-out burgers I’ve ever had in Canada. You definitely need to try this place.

Hogtown Smoke

Location: 1959 Queen St. E. Toronto, ON, M4L 1H7

Website: https://www.hogtownsmoke.ca/beaches

Price: $71

Outside Hogtown Smoke on Queen Street in the Beach, Toronto

What We Ordered:

  • Smashed griddle burger
  • Signature smoked brisket
  • Chicken wings
  • Kitchen sink stacked fries

Burger Review:

The Hogtown Smoke burger is Angus beef, ground and hand made on site. It came with two patties on a brioche bun with red onions, rocket greens, and fresh cut fries on the side. On the menu it says the toppings are “hot house tomatoes, charred red onions, and rocket greens”, but I didn’t receive any tomatoes and the red onions were not charred at all (you can see in the picture below how it arrived). The menu has lots of toppings you can add, but at extremely high prices. The blue cheese was an extra $5. I love blue cheese, but I don’t $5 extra love blue cheese. I would have liked to see the burger cost a bit less (was $18 as-is), which would make me more willing to stack on some toppings to liven this burger up. I also would have liked a one-patty option since I’m more of a one-patty gal. I didn’t even notice on the menu that it was two patties.

This is how the Hogtown Smoke burger came to the table

Meat: It came with two Angus beef burger patties ground on site and never frozen, but they were far too dry (maybe a bit overcooked or not enough fat content). I added sauces to liven it up and add some moisture back in. I used the Hogmother BBQ sauce, ketchup, and the wings came with a spicy aioli that I used instead of mayo.

Toppings: The rocket greens were a good choice for this burger. The red onions were cut in rings had that sharp taste red onions can get sometimes. They would have been better if they were softened up on the grill before hand or more thinly cut.

Bun: The brioche bun was very nice but it couldn’t save this burger.

Sides: Fresh cut french fries were perfectly golden, crispy, and salted just right.

Cross section of the Hogtown Smoke burger on Queen Street in Toronto, after I added aioli, ketchup, and BBQ sauce

I wanted to love this burger, but it was underwhelming and I would not recommend it. It desperately needed a little less cook time, tomatoes to cut some of the dryness, and a pickle or some sort of sauce to give it an edge and add some juiciness to it. It also should have been cheaper (maybe just one patty to save costs), so the extra toppings to give it more flavor would be more affordable.

Other Food:

The kitchen sink stacked fries were to die for. Literally you’d probably die of a heart attack if you indulge in these babies too often. But figuratively speaking, they were delicious! It included beans, pulled pork, cheese, sour cream, BBQ sauce, and coleslaw. It says that it feeds two people but we barely made a dent in it (2 adults and 2 kids under 5).

Clockwise from upper left corner: brisket, wings, kitchen sink fries, sauces at the table

I did not try the wings but they looked plump. I did have some of the brisket and I found it to be good, but a bit dry compared to other BBQ joints and the smoky flavor didn’t penetrate all the way through the meat. There wasn’t a lot of fat on it, which might be why it wasn’t very juicy. However the sauces provided at the table made it less dry and added some zing to the flavor.

The BBQ sauces were at each table. The black & blue was mild, a little smokey and sweet. The Hogmother was mild with a little bit of a peppery kick. The Hogfather was a bit spicier than Hogmother, but not burn your mouth spicy.

Atmosphere & Staff:

Our waiter was great. He seemed nice and genuinely happy to be there and serving us. It was construction season in Toronto so there was banging and drilling in the building next door which could be heard through the walls. We had screaming kids with us at the time (our two year old was acting up), but no one gave us side-eye or made us feel unwelcome. There was nice street-style art on the walls with a chalkboard menu on one side and exposed brick and wood panels all around. There were bench style booths on one side and chair seating on the other (pictured below). There is a patio out back with high-top tables and a bar.

Inside Hogtown Smoke

Final Verdict:
1 Star

Please note the rating is JUST for the burger, and not a reflection on the restaurant as a whole. Come for the slow cooked meat and kitchen sink fries, but don’t order the burger. This place has delicious meats and other food items to sample that are much tastier.