Location: 1050 Paignton House Rd, Minett, ON P0B 1G0
What We Ordered:
- JW Signature Burger with Balderson aged cheddar
Here I am in beautiful Muskoka, Ontario in November. It’s not the worst time of year to visit, but it’s not the rip-roaring height of summer fantastic when you most want to be in a Muskoka type environment with the lakes and the nature and the late-night camp fires. I had to grab a bite to eat before heading into a conference so I stopped at the ol’ bar n’ lounge for a burg (as you do).
Their burger is the JW Signature Burger with lettuce, tomato, and onions on a potato scallion bun with the option of adding bacon, cheese, or egg. I got the cheese because it was Balderson cheddar. Balderson is a town in Ontario with a place that makes wonderful cheese you can find in grocery stores. Their retail outlet in Balderson is next to an Amish furniture store. Last time I drove through there I got a 9 year old cheddar that was wonderful, a totally addictive peppercorn sausage, and I almost bought a table. I’m going on and on about the cheese because it was one of the things that saved this burg from total disaster.
The meat was delicious, but I would love to see this patty wrapped in better surroundings because it could have been a 5-star. If you’re doing Balderson cheddar cheese, which is rich in flavour, I’d suggest doing caramelized onions, bibb lettuce, and a bacon fig jam on a brioche bun. Trust me, it’ll be fantastic. But alas, they did not do that so this burg lost some serious points.
Meat: The patty was really good here. It’s one of the aspects, along with the cheese, that gave this burger the star power. It was perfectly seasoned with just some salt and pepper on the outside (as a burger should be). There was no old-meat taste or any hint that the beef was questionable. It was cooked just past medium-well into the realm of well without being too dry or chewy. I’m a fan of that if it’s done right, and this patty was done right.
Toppings: Here’s where I had to take away some stars. The cheese was fabulous. It has that rich and slightly smokey flavour that Balderson cheddar gives you. But the rest of the toppings made me want to throw my hands up and yell “Come on, Marriott!“ out of frustration. The bibb lettuce was fine, but the tomatoes were out of season and the red onions were super sharp. Why do burg joints insist on putting tomatoes on their burgs when they’re not in season? Just don’t bother. All you get is a gritty, stiff, flavourless slice of tomato when they’re not ripe. Put tomatoes on the menu when they’re in season. Otherwise, do something else. I’m also very cautious about red onions on a burger because if they’re too sharp, it can ruin the experience and give you the worst breath afterwards. It’s been many hours since I ate this burger, and my breath still tastes like onions (and probably smells bad too). If you do want to go for red onions, it’s important they’re sliced very thin otherwise they can be hard and overpowering, or grill them to soften them up to release some of their sugar. They did all the wrong things with the onions, and they were hard and sharp. Unfortunately this burger had no sauces to help it, so I added some ketchup.
Bun: Another potato bun! The most recent post before this had a potato bun too. This one is a potato scallion bun and was significantly better than my last potato bun, but it was still a potato bun. And I’ve become a firm believer that the potato bun is not the ideal bun for a burg. It’s too dense, filling, and often dull. This bun did not help with any points on this burg but it was nicely toasted. I would have loved this bun with a turkey Swiss sandwich, but not with this burger.
The choice of sides are french fries for normal people, salad for people who‘d rather eat fries, and soup for… Wait, who eats soup with a burger? Weirdos. I contemplated the salad, but I got the fries because a burger demands fries. They were thick with a slight skin on which looked hand cut, but they tasted like they might have been from frozen. They put some kind of shaved rock salt or something on them that was delicious. I wish I had asked for malt vinegar because they would have been great with that. I enjoyed the fries but as always, it was way too much food and I didn’t finish them all.
Atmosphere & Staff:
It’s a swanky resort in Muskoka, so it’s stunningly beautiful obviously. But the chairs! Oh, the chairs. Most were too low for the table, making it awkward to eat anything, let alone a burger. I had to move tables to sit on that wall bench in the back left corner of the photo below to get some height on my meal. My waiter was nice, but they tried to charge me $18 for the burger plus $3 for the cheese. But the menu said $16 for burgs and $2 for cheese. That would have been a hefty hike for a so-so burger. When I pointed it out, my waiter apologized and went away for a little too long to correct the error. But the view was nice while I waited.
This burg would have been great if not for the bun and some of the toppings. Plus if it is $21, it‘s certainly not worth the price. But you should absolutely come to Muskoka because it’s an iconic place littered with lakes, pink rocks, tall pines, and Canadian culture.