Avengers Burger

Location: 41 Lebovic Ave A121, Scarborough, ON M1L 4W1

Website:  https://avengersburger.com/

Price: $39.50

What We Ordered:

  • 2 x Avengers Assemble
  • Hi, I’m Peter
  • 3 x fries
Interior of Avengers Burger
Avengers Burger inside the somewhat abandoned Food Court

Burger Review:

Avengers Burger is tucked away in a little Food Court in a recently opened Mega Plaza that never quite took off. The Plaza is pretty barren, other than a bank, three burger joints, a few other restaurants, and a smattering of retail outlets. Plenty of parking but very few customers.

This joint uses a Marvel Avengers theme to name their burgers after the comic book heroes. I’m surprised this place is not in an epic legal battle with Disney over the character infringements. They’ve named their burgers things like Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, and Scarlet Witch. But it seems there is no reason to give the burgers these names as the toppings don’t match up with the characters. For example, the Scarlet Witch on the menu is a double beef patty, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, & rosemary garlic aioli. But Scarlet Witch is a twin with serious telekinetic powers from the fictional country of Sokovia (think real-life Kosovo). If I was crafting a Scarlet Witch burger, I’d either go with something that feels Balkan, like feta cheese and a fresh tomato chop, or lean into the “scarlet” theme and get hot with some chili pepper jelly or hot sauce. As it was, the names of the burgers didn’t match up with the characters so it seemed kind of pointless to open the owners up to get their butts sued off.

Avengers Assemble burger
The take out comes in eco-friendly containers

Meat: Patties are formed on-site from Costco ground beef. That’s right, Costco. They’re grilled and steamed on a flat-grill under a metal bowl. This gives a nice crust on the burg, although it does come out perhaps too well done. There doesn’t appear to be any seasoning other than salt in this patty. It’s fine.

Toppings: The Avengers Assemble comes with iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, round pickle slices, and rosemary aioli. I added onions and ketchup. I think rosemary aioli is not the best choice for burgers, as rosemary gives the meat a meatball taste that I’m not crazy about. Overall, it wasn’t mindblowing.

Bun: The bun seemed like a bakery brioche. It was good, but seems like something you can pick up a nice local bakery spot.

Cross section of the Avengers Assemble
Cross section of the Avengers Assemble

Other Food

The fries were spectacular. They cut them fresh on-site and they seem double fried. They’re thin with a lovely caramel colour. They’d do well with some malt vinegar.

Atmosphere & Staff:

The place is in a Food Court in an outdoor strip mall. But the strip mall is relatively new, and since the pandemic started not many shops have opened up to fill up the Food Court. There was only one other restaurant in the Court, so it was pretty lonely and empty. The guy working the counter seemed friendly enough, if not pretty bored from long bouts of being solo in a seemingly abandoned Food Court.

Lebovic Food Court
Outside the Lebovic Food Court

Final Verdict:
3 stars

Avengers Burger is decent if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to add to your burger tour. Although, the fries are pretty good.

Bill Peyto’s Cafe

Location: 203 Village Rd, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0

Website: https://hihostels.ca/en/about/hostels/bill-peytos-cafe

Price: Was too delirious to recall

What We Ordered:

  • Angry Peyto’s Burger

Burger Review:

We went to Lake Louise in Alberta to hike the Tea Trail.

The trail is rated “moderate” and takes “most people 1-2 hours”. Which I assumed was “totally doable if you’ve got a working pair of legs and takes at most 2 hours round-trip”.

But what it really meant was “Over 2 hours of relentless incline at a higher altitude than your soft Ontario body can handle and slip-sliding the way down for another 45 minutes on a snowy trail.”

We fool-heartedly started our journey hungry (thinking we’d only be an hour or so) and were starving, wet, and aching by the time we got down 3 hours later. We punched in “restaurants” on our map and drove to two different spots in town that turned out to be closed before finding the Peyto’s Hostel Cafe. By then we didn’t care where we ate, it just needed to not be up a hill or stairs. Thankfully Peyto’s had a ramp leading to their cafe.

I ordered the Angry Peyto Burger with fries. My sister ordered the Quesadila. I’m not ashamed to say that while we waited for our meal we closed our eyes and dozed off a bit. Once the food came, my sister ate hers and half my fries so fast I thought she’d hurl on the way home. She didn’t.  

My issue with the angry burger, other than the cheap patty, was the jalapeños were just pickled straight from the jar and there was way too many. It would have been a more thoughtful burger if the jalapeños were breaded and fried, or chopped up as a salsa type thing. As it was, this wasn’t a carefully planned burger made by a chef expressing their creativity. The only effort going into it was opening a box of frozen patties, fishing jalapeños from a jar, and peeling off a slice of cheese along with chopping some lettuce and tomatoes before squeezing on off-the-shelf condiments. Anyone can do that. Still, it was welcomed fuel after a long hike.

How the Angry Peyto came to the table

Meat: I’m guessing from frozen box burger. It did say it was Alberta beef but I almost wish it hadn’t because this patty did not do the Alberta beef reputation any favours. Seemed to be grilled, which is nice. It was not as bad as my WestJet cafeteria burger, but not nearly as good as the 360 patty.

Toppings: Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeños, lettuce, tomato, onions, chipotle mayo, and a pickle on the side. The onions were too sharp and the jalapeños were way too many out of a pickle jar. But the lettuce and mayo were good and I love me a side pickle. I had to add my own ketchup. The main issues with the toppings was they were off the grocery shelf rather than thoughtfully prepared.

Bun: The bun was good and had a buttery fluffy texture. I believe it was a brioche bun. But I can’t say it was made fresh on site or anything fancy. It looks delicious in the cross section below. 

Cross section of the Angry Peyto Burger

Other Food:

Fries were good. They have the skin on which is a nice touch. We also had a brownie which had nuts in it (gross) with a scoop of ice cream (yum). I had about two bites, which was plenty for me since it was way too sweet for my tastes.

Atmosphere & Staff:

The place has an outpost kind of feel with a large fireplace lined with vintage hiking boots. It’s in a hostel which had lots of activity and chatter coming from the entrance not far from the restaurant and upstairs they were playing some loud game that made the floor shake and later in our meal there was a wellness conference happening. Lots of kids and teens milling about. It seemed like a fun place to stay. The staff were friendly and attentive.

Inside the Bill Peyto Cafe. That look from my sister tho

Final Verdict:
3 stars

Peyto’s was a welcome respite from the cold mountain trail. They had warm, simple comfort food. If you need a place in town to recoup with a burg, then come here.

JW Marriott The Rousseau Muskoka

Location: 1050 Paignton House Rd, Minett, ON P0B 1G0

Website: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/yqajw-jw-marriott-the-rosseau-muskoka-resort-and-spa

Price: $18

What We Ordered:

  • JW Signature Burger with Balderson aged cheddar
Outside JW Marriott in Muskoka
Outside the JW Marriott in Muskoka
View of a lake in Ontario
View from the back of the JW Marriott, just outside the lounge

Burger Review:

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.

The Signature Burger when it arrived
The JW Signature Burger when it arrived at the table. Looks gorgeous, doesn’t it?

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.

Cross section of the JW Signature Burger
Cross section of the JW Signature Burger. Look how thick those red onions are. Wowza.

Other Food:

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.

Interior of the lounge bar and restaurant
Interior of the JW Marriott lounge and restaurant

Final Verdict:
3 stars

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.

The Stone Cellar

Location: 71 Gore St E, Perth, ON K7H 1H7

Website: http://www.thestonecellar.com/

Price: $49.50

What We Ordered:

  • Bison Burger
  • Mary’s Lamb Burger
  • Fish & Chips
Outside The Stone Cellar in Perth, Ontario. Image from their Google Business Page.

Burger Review:

My youngest brother got hitched in Perth, Ontario. So we packed up the kiddies and drove north through winding roads lined with colourful fall trees. The wedding was in Stewart Park which we learned at the reception (held at the former Stewart Manor) was donated to the city by the widowed Mrs. Stewart decades ago, provided they maintain it and “never charge people” an entry fee. It is a beautiful park with a river running through it. There were six weddings happening that day and much comradery between each party. Prior to the ceremony, one group passed by a couple dozen meters away and we all cheered and shouted congratulations to each other. Later, when we cheered our bride and groom, another group across the park erupted in celebration with us. Weddings certainly are fun and joyous occasions.

The reception was supposed to be at The Stone Cellar but was bumped due to a “double booking”. That worked out in our favour because the venue we ended up at was the Perth Manor Boutique Hotel and it was way better than The Stone Cellar’s event space. The Stone Cellar’s space was just a long room upstairs from the restaurant. The PMBH however gave us the run of the main floor of a 150+ year manor complete with solarium and gardens. So besides the burger review, if you’re looking for an event space in Perth, the hotel is a better bet.

But this post is about the burger at The Stone Cellar which we went to for lunch the day after the wedding. They have several burgers, including pork/beef combo, lamb, bison, and vegetarian (nut based). I had the Bison Burger. The cheese had a wonderful smokey flavour and is made a few kilometres up the road in Bladerson, Ontario. I liked this burger and the ingredients are all local and fresh. But I think the toppings weren’t quite right combined with the bison patty. Overall, it was missing some moisture, acid, and sweetness. I think a few tweaks would make this burg really sing.

How the Bison Burger came to the table. The sides are sweet potato fries and soup of the day (carrot soup).
Bison Burger ready for eating.

Meat: The Bison Burger is made with bison meat (surprise!!). It is sourced locally and made in-house. It seemed to be grilled rather than flame-broiled, but I can’t confirm that. It’s just the way it looked and felt that makes me think that. It was not too salty which is so refreshing when that happens. But the patty was over cooked and a bit too peppery. I find bison a little meaty and lean which is why the toppings play an important role to tie it all together. The meat is so dry that I might have liked to see this burger split into two thinner patties cooked fast on a hot grill with the cheese in the middle and drizzled with a bit of butter while grilling. That might have helped moisten up this meat.

Toppings: This is where the burger fell apart for me. It comes with bibb lettuce, vine tomato, homemade ketchup, Balderson smoked cheddar, and dijonnaise. On paper, those all sound delicious. But bison is a powerful tasting meat that is leaner than beef, so the toppings have to account for that and be in the right order. The order in which you place toppings can have a big impact on the flavour. To improve this burger I would have: put the homemade ketchup on the bottom (and made it a little sweeter) to moisten the patty, added caramelized onions, then the patty, smoked cheddar, added house-made round-sliced pickles, discard the vine tomato, yes to bibb lettuce, and garlic mayo instead of dijonnaise on the top bun. If you’re listening Stone Cellar, give it a try!

Bun: The bun was wonderful. Had a delightful crust on the outside and we could tell it was fresh and made locally.

Cross section of the Bison Burger from The Stone Cellar in Perth, Ontario

Other Food:

Not too far from Perth is Lanark which is the maple syrup capital of Ontario (or so they claim) and the side of sweet potato fries feature that pure maple syrup drizzled all over. It’s as delicious as it sounds. I also tried the carrot soup, which was very creamy. I had a bite of the Mary’s Lamb Burger. It was unmistakably lamby and they had some kind of jam or something on it with some herbs that reminded me of Christmas. I also ate some fish and chips. The fish was light and not too greasy at all. The food is all fresh and local and really good. I do recommend coming here for the food.

Atmosphere & Staff:

The atmosphere is cozy and quiet. There were two other tables with friends all 65+ years old. I suspect the place attracts an older crowd most of the time. There is a glass room at the back of the restaurant filled with wines and a fireplace in the middle of the restaurant. There is an event space upstairs which is basically a long open room. There was one waitress and she was friendly and nice. Heads up, there are no baby-changing stations in any of their bathrooms. I had to use an armchair in the upstairs bathroom to change our little guy.

Inside The Stone Cellar on the main floor

Final Verdict:
3 stars

This burger didn’t hit the mark. The ingredients were outstanding local fare, but the cooking and combination of toppings failed this otherwise good-on-paper burg. But I liked the restaurant, and would be happy to go again if I was ever in town.

PORT

Location: 1289 Wharf Street Bay Ridges, Pickering, ON L1W 1A2

Website: http://portrestaurant.ca/

Price: $18.50

What We Ordered:

  • Cheeseburger
Outside PORT restaurant
Outside PORT restaurant
PORT restaurant patio view
View of the wonderful patio at PORT

Burger Review:

I had a lunch with some long-time friends at PORT restaurant in Pickering. Since it was my first time there, I had to try the burger. Their only option was a classic cheeseburger with american cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, aioli and a side of fries. It was good, but not something I’ll crave or make the trip to go back for. The place was incredible, with a view of Lake Ontario and the weather was warm enough to sit outside. The patio chairs were slightly uncomfortable and mine was a bit wobbly, but otherwise it was nice to have a bite outside before winter descends upon us. Plenty of free parking on-site. They’re right on the waterfront so you could go for a stroll after your meal.

PORT cheeseburger
Cheeseburger from PORT

Meat: This beef patty is cooked how you like it. I got mine medium. The patty is thick and they did a good job of making a nice crust on the outside with a pink center. The patty was a bit salty for my liking, but overall it was fine. It was not something I’d go out of my way to come back for.

Toppings: They only have the one burger option and it was definitely a classic cheeseburger. There was shaved iceberg lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, American cheese, and aioli. I added some ketchup to my burger too because that’s how I like it. The toppings suited the burger well. But overall it’s just a traditional burger.

Bun: The bun was really good. It had good structure from a light toasting with a nice soft inside. The bun is always hard to nail, and I think the bun was the saving grace of this burger.

Cross section of burger at PORT

Other Food:

The fries had some kind of olive oil drizzle or something similar and herbs with some nice sea saltiness. It comes with mayo on the side if you like your fries that way. They were really good. We also had the hummus. It tasted homemade, which I thought was nice. But it was not mind blowing. There were olives in the middle with a drizzle of olive oil and some spices sprinkles on. It came with pitas which we shared between three people and they lasted through all of us eating so there was definitely enough to go around.

Atmosphere & Staff:

We made reservations online to sit on the patio near the water. When we goth there, they did have our reservation, but the host escorted us to a table in the middle of the room. I mentioned our reservation was for a water view, and they said they can’t take reservations for specific tables. Which kinda defeats the purpose of a reservation. I have been to restaurants with views who do let you reserve a table with a view. But anyway… other than that the staff were polite. The food took a while to come out but the host let us know beforehand that they were a bit behind. I got the feeling a cook arrived late for their shift or something. The place is stunning with a view of Lake Ontario. Their were dozens of swans out swimming around which was lovely to see while we enjoyed our meals. I do recommend coming here for the overall atmosphere.

Our view from the patio. This is not the best picture since the waiter is cleaning a table, but it was all I could manage as we were leaving and I remembered to snap a pic.

Final Verdict:
3 stars

This burger was fine, but it’s not a place to travel to for the burger. PORT is magnificent and the patio was lovely to hang out on with some friends. So I do recommend you check it out for date night or a day out with your best buds.

Apache Burgers

Location:5236 Dundas St W, Etobicoke, ON M9B 1A7

Website: Apache Facebook Page

Price: $11

What We Ordered:

  • Hamburger
  • Fry Rings
Outside Apache Burgers in Etobicoke

Burger Review:

Apache Burgers is a staple in the Etobicoke community and has been owned by the same family since 1969. The daughter of the original owner was even working the cash when I visited. I frequently see Apache Burgers on “best burgers in Toronto” lists, but I wasn’t blown away by their burger. The price of the food was great, I saw a family of 5 get lunch for about $53 including tax. You hardly see prices that good anywhere. The place was busy, and I understand it’s like that every day. And it should be busy because a family run joint serving decent burgers at a great price is a wonderful thing. I think Apache is an excellent alternative to fast-food joints like the Wendy’s that is almost next door. The burger for me just fell a little flat. Maybe because it’s been so hyped up online so my expectations were high. Or maybe because it isn’t really that good, and people only rave about it because it reminds them of their childhood (the place has been around for over 40 years)… it’s kind of like remembering “Adventures in Babysitting” as an amazing movie, but when you watch it back as an adult you realize it kinda sucked. If you’re looking for an outstanding char-grilled burger in Etobicoke, I’d recommend Woody’s over Apache. 

The hamburger from Apache Burgers

Meat: Thin beef patty cooked on an open flame grill. They didn’t have any info about what kind of beef they use, but it tasted fresh. It was a bit chewy overall and I didn’t like the after taste. But it was well seasoned and not too salty.  

Toppings: They have the traditional toppings you’d expect at a burger joint, but nothing fancy. Their BBQ sauce was tangy and sweet and I liked it a lot. I had leaf lettuce, diced white onions, length cut pickles, sliced tomato, mayo, ketchup, and their BBQ sauce. The toppings kinda ruined the burger for me. The tomato was green in the middle and the lettuce was a bit brown on one of the edges. Not as fresh and ripe as I would expect on a burger. 

Bun: The bun was a regular non-sesame seed bun, toasted on the inside. Probably a little to wide for the patty size. It was good, but not mind blowing.  

Cross section of the Apache hamburger

Other Food:

I had the fries and rings combo. The fries were yellow and a bit soft. I’d love to see them cooked a little more to get crispier. The onion rings were generously breaded. They had no malt vinegar which I would have liked. I saw poutine on the menu and the guy beside me was chowing down on it. Looked decent but I didn’t have any. 

How the food came to the table

Atmosphere & Staff:

This place has the deep down worn that you’d expect from an old burger joint with a lot of traffic. The floors are sticky, and you can see in the baseboards that this place has years of use built up. But the kitchen surfaces look clean, and one of the guys came by and wiped down the tables while I was there. They take cash only but they have an ATM. The decor is 50’s diner with the exception of two identical back-lit round cartoon drawings of a Native American wearing a headdress (see below). I was taken back when I saw it because it reminded me of the Washington Redskins logo which is now recognized as being culturally insensitive and are being called on to change their name and iconography. I think the restaurant is owned by a Greek family, so I just can’t place the connection to Native Americans other than the restaurant name. But I truly don’t know the history of the owners, or why the place was named Apache (The Apache are a group of Native American tribes), or the origin of the artwork. There could be a great feel-good cultural significant story behind it. I’m not casting any judgement here because I don’t know the back story. My point is only that in the moment that I saw it, it felt very out-of-place in the otherwise family run 50’s diner look complete with neon guitar and Marilyn Monroe mural. If the place was packed with art from Native American artists or historic photographs, I would have liked that much better as an homage to the Apache namesake.

One of the Native American signs on the wall. The other one is identical but facing the opposite direction so they are looking at each other
The interior of Apache Burger has a 50’s diner vibe

Final Verdict:
3 stars

Meh. That’s what I have to say about this burger. It certainly is a decent, traditionally topped char-grilled burger. Since it’s inexpensive and from a family run joint with ample parking, I do recommend it if you’re in the area. But don’t go out of your way. 

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. 

Mama’s Boys Burgers

Location: 480 Danforth Rd, Scarborough, ON M1K 1C7

Website: View menu at skipthedishes.com

Price: $12.90

What We Ordered:

  • American Single
  • Fries
Exterior of the one and only Mama’s Boys Burgers in Scarborough

Burger Review:

Anyone who lives in the area knows about Mama’s Boys. They serve up burgers, fries, and shakes, as well as a host of other classic neighborhood goodies like chicken souvlaki and steak sandwiches. I’ve been eating at this place for almost 10 years and there was a time when the burger had a Greek-seasoning that wasn’t great and it would be hit-or-miss in the consistency of how good it was. In the last couple years though they’ve gotten rid of the Greek-seasoning and become much more predictable with how the burger turns out. I like this burger as they make it currently. The toppings and bun go really well together and they have some toppings and condiments you don’t normally see at other places. It means you could make some interesting combinations like feta, tzatziki and olives, or bacon, cheddar, jalapenos, and sriracha. Unfortunately there is no blue cheese but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this local favorite. 

The American Single from Mama’s Boys Burgers comes wrapped in foil to keep it warm if you’re getting take out

Meat: 4oz of never frozen premium beef grilled on a flat top. It says on their menu board that they don’t use filler, but it seems to me like they might use a brine. I don’t even know if that’s a thing. The meat comes out almost suspiciously soft and dark brown in colour which you can see in the cross section image below. I like it – but there’s something about it that’s a bit different than just straight ground beef and minor seasoning.

Toppings: Choice of toppings including olives and jalapenos. I got jalapeno aioli mayo, ketchup, honey mustard, green leaf lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles. The pickles are length-cut and the onions are red onions that are longer than diced, but not ring cut. This is one of the few burger joints that offer honey mustard, which I love on a burger.   

Bun: Typical hamburger style bun. I think the Mama’s Classic which is a 6oz burger comes with a sesame seed bun, but the American has no sesame seeds. 

Cross section of the American single at Mama’s Boys

Other Food:

The fries are thick cut and cooked to golden brown. I didn’t ask, but I’m sure they’re not frozen. They don’t taste like they’ve been frozen. These are perfect for sharing because there is no way I can eat all this goodness all by myself. 

Take out included fresh cut fries and my burger had a note that said “Enjoy!”

Atmosphere & Staff:

This place is an eccentric dive. Mama has murals on the walls of a fictional place that looks like … I don’t know… Italy maybe? Flags from countries all over the world wrap around the windows, along with LED lights, and kitschy decor that looks like it was put up for a special event and never taken down. The place has that been-here-forever kind of grease you can see on the ceiling and floors. I wouldn’t call it dirty – just well used for a long time. Don’t get me wrong on the look, I love the place and I’m happy to take my kids there any time. The girls at the counter call me “honey” even though they’ve got to be younger than me. If you get Mama herself, be prepared to have free cake or watermelon offered. If you’re a regular, expect Mama to come over and ask how you’re doing and if you’re enjoying your meal. Enough inside seating that a spot usually opens up even when it’s crowded, although no one will mind if you ask to share a table and there is outside picnic tables as well. 

The inside of Mama’s Boys Burgers is certainly unique

Final Verdict:
3 stars

This burger is good and made to order. If you’re in the area, you should make this one of your go-to joints even if it’s just to support a local family business. 

Top Gun Steak

Location:  1960 Lawrence Ave E. Scarborough, ON M1R 2Z1

Website:  http://www.topgunsteak.com/ 

Price: $17.49

What We Ordered:

  • Freedom Fighter
  • Cheese Fries with Beef Bacon
How our order came from Top Gun Steak on Lawrence once out of the paper bag

Burger Review:

I like Top Gun Steak. The menu has a ridiculous amount of creative burgers to choose from. I got the Freedom Fighter which comes with crusted jalapenos and guacamole. The burger is not too spicy with the jalapenos but it’s deliciously messy and gooey with all the cheese and guacamole piled on top. The toppings are generous and this burger tastes great.

Freedom Fighter from Top Gun Steak with jalapenos and guacamole

Meat: 6oz Canada prime beef, daily grounded and never frozen. The meat tastes good. I would say it has decent fat content throughout. The patty is not too thick or thin, making it a nice choice for any burger lover. I didn’t find it to be overly salty and it didn’t taste like there were any seasoning added other than salt making it a true beef experience.

Toppings: One piece of torn leaf lettuce, one slice of tomato, several pickles sliced round and slightly sweet, sprinkling of diced white onions, fried crusted jalapeno stuffed with cream cheese and cheddar cheese, guacamole with diced tomatoes, and chipotle aioli. These toppings are messy and that’s totally ok. It adds a lot of moisture to the burger and bun and I did not need to add any ketchup or sauces to add flavor or moisture.

Bun: Yellowish bun was a bit stale and maybe too thick on the top part of the bun. The bun is where this burger really falls apart as it’s too stale and takes a bit away from the overall experience.

Cross section of the Freedom Fighter

Other Food:

The beef bacon on the fries was very fatty so it was a little chewy at times but it had a wonderful smokey flavor to it. The toppings were all on top and hard to mix into the whole fry experience in the take out container but this was only a minor complaint since overall these fries are really good. The cheese topping with rosemary garlic aioli was addictive. The fries say “homemade” on the menu and seem to be the fresh cut not-frozen variety. They are cooked to that slight malty brown colour and really delicious. The fries were not super crisp, but that may have been because it was takeout and had the cheese on top. I didn’t mind at all though since overall they taste really good!

Atmosphere & Staff:

I got take out and my husband picked it up. I haven’t been in the restaurant yet personally. He says he does not like the interior and would never dine-in. He once described the guy working the counter as looking “really mad” for no reason.

Final Verdict:
3 stars

I flip-flop a lot on the rating of this burger. Having had it a few times, I have to say the meat and bun quality are not consistently good enough for me to rate higher than 3 stars. However, the toppings are wonderfully creative and I do recommend giving it a try if you’re in the area.