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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Burger Bar :: Kensington Market

I love burgers. Beef, bison, chicken, turkey, ostrich, portobello...bring it! The key to a great burger is a freshly ground patty (medium rare if it's beef or bison), a good bun, and ripe toppings. Anyways, after enjoying Grindhouse and W Burger Bar (Pictures Here) I decided it was time to try Burger Bar in my beloved Kensington Market.

Burger Bar
Verdict: Skip - pricey and disappointing burgers. If you must go, get the onion rings!
Meal: Dinner
Price: ~$25pp
Location: 319 Augusta Ave Toronto

Four 4oz Draughts ($5)
They have a nice patio that would be good for grabbing a drink with some friends.

After looking at the horribly-designed menu we decided to order some fries, onion rings, and a poutine. I get the the Wild Wild West theme, but the font made it awful for scanning. It matches the design of their website.

They offer a little flight of beer which my friend sampled for $5. 
Saag Poutine ($9)
Paneer cheese simmered in spices, cream, and spinach served over fries
While I liked the idea of a Saag Poutine, the thought was much tastier than the product. The fries were very soggy due to the dumped sauce. A better idea would have been to serve this on the side - just like Saag dishes in Indian restaurants. That way, you could just pour it over your fries or use it for dipping. Either way, it wasn't great.

After getting through the mealy & soaked fries, this got better as the ones near the bottom were still dry and crispy. However, it wasn't worth the work to get to them...don't recommend this unless you ask them to leave the sauce on the side....but even then.  I wouldn't bother.

House-Cut Fries & Sweet Potato Fries
With homemade chiptole ketchup ($5)
We got the 50/50 so we could try both the sweet potato and house cut fries.The sweet potato fries were nestled on the bottom of the dish, which a friend kept fishing out.

He later complained that there was a much smaller amount of these than the regular ones, but I honestly have no idea - I just ate them indiscriminately. They were thin and crispy, and I liked them - but still think that Ackee Tree serves the best sweet potato fries in the area. Still, good sweet potato fries!

The chipotle ketchup and mayonnaise were good for dipping.

Onion Rings ($6)
Panko Crusted
These were actually really good! I have yet to try W Burger Bar's panko-crusted onion rings, but I am now a fan of this. Much better than battered onion rings. I especially liked these in the dips that came with the fries. If you order, ask for the chipotle ketchup and mayo!

The 6 Cheese Burger ($13)
Cheddar, Smoked Provalone, Gruyere, Blue, Brie, or Chevre
Blah burger buns
This was loaded with cheese - rather than a blend, it's a helping of each type of cheese on top of each other. To be fair, those who know me may recall that I hate an overload of cheese particularly if it hasn't been really cooked.

We asked for no blue cheese...unfortunately it was not left out and it overpowered the burger, as expected. I would have probably liked it if all of the cheese was blended, melted, and then topped on the burger. Without the blue cheese.

Looking back at the menu - where were the pickles and onions? They weren't on the burger...

Gaucho ($9+$3 for organic beef)
Smothered in chimichurri, an Argentinian herb sauce
 I liked the chimichurri on the burger - but I wish they used something more similar to Segovia's instead of what was smeared on. The fact that it was organic may have helped, as the patty tasted better. Unlike Market Burger (below) it wasn't overcooked. Would have been nice to get tomatoes on this too...."Smothered" in chimichurri was a gross overstatement - it was more of a smidge than a smother.

Market Burger ($10)
Naturally raised beef blended with chipotle chorizo &toasted rice, topped w/ arugula pesto, chevre and blue cheese 

 The picture looks as burnt and disappointing as it was. The patty was black and charred, and there was nothing special about having toasted rice in the patty - perhaps they used refined rice? I think that toasted wild rice would be tasty if it was blended into the burger.
Overall, the above burgers were quite disappointing. One was burned, they all came with a bland white bun and iceberg lettuce. Pricey for what you get.

The OMGTMJKM Burger (oh my goodness this might just kill me) ($18)
8oz pattie w/ chili, a fried egg, blue, brie, chevre, bacon and an onion ring on whole wheat

Nice and pink in the middle

As the name suggests, a crazy burger arrived. A heart attack between two buns, really. It was a challenge to get a bite with everything in it, but I managed to cram it in there (if a picture gets out in public...someone will get a saag poutine in their face). The fried egg was good on the burger, the single onion ring didn't contribute anything, and the chili was just okay (not enough punch).

The only real win of the night
There were so many elements about this burger that should be applied to the rest. A better bun, topped with a tomato, and pickles inside. As with the 6-cheese, we asked for no blue cheese but we got it anyways! I mentioned it to our server and she apologized but there was not much that could be done. I wasn't about to toss a whole burger and ask for a new one, but I couldn't pick the cheese out since the burger was so busy.

Overall, my impressions of Burger Bar were not that great. With other burger options like Grindhouse and W Burger Bar, I don't feel any desire to return. The only burger that was satisfactory was the $18 OMGTMJKM burger...but for that price I'd rather eat 4 empanadas. Otherwise, they were bland, skimpy, and disappointing. If you want a nice, pink, juicy burger in the downtown core I suggest Grindhouse's Bison burger or W Burger Bar's Pure Beef Burger (with all the toppings!) for far less. The service was okay, aside from the blue cheese not being omitted as requested. I wouldn't return.

Burger Bar
Verdict: Skip - pricey and unsatisfying burgers. If you must go, get the onion rings!
Meal: Dinner
Price: ~$25pp
Location: 319 Augusta Ave Toronto

Burger Bar on Urbanspoon


Chris ( said...

Ya I haven't heard good things AT ALL. Thanks for confirming the rumours. Too bad that it's called BURGER BAR. It should just be called onion ring bar and serve onion rings only.

Erin said...

I know! The name is misleading. Such a terrible deal - I would LOVE "Onion Ring Bar" hahaha!! I have to go to W Burger Bar to compare!

Iris Liu said...

Sad. The burgers look amazing...I would have thought otherwise! I have to try those onion rings.

What camera do you use? Your photos are great!

Looking forward to our brunch on Sunday. ( :

Erin said...

Yes, as Chris should be called "Onion Ring Bar" hahaha
Thanks Iris! I use a simple point and shoot - PowerShot SD980IS
It's a great camera for someone without photoskills such as myself, I just use the auto function :). However, it doesn't perform well under low light, so there are some places that I've been to recently with awful I'm not sure if they'll make it to this blog!

Looking forward to it too =) Expect lots of pictures hehe

Mindy said...

Boo about the disappointment. The pictures make it look good, especially the crazy burger.

Erin said...

That's the thing about food pr0n - it can be deceiving!

Iris Liu said...

Sad. The burgers look amazing...I would have thought otherwise! I have to try those onion rings.

What camera do you use? Your photos are great!

Looking forward to our brunch on Sunday. ( :

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