BURGER WEEK

2014 marked the third year of Toronto’s Burger Week. The event this year ran for 4 days and during this time, participating restaurants all over Toronto offer diners a $5 gourmet burger. Burger Week leads up to Burger Day, an all day event where the same restaurants gather (this year at Fort York) and offer their special burgers in slider form. Last year I missed the event entirely and this year I couldn’t make Burger Day either. I was determined to get my hands on some burgers though and planned my own Burger Week crawl.

My plan ran into a few challenges. This year’s event was sponsored by Paypal, who offered a coupon covering the charge of a burger at certain restaurants if you paid with their new app. This generated a lot of hype and long lines. We ended up having to wait over an hour at Toma Burger Addiction and that really cut into my burger eating schedule. Also, many of the restaurants only offered the $5 burger as a dine-in special. This meant having to wait for a table, order one burger to split between three people and then wait to settle the bill. Again, this made each stop longer than I had anticipated. It also seemed like everyone else in Toronto had the same idea and queues for burgers were long everywhere.

Over the span of 3 hours, we managed to hit 4 stops in total and consumed 5 burgers and one poutine between three people. Not bad, but I had originally planned 6 stops. Next year, I’d love to visit more restaurants but I would span the visits over the entire week.

Burger Week
Rock Lobster: Surf & Turf Burger—Kobe beef, spicy carrot and cabbage slaw, and grilled shrimp
The Burger: Lots of great flavours but I was disappointed with the size. The kobe beef was tender and I liked the spicy slaw. I couldn’t really taste the grilled shrimp and it really was a small burger.
Service: This was a dine in only offer. When we arrived at just after 5pm, the restaurant was busy but not full and we were seated quickly. It wasn’t hard to place our order and the burger arrived quickly, it was near impossible to settle up. Servers passed by without giving us any attention. When we finally flagged someone down, it was another good 10 minutes before our bill arrived.
Last Thoughts: A solid meh. I wasn’t overly impressed or disappointed. A return trip to check out Rock Lobster’s normal menu is much needed.

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Burger Week
Toma Burger Addiction: The Wild Life—Angus prime rib, truffle mayo, cremini mushrooms, double-smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, and balsamic glaze, on a homemade brioche bun
The Burger: Toma was one of the Paypal sponsored burgers and their Burger Week offer was one off of their regular menu. A regularly priced $13 burger for free, it was definitely a great deal. The burger itself was solid with a loose patty, creamy toppings and toasted bun. It made me want to try more of their menu items. Again, this was a dine in only offer and after the hour wait we were hungry. So in addition to two burgers, we ordered a Toma Mac n’ Cheese, which was cheesy. The double smoked topping was generous and you could really taste the truffle oil, there wasn’t much caramelized onions though.
Service: Walking up to Toma, we saw the lineup a block away. Considering how good the deal was (free and all), I did expect a line and didn’t mind waiting. The line moved slowly and crawled for an hour before we were finally seated. It then took 20 minutes for our burgers to arrive. Some of the servers seemed frazzled and the getting through growing queue outside did not seem to be their top priority.
Last Thoughts: Toma made a good burger, and hopefully under normal operating conditions, they’re able to do a better job of getting customers in and out efficiently.

Burger Week
Burger Week
The Happy Hooker: Crispy Tuna Burger—Panko-breaded patty with tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato on a toasted bun
The Burger: I liked this burger. The patty was a little cold by the time we dug in but it tasted great, the panko crust was crunchy and the toppings were classic. It was a nice non-beef option.
Service: When we arrived at Happy Hooker, there was a backlog of orders and we were advised of a 30-45 minute wait. I’m not sure if there was a system in place to keep track of orders since they didn’t take our name, give us a number or anything. We waited outside and checked in at the cash after 30 minutes, a burger was ready to go so I was happy. We also didn’t have to dine in and could eat on our way to stop #4.
Last Thoughts: Again, the burger was decent. I’m eager to come back and try out their fish tacos.

Burger Week
Utopia Cafe: Korean short rib-burger topped with kimchi slaw, pickled daikon, and spicy karashi
The Burger: This fusion offering was my favourite burger of the night. I loved the strong asian flavours, there was a great balance between sweet, sour and spicy. The kimchi slaw and pickled daikon also added a great crunch to eat bite.
Service: The service at Utopia was the highlight of the night. There was a small line and we were happy to wait for a table or spot at the bar. When the hostess found out we just wanted the burger, she was happy to place a take-out order for us. Ready for a wait, I left the Fiance and my friend at Utopia and walked down the street to grab a coffee. Before my coffee even arrived, they had caught up with a piping hot burger.
Last Thoughts: 4.5 Great tasting burger and friendly service. I couldn’t have ended the night on a better note.
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