Burger Week Toronto!

Standard

For those of who love burgers, whether, beef, chicken, veggie, vegan last week (May 28-31) was the week for you! More than 50 dining establishments participated in this year’s festivities. There were two way to participate either check out single Burger Week places and get their signature Burger Week offering for $5 or head down to Fort York on Jun 1st and partake in indulging in sliders.

For myself, I did not bother with Burger Day I opted to go to establishments and try their offerings. In past years, when attempting to go to Burger Day everything tended to sell out real fast so while they may have improved it this year I chose to sit Burger Day out and go for it when I could.

In 2 days that I was able to check out places I hit up 7 locations. A few that I have frequented before such as Hey Meatball and Gangster Burger and checked out places I have never been to such as Toma Burger Addiction and Grapefruit Moon. All in all, it was cool, met some serious self-proclaimed ‘foodies’ and others who were just lovers of burgers and wanted to eat, experience and enjoy.

Gangster Burger!

I’ve been to Gangster Burger before so it was not brand new to me. The line was pretty long considering it was a Wednesday at 1pm I guess foodies mixed with people on lunch. I probably waited about 20-25 mins for my burger but, they were playing 90’s hip-hop and R&B so the time flew by while I was bouncing along to the lyrics reliving my younger days. Their feature burger was the Jesse James, in case you’re wondering all their burgers are named after legendary gangsters even El Chapo has a burger named for him.

The Jesse James was a beef patty with a Dijon glaze, southern coleslaw and with a bacon marmalade. While I enjoyed it the wait was a bit long but, I understand $5 burgers will draw a line up. It was a nice sized patty good flavours but the bun got mushy down the line. Regardless it was a good kick off!

Lisa Marie by Fidel Gastro

My first Fidel Gastro experience was at TIFF last September eating off their food trucks and they definitely try to flip the script with their toppings and flavours so it made perfect sense for them to offer the NUTELLA BURGER!

Yea, let that sink in for a minute, NUTELLA on a beef burger patty not to mention plaintain chips and a garlic tinged coconut sauce. Naturally I was skeptical about it when I first took a bite my tastebuds were weirded out for two reasons…1. Nutella and a juicy burger aren’t a natural fit and 2. The plaintain chips were like a Jedi mind trick to me because the texture and crispiness is similar to bacon so mind thought it was bacon at first. Yup, that was pretty weird but enjoyable. Keep in mind though, I have eaten the Krispy Kreme Burger and Cronut Burger in the past so this may have been right up my alley. So the consensus was once you get over the shock value of Nutella on your burger its pretty good but your tastebuds are in for a weird ride.


TOMA Burger Addiction

Okay so I will be the first to admit for my money this was probably the best burger I ate for Burger Week but not necessarily for the beef and toppings. It was because that brioche bun was AWESOME! It was oversized, it didn’t fall apart, was tasty on it own and a big T was branded into it!

The Wild Life burger had gourmet written all over it, arugula, swiss cheese, a truffle styled mayo and huge mushrooms not to mention the prime angus beef!

The downside, it wasn’t for takeout so you had to sit in the eatery and wait…and wait…and wait some more. Looking at their menu some of their burger prices were kind of steep for my liking but I can’t really knock it til I try it. This was hands down the best burger I had up until this point. I was lucky because soon after we got there the place began to create a crowd and since there was no takeout people had to wait for a booth.

The Greek

The Greek on King West had sliders available and after downing 3 burgers sliders were a welcome alternative. As the name suggests their menu consists of greek influenced foods such as souvlaki, greek salad and such. Their chuck was a mix of beef and lamb keftedes (meatballs). The pita bread was good but it did remind me of a rice cake for some reason. Simple ingredients and the sauce was tzaziki had a little kick to it was a good balance for me after eating Nutella, truffle mayo and arugula at other spots.

Morgans on the Danforth

This restaurant is located right by Greenwood station so on my first Saturday stop it was on my way so I figured sure why not. I seemed to have beat the dinner rush and had to eat-in. This restaurant had a nice family, laidback kinda vibe which was good. The burger is entitled ‘This Burger’s Got Seoul’

Brisket and beef chuck seasoned Kalbi style with their version of kimchi and a boatload of Monty Jack cheese. Good flavour and it wasn’t a challenge to eat. It was a random choice and I’m glad I got to try this one out!

Grapefruit Moon

In case you are wondering this has not been Photoshopped, there really is a sunnyside up egg on top of the fresh sausage patty and fries on the side all this for FIVE DOLLARS! The large tomato and greens seemed to mesh well with this burger. The sausage patty made sense going together with an egg to give you that oversized breakfast sandwich feel which worked for me.

It was a mission to eat due to its size but I am glad I got to experience it. In the process I was talking to some foodie hipsters who seemed genuine at first but began bragging about their eating exploits with each other and me. I also got a backhanded compliment asking if I got judged or looks from people because I was eating alone that day. That kind of tarnished the experience for me so I ate as quick as I could and got out of there.

Also, shoutout to the server who was in attendance that night. He was alone and they got slammed with a crowd due to the burgers about 15 minutes after I got there. While he was frazzled a bit he kept his composure and toughed it out.

Hey Meatball! (College Street)

My last stop for Burger Week was good ol Hey Meatball. They were offering was called ‘Big Trouble in Little Italy’, a pork patty with tomato gravy, pesto and spicy pickles.

The resto was busy but surprisingly it was more of their menu people were eating rather than the Burger Week special which is a testament to their following of people who come there for the food not jus a special.

It wasn’t a huge burger which for me was good after my previous two stops. Good flavours and I believe all their meat is local, natural and horomone-free so the meat had a different taste in a good way. Also, walking through Little Italy on a summer evening is never a bad thing!

Burger Week was a healthy mix of exploring the city, good and bad food choices and just the challenge of continuously eating at discount prices. One unique thing about Burger Week was their pairing with PayPal. There were about 8 locations that were basically giving you a free burger once you downloaded the PayPal app and checked-in with it. Once you check in an offer would appear for the location you’re at and the free burger is yours!

One place I wanted to check out but wasn’t able to was Holy Chuck which had this huge double patty burger but, with TTC subway closures it deterred me from venturing in that direction.

I look forward to next year’s Burger Week and hopefully it expands even more!

Walk it Out!

Waynie

Remember When It Was the Paramount Theatre Toronto?

Standard

Yesterday, while wandering around in the frigid weather I stopped at Scotiabank Theatre to catch a movie. Once the movie ended and I bundled back up to tackle the cold I began to reminisce on when this was the Paramount Theatre and it was the perhaps centrepiece of the Entertainment District when it was completed back in 1999. It was a part of Festival Hall which is now known as Rio Can Hall.

I remember watching Citytv News hyping up the opening of this theatre because its opening was coinciding with the release with Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace. They interviewed fans who were lined up for days to watch this new generation of Star Wars films and I’ll be honest I thought those people were crazy however, I respected their dedication. I believe the theatre had screenings of Phantom Menace from midnight straight until the next night!

I finally watched a movie there for the first time about a month after Paramount opened and it really was a wonderland especially being a teenager before smartphones ruled our worlds. The fun just didn’t stop there though because right next door, where Marshalls now stands, was Playdium Toronto! 3 floors of games of all sorts it was heavenly. You would charge your card on the ground floor and just go nuts after that. Sadly, the fun and games didn’t last and Playdium was vacated maybe a couple of years after it opened. But good times were had!

Photo from http://www.sceno-plus.com/_files/projects/larges/31_86_playdium_toronto_04.jpg

I recall Playdium then transforming into a club called Lucid which was the place to be for a few years before its doors closed and morphed into the megaclub Circa, a playground for electronic music fans. Although it shut down its website is still active http://www.circatoronto.com/default.html if you wish to relive those days go right ahead. Skip ahead to today and it is now a Marshalls location. Man where does all the time go.

To this day I still call it Paramount Theatre (just like it will forever be the SKYDOME to me not the Rogers Centre) and I’ll pass by Marshalls and just call it Playdium or Lucid like it was yesterday. It is mind-blowing how this May marks 15 years since Paramount’s inception.

It is pretty clear I am just a sucker for fond memories. Those were good times when the Entertainment District or Clubbing District in Toronto actually was that rather than just more and more condos/lofts with some bars/clubs scattered around.

Like the Bunkers would say….’Those Were the Days!’

Waynie

Snakes & Lagers Has Arrived!

Standard

Plenty of people out there LOVEEE their board games and hot drinks. So what could be better than that? How about board games and BOOZE! The creators of the popular Snakes & Lattes near, Bathurst and Bloor have spawned this new concept located in Little Italy. Sure it was cold and windy on the weekend, but would that stop me from indulging in some board games and adult beverages? …Of course not!

Two floors of games and seating to choose from and you just pay $5 to play your heart out. The place does really fill up so I would suggest either coming early or be prepared to wait 30-40 minutes for seats.

 

Feeling hungry? They got a menu of apps to choose from along with a lovely collection of beers on tap which revolves from time to time. The staff was friendly, quite helpful and even chimed in on our illegal Jenga stacking.

The night wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t morph back into our 8 year old selves and played a round of Trouble!

All in all, despite the weather I got to kick back and enjoy good company, good games and had a blast in the process. While the food could be considered kind of pricey, my friends and I are definitely planning to return there sometime in the near future. It is a charming edition to Toronto’s eclectic bar scene and from personal experience it can even warm up your coldest nights!

If you need info for Snakes & Lagers: The Board Game Bar CLICK HERE!

 

Regards,

Waynie