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Apr 9, 2008 05:22 PM

Burger Shoppe - Gourmet Mediocrity

Recently, I wrote a thread which featured the worst burger I've ever eaten. In an effort to erase that memory and atone, I began looking for a much better burger. I was all ready to go down to Allen's, which I haven't been to since I saw Enter the Haggis play there in 1998.

Unfortunately, a friend of mine said, "Hey, I heard about this place called the Burger Shoppe! Try it and tell me how it is." He also read me a review, which talked about their awesome, seemingly panko-encrusted, home-made onion rings.

When I got there, I ordered the incredibly expensive (in hindsight) organic burger, at $6.95, with a side of onion rings, and a canned drink for another $3.95. Cheap this place ain't. I was advised that the burgers are cooked to order, which would take 10-15 minutes. I was fine with that. However, as I sat down, I got the general impression that their kitchen layout was just terrible, with one guy having to turn back and forth between grill, fryer, and prep area. Folks, if you're only going to have 3 tables, you might as well not have any tables at all (or maybe 2), and design an efficient cooking space, so one guy can watch the grill, and one guy can do the assembly. Also, having one guy turn back and forth between grill and counter is eventually going to result in a dropped patty. Which means another 10 minute wait while you grill up another, and the loss of the most valuable item you're working with. Of course, this a common restaurant n00b mistake, not putting cooking and assembly in some kind of linear arrangement.

Fundamentally, though, having one guy do both grilling, frying and prep meant that not quite enough attention was paid to the grill, and since I came right after 6 kids and 2 adults, meant that my burger was more than a little dry and overdone. Tasty, good quality meat, but And those people who said that they were skimpy with the toppings were dead right. If Harvey's can afford to give me more than one slice of tomato, the Burger Shoppe certainly can. Especially when they're charging twice as much.

Finally, and I hate to disappoint all of those who praised the onion rings to the stars, but I had quite a nice view of the kitchen. Those onion rings? McCain's extra crumb. That's right, they were straight out of a box. I'll be telling my friend who works at McCain's that at least one discerning foodie on Chowhound got totally suckered.

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  1. Yeah, I included Burger Shoppe on my best burgers list recently, and I'm beginning to think that was a mistake. The first burger I had there was amazing, truly. Perfectly cooked patty, perfect amount of toppings. It tasted like what I think the "Big Kahuna" burger from Pulp Fiction would taste like (if I could get my hands on one). Really good. Sadly, since that first burger, nothing from the Burger Shoppe has come remotely close. Over-cooked, over-priced, over-hyped - over Burger Shoppe am I.

    4 Replies
    1. re: redearth

      There was a lady who looked like he was training this Chinese guy. Maybe the owners know what they're doing, but the hired help definitely doesn't.

      1. re: ascendance

        With all due respect, what difference does it make whether the guy being trained was Chinese or any other ethnicity?

      2. re: redearth

        There is nothing "gourmet" about Burger Shoppe's mediocrity :-)

        1. re: redearth

          Quote: 'The first burger I had there was amazing, truly. Perfectly cooked patty, perfect amount of toppings.'

          Have to agree with both this and the other sentiments... I went on the day they opened and both the burger and onion rings were excellent, however each successive trip has gone further downhill to the point where we now avoid Burger Shoppe. Its too bad really, they had the opportunity to provide a great product for a willing audience (priced on the high end of course) but like many other places they managed to slip into mediocrity at an alarming rate.

        2. The Burger Shoppe to me has been hit or miss. The onion rings are really bad, so I refrain from ordering anything but a burger. The first time I went was sooooo good, memorable which is hard to come by. I have been back several times since and it has never been the same. Im now on the hunt once again for a good burger.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mlukan

            I have to agree. I got around to trying The BS a couple weeks ago and it was very disappointing. The burgers were dry and relatively tasteless. The buns were hard. The onion rings tasted like they came out of a freezer. And the sweet potato fries were greasy and soggy. Nothing good about the place that I could see.

          2. There have been enough negative reviews about BS here in the past, what did you expect? I don't understand why it gets so much space here, when other good restaurants are not even mentioned.

            10 Replies
            1. re: foodyDudey

              The reason the Burger Shoppe gets so much space here is quite simple - people love burgers. A lot of people are looking for T.O.'s ultimate burger, and regardless of how many negative things were said about Burger Shoppe on these boards, if there's the slightest possibility that a place might serve them a great burger, they're gonna try it. I know I did. Which good restaurants were you thinking of?

              1. re: redearth

                I was specifically thinking of Lambros. I've been there four times this year and it's been quite good each time. I have mentioned it in other posts but not posted a review due to lack of time. I'm just surprised that nobody else has posted a review, except for one short negative one which does not reflect my experience there on multiple occasions.

                Last night I was going to drop in to Mocha Mocha (we had not been there for two months, due to that overcharging episode I mentioned earlier)

                As we were about to enter, I looked at the sandwich board on the sidewalk in fron of Brass Taps. They had a green chicken curry with mango salad advertised for $8.95. Mrs FoodyDudey and my brother said they wouldn't mind going there, as Mrs FD wanted a burger. So in we went and ordered one burger with Greek Feta and two green chicken curry specials plus a pitcher of Creemore. Everyone was really happy with their dinner. I tried the burger and it was really quite good. Definitely nothing like the dry burgers I read about in the Burger Shoppe reviews. It came with a salad (you can optionally have fries with it). In summary, Brass Taps has some very good burgers and other food at the same or less price point as the BS burgers. It's worth trying out. Almost all the burgers are $7.99 and come ith your choice of fries or salad. (various toppings available, such as the Greek Feta one mentioned here)

              2. re: foodyDudey

                I'd seen a mix of good and bad reviews so figured I'd try it for myself. Now I know.

                1. re: idnas

                  I think Burger Shoppe offers one of the worst burgers Toronto has to offer. And to back my claim, I've religiously tried burgers from Harry's and Jerry's (i don't even know if thats the name) in Parkdale, to the Cadillac to Bellwoods to Dangerous Dans to Allen's and to even the holy grail of popular burgers, Shake Shack NYC. I've tried a lot of burgers.

                  And i do have to say, the Burger Shoppe probably ranks right at the bottom of that list for a number of reasons: poor service, over-priced, mediocre taste, terrible fries and a blasphemous rendition of poutine.

                  1. re: goodcookiedrift

                    Okay now I have to ask, goodcookiedrift. In your experience, what's the best high end and what's the best cheap, down and dirty burger this city has to offer.

                    1. re: Googs

                      The best cheap burger that I had before it closed was Jerry's (I don't even think that was the name. It was just who owned it and we'd always call it that) in Parkdale - Queen and Close. Freshly made-by-hand patties, charbroiled and while toppings were Harvey's-minimal (lettuce, peppers, onions, pickles, etc.), they were fresh. $2.50 for the burger alone. $3.50 if you wanted fresh-cut fries with it.

                      That said, I think Bellwoods ranks up there if you want a decent, cheap, economical whore-whore-of-a-burger.

                      Best high-end has to be the Bymark burger (Czehoski's comes in second) . That said, there's way too much pretention surrounding each respective burger and I find that terribly off putting. A burger is simple food. Its not meant to be full of panache and lyric.

                      Favorite burger in TO though? Has to be Allen's. Hands down. Done simple and done well. Close second though is Massey's out in Pickering.

                      Funnest burger? The Works.

                      1. re: goodcookiedrift

                        What year was it when you had a burger for $2.50 at Jerry's?

                        I've had the burgers at Allen's, but not in the last two years. The Brass Taps burger seems at least as good.

                        Have you eaten the burger at Lolita's Lust? I've been told that it's very good. They are around $15 and come with sweet potato fries.

                        1. re: foodyDudey

                          Sadly Jerry closed fall of 07. Remember, we're talking Parkdale here: The place where people decide to either "eat a $2.50 burger or buy crack". Competition is fierce.

                          Haven't had any of the burgers at the places you mentioned.

                          1. re: foodyDudey

                            Brass has a good burger? I've never hit it, If I wanna mess with burgers I usually make it Micky Deeeeeeeeezzz, In the walmart Dufferin mall steez.

                            1. re: Bobby Wham

                              I've never had a burger at Brass Taps till my wife ordered one, I don't remember ordering a burger since I ordered one at Allens about 2 years ago. There are more than good burgers at the location near Danforth and Logan. I don't usually eat bar food, but the specials such as the curry are good.