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Jan 22, 2009 04:37 PM

Gourmet Burger Co Review

Hello all, I am new to chow and this is my first review. I love a great burger but don't usually go out to get them due to the fact that they are always Sh%$t!. Craft Burger let me down and Hero Burger is one of the worst pieces of cardboard I have ever tasted, and to think I waited for 25 min to get it !!!. Defeated by Toronto's inability to deliver a great burger It was back to my own grinder in order to meet my high standards.

So now here we are 2009, first black president in U.S.A., anything can happen right?. Could Gourmet Burger Co. be the place that ends my search for burger supremacy?, the place I call the best? or at least call gourmet? NO. No it will not.

Nice looking place, but small, REAL SMALL, mind you it doesn't need to be big to get my vote, but it could use a bathroom. All it needs to do is pump out the best burger in the city, Gourmet right? Wrong!. I order the cheese burger with DS bacon; lettuce, tomato, onion, and GBC sauce(house sauce) oh and I get the fries and drink to make it a combo. $13

My burger is dry, not a bit of juice to be found and if it wasn't for the bacon dripping glorious liquid gold on top my sawdust puck I would have sent it back. The fries are good, topped with sea salt and they have that great "chip truck" taste, a bit greasy though as if they skipped the paper towel pat-down. Back to the bacon, it really is double smoked which was the only thing giving my sandwich any flavor, kudos for that GBC. As for the GBC sauce, tasted like a bland thousand island dressing.

Though it may sound as if I hated my time spent at GBC, it's not the case. Going by what I have tasted in Toronto in terms of burgers this unfortunately is at the top, but still does not hold a candle to what a great burger should be.

Worth trying? Yes. When your drunk? absolutely! but that's not saying much. I know my review may seem a little on the harsh side but if you have the word "Gourmet" in your business name, you better not disappoint. 2/5 stars.

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  1. Thanks for the review Burger4ever - you've saved me a trip as I was somewhat tempted to try it based on some of the good buzz and relative proximity to work. I know that some people actually prefer cardboard burgers, which I hate, and dislike the kind where you get that juice running down your sleeve, which I love. If anyone can provide examples that fall into the category that I like, please oblige :)

    Strangely enough, one of the best burgers I've had in T.O is at Loose Moose. I only tried it once but it was terrific.Some nicer places like Harbord Room also have good burgers but I'm really interested in downscale places that deliver the goods.

    1. Have you tried the burger a couple doors down at Johnny G's?

      Seriously, on of the best burgers I've ever had (that I haven't made myself of course. *grin*)

      1. I tried it last weekend and I got the Aussie burger.

        The patty wasn't dry but it was so bland I couldn't be bothered to finish.

        I like the novelty of the unique topping combination on the burger and I thought the toppings themselves were of good quality so I give them that.

        I agree with Burger4ever that the fries were good.

        Overall I found it pricey. The restaurant itself needs a way better exhaust system (it's foggy - no kidding, and you come out smelling like you've worked the grill) and a washroom. I won't go back but it's worth a try if you're interested.

        6 Replies
        1. re: chocabot

          Thanks for the warning on the exhaust thing. I'm especially weird with stuff like that and don't like smelling like the place that I ate at the rest of the night. I always like to check out a new burger place even with bad reviews but that just killed this place off for me!

          1. re: abigllama

            It's too bad you don't like smelling like the place you just ate at because that's one of the marks of a good BBQ joint down south.


            I think I'll pass on GBCo. It sounds to me like it's trying too hard. Why can't someone just grind some sirloin (Or something else) make simply seasoned pattys and do them on a flat top with a good bun. I think the reason why such a simple food is so hard to pull off is people are overthinking it.


            1. re: Davwud

              Absolutely Davwud. I would just about KILL for a regular, old-fashioned greasy spoon burger in the neighbourhood. With all due respect to Johnny G's it's still too fancy for what I want. I want it like a Mr Tasty burger when it was still run by Greeks who ground.

              1. re: Googs

                Not too far from Cabbagetown, Collegiate is an old fashioned place with good food, half the price of the upscale GBC, Fortunately it is too retro for the nearby collegiate students. Hand made burgers and shakes.

                Collegiate Lunch
                1024 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Z5, CA

              2. re: Davwud

                No way Davwud! I lived down south for a few years for work in both Atlanta and Dallas and usually had good BBQ about once a week. That smoked meat smell is one of the greatest smells in the world but doesn't stay on your clothes too long. Also a in most of those places it tastes even better if you eat outside on a picnic table!

                But if a place that grills or frys has bad ventilation that sticks to your clothes and skin. I''ve said it before that I love New York Sub on Queen, but try to limit my time there because that place stinks like a humid grease pit depending on what they're cooking. Chipotle can be stinky if they have a ton of meat on the grill, but if going out someplace after will just go around the corner and eat in Dundas Square. I love grilled onions but really dislike having a winter coat that smells like them.

                1. re: abigllama

                  The rib joint we go to when we're "Down yonder" leave us smelling like a wood fire.
                  I asked my SIL to pick up a shirt for me for the wife for Christmas one year. Even after a few weeks, when she opened it, all you could smell was the fire. It was nice. She kept the box because of that.

                  I don't really want to smell like grilled onions either so we can agree on that.


          2. This place is incredible. Sometimes I don't think people would know a good burger if it slapped em in the face hot off the grill.

            I have consistently had a a perfect burger from GBC week after week. Their onion rings may also be the best in the city. The SO prefers the sweet potato fries.

            Ever place will have is detractors but don't let it steer you away from giving it a try.

            6 Replies
            1. re: MindGrinder

              Agreed. I had the aussie and it was fantastic. Not dry, the pineapple and beet root weren't as sweet as i thought they'd be and the egg was perfectly cooked and added a slightly hollandaise vibe to the proceedings which rocked. I'd definitely go back.

              1. re: MindGrinder

                I must say, I'm not a fan of people discounting something before trying it so I will say it was a bit early to say I'd pass on it. So I'll wait for more reviews. Especially since I'm almost never anywhere near it when it's open.

                All that said, there are some things that make me roll my eyes when I see them. First off, the word "Gourmet" in the title is a strike. It makes me think they're trying to reinvent the wheel. It's all very well and good but if you can't make a good wheel in the first place, which this city can't, why reinvent?? Secondly, if I see they're serving Angus Beef it's another strike. I can't tell you how much AB I've had that just wasn't that good. But at a premium. Thirdly, too many toppings. Again, same reasons as the first thing.
                Now that's not to say that "Joe's Gourmet Angus Burgers" with all the specialty toppings you can imagine can't be the best. I'm just saying that I'm tired of seeing these things and overpaying for a lousy burger. To sum it up, I've seen this act before. Can you say Hero!!


                1. re: Davwud

                  I think there are 2 kinds of burgers:

                  The kind you pile on the toppings because the it's about a mix of tastes and less about the meat quality (GBC and Craft Burger)

                  Then there's the kind about the meat (cooked to order juiciness) and less about the toppings (Allen's and Swan)...though i do like the homemade condiments at Allens and the toasted bun at Swan.

                  For the record, I've found Hero and Czehoski to be hopeless but Utopia makes me happy.

                2. Since they claim to grind, which eliminates the oft proclaimed, if dubious, "legal" obstacle, I asked them the simple question "can I get a burger cooked medium rare?" In short, they won't answer. Come and try it, I've been told. That's not enough motivation for me to waste my time and money.

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: embee

                    come on..we are talking about a burger.....i have been three times and i have enjoyed each burger....the sweet pot fries are also good...if you guys find a place that serves a better burger please let me know and i will try it ...

                      1. re: ribboy

                        I agree with you ribboy. As a wise man once said "a burger is like sex, even a bad one isn't that bad". That being said here are a few places that I think have exemplary burgers: Allen's (they'll cook it as rare as you want, the burgers are hand made with Angus Beef and little else), Dangerous Dan's (just get the basic burger, its awesome, the flavour reminds me of backyard bbq's when I was a kid), The Rhino (real gourmet at a reasonable price, local organic meat), Weezie's (excellent burger, excellent frites, excellent aioli), Kubo Radio (this one is a bit different, it's a handmade beef burger with pieces of peking duck mixed in and a hoisin glaze), lastly Victory Cafe has a good burger, not as good as these other guys, but the beer selection makes it worthwhile!

                        1. re: haggisdragon

                          Isn't Kubo Radio closed now?

                          Bymark also has an great burger. Most of the complaints are that it's expensive or pretentious (topped with brie de Meaux, truffle, sauteed porcinis), but it's USDA prime, they cook it to order (as rare as you'd like), and the flavour is incredible. It's not exactly a recession item by any means, but it's the most delicious burger I've had in Toronto (Allen's is good, but it's not as tasty). The onion rings that come with it always seem a bit underdone, but they'll substitute frites for you (I haven't been charged extra, and their frites are delicious).

                          1. re: tjr

                            That is an amazing burger at Bymark. I've had it a few times. I don't think it's fair to compare it to other burgers because it's in a different category altogeher. I know that's not what you're doing. Just throwing in my $0.02.

                            Agree with haggisdragon on the Allen's and Weezie's burgers. However, Dangerous Dan's is lousy. I had it once, and that was enough. It was big, but that's about it.

                            1. re: grandgourmand

                              for the record the burger at bymark is $ better be the best burger you ever ate

                              1. re: ribboy

                                trust me, listen to us, go try the burger at Allen's. It is by far the best in that price bracket. Again, it's not listed on the menu, just ask for it. $9, or $11 w/ a choice of 3 cheese and 2 types of bacon (reg/peameal).

                                I must admit I was quite skeptical of the Bymark burger, that was until I tried it. It's much more restrained than the bourgie burger trends originating from nyc. The quality of usda prime was front and centre, definitely get it medium rare.

                                On the lower end of the totem pole my fav is Golden Star, that's my burger triumvirate in Toronto.

                                1. re: aser

                                  Yeah seriously. Allen's. It's gotten so I don't eat anything else when I'm there. My only quibble is I wish I could get American cheese on my drippy rare burger at Allen's. I know, I know...I love all manners of fine cheese, but on a burger, give me a slice of Kraft Extra Cheddar any time.

                                  1. re: aser

                                    I like Allen's as well. Bymark's burger (I may be mistaken, and if I am, feel free to clarify, but I believe they use dry-aged USDA prime strip) is by far the best I've had in the city. Pricey? Yes. I know people who will rag on it for that, without having ever tried it. Those who do try it think it's great. Would I pay 3x as much as a burger at Allen's for the upgrade in beef? Not always, but the Bymark burger is actually something that I find myself craving at times.

                                    But yeah, definitely a different league when compared to a fastfood burger or the types of burgers people wish we had in Toronto (from the Southern US).

                                    1. re: tjr

                                      How's the rest of the food at the Bymark? I'm game for a $36.95 burger, but I doubt my wife is.

                                      1. re: befuggled

                                        The burger uses striploin ends they have leftover after portioning for steaks. It's aged 6-8 weeks if I recall. I saw a video online a while ago where McEwan shows the process of making it.


                                        The menu isn't adventurous to say the least, it does cater to a corporate crowd. However, their key to success is their consistency, they run a pretty tight ship there. Everything I've had there has been good at least.

                                        It isn't cheap, do keep that in mind.

                                        1. re: aser

                                          hah mcewan aint kidding when he talks about the brokerage mass burger orders at lunch, it was like christmas day on people's faces whenever it sprung up. note the date of the piece though, the fourth of july...not too many of those great days since then, lol..

                                          still, it *is* a really good burger though, give it a go...

                                  2. re: ribboy

                                    I wouldn't put it in the 'best burger ever' category. For 'best burger' what i've got in mind is something less than $10.

                                2. re: tjr

                                  I agree about Bymarks onion rings...I thought it was just my bad luck but I see you had the same experience. Onion rings should be crispy and golden brown! Bymarks were pale and soft. I expect more from such an expensive place. It really turned me off...the burger was good but not amazing enough for me to return. I heard the Irish Embassy has a great burger! On the subject of expensive burgers...I was in NYC and had to try the much written about DB burger. The burger was VERY! disappointing...the meat was watery and tasteless, the famous shortrib/truffle filling was way too small(about a tsp)...unfortunatly all the dishes we had a DB bistro were very disappointing. My daughters steak was very chewy and her icecream was loaded with ice crystals! It was a VERY expensive meal, that was so not worth it! I am always happy to spend extra $ for great food! This was NOT great. I will never go back there again. There are plently other great places in NYC. My favorite for steak is Maloney & Porcelli, well worth the extra $.

                                3. re: haggisdragon

                                  i think the wise man said "burgers are like sex: when its awful, you spend the rest of the day regretting what you did and trying to get that sickening feeling out of your stomach."

                                  i avoid burgers at most places - esp places that claim to have the best burger in the city.
                                  Johny G's burger used to be really good, but i haven't been for a while due to perceived decline in food quality.
                                  event though i live near it, haven't tried Allen's, but its on the list.

                                  a surprisingly good burger - especially for the price - was at Fionn MacCool's on the Esplanade. We went in there as a last resort before a Raptors' game. Friday night burger special, including pretty decent fries, was super affordable. and the burger? I'd give it a solid 8 out of 10. really juice, very nice flavour.

                                  considering i would give most Toronto burgers 6 out of 10, FMcC was definitely a great surprise.

                                  1. re: atomeyes

                                    2 great burgers are at Mildred Pierce and Globe Bistro!

                                    1. re: Squeakycheese

                                      I'm going to Globe next week for the $15, including pint deal. I'll report back.

                                      1. re: grandgourmand

                                        cool is that a lunch deal. I love the globe but I never think of it for an affordable lunch