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Nov 13, 2009 07:58 PM

Oh Boy Burger, Queen and Portland

I walked by in a rush today and noticed they're FINALLY open and doing brisk business.
Please post if you go, all the waiting has peaked my curiosity.

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  1. I've been noticing this place as well the past couple of months. Unfortunately, all of that waiting was NOT worth while. Understanding that it was a soft open, obviously the service was poor. More importantly though the food was not worth the pretty penny! My husband ordered the Oh Boy classic with 3 Cheese Combo, which is described as "8 oz. premium AAA & Prime Ground Chuck, Sesame Seed Bun, Lettuce, Tomato, Cheddar, Swiss & Havarti Cheese $12.75" and I ordered the Bison Boy Combo " 6oz. premium lean alberta bison, sesame seed bun, lettuce, tomato and sauteed onions & mushrooms $15.70"

    The line cooks and order takers still have to learn their products - aka, menu! They didn't know what was on the burgers, and I had to stand there at the counter and tell them exactly what as on them and they still managed to screw it up!

    Buns were not fresh, burgers were over done, tough and over seasoned (both my husband and I felt like we just had a salt lick), fries were ok, but not well seasoned and too oily (they weren't double fried). My husband only got two of the three cheeses, and I didn't get the mushrooms or onions that were supposed to make my burger $3 more expensive than my husbands!

    They still don't have their liquor license yet so you can't drown the bad taste in your mouth by drinking!

    At one point the girl who took our order was cleaning the drink station and decided to lift her skirt up and pick her wedgie in plan view of everyone who was in the front end of the restaurant.

    I think I will continue to satisfy my burger craving with Craft Burger indefinitely. We might revisit them in a few months after they figure out their kinks, and if they don't improve by then, then they've lost my patronage!

    6 Replies
    1. re: jeannieh20

      Overcooking, missing topping and wedgie picks? I don't know what you have in mind tonight Homey but count me out.

      1. re: jeannieh20

        Agree with you totally. This place is very close to where I live and I had my hopes, but one visit dashed them.

        I could understand if staff at a new place were a little shaky with knowing the menu combinations, but with terrible patties, criminal overcooking and people who really shouldn't be employed where food is being prepared, it's clear that management there isn't up to this. Back to Craft Burger.

          1. re: Davwud

            I went on Sunday nite even after reading the first post on chowhound!! We were careful what to order so we only had the veggie onion rings, fries etc.
            The veggie burger took a long time to be prepared but it was worth the wait.
            The portobella patty in combination with the veggie patty was a nice combo.
            The bun was just right and we loved the condiments.

            The chef came out to apologize, which we appreciated.
            Their is a fried pickle on the menu (which wasnt available) I will be returning!!
            Not to many restaurants served this item.

        1. re: jeannieh20

          What is 'Premium AAA and Prime Ground Chuck'? Leavoy Rowe patties?
          There is some slight of hand here, and Pataki has fallen for it.
          Ground chuck is a U.S. description of front quarter beef, and to find it (I've never seen it here) at 'Prime' level in a burger for $7.50, and accompany with frozen McCain onion rings, well, this is bizarre marketing and hype.
          I won't go unless Pataki is confirmed a few times on Chow.

          1. re: jeannieh20

            it's true, wasn't very good or worth the hype...maybe it should of stayed closed a lil

          2. Looks like The Star loves this place for gourmet burgers in Toronto.


            I'm trying it out this Sunday for dinner. I'm looking forward to it as I've been a die hard Craft Burger fan for the past year and a half.

            1. So I tried this place out last night. I've never reviewed anything on here before so here it goes. I realize it's pretty silly to post of a review of a place that's barely been open a week. I went in there with a lot patience and understanding, totally prepared for a little chaos. So I'm not going to be overly critical... this was just my experience.

              The interior is really nice...I like the wood theme with red they've got in there. It's a really comfortable atmosphere. It's big and spacious as well... I was surprised to find more seats and a bar at the back.

              When I went in there was some confusion as to what to do. There's table service but nobody there to seat you. We wanted to sit down and eat but every table was taken. It's hard to figure out if you order yourself and then sit down or sit down somewhere and tell a waitress what you want.

              They were out of a lot of items, including fountain pop, which was posted on a sign by the cash register so that's fine. We ordered ourselves and decided to just find a seat once our food came since we couldn't figure out what to do. A lot of people were standing around the front looking confused as well.

              When I waited for my food to come up and my name was called, there was some confusion as to why I was grabbing my own food for eat in. The waitress came by to take it to a table though I have no idea where she would've taken it as I was there standing. I was trying to explain that I was eating there and ordered it myself. She ended up bringing it over a seat I had saved but the whole eat in, take out, who seats you thing is really weird. I guess it's partly my fault but I had no idea what to do... nobody was there to seat me. They need to figure out a system for that.

              I have to give credit to the manager who was running around and checking up on every table and asking people how their meals were. It was a nice gesture and appreciated.

              Overall, the food was okay. My burger was slightly undercooked. I had the classic combo, which was missing all toppings but the lettuce. The place was pretty busy and it wasn't a big deal...I can live without a tomato, pickles and onion. The french fries were delicious... small and crispy. I won't go into too much detail as it's not really fair to criticize this place so early.

              To sum it up... it's not a bad place. The food wasn't perfect and there's a lot of confusion, which is to be expected with a new restaurant. The burger didn't blow me away... to me there's nothing that sets Oh Boy apart from the other gourmet burger places. It didn't woo my burger loving heart the way Craft Burger did. For now I'll stick to Craft Burger but I'll definitely go back in a couple months when they're more organized.

              8 Replies
              1. re: sarnya

                Another hyped but disappointing Toronto eating experience (eg Caplansky's). Overpriced and underwhelming food by poorly run restaurant.

                In short: Confusing service and seating, missing menu items (out of onion rings and fountain drinks), orders misdressed (I asked for no mustard but got it but no mayo, 2nd burger asked for hold onions and got NOTHING but lettuce and tomato). 2 burgers cooked inconsistently, one medium well (good) other past well (bad). "Host" was overly attentive to young blondes rather than doing job of managing lines, crowd, sit-down vs. pickups.

                Feel bad for cooks and prep chefs who are working with really inefficient system while in a fish bowl of people waiting 20+ mins for a burger to be cooked.

                in the end, if the burger was outstanding one could excuse all the problems as growing pains but the burgers were average and overpriced.

                ps- I know it's a different kind of place but patrons and management need to take a cue from In 'n Out and dim sum restaurants. When a place is operating at high volume don't just hang around talking with friends. Out of courtesy you should get your food, eat it and get up for the next person when you're done.

                Oh Boy Burger Market
                571 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2B6, CA

                1. re: ceyla16

                  I can't say I disagree with you... you mentioned a lot of things I experienced and totally agree with. Though I tried to be forgiving, it's a few days later and I'm kind of turned off of this place. I don't know if I'll bother going back.

                  1. re: ceyla16

                    It's ridiculous that you are comparing this to Caplansky's. Most of Caplansky's reviews are positive.

                    1. re: Yongeman

                      Have you been to Caplansky's recently? Obviously different type of food but similar in its overpriced hype with bad service and worst of all mediocre product.

                      1. re: ceyla16

                        Yes I have...neither the food nor the service was mediocre. Sandwiches at Caplansky's were excellent and service was fast and friendly.

                        1. re: Yongeman

                          Again, here is some good old-fashioned hate-on for Caplansky's.

                          Isn't it odd that this is some people's new go-to complain-about restaurant? Perhaps they feel the need to balance out those who are over-the-top about this place?

                        2. re: ceyla16

                          Though I agreed with you about Oh Boy, I really don't agree with you about Caplansky's. Your complaints are pretty typical of someone who dislikes a place for no real reason... "overpriced" is a subjective term. Personally I think their $11 sandwich combo is great. The Corned Beef House is about $1 cheaper and you get 1/3rd the amount of french fries. What you think is overpriced, I think is a pretty good deal.

                          Caplansky's isn't lined up out the door some days because they're serving mediocre products. If you dislike the place because it's popular, that's fine...nobody's forcing you to eat there but you don't need to attack the place for no reason.

                          1. re: sarnya

                            FYI -- CBH has a tasty club sandwich and a friendly staff.

                  2. Hubby went there for lunch on Thursday. After a 40 minute wait they admitted they had lost his order and wouldn't give him his money back without the (not present) manager's approval. He returned after the lunch rush and was given comp tickets - but no cash.
                    He said the line cook was losing it and abusive.

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: Davwud

                        Yup. It took them 30 minutes to produce his coworkers burger and fries so he figured his was wasn't.
                        I think he should get comps AND his cash back.

                        1. re: hoagy294

                          Comps means you have to go back. Call it a low cost fact finding mission.


                    1. FYI, Oh Boy is temporarily closed down as they have run out everything on the menu. There's a note on the door saying there was an overwhelming increase in business because of the Toronto Star article.

                      24 Replies
                      1. re: sarnya

                        Wow, they ran out of ground beef? potatoes? buns?
                        Grocery store?

                        1. re: sarnya

                          I said it to my friends the other day when they brought up the star article to me. I dont' necarily disagree with Pataki, but I question the sanctity of the article.

                          So I went to Oh Boy to try it out. Although the restaurant is still new. I'm not happy with the beef blend. Although I could pick up some 'beef flavour' (unami for some), it was Very minimal.

                          These new "gourmet" places are shitting the bed if you ask me. there is nothign gourmet about it, they are still mid scale burgers as far as I am concerned.

                          1. re: Jamie Eats Burgers

                            The problem is, IMHO they're trying to make too much out of the burger. Keep it simple. That's the beauty of a burger. It's inexpensive and tasty. It's not meant to be ground tenderloin served with some exotic cheese. It's simple beef, ground and served on a bun.


                            1. re: Davwud

                              I somewhat agree. I usually like my burgers simple...

                              however, the beef source (and/or blend) is paramount for a good tasting burger.

                              if any restaurant went to no frills and get the ground beef and made patties with that, it would taste like cardboard (which most of these places already do taste like).

                              If I am going to a burger place, I would actually like it to taste good, regardless of how simple or complex it may be.

                              1. re: Davwud

                                I don't personally consider tenderloin a suitable base for a burger, whether plain or gussied up. A decent burger, if cooked on a grill, needs 30% fat to be juicy and to taste good. Tenderloin makes a fine "tatare", but a really crappy burger.

                                I like Allen's burgers, which seem to contain little more than good tasting, juicy beef.

                                I often make a plain burger at home, always charred outside and warm rare within). I'l sometimes make a fancy burger at home. (recently a riff on the "Aussie" theme with grilled pineapple, Greaves beets, and an egg on top, a gorgonzola -stuffed centre, and a chuck/short rib meat mix).

                                What I object to is "burgers" that are little, if anything more, than a tasteless protein base for toppings. That's fine for fueling up on the highway with nothing else around. But anyplace with the pretension to declare their burgers "gourmet" needs to serve a gourmet burger. I define "gourmet" as a burger that tastes good, whether "dressed" elaborately or not at all.

                                1. re: embee

                                  So when are we going to get a burger place in Toronto that will grind their meat in house?

                                  1. re: Jamie Eats Burgers

                                    There are several, but I will not post their names. Note that in house grinding does not guarantee the quality or flavour of the meat or a willingness to cook to taste.

                                    1. re: embee

                                      of course it does not guarantee anything.

                                      So based on your secret restaurants, do they have good quality and/or flavour?

                                      1. re: embee

                                        embee, am I missing something? Why are you not willing to post the names?

                                        1. re: millygirl

                                          Collegiate Lunch on Gerrard (I haven't eaten there) is one of these places, but what they serve doesn't come across as my idea of a great burger. Florida on Pape is another, but they don't cook to taste.

                                          My interest is more about cooking to taste than specifically about in-house grinding, but places that will cook to taste usually tell me that the meat is ground in house. However, the general tone, Allen's excepted, has been "don't tell".

                                          Besides, as I mentioned above, in house grinding doesn't guarantee anything about the resulting burger. I'm not suggesting that you're actually missing out on something great. If you were, I'd suggest writing to me offline. (I noticed that you didn't try a burger at the Grindhouse.)

                                          1. re: embee

                                            He heh, good on you embee. You are right, I didn't try the burger at Grindhouse simply because it's not my favourite thing, esp. beside a good fish and chips.

                                            Thanks for the clarification because I thought from reading your post that for some reason, in house grinding is frowned upon in some circles.

                                            Btw, I did taste the turkey burger at Grindhouse and it was excellent. I would definitely order that next time. Cooked perfectly, still nice and juicey.

                                    2. re: embee

                                      When the sign first went up for this place, it was Oh Boy Gourmet Hot Dogs. Then they clearly shifted their concept after taking forever to open and watching the premium burger trend take off. This did not inspire a lot of confidence in me, nor did Pataki's article, which quoted the owner as wanting to franchise.

                                      Embee, that short rib/chuck combo is golden. I used it to make the best burger I've ever made a while back. Just because I thought I should do It once in my life, I briefly left the meat in the freezer to firm up and then chopped it by hand. It was a crazy amount of work, but the texture was beautiful. Free formed the patties without working them to much and then cooked them in super hot cast iron. They formed a beautiful craggy crust with a wonderful, juicy and steaky chew. They weren't too thick and the irregular shape promoted some nice nook and cranny action. It was a riff on a great Cook's Illustrated recipe with a little Heston Blumenthal thrown in for good measure (specifically, watching the grind so that the the fibers run paralell to ensure tenderness). I think all I added was salt and pepper. No binders, no herbs. Nothing else and it was so superior to anything I've tasted from a restaurant in the city.

                                      Now I not asking for hand chopped patties, but why is this type of burger so difficult to do in this city? It's a grill top burger that a lot of old school diners do in the States. Is it just that most people haven't had this type of burger and just think overly thick, moisture free meat pucks are what constitutes a good burger?

                                      1. re: Pantz

                                        It's easier to reheat frozen hockey pucks from Sysco and the like than devote time to prepping, cooking, and cleaning up after a more hand-formed burger. Sad but true.

                                        1. re: Pantz

                                          the Queen and Beaver on Elm hand chops and it's killer and just like you excellent burger imho

                                          1. re: dannyboy

                                            Good call on the Queen and Beaver burger. I had it the one time I was there and my only real criticism was the cost ($17 - though it was with double smoked bacon, stilton and chips..)

                                          2. re: embee

                                            The word "gourmet" has become so overused, in Toronto at any rate, that it has become meaningless. In my view, any joint - burger joint or otherwise - that describes itself as "gourmet" is instantly under suspicion. All it means to me, applied to the burger, is that I'm about to be charged 20-25% more than I should be for an overcooked, unflavorful hunk of meat. Like embee, I believe that the only way to get a burger to your liking in Toronto nowadays is to BBQ or broil it yourself at home. Though unlike embee, I prefer a straight fresh-ground chuck, usually from Nortown Meats (at Bayview Ave, and York Mills Rd.), where, if you insist, they'll grind it fresh before your eyes. Then cook it medium rare, which almost all burger joints, "gourmet" or otherwise, refuse to do, presumably for health concerns. But gorgonzola-stuffed? I'll regretfully take a pass on that, though I rather like the idea of the egg on top.

                                            1. re: juno

                                              I find it odd that a thread about burgers can grow so long, maybe it's because it's so hard to find a good one. If Licks still made burgers the way they did around 1985, they would probably be the top burger place in town.

                                              You can always use stilton if you don't like gorgonzola.

                                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                                Personally, I like American cheese on my cheese burger.


                                              2. re: juno

                                                Agreed completely re: "gourmet". It's like Thai restaurants that claim to be "authentic". (Authentic garbage, perhaps.)

                                                Thanks for the tip on Nortown Meats. I have some friends who will be very thankful for that information!

                                            2. re: Davwud

                                              Agreed. Hiding the burger under "gourmet" toppings doesn't make it better. There is a soul to the burger that is being sucked out by trendy opportunists who prey on Toronto's love of anything with "buzz" - the gourmet burger being one of the latest trends.

                                              The meat doesn't need to be the best, but it is better if it is from a decent beef source and with somewhere between 20-30% fat depending on what degree of doneness it is being cooked to. Chuck alone is fine, but short rib or sirloin mixed in adds a great flavour. Either way we are not talking about buying a steak at Cumbraes and grinding it, that would be insane.

                                              1. re: JPJ

                                                "There is a soul to the burger that is being sucked out by trendy opportunists who prey on Toronto's love of anything with "buzz"'



                                              2. re: Davwud

                                                Agree 100%. Keep it simple, and execute it correctly. Therein lies the real challenge, as most places fail miserably in the execution (or at best have some success but are wildly inconsistent) and attempt to distract you from that fact with all these gourmet toppings. If the burger sucks, then it becomes a delivery mechanism for the gourmet toppings, which is just sad.

                                                Give me a perfectly cooked medium patty served on a soft, delicious bun that doesn't overwhelm the meat, and I'm in bliss. No need for weird sauces that only serve to distract from the taste of the beef.

                                            3. re: sarnya

                                              how do you run out of meat when the healthy butcher is your next door neighbour - who in fact is extremely supportive of neighbour businesses to strive? and with the leslieville cheese market a few more doors down?? both places also carry buns!?!