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The Burger Cellar - Yonge & Lawrence

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Tried out the Burger Cellar last night. Their first night was Wed. Oct 14, so we were hoping for good things on their 2nd night. We live about 2 blocks away and were hoping it would be a new favourite spot. There were 4 of us (myself, my husband, our toddler and our nanny). We made a reservation in case it was busy. When my husband arrived, he discovered that they had given our table away (our reservation was at 6 and he arrived at 6). Someone had walked in before him and stated that they had a reservation so they gave them our table without asking the name on the reservation. Then my husband told them that we would need a highchair. The hostess looked puzzled and then pointed to the chairs at the bar and said "those are the highest chairs that we have." My husband had to explain that we needed a "baby highchair" for our son. She eventually understood and got a highchair. We ended up with a seat by the window, which was fine.

The food was fine. I wouldn't say that it was the best burger that I had ever had, but it was decent. We ordered poutine and onion rings as our sides. The wine list was not as extensive as I would have thought for a "Grill and Wine Bar". Overall an okay experience (except for the inexperienced staff). I'll try it again in a few weeks when the staff know what they are doing.

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  1. Not impressed. Their miserable brunette hostess has completely turned me off The Burger Cellar. We called that afternoon to reserve a table for 5, and were told no reso needed, just 'walk in'. So, we went at 6:00pm and the hostess said they were full and did we NOT have a reservation? I explained that we had called earlier and were told to just walk in.

    What I found remarkable was the hostess made no apology and no attempt to offer any kind of help. VERY bad first impression, especially for a new burger joint, in an already competitive market.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Bronfman_Heiress

      Wine & reservations? Sounds more like a scene, not a burger joint.

      1. re: GoodGravy

        True, not really a joint, but there has just been a wave of trendy burger places lately. BTW, Avenue @ The Four Seasons has a yum burger.

      2. re: Bronfman_Heiress

        I had a similar experience yesterday. Called in the afternoon to request a 6:30 reservation for 2. We were told they were not taking any further reservations for that night but that there would be tables available for walk-ins. I found that slightly frustrating - why would tables be saved for walk-ins but not for people that actually bother to call in advance? Anyway, we went over and sure enough the place was packed. We were told it was a 45-minute wait for a table for 2 and so we promptly left and went a few blocks over to Piazzetta Trattoria, which was excellent.

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        Piazzetta Trattoria
        3441 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4N 2N1, CA

        1. re: aberenstein

          Might as well make the trek to Burger's Priest and get a real burger without the attitude. Either bring it home (though it's best fresh off the flat top) or find a spot around the Beach and enjoy. For burgers you don't need the "scene" factor just a burger worth eating. Wine and reservations? LOL!

          1. re: scarberian

            That's too bad about the bad service and average burgers. I live around the corner too and love a good burger. I grew up in Scarborough and to this day Johny's is still my favorite burger ever (worldwide). And how can a flat top compete with coals???

            1. re: Ashley1988

              Try the Burger's Priest and you'll see. Johnny's is frozen whereas BP is fresh ground each day. It is hard to compare flat top vs. charcoal since both end up with a different burger altogether. Coals give you that smokey flavour, whereas a flat top can produce a very juicy burger and you get that caramelized crust. Now I don't think Johnny's uses coals, I think theirs is gas. Mind you I like Johnny's and it satisfies the craving especially late at night, but BP is a hell of a damn good burger. I just can't say that about Johnny's.

              1. re: Ashley1988

                Johnny's is horrible. I can honestly say I've gotten better product at Lick's.

                1. re: TexSquared

                  30+ years of 30+ people in line every Friday and Saturday night till 4 in the morning. Am I talking about Licks or Johny's?

                  1. re: Ashley1988

                    McDonald`s gets lineups too, doesn`t mean they`re great.

                    1. re: TexSquared

                      yea man, the drive thru at McDonalds can get pretty busy at 4am, lol...

                      Im not gonna say Johnnys is great, it really isnt anything special. The big deal of Johnnys is the nostalgia factor, it tricks the mind into thinking something is better then it really is.

                      1. re: jmarcroyal

                        Maybe I should have said Tim Hortons instead...

                        As for Johnny`s, when enough people say it`s great you start to believe it. So I went and tried it after hearing and ignoring all the hype. Yuck. Wasted trip.

                        I`m just waiting for Five Guys to finally move into town....

                    2. re: Ashley1988

                      If Licks stayed open after the clubs closed, they could get lineups too.

                      1. re: Pincus

                        I LOVE Johnny's....their fries & gravy, and their 'cheap' frozen retro burger- hey, it is what it is. And in the strip mall next door: Esquire- best Greek Salad and Souvlaki I have ever had.

          2. not impressed with burger cellar....I was expecting an extensive wine list...but the wines are boring and the burgers are ok...nothing special....service is ordinary....

            is this a wine bar?????

            4 Replies
            1. re: section 6 photography

              I got to agree...is it a wine bar or burger joint. The name would inply that it's good at both but it's too much in the middle.

              1. re: section 6 photography

                How can you judge a burger joint on the extent of their wine list?

                1. re: kermit50

                  i know im late to reply, but for me, you can easily judge a burger joint on the extent of their wine list. If they have wine, then its a pretentious, snobbish burger joint that is probably overpriced and underwhelming. The fact that so many people talk about getting reservations for a Burger Joint is a big turn off for me as well, I mean, Burgers are Take-out/Fast Food, meant for the Blue Collar worker, this place caters to the Elite that want to eat Joe Schmo food while sipping their fine wines.

                  See, you can judge a place based on the extent of their wine list!

                  Anyway, im only slightly serious with the above, I drove by the place today and it did look like a classy place, but to me, If you have a Burger Joint, that should be your focus, and the burgers should be the star of the show. Its clear this place isnt that great food-wise or people would be raving about the burgers, but clearly, at the Burger Cellar, Burgers arent the star of the show...

              2. I went there last week with another family. Good news for me - it's fairly family friendly as we were there with 4 kids under 4 years old. They have a kids menu with crayons and seem to be encouraging of people bringing kids, although I wouldn't say the wait staff were all on side with this strategy. We did get a few dirty looks as the kids began to "breakdown" after the icecream. It's worth noting that we were there at around 5 PM on a Sunday, so it's not like prime time or anything!

                Anyway, the adult food is pretty good for the area and that's an important point, given how BRUTAL most of the restaurants are north of Lawrence. The bar is set incredibly low and this place did alright at exceeding expectations. The burger was pretty good - I had the natural (organic) version and it was good - a step up from Lick's, a slight step down from places like Craft Burger and a million steps down from Harbord Room.

                There are three issues with this place that are worth mentioning:

                1. They will only cook burgers medium well (completely unacceptable and amateur - I expect that at Hero or Harvey's not a gourmet burger place). It's almost a non starter. They won't even entertainment medium plus.
                2. The burgers are decently priced at around 9.00, but they are a la cart, which I really don't personally like. Charge 12.00 and include a side. Sides are around 5.00-7.00 and not noteworthy, which makes the surcharge frustrating.
                3. The bathroom freshener smell was coming through the restaurant, but I'm sensitive to smell and others didn't notice. But for me, a huge turn off....

                All in all, I'd say to go and expect average to good North York fare and nothing more. Don't compare this to other downtown burger spots as it's doesn't compare at all. But it's good, convenient, fairly priced and a pretty good atmosphere with lots of tables.

                Enjoy...

                -----
                Harbord Room
                89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

                Big Smoke Burger
                573 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M1, CA

                1. Anyone tried the veg food here? I was reading a North Toronto Post article that made the veg alternatives sound good...

                  1. SO and I went to the Burger Cellar last week and thought it was ok. He had the Kobe burger with applewood smoked bacon, I had their basic natural burger with cheese. The burgers were really good. The plates were unadorned - don't know whether that is the norm or not. We shared an order of poutine, the fries were TASTY, and while they used great gravy, there was a tad too much of it, so there were soggy fries at the end.

                    Our server wasn't quite up to speed on the menu, nor did she bring us any condiments.

                    SO wanted to try the "burger" dessert, which is apparently a doughnut done up with fudge and things to look like a burger, but he was so full from the dinner that he thought better of it.

                    All in all would definately go back. Lots of interesting things on the menu to try.

                    1. DH wanted to go to Burger Cellar on Father's Day, so despite less than stellar reviews we went at lunch time.

                      Service was a bit erratic. It's supposed to open at 11:30am, and we had reservations, but when we arrived at that time the sign said "closed" and it looked like they were still setting up the patio. I asked one of the servers if we should come back in a couple of minutes and they said yes, so we took a walk around the neighbourhood as it was a gorgeous day out.
                      Returned in about 10 minutes and the sign still said "closed", but my son poked his head in the window and said "there's people in there!"

                      We walked in and they were already open. I notified the hostess about the sign and she said she'd take care of it, but it was still saying "closed" well into our meal.

                      Our server was friendly enough, but neglected to inform us of their un-advertised "Father's Day Special Burger", which I only overheard another server telling another table.

                      Food came quickly... I had the regular Angus and chose a couple of additional toppings (asian slaw and wasabi-lime aioli at $1 each for extra topping), and DH had a Kobe burger with cheese and bacon. My additional toppings both came on the side without my having to request this.
                      Kids are still quite young and so shared a kids meal which had two mini-burgers, a side and a dessert. Reasonably priced at $8. They didn't have mashed potatoes (kids meal sides are supposed to be mashed potatoes or fries or caesar salad), so we asked for sweet potato fries, which were subbed with no issues.

                      We also shared a poutine and onion rings.
                      The poutine was quite small, but the gravy was very tasty. I have a feeling it was just regular cheese they used (not cheese curds), as there was no squeak and the cheese melted quite rapidly into the gravy.
                      The onion ring batter had absolutely NO flavour whatsoever.

                      My son enjoyed the mini-burger... my daughter enjoyed the sweet potato fries.

                      Both my husband and I thought our burgers were just "okay". The asian slaw I had ordered as an additional topping was very bland, as was the aioli.

                      All in all... probably wouldn't return.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: LearningHow

                        My mom mentioned that she was at the Burger Cellar last week with 3 other diners. Her comments were that it was so noisy in there that conversation with her tablemates was virtually impossible. She also reported that her turkey burger was very tasty, but the other 3 co-diners, who all ordered beef burgers, found their burgers dry, overcooked and underseasoned.

                      2. Bleh! Went for lunch today. We live in the neighbourhood, and have been wondering about this place since before it opened. I wish we never went in! Burger (BCB) was dry and tasteless -- they don't ask how you want it cooked (they only do it one way?!). Sweet potato fries didn't have flavour. Pickle fries (3) were uninspired, saved only by the respectable aoli. Asked for whole wheat bun, got a white bun instead -- not well toasted, not tasty, and reminds you of a grocery store bun. Oh and the decor? Fake fancy. Couldn't wait to get out.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: OSHTORONTO

                          I completely agree. I went with my husband and 2 children a few weeks ago. The adults ordered a caprese salad.... it was gross. The tomatoes were bland, the mozarella was rubbery and it had some weird mayonnaise type dressing on it. When I asked the waitress what the dressing was, she didn't know. The adults also ordered the sliders to share - overcooked, bland, yukky.

                          My children had standard "kids menu" fare - grilled cheese sandwich and chicken fingers I think. We sat outside on the patio because the din inside was unbearable. The service was sloppy and haphazard and the food eminently forgettable. Both my husband and I commented that there was no way we would ever go back. Hope that something better shows up in the neighbourhood soon; there is a dearth of good restaurants in the Yonge and Lawrence area and lots of families. A better choice would be a veal sandwich at Ciccio Sanwiccio.

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                          Ciccio Sanwiccio
                          3220 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4N 2L2, CA

                        2. I went there about 3 months ago with my boyfriend and was looking forward to a great burger. We decided to order a Kobe beef burger, thinking that it was going to be juicy and flavourful! After I had my first bite, I was disappointed. The burger was not moist at all. It didn't have the appearance of what quality burgers are like. I waited around for our server. It took him a while to come around our table and I think he assumed that we liked it because he was surprised when I said it was a little dry. I asked if they make their own burger patties and he said that restaurants aren't allowed to do that. I corrected him and said that I've been to places where I have had burgers and the restaurants form their own patties. He then corrected himself and said that because they don't grind their own meat, they were required to cook the burgers through. I wish he would have said that in the beginning because I would not have ordered the more expensive meat! The decent thing on the menu was the duck poutine. I would not recommend this burger place. It looks great but food was not impressive.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Chickie76

                            I had the misfortune of going to this place when there was to long of a line up at the BP next door. It was not good and expensive for what it was. The BF had a bison burger and I had a regular burger with applewood smoked bacon. I couldn't even tell there was bacon on the burger and the burger itself was overcooked. BF was not impressed with his meal either.