Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Visit to the Burger’s Priest

When I was in Toronto, I wanted to spend some time eating food that was special and unavailable in Germany.  One of the things that I think North Americans do better than anyone else in the world is the hamburger.  I had been scanning restaurant lists and I came across a certain burger place again and again, “The Burger’s Priest.”  This is a place that in a Zagat poll was rated the third best restaurant in Toronto and the best hamburger in the city.   This was more than enough praise for me to seek it out.  The original location is way out in the beaches, which is a bit of a pain to get to, so I opted to go for the slightly newer location up around the Yonge and Lawrence area.

Here is how they describe themselves;

“Who is The Burger's Priest?

We are a classic American cheeseburger joint.
We grind a custom blend of ultra premium beef multiple times daily on the premises.
Our beef is always fresh.
We cook our cheeseburgers on a flat top griddle not on a charcoal broiler.
We believe in purity, simplicity and over a hundred years of grilling and grinding techniques.”

It seemed simple enough to me and a bit reminiscent of my favorite US burger place In-n-out burger.  I hopped on the subway and took a quick walk up to the place on Teddington Park.  They have certainly gone for a certain style and strong branding.  If this place was just plain looking and called “Bob’s” I seriously doubt it would have generated the hype I had been reading.  The whole religious burger thing is pretty gimmicky, but I thought it was all in good fun.

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The place is very tiny, more of a hallway than a restaurant and clearly most food is ordered to go.  The décor is all black and white with one wall covered in scripture in English and Hebrew.  I have to say, it was a little bit too hipster and smacked of pretentious to me, I was sure that I was not “cool” enough to be eating here and I am sure at least half of the other patrons were looking down at me through their black rimmed glasses over the top of macbook screens and iphone conversation.  As good as the food looked, I developed a strong urge to punch people.

Anyway, I stood in the queue and made up my mind on my lunch order.  There are many fun theme named variations on the basic burger here.  Things like the high priest, the vatican, the heretic, etc.  I opted for the simple cheeseburger and fries.  If they are the best burger in Toronto, I wanted to try it in its purest form.   With this in mind I gave my order to the hip girl wearing a wool hat indoors while standing next to an enormous grill in a display of how cool she was for working there.  Sorry, but many aspects of style just annoy me, I am a grumpy man.

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I then parked myself on a stool and waited for my burger to cook.  It was fairly busy and a bunch of us customers were waiting for our food.  After not too long, my name was called out and my food was handed over this little wall to me in a brown paper bag.  I had already grabbed my root beer from the cooler on my side of the wall.

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Here is the meal as I sat back on my little cool-guy perch.  Pretty standard looking combo meal, price was good, I think it was about $8 Canadian for this, which is pretty much the same as German fast food prices.  I think a combo at McDonalds here goes for about 6 Euro these days.  Anyway, I took a good look and smell of the food and then tucked in.

burger (13)

Was it worth the effort?  Was this the best burger in the city and deserving of all the praise?  It was good.  It was very very good.  It was a burger I would recommend to anyone without hesitation.  The fries were also great, fatty, crispy and thick.  It all went together great and I was very very satisfied with my lunch experience.

I don’t think I would say it was the best burger I have ever had, but I don’t think I could tell you a better one off hand.  I would say it was better than an In-n-Out burger, which is pretty high praise from me.

burger (15)

So in the end, I would say the Burger’s Priest is a pretty great Hamburger place with a fun theme and very good value.  I would go again anytime I am in town, but it does have a little bit too much of an air of “hip” about it.  I don’t think I can fault the restaurant for that so much as the patrons though.

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