When local restaurateurs Johnny Prassoulis and Bill Koutroubis needed a new challenge they decided to get in on the burgeoning flat top burger craze in Toronto. They approached Burger’s Priest about opening a franchise but were declined. So they decided to reverse engineer another age old adage and took the “If you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em” mentality and opened Holy Chuck in late summer 2011.
To be fair, Holy Chuck isn’t a Burger’s Priest doppelganger. They too are doing the classic American burger. But the Priest didn’t invent that. He didn’t invent it either but Ray Croc built an empire on it. Sadly lacking in TO, BP merely reintroduced the GTA to it’s juicy goodness. Call it Classic American, California style or “Smashed” burgers as they do around these parts (they’re put on the flat top as a ball then “Smashed” flat with a spatula). When done properly, it’s the best burger on the planet in my opinion.
You could almost call HC the Burger’s Anti-Christ. Where the Priest has a secret menu, Chuck’s menu is there for everyone to see. Where the Priest has a more hip, edgy vibe, Chuck is more generic and family oriented. Chuck has white board specials as well. BP tries to keep the menu small. HC's "specials" feature burgers like duck or lamb as well as regional burger styles like the Oklahoma burger. Popular in its namesake state and characterized by a layer of sautéed onions cooked right into the patty. Feel like punishing yourself?? HC has the "Go Chuck Yourself" challenge for those brave enough.
So if HC is taking on BP in the flat top burger genre, they better bring their A game. They do. Meat is ground in house and just about every other menu item is made from scratch and the milkshakes are blended to order.
So how does Chuck’s food stand up?? Well, let’s have a look.
The Holy Chuck Fries are fresh cut shoe string style fries covered with cheese slices, bacon and their chili. Over all I'd say these are okay but broken down my mileage differs. First off, as a fry alone, it's very good. Definite potato flavour and cooked to a gorgeous, rich brown colour. So that's good. I'd prefer real cheddar rather than sliced on my chili fries. So there's problem for me. I thought the bacon was pretty much lost under the chili and thus didn't offer much. I did manage to get a taste of bacon, cheese fries and it was terrific. The chili I'm not a big fan of. Not bad, just not my cup of tea. It seemed to be lacking any heat and didn't bring a big "Chili" flavour. So chili cheese fries would be okay. Bacon cheese fries would be much better but bacon, chili, cheese fries just didn't make it for me. I'll order them naked next time and dip in ketchup.
The Holy Chuck burger is right in my wheelhouse. 2 quarter pound patties done on a flat top with bacon and sliced cheese. This one comes dressed up with sautéed onions. I had an interesting dilemma with this burger. On the menu it says "No toppings allowed!" The conundrum posed by this is one on which I just can't seem to come to an opinion. Part of me says, "It's my food, I decide how I'm gonna eat it. Not you." The other part understands completely that sometimes you are going for a certain thing and an alteration would screw it up. Kind of like ordering a Hawaiian pizza and subbing bell pepper for pineapple and adding onions. It's just not the same thing anymore. So as is it's a fabulous burger. I'd be interested to add some pickle and mustard and see how it turned out. Only because I thought there was a certain succulence to the burger that wasn't balanced out by something sharper.
A slight row occurred when they unveiled a specialty burger. I won’t tell you the old name out of respect for those who were offended but for now (Aug/12) it’s unnamed.
Consisting of 2 patties that are a 50/50 mix of beef and bacon topped with cheese and a ladle of their spicy chili it’s one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. As far as specialty burgers go that is. The patties, loaded in bacon are, naturally, tasty and juicy. The reborn chili (they’ve played with the recipe since I last tried it) had a slight zip to it and was a nice touch on top. The cheese tied it all together. I opted to add fresh, chopped onion and after a bit of experimenting found that mustard was a nice complement as well. Truly excellent all around.
Another of their specialty burgers is the Farmers Threesome. What you have here is one cheese topped beef patty. One cheese topped lamb patty. One cheese topped bacon patty. All topped with more bacon and sautéed onions. I found a bit of mustard rounded the whole thing out nicely. It walks the fine line between unctuous and greasy. Salty and over salty. It’s not an everyday burger. Being fatty and salty and all. But for a special treat it’s incredible. Tasty and juicy. Fabulous.
The Depressed Cow is a burger done "Oklahoma Style" which is to say they smash slivered onions right into the burger as they squish it down. A style of burger cooking popular in, you guessed it, Oklahoma. First off, if you don't LOVE onions, don't bother. I love them and found this a bit on the oniony side. Don't order it if you're on a date either as it's one of their more messy burgers. So all in all, it was a tasty burger but not one of my favourites.
Poutine, as you probably remember, is fries with cheese curd and gravy. As is the norm around here they don't make it authentic. It's beef gravy instead of chicken. That doesn't mean it's not tasty though. It's as good as any I've had in this city. I think I'll ask them to hold the parsley garnish next time. It was an odd addition in my books.
The eye opener, the discovery, the revelation, the Oh! My! God! moment came the first sip I had from my milk shake. Made with whole milk and quality ice cream as it's base I opted for the Nutella and Salted Caramel and it blew me away. Easily the best shake I've had in the city and perhaps ever. Top two for sure. They come ultra thick but melt enough to sip through the straw fairly quickly.
I’ve since sampled a number of them and let me tell you, they’re excellent. The Bacon, Fudge and Seasalt (the bacon didn’t do much for me though), Wasabi, Green Onion and Fresh Ginger (Slight zing from the wasabi), Strawberry Cheesecake and Grandma’s Apple Pie. It seems like you just can’t go wrong with any of them.
You can find Holy Chuck at 1450 Yonge St., Toronto, Ontario.
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You can find them on the web, facebook and twitter.
Well that's all for now folks. See ya next time in the food court.