Gourmet Burgers and Hotdogs.
"Gourmet Burgers and Hotdogs." "Signature" burger. Sigh.
Here is another case of not judging a book by it's cover. When I see things like "Gourmet" attached to burgers and such it makes me think that they're really over thinking things. Gilding the lily doesn't make it better. When I see the use (or in many instances, over use) of buzz words like "Signature" it makes me wary. That there's a corporation just trying to sell a concept based on a craze. Cutesy names are another red flag. Like you need to sell the sizzle because the steak isn't good enough to sell itself. "Beau Thai" is a good example of a name that's a turn off. Sometimes I'm right. Sometimes of course those things should just be over looked. Such is the case with TO's newest burger emporium, Patty and Frank's. Which doesn't fit the first two warning signs and walks a fine line with the last.
Perhaps they should've led with this: "At Patty and Franks Gourmet Burgers and Hot Dogs, we create juicy burgers from family recipes and offer real food without any fillers or preservatives!" That's the kinda thing I like to see. That's the kinda place I love to visit. Let's face it, there's nothing inherently "Gourmet" about ground beef or a simple hot dog. They're simple yet tasty concoctions and in no way need gussying up.
So, once I was able to silence the alarm bells and give P & F's a chance I was glad I did. Opened in the fall (of 2013) they're, as you can imagine, doing burgers and dogs (Patty & Franks, get it??) along with some of the normal sides and terrific shakes. Located in Greektown their off to a fast start. Immediately grabbing the attention of the GTA's burger loving crowd and so far, the early reports are great. Both links and disks come in preordained creations or you can mix and match parts and accessories to create your own masterpiece. The best part is, everything is house made. Yes, even the Onion Rings.
From the outside it's yet another store front along "The Danforth." Mixed in amongst many restaurants it's bright and simple outward appearance makes it stand out from the rank and file.
Inside I loved the space. It's kind of a cross between retro a burger place and a modern burger place. Bright, white and clean like an operating room it has some subtle reminders of the glory days of the diner. Chrome napkin and straw dispensers with vintage Pepsi logos on them are a nice homage to days gone by.
There's some hardwood on the walls with real tables and chairs (not quasi booths) filling out the dining room. There's a prep kitchen in the back and an open assembly kitchen in the middle of the space.
So let's get a look at what's cookin' in those kitchens.
P & F Style Frank: A hot dog with cheddar, real bacon bits, chopped up burger and sautéed onions. I loved it. The wiener was good quality and everything had a nice balance with the exception of the burger meat. It was rather lost in there.I added only mustard and was rewarded with one of the best dogs I've had in the GTA. Perhaps anywhere. Sadly for you self proclaimed "Purists" out there the dog doesn't have the natural casing and snap that y'all see as a deal breaker. I'm not as picky and worry more about taste than anything else. On this second issue, they deliver in spades.
BYO Burger: I liked, not loved the burger. It's 5 oz. AAA CAB (yeah) that is seared on a flat top and then finished on a grill. I ordered my usual bacon cheeseburger. It tastes very much like it's a grill burger not a flat top. As such, there's just no way I'm gonna love it. It's just not my style. I spoke with one of the owners and had a debate on the merits of the grill or griddle. He loves the searing of the flat top but thinks that it NEEDS to see fire. I disagree but this is Canada and we're not only allowed to, we're better off because we can. So, all that said, a good burger is a good burger no matter how it's prepared and this is certainly one. I'd order it again.
Traditional Poutine: Probably the closest to the real deal I've had in TO. It's made with beef gravy (which isn't traditional) but at least they seem to understand that it's more of a sauce than actually a gravy. The best I've had is at the Montreal Pool Room and this seems close. The flavour and consistency is very good. The curds were massive and melted nicely. The fries on their own were nice, crispy but a bit under salted. Perhaps because they were being covered with salty condiments. It's better to err on the side of under salted so no big deal. The purists here will lament the lack of squeak but as I've said in the past, I like my curds to melt so they wouldn't squeak anyway.
Onion Rings: Also very good. Home made they passed the pinch test although some of the breading did shatter and fall off. The pull test they passed with flying colours. They were tasty in a basic way. Not a lot coming from the breading other than crunch so the onion had to and did carry the dish. They were a bit greasy even for rings. I mentioned it to one of the owners and he said he knew that and is working on it.
Shakes: The Strawberry/Banana was fabulous. (no picture) Made with real ice cream, strawberries and bananas. What an idea!! I can remember back as far was when I was a kid that being a great combination of fruit flavours.
It seems, thanks to a competitor who shall remain nameless, that while Toronto was getting a burger upgrade, a residual effect was an upgrade in the shakes being offered around town as well. At the very least, the availability of great shakes.
So there you have it folks. Great, (not) gourmet burgers, dogs, shakes, well lots of great stuff in one of the cities newest fast food havens.
You can find Patty and Franks at 467 Danforth Ave. in Toronto, On.
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You can also find them on the web, facebook and Twitter.
Well that's all for now folks, catch ya later in the food court.