If there’s one thing that I occasionally love, it’s being alone. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not some sort of anti-social loner who sits in the dark every day. (I only do that on Fridays). Rather, I mean that occasionally, I find it refreshing to have some time to myself. To go where I want and do what I want, without having to worry about accommodating the needs and preferences of someone else. (Sadly, my university friends misinterpret the “occasionally” part, and think it’s nice to tell me they’ll meet me for lunch on one floor of the hospital, whilst ditching me and going to another. But that’s neither here nor there). There’s a simple beauty to the peace and independence that comes with enjoying your own company, and indeed, one of my favourite days in Toronto was a solo-trip downtown. After a pleasant breakfast, a quick shopping trip, and a wonderfully relaxing, ice cold drink in the Toronto sun by Yonge-Dundas square, I proceeded to walk the odd one and a bit miles to my final destination of the day – The Burgernator.
The Burgernator was the very first halal restaurant I picked up on my pre-holiday reconnaissance, and it was one I was very excited about. Located near Kensington market on Augusta avenue – an old, historic and seemingly Camden-esque part of Toronto filled with hipstery things like colourful murals and a flower-pot car (literally a car used as a flower pot), this Terminator-themed burger vendor appeared to be as unique as the neighbourhood it lived in, and I was eager to see if it would live up to its reputation. It was time for judgement day. All the meat here is halal.
As I stumbled in on the verge of heatstroke, I (rather stupidly), tried to rectify it by taking a window seat, which was akin to sitting under a giant magnifying glass and setting myself alight. You can tell my desert survival skills aren’t particularly top notch. (That’s desert, not dessert. My dessert survival skills are world class). Luckily, my boiled brain didn’t need to do much work, as I already knew what I would be ordering – “The Burgernator” burger, with “Burgernator fries”, accompanied by a vanilla milkshake. Signature upon signature.
“The Burgernator” is a less-than-humble triple patty warhead, armed with a less-than-humble set of “grilled cheese sandwich brioche buns”. These high quality, guilt-inducing buns were thick, soft and wholesome, but the real magic lied in the cheese-filled exoskeleton that lay beneath the organic bread tissue. This hidden core delivered a pleasant sticky texture that complemented the lightly toasted buns exceedingly well. The patties within possessed a pleasant, crumbly texture, an excellent medium-rare cook, and a flavoursome beefy tang, but some parts were slightly chewy, due to thin, firm strands of fat within them. This somewhat detracted from the otherwise soft and moist textures that each patty provided. However, the same sticky cheese that was encased within the brioche buns was also intermingled with the patties, and meshed in with them to create a wonderfully gooey burger. Meanwhile, the grilled onions and “burgernator sauce” that sat on top provided much flavour – though a little more was needed to add sufficient stopping power to the burger as a whole.
The Burgernator fries were a hefty sidearm. They consisted of rustic, high quality fries covered in moist kidney beans and sticky chilli cheese, topped with sour cream and chive sauce, and the result was a concoction of strong flavours that worked incredibly well together. My accompanying milkshake meanwhile, possessed a very thick consistency, and was packed with a strong vanilla flavour and a strong smooth sweetness. It was certainly a nice break from the relatively thin and unexciting milkshakes found at most of the other restaurants I visited during my stay.
Value For Money: 4/5
“The Burgernator” is the largest “Burger of Mass Destruction” available here, and came in at a reasonable, standalone price of $15, whilst the Burgernator fries came in at $5.50 (£2.25), and the milkshake cost around $4-$5 (£2-£2.50). The other burgers range from $5-$11 (£2.50-£5.50), whilst sides and drinks range from $3-$5 (£1.50-£2.50). Whilst the quality falls slightly short on some key components, the prices are fairly in line with other burger vendors in the city, the portions are generous, and the food as a whole, is reasonably satisfying.
Burgernator’s staff are well-mannered and polite, but generally, service lacks the classical warmth and friendliness found at other Toronto establishments. This is mainly due to the simple fact that food is ordered at the till, and as such, there’s a lack of personal interaction. Nonetheless, whilst they may be reserved, staff are efficient and effective at their designated tasks. A little too reserved, efficient and effective. You could even say their personalities are fairly “robotic” in nature. (I’m just speculating).
Burgernator’s Terminator-theme seems to be well reflected in their decor – in both good ways and bad. The good lies in the simple black walls with a selection of amusing phrases littered around the restaurant, such as the crude “CALL OF DUTY” above the doorway to the bathrooms or the fairly self-inflated “YOU’LL BE BACK” next to the exit. The bad lies in the fairly dilapidated decor, which seems to reflect a biker bar in the aftermath of nuclear fallout (though it’s unclear whether this is intentional and in-keeping with the Terminator theme). Even after taking into consideration the fairly minimalistic decors found amongst most of Toronto’s eateries, Burgernator has a rather tired appearance, with dark lighting and pale wooden furniture and tiled flooring. Aesthetics aside, the venue is otherwise rather spacious and welcoming in its layout.
Augusta avenue, (where the restaurant is based), is fairly busy and parking can often be tight, given that there is a restriction during certain hours. However, you may be able to find free or free-limited-stay parking in nearby residential roads.
Despite the fairly lacklustre surroundings, Burgernator provides a very relaxed and laid-back environment in which to terminate your meal. You can expect to sit back and stuff your face with burgers in peace, without worrying about a giant, muscular Austrian cyborg demanding that you hand over your clothes. (Unless you’d actually like that to happen. Astaghfirullah).
The Burgernator has many of the hallmarks of a fantastic gourmet burger establishment – from a fantastically unique and enticing theme, to a wide selection of exciting burger formulas fixed with reasonable prices. And, whilst it fell slightly short of my preconceived expectations, I’m still very glad that I paid them a visit in the closing moments of my time in Toronto. “I’ll be back”? Almost certainly – should I ever return to Toronto. Until then – “Asta la vista, baby”. *Shudders*. That was cheesier than those cheese-filled brioche buns. I apologise profusely for making you read that and I promise that I’ll never type the word “baby” again. Either way, “You’ll live”.
Address: 269 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2M1, Canada
Telephone: +1 647-748-0990