Toronto Special – On The Bun Burgers

The British accent. It’s an obscure and poorly-defined entity that comes in a wild variety of forms, but for myself – a Londoner, the sounds of Southern England are the true voice of Britain, (apologies my dear northerners). However, living in the cultural melting pot of London means that those with a “standard British accent” are often overlooked. It’s calm, collected, distinguished even, but, in the midst of interesting and exotic accents from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, Ireland, Scotland – and yes, even the north of England – it’s also rather vanilla. When you’re living in London, there’s no sense of intrigue or excitement associated with a “standard British accent”. Thus, you can imagine the mixture of surprise and glee I experienced in Toronto, where on occasion, a Canadian would say the words: “I love your accent”. “Accent?” I thought, “I have an accent? Wow, I have an accent in this country! Oh wait. It’s getting stronger. What on earth am I doing? One can’t help oneself. One is speaking like the love-child of James Bond and Winston Churchill. Oh dear. One must carry on now.” Almost everywhere we went, the friendly residents of Toronto would welcome our British vocal tones, which, (rather unintentionally), became quainter and stronger as the holdiay progressed.

Amongst the most amusing commentators of our speech, were the friendly and entertaining staff at “On The Bun”, a humble counter-serve diner serving simple, yet unique burgers that promise to please. Of all the restaurants, diners and takeaways I visited whilst in Toronto, “On the Bun” proved to be the most-surprising, as they surpassed the average expectations I had of them, and delivered what was quite possibly, my favourite burger in Toronto. All the meat here is halal.

NOTE: All scores below are in accordance with fast-food standards, and are not in keeping with the usual gourmet-burger standards.

Food: 4.5/5

My pre-holiday reconnaissance yielded one important detail about On The Bun, which was the fact that they served an “apple butter burger”. I had never heard of “apple butter”, had never seen “apple butter”, and certainly had never tasted “apple butter”, but goddamnit, I wanted apple butter in a burger. There are many things in life which, for no good reason, simply sound incredible. You don’t quesiton why they sound incredible – rather, you simply accept that, because they sound incredible, they probably are. Much like “snorkeling”, “wagyu”, or “macadamia”, “apple butter” simply sounds interesting, and I was eager to discover what magic this ingredient could hold. I ordered an apple-butter burger combo – with “apple butter fries” and a drink, and opted to upgrade my burger to a triple-patty warhead. The beef patties were of a high-quality, and despite being cooked to medium (as opposed to the medium-rare I had ordered), they were incredibly moist, fairly flavoursome, and possessed a soft, crumbly texture. The buns were of a fairly average-to-low quality, but despite being a little brittle, they were still fairly light and soft. The highlight of the burger however, was, without a doubt, the apple-butter sauce. It possessed a sticky and light texture that smothered the patties and soaked the bun, infiltrated every crook, cranny and crevice within the burger, and dominated the entire structure completely. The sauce delivered an incredibly-sweet kick, almost simultaneously alongside a sharp tangy punch, and it was one of the most unique flavours I had encountered in a burger thus far. The burger as a whole came together in perfect harmony, with a pleasant, contrasting combination of textures between the soft patties, the soft bun, and the crunchy apple pieces within the apple-butter sauce. It was a deliciously powerful burger, and although it fell apart and became a messy affair, it was completely and utterly worth it.

2015-09-02-07.28.27-2-1-1.jpg.jpegApple butter burger with two extra patties.

The apple butter fries meanwhile, were a perfect sidekick to the apple butter burger. They were thin-cut, but thick with a soft skin, and were covered in shreds of sticky, chewy cheese and the same apple butter sauce which yielded nothing but glory within the burger. The cheese was strong, and possessed a slightly salty touch, which combined well with the apple butter sauce. All in all, it was a glorious meal. I was so impressed, that a few days later, I decided to visit again, and ordered a snack-sized, single-patty “masala burger” (not pictured). The patty within this burger was soft and flavoursome, but the level of spice, the flavours and the sauce just weren’t substantial enough, and it simply was not anywhere near as impressive as the apple butter burger.

(Please forgive the poor photo quality – I ordered my food to go. Hotel-room lighting is great for romance or serial-killing, not for taking food photos).

wpid-2015-09-02-07.28.28-1-1.jpg.jpegApple butter fries

Value For Money: 4.5/5

My first meal, which consisted of an “apple-butter burger combo”, upgraded three-fold with two extra patties, apple-butter fries, and a “premium drink”, (a bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale), amounted to around $20 after HST (around £10). Generally, standalone, single-patty burgers range from $5-$7 (£2.50-£3.50), all of which are available with sides and a drink as a “combo” for $8-$14 (£4-£7). Sides otherwise cost between $2-$5 (£1-£2.50). On The Bun Burgers is essentially a cheap and (extremely) cheerful diner, and the price you pay is well worth the quantity, quality, and satisfaction that comes with the food. In fact, the only reason I decided to upgrade my meal to such an extent, is because the standard prices were so low. If like myself, you have a big appetite and a lack of financial control when it comes to food, have an ambulance on standby if you visit “On The Bun”.

Service: 4.5/5

Staff at On The Bun are incredibly warm, friendly, and welcoming, and also have a great sense of humour. As we greedily upgraded every aspect of our meals and waited for our food to be made, they took the time to make conversation with us and playfully mock our “Queen’s English”. Service can be a little slow however, particularly when the diner is busy. This is mainly due to the fact that there tends to be just two staff-members on duty at a time, and often, one person gets caught up taking orders, whilst the other is left to fend for themselves in the kitchen. That said, whatever you have ordered is likely to be well worth the wait.

Venue/Decor: 3.5/5

On The Bun is a fairly large diner, with a simple, functional decor, composed mainly of opposing booths on either side, and a line of tables and chairs in the centre. Various paintings and decorative pieces line the restaurant, and a large TV resides near the entrance. Whilst the decor is a little worn for wear, it works well for a low-key diner, and offers a strangely simple sense of comfort.

Atmosphere: 4/5

On both occasions, we ordered our food to go, and devoured our victims in the confines of our hotel rooms (which explains why the photos look dimmer than my future). However, thanks to the fairly leisurely service, I had the chance to spend a little time at the diner itself during the wait for our food. The diner’s simple decor helps to create an extremely laid-back environment, and if you’re a fan of Canadian sports, you can catch a game of something or the other on the TV during your meal. Personally, the only sports I am interested in is catching other people’s food, or performing a home run around a buffet-cart.

Overall: 4.5/5

As strong as my southern, British-accent may be, my southern, British-snobbery is far stronger, and it’s a characteristic that often forces me to look down upon fast food establishments. On The Bun Burgers is one of the few fast food establishments that has managed to take that snobbery, throw it to the floor, and beat it to death with a well-deserved Canadian-hockey-stick of humbility. With charming staff and a great range of burgers which are exceedingly good-value-for-money, “On The Bun” is an unlikely, but more than worthy member of the “absolutely-must-visit-whilst-in-Toronto” club.

On The Bun Burgers
Address: 5030 Maingate Drive #14, Mississauga, ON L4W, Canada
Telephone: +1 905-281-4440

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