BQM Diner opened last year in the old The Stem location on Queen, causing greasy spoon purists to question whether a local gourmet burger joint would tarnish this once classic spot.
Like their Leslieville and Ossington outposts, the Burger Shoppe (BQM) modus operandi is in full effect here - all the meats are naturally raised and hormone free and every dish is prepared with a little bit of gourmet pizzazz - like fresh aioli instead of your standard mayo.
Having already popped in once with a friend for a (great) chicken sandwich, I have no reservations about making a second visit. But this time I have a specific objective - it's the burger I'm after.
For those who haven't been the space still has that classic diner feel. There are bright blue booths, a jukebox and an open kitchen.
Everything on the menu looks great - all day breakfast, poutines, sandwiches, salads and burgers. Aside from salads, there are a few vegan and vegetarian options like a tofu scramble, a tofu sandwich, and a chickpea patty sandwich. In fact, any burger can have one of the vegetarian patties substituted for no extra charge. But seriously, if you're really looking for something animal free, would you really come to a place called Burgershoppe Quality Meats?
I order "The Natural" burger ($6.95) and my friend goes for "The Shoppe" ($7.95). The burgers come out fast and are just asking to be devoured. My fussy dining companion notes the lack of horseradish on his burger (at least in comparison to the mountain of caramelized onions) but that crisis is soon averted when he simply mentions this to one of the staff whereup he's given a generous bowl on the side.
I'm hungry so I bite in. The aioli has a great zing to it and the large helping of fresh greens makes me feel just a little less guilty about the indulgence.
The patty itself is bit more well done than I'd like (even though I ordered it pink). It's a bit dry and less seasoned than what I'm used to but at the end of the day it only minimally detracts from my overall impression.
Ironically, even though we both asked for our burgers to be cooked the same, my horseradish obsessed lunch mate strangely discovers his burger to be a bright pink, with plenty of juice and nothing that would mistake its texture for the Gobi desert.
We lurch out of BQM after our meal not entirely sure what to make of it. I finish happy--I got to eat a diner-style lunch without feeling greasy and bloated.
But I'm not sure how to pin the BQM diner on Queen. It's definitely not a greasy spoon like its former tenant but it has a different vibe from its other locations and feels a little less gourmet than the one on Ossington. I suppose it's just a good place to get a healthy-ish indulgence.
BQM Diner is open 8-9pm daily. Everything on the menu (which is currently incorrect online) is $9.95 and under, except for the meatloaf. Sides are ordered separately.