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Burger Bar

Posted by June Too / Listed on October 25, 2009 / review policy

Burger BarBurger Bar has opened in Kensington Market in the space formerly home to Rice Bar. But this restaurant on North Augusta is more than just a place to fill up on burgers. How about appetizers with a burger theme? Two Cheeseburger Spring Rolls can be had for 5 bucks.

Burger Bar opened on October 13th and while many might wait a month or so for them to iron out the kinks, we just couldn't wait and showed up hungry on day number 2. Sure, we expected a few choke ups but since we were paying customers we didn't expect the service to be overly flawed.

Saag PoutineWe start with the Saag Poutine, mainly because it just sounded so good, but also because it was recommended by our server. The menu describes the dish as paneer cheese simmered in spices, cream and spinach, served over fries ($9.00).

Now, perhaps we should have compared this poutine to the offerings at Smokes or Poutini's but since one of us just returned from a weekend in Montreal it was hard for her not to contrast with the 3am snacks in La Belle Province.

As for the rest of us? Well, the fries were crispy and well-seasoned but the topping just didn't do them justice. I love saag paneer (a spinach, mustard leaf and paneer cheese curry dish), but this saag paneer was watery and bland.

Service was great at first. Our server made a genuine effort to answer our questions about the menu (albeit with frequent returns to the kitchen), she provided extra plates and helped us to divide our burgers to make it easier to share. But things started to go off the rails once the kitchen made an appearance. We initially ordered the Uni Burger (one topped with sea urchin butter and mustard oil - $10.95). But half an hour after ordering, the waiter informed us they couldn't find the uni butter in the fridge.

Hungry but not discouraged, we decided to try the LambBAM ($9.95) instead, a burger that came with kimchi, Danish Blue cheese and Dijon mustard. With influences from so many different countries we should have known the ingredients wouldn't complement each other. Innovative, but no dice.

Burger BarThe Aiba burger ($9.95) was served with truffle aioli and grape tomatoes. The truffle aioli tasted earthy and nutty and the grape tomatoes were nice and sweet. Unfortunately, the actual beef patty was dry and devoid of meaty beef flavour. This was extra disappointing because the restaurant itself smells like beef heaven (or, well, hell for the cattle). Vegetarians - you have been warned!

Burger BarThe transformation from Rice Bar to the Burger Bar was pretty quick (maybe less than two weeks) and it showed. Although I liked the touches of unfinished wood, the 3D cardboard moose heads on the walls and the exposed filments of their lightbulbs, the space still felt incomplete and non-cohesive. We sat at the only long table by the window. But as it was sunset, this meant that half of us were blinded by the sun (the windows were bare).

The final blemish? After we paid the bill our change was "forgotten".

Burger Bar might improve over the next few weeks, but personally, I won't be back to find out.

Mon - Thurs 11:30am - 10pm
Friday 11:30 - 2am
Sat 11am - 2am
Sun 11am - 10pm



Jimmy / October 26, 2009 at 09:38 am
You go on day 2 and then write a review?

And you didn't go back for a follow up meal?

Reading this pointless bush league review was a waste of my time.

I went on Friday night. Burger was goddamned delicious. Sweet potato fries great. Service great. Food came fast.

They just opened - give them a friggin' break.
Moxie / October 26, 2009 at 09:49 am
I had a burger (free range burger with provolone) there on Thursday and it was awful. Extremely dry with no flavor, it tasted like a generic burger you'd get at a church picnic. I suggest they toast (or warm) the bun next time and ensure the condiments are evenly distributed. Also I suspect they are using extra lean beef (hence the instense dryness) and should switch to lean/regular. The server asked if we would like condiments and when I said ketchup, a tiny glass disk with a teapsoon of ketchup was produced. I think they should provide the standards (mustard, ketchup, etc) at the table in whatever quantity the customer wants. Salt and pepper were also not available on the table.

The server brought us ice cold sake and when we asked for it to be warmed, it returned almost completely evaporated and near boiling to the touch. The sweet potato fries were generous but not crisp or well seasoned. They were served with ketchup, but it would have been nice to have an aoili or more exciting sauce instead.

pat bateman replying to a comment from Jimmy / October 26, 2009 at 09:53 am
don't start cryin
Suresh / October 26, 2009 at 10:21 am
This is a little silly.
First you acknowledge that maybe you shouldn't have gone to write about Burger bar so early. This leads me to think that you will stay objective, only to read a very subjective review. This is both harmful to the establishment and clearly paints a negative
view of the restaurant.

"Burger Bar might improve over the next few weeks, but personally, I won't be back to find out."

Let's all practice some editorial and social responsibility.
I've had 2 burgers from burger bar, they were both fantastic, but I still don't like the pricing structure. I shouldn't have to pay $1.50 per burger accoutrement. Keep in mind that it does NOT come with fries etc.

The wagyu burger, albeit great tasting, is $14. One of my co-workers complained that it was overcooked.
Jerrold / October 26, 2009 at 10:39 am
To play Devil's Advocate, shouldn't a restaurant make sure that the food on its menu is 1) available and 2) delicious... BEFORE opening and serving it to the public? Just a thought in the is-it-fair-to-review-on-day-2? question.
LJ / October 26, 2009 at 10:46 am
making a Saag poutine is a disgrace, seriously folks, you shouldn't "ethnicize" such a simple dish to look cool and stand out...fries, gravy and curds, keep it that simple.
And kimchi, Danish Blue cheese and Dijon mustard on a burger? very unappetizing. and yes, I think BLOGTO should have waited a few weeks to review the restaurant, and gone a second time....then the review would have made more sense....
yuck...Saag poutine...
David / October 26, 2009 at 11:00 am
In summary: The servers seem inexperienced and the kitchen hasn't worked out the kinks after 48 hours on the job. Also, if you feel the need to impress your fellow diners by ordering one ofthe novelty burgers, gasp, you might get something that doesn't taste like a burger. Nothing about beverages, dessert, or brunch and that's your final word on the matter?

I guess in this new order of shinny restaurant reviewing there are two teams: The Thoughtful and The Quick and if BlogTO wants to be passing the puck with teammates like Martiniboys that's their choice.

Really after seeing that BlogTO considers Dangerous Dan's the best burger in Toronto I didn't need to read much more from them on the matter.
Sally Harmond / October 26, 2009 at 11:15 am
You are mad! This place was AWESOME. My burger was juicy aNd the onion rings were heaven. And $14 for a kobe burger is a steal - do your research! The place is pretty and the service for us was just great.
Joe-E / October 26, 2009 at 11:26 am
By Golly, gang, after reading all these ketchup-slinging comments about a place that is trying something different, I better stroll in there and see for myself what the fuss is all about. However, the place sounds like it should be called the "World Burger Bar".
Joel M / October 26, 2009 at 11:34 am
48 Hours is not enough time to work out the kinks for a restaurant. The first week is always a mess, and reviewing places at this time is cruel. The problems you mention do not sound serious enough to encourage a boycott.

Take a look at Kaplansky's, one of the most lauded places in the city, but after it's move to College Street the opening days were a mess...including running out of meat several times because of a malfunctioning smoker. If you had a review in that time, would you have left and vowed never to return as well?

Either give it some time or cut down on the venom.

papa / October 26, 2009 at 11:42 am
I think it would not only be wise, but practical to remember this is of course someone's lively hood we're talking about here. as most should and do know, opening a restaurant in toronto is pretty much a suicide mission.

a little compassion and generosity when pulling the trigger on these quick reviews would be nice around here.
Kate / October 26, 2009 at 11:57 am
Jerrold - re the "fair to review on day 2 question." Restaurant workers can plan and practice as much as they like, but there are some issues that aren't going to become apparent until the restaurant is actually open. That's why standard restaurant review practices say to wait until the 4th week to review and never to publish a critical review without a return trip to the restaurant. It's an acknowledgement that even good restaurants will need to work out kinks, and it's also a gesture of fairness to a business owner. If they haven't worked their problems out after 4 weeks then release the hounds, by all means. This has come up on BlogTO before and people say, well, it's just a blog and just a person's opinion and so on, but I think that's crap. BlogTO is a business, not a personal blog, and it has a wide readership. It's hard enough to get a restaurant off the ground without having to worry about reviewers swooping down the moment you're open to bad-mouth what you're doing. I think the way you do reviews on BlogTO is unfair and unprofessional - and not up to the standards of the rest of your blog. (This is not a comment on the writing of the individual reviews - just the apparent lack of ethical guidelines.)
Kate / October 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm
In case you're interested, here are some suggested guidelines from the Food Blog Code of Ethics:
Suresh replying to a comment from Kate / October 26, 2009 at 12:10 pm
"Kate on October 26, 2009 at 11:57 AM
Jerrold - re the "fair to review on day 2 question." Restaurant workers can plan and practice as much as they like, but there are some issues that aren't going to become apparent until the restaurant is actually open. That's why standard restaurant review practices say to wait until the 4th week to review and never to publish a critical review without a return trip to the restaurant."

Thank you. Well said, end of debate.
mr hate / October 26, 2009 at 12:13 pm
Reviewing a restaurant that has been open for TWO DAYS is bullshit. And really unprofessional.
Tim / October 26, 2009 at 12:28 pm
In June's and blogTO's defence let me just add that what would have been unfair is if she had written the review without disclosing that she had eaten there on day 2. It's the disclosure that is key as this allows each of us to form our own opinions of whether the quality of food and service suffered because Burger Bar had just opened.

Further, I do think this review has merits. While it might be more negative than it would have been should June had waited a week or more before eating there, it still provides useful information like menu items, prices and ambiance that gives us a sense of what the place is like.

Lastly, June's review is just a starting point. I'm sure all of us will have our opinions further shaped by the comments in this thread from others who have eaten there.
keven / October 26, 2009 at 12:30 pm
I won't fully judge this resto until I try it, but that burger in the picture looks like the most unappetizing patty I've ever seen. I can tell from the picture it's totally overcooked, it's TINY (you shouldn't have more bun than burger). It looks like what a previous poster said, a church burger. And yes, ALWAYS use regular ground beef, lean is not for burgers.
mystie replying to a comment from LJ / October 26, 2009 at 12:43 pm
completely agree. love saag, love poutine. never together though.
hbr replying to a comment from Tim / October 26, 2009 at 12:56 pm
I agree Tim....June's article does qualify itself by saying "day 2".....and although she goes on and says a few negative albeit truthful things, I think what most people here aren't realizing or picking up on is perhaps something June may have felt when walking into this "new" establishment.....Opening up with a bang, whatever happened to that, competence, knowing your turf, forecasting potential duds, if you are indeed a burger biz owner that claims some expertice in the field of burgers...if you're going to be daring enough to slap saag onto poutine , then my dears it better be f'n awesome, not piddly...
Anon / October 26, 2009 at 01:23 pm
Are the blogto folks checking the IP addresses on these comments? A lot of them seem suspect to me.
Jonathan replying to a comment from Kate / October 26, 2009 at 01:28 pm
How about we make a restaurant owners Code of Ethics.

Item 1 should be:
"If you can't get the first order perfect, you're not ready to open."
Item 1a. would be:
"Except in Toronto, where you can serve crap and treat your customers like garbage for the first four weeks (or longer) and they'll make endless excuses for you."

A review like this shouldn't be dismissed at any point. I'm tired of the long list of celebrated restaurants in this city that have poor service and food, not averge - poor. It's even more rampant when it comes to hyper-trend eateries like this one. No one will call them out when they open and guess what, the problems don't go away. It's a competitive market for burgers. If you can't get it right the first day, the Deadpool will not be far away.

I am going to I'm going to go over get a burger right now.
I expect it to be fantastic. I expect "charming service" as promised on their website. No sympathy, no excuses, no second-chances. I don't care if I am the first customer. Paying is not optional while they work out the kinks. I will add a comment on what I think of the burger.
FoodWithLegs / October 26, 2009 at 02:29 pm

Well-said if only your "Lastly, June's review is just a starting point." could jive with June's "Burger Bar might improve over the next few weeks, but personally, I won't be back to find out." That last line is, for me, the biggest problem with this review. This conclusion gives the distinct impression that this is a closed matter as far as June and blogTO is concerned. Disclosure is important but it's the conclusion that is key.

Can you point to another example where blogTO has (negatively) reviewed a restaurant in its first week and "let the comments do the talking"?

I was at the Burger Bar in the first week and posted on my site about my experience but I was very clear that it wasn't a review, just early impressions. I've been back since (free coupon) and would want to go again before I post an actual review.
jack / October 26, 2009 at 04:11 pm
just be thankful that we still have restaurants that don't kill any people.... yet
dave / October 26, 2009 at 04:11 pm
is that third picture a joke?

thats a gourmet burger? really, i wouldnt pay for anything that isnt twice the size and has real toppings not three cherry tomatoes.

and at least serve buns that fit the burger.
Tim replying to a comment from FoodWithLegs / October 26, 2009 at 04:56 pm
FoodWithLegs - when June says she won't return she is speaking on behalf of herself personally, not blogTO. That's not to say that someone else from blogTO will necessarily be back to review it. But we're certainly not going to censor June and if that's how she felt about her experience then she was entitled to write that IMO.
Zalman / October 26, 2009 at 05:07 pm
I agree it's unfair to give a full review as soon as a restaurant opens. If it's your goal to get a story out there asap, better to give us a "first impression" mini-review, then return a few weeks later for a comprehensive review.

On the other hand, if a new restaurant is still working out the kinks, and wants to make it clear that this is the case, it should have a "soft opening" for a couple weeks and offer a discount to its customers of perhaps 15% off all items.

This would help us excuse spotty service and overcooked burgers, and, importantly, make us more likely to return later on to see how things have improved.
L / October 26, 2009 at 05:41 pm
I just checked out the website to find out some missing info from this review. I'm a vegetarian and my partner is a meat eater, and we like to go out and enjoy a good burger together every now and again. The reviewer says "Vegetarians- you have been warned!" I know that the reviewer is referring to the hamburger-y smell of the restaurant, but I think that it is fair to point out that there is a veggie burger on the menu, as well as a portobello- burger. There is also a chicken and salmon burger, for those of you who don't do red meat. There are also still a few rice bowls on the menu, as it is still the same owner as rice bowl; rice bowl will be relocating in a few months. there is a whole blurb on the specialty cocktails at burger bar on the website-- the signature cocktail being "the sour", which was created to complement burgers and fries. i would have liked to hear a bit about that. i look forward to hearing more reviews of this place in the next few weeks. i will be adding my comments after my partner and i have a chance to check it out!

s / October 26, 2009 at 06:18 pm
a note on the smaller sized burger in the third image, burger bar does offer a smaller portion burger referred to affectionately as the 'cowpoke', if i'm not mistaken. also, the hamburger with smoked provolone i enjoyed last week was more than enough to have me coming back every once in a while.
joe / October 26, 2009 at 07:35 pm
I dropped in for lunch on Sunday afternoon. I wish I could offer an additional comment on the burgers, but after we were seated, we were ignored by the staff and eventually left after 20 minutes.
June / October 26, 2009 at 07:46 pm
As Tim said, the post is my POV and a starting point for discussion. And well, the post has generated quite the community discussion. Comments are enabled so that anyone can give their own views on the subject publicly.

I feel the disclaimer at the beginning is enough uphold the integrity of this post. IMO, taste is subjective, and I'd like to hear more of other people's experiences at Burger Bar. And if any other staff wants to give it a try in the next few weeks...
Commenter / October 26, 2009 at 08:04 pm
First, to BlogTO: "Never send an amateur to do Devon Scoble's job!" that's what I say. The worst part of this review is that it is boring and the reviewer can't write (can't even be bothered to spellcheck, apparently).

Second, the reviewer and her pals tried three dishes and yet we know very little about them. The saag was watery and bland, the "LambBAM" flavours didn't complement each other and the Aiba burger was dry and tasteless. Let's have a little more creativity, shall we? How was the texture? The presentation? Did it arrive hot from the kitchen? How fresh was the food? Was it too spicy or not spicy enough? Was there something unusual or interesting on the menu that you didn't try? How big were the portions? Where do they source their kimchi? Is the saag made in house?

Third, what about the ambiance? The reviewer told us few details. Was the restaurant, including the bathrooms, clean? What kind of patrons frequent the place? Was the music too loud? A review should not be the end of the conversation, rather the beginning. Take a page out of Devon's book and tell us how it compares to other similar restaurants or other restaurants in the area? Did you feel you got a good deal for the price? Is it a good place to go with a group?

Fourth, all restaurants/restauranteurs are not created equal. If Mark McEwan or Jamie Kennedy open a joint, they have the money for soft opens and experienced staff and so if you go on Day 2 and the meal is crappy, you have every right to complain. This is a burger shack and it sounds like they're just trying to stay afloat long enough to make a go of it. Have a little charity. This comment is directed as much at some of the posters as the reviewer.

Finally, I think it's simply unfair to review a place on Day 2. It doesn't make it better, as one poster suggested, to disclaim that you're reviewing on Day 2. Give the restaurant a week, at least, to iron out the kinks. If you absolutely must review on Day 2 and you have a bad experience, give the place a second chance, unless the flaws you find are clearly structural, such as cockroaches coming out of the kitchen.
Ryan L. replying to a comment from Commenter / October 26, 2009 at 09:10 pm
Funny you mention Mark McEwan. When the upscale 'One' opened up in Yorkville I was working in a nearby Kitchenware store. at least once a day for at least the first week we'd end up with staff running in needing something in a big hurry. Having ran out of some ingredients, realizing that some of the equipment they had wasn't doing the job, or even realizing that they've forgotten essential equipment entirely from the get go.

On their opening night I remember an assistant running in trying to find a booster seat because they hadn't anticipated someone would bring a child on the first night (or at all it seems). They were literally sprinting around the neighbourhood trying every store they could find, but to no avail.

If -they- can have a rough first week, then I'd say it wouldn't be surprising if any other restaurant would have a rough first week too.
Tim Sin / October 26, 2009 at 09:15 pm
I don't understand why there should be a 4 weeks wait period before a restaurant can be reviewed. I agree that there are kinks that needs to be worked out when a restaurants opens, but to me it is not acceptable for a dining experience to just be a trip from one kink to another even if it is on the very first day of opening.

This is especially true if those kinks comes from the kitchen side of thing. It is one thing to have poor customer service, but having badly prepared food is a whole different matter. There is absolutely no excuse for serving a patty of charcoal on what could otherwise be an amazingly tasty burger, nor should an innovative take on a popular classic be introduced without sufficient taste-testing (which I could only assume is the case for the Saag Poutine). It has been noted in other comments that the restaurant does indeed have some good tasting burgers contrary to the ones reviewed, then Burger Bar suffers from inconsistency in its quality of food which again should not happen in any restaurant regardless of how many days it's been open.

Someone earlier said no matter how much you practice there will still be issues upon opening and therefore a 4 week wait is necessary before being reviewed. However, I think that it is completely possible to practice and ensure a good quality of food before a restaurant opens which Burger Bar did not do (or didn't do well), and it should not be let off the hook no matter how long it's been since opening.

I think June was spot on in her review. For those who thinks that it is somehow ethically wrong for her to write her opinion on a restaurant that just open, I suggest that you go try it yourself (make sure it's been 4 weeks!) and write your own review. Because the restaurant obviously will run as smooth as butter right at the 4 weeks mark and everyday after that, and your review will stay completely objection without an ounce of subjective opinion.
Tim Sin / October 26, 2009 at 09:16 pm
Oops, sorry for the wall of text... first time posting here and I guess I got the formatting wrong.
Mike / October 26, 2009 at 09:22 pm
Food Reviews will always have some subjectivity as we are all unique individuals with unique taste, tolerance and expectations. I don't think June's review is an attack on the establishment. She is reviewing the food she ordered and is giving her opinion on it base on her experience there. Thats why there is a comment section so that customers who disagree with the reviewer's opinion or had a different experience can share. I do not think that the comment section should be use to attack the reviewer. It should be for other people (like me) to read what others have to say about this establishment based on their own experience.

As well, while it may be generally accepted that a restaurant should be given a week before being reviewed, I do not agree with that. The opening of a restaurant is its first opportunity to impress its customers; to show why customers should go there to eat. The onus is on the owner to ensure that its staff should be well train, ingredients well organize, and food properly tasted before opening. You would not go into a job interview being ill prepared and demand the employer give you a week to prepare. Preparation should be done ahead of time.
papa replying to a comment from Mike / October 27, 2009 at 01:20 am
see, I don't mean to be rude but this is the kind of stupidity that is just bringing the whole system down. you too tim shore.

should we judge a band's first cd as we do their 5th? maybe someone's first film compared to their 3rd? where has tolerance for growth in our culture gone? if blogto wants to support rash, unsubstantiated and commercialized thought, then so be it. but don't try passing it off as just 'opinion'. shame on you. you know the power of media and its affect on the masses. for every 10 people that read a negative review and say 'screw it, I'm going anyway', there'll be 30 that won't bother.

again - we're talking about someone's lively hood. I dare you to open up a restaurant. not everybody that opens a restaurant is Mark McEwan. nor should they be. otherwise we should just let the city of toronto put an a la cart on every corner and call it a day.

btw: june, it's all good. it's not personal.
michelle replying to a comment from s / October 27, 2009 at 01:54 am
but it wasn't the cowpoke that was eaten in that third photo. it was a regular sized burger and the size that was given.
mike / October 27, 2009 at 03:19 am
Thanks, I am in favour of honest reviews. Disregard above whining.
keven replying to a comment from Tim Sin / October 27, 2009 at 10:03 am
I completely agree with this poster. Also for anyone comparing Jamie Kennedy or Mark McEwan, that is ridiculous. Jamie Kennedy and Mark McEwan CREATE dishes as trained Chefs, this place make hamburgers for christ's sake. Hamburgers are over 200 years old and we ALL know how to make one.
keven / October 27, 2009 at 10:04 am
Also the first photo, shows a real lack of understanding for beef cooking. The blood on the bun is from not letting the beef rest before serving it. That part is ESSENTIAL when cooking hamburgers or other beef.
mr hate / October 27, 2009 at 10:37 am
Someone who knows nothing about how to write a restaurant review writes a restaurant review and then people who know nothing about how restaurant reviews are written defend the writer of the review and say she did it right.

Michelle / October 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm
Well hot damn! I haven't had this much fun on Blog TO since The Grilled Cheese opened!
Michelle / October 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm
Oh hi Mr. Hate! XO
Brock / October 27, 2009 at 01:37 pm
Brock, the owner of Burger Bar here.
What an interesting bunch of comments.
I'm not here to attack the writer, that's been done. and I wouldn't bother anyways.
You need the content and we need to be talked about, an interesting situaton it puts us in.

Now that we've been open a full 2 weeks, would I like to be reviewed now? No not yet. But, the reality of the web, and blogs in particular, changes the game. So I can't do a damn thing about it.
I'll continue to improve my business, and hopefully you will return and love your burger, the atmosphere and service.
And we can all live happily ever after.
Commenter replying to a comment from mr hate / October 27, 2009 at 02:15 pm
It seems, on this point, we agree, Mr. Hate.
anonymous / October 27, 2009 at 02:58 pm
Nevermind all the this Burger biz - I'm just wondering when and why RICE BAR shut down???
matts / October 27, 2009 at 03:31 pm
Hey, Brock, you're not big on humility, eh? It's OK, I guess, as long as you work on your burgers, cause they NEED work....
The One Who Is Not matts replying to a comment from matts / October 27, 2009 at 03:58 pm
matts, the owner came on the board, read the comments and said that while he wished he could have more time to improve the place before he was reviewed, he recognized that was the nature of an Internet-speed world and that he would endeavour to keep improving. In essence, he came on the board, admitted the Burger Bar is a work in progress and that his aim is to make it better.

What part of that response did you find lacking in humility?
mr hate / October 27, 2009 at 04:04 pm
Matts is lacking in reading comprehension.

Kudos to Brock for having the balls to respond to you jerkos who don't have a clue about how chaotic all restaurant launches are. Or how wrong it was to do a review after it was open for just 2 days.
Brock replying to a comment from matts / October 27, 2009 at 05:15 pm
thanks matts will do. you keep up what ever it is you do.
Tim Sin / October 27, 2009 at 06:06 pm
Mr. Hate:
Isn't it kind of ironic that you are criticizing a reviewer who just started writing reviews while at the same time trying to defend a restaurant that just opened? Kudos to you. I'm also curious as to why you think the reviewer knows nothing about writing reviews without so much as mentioning the rationale behind your comment (i.e. more like Commenter's comment), maybe that'll help June become a reviewer that's more to your liking.

I think we definitely should judge a person's first CD, first film, or a restaurant's first week with the same set of minimal standards as the fifth CD, third film, or the fourth week since opening. It's not a matter of intolerance towards culture growth, I'm all for creativity and growth as long as a musician knows how to tune their instrument properly or a cook knows how to prepare and cook food properly.

I do agree though that Brock deserves some kudos for responding. I love your attitude, and I hope those who disagree with this review bring 30 of their friends to try your burgers in place of the 30 who are driven away by this review.
Food With Legs replying to a comment from June / October 27, 2009 at 06:18 pm
June, Tim, et al.: I appreciate your open comment policy and value the discussion. This "if some other staff member wants to re-review it" policy seems like lip service unless you can point to an example of a case where blogTO has reviewed a place in its first week (negatively) and then published a second review within six months.

Also, waiting a few weeks to review a restaurant is not just about ethics or fairness. It's not some arbitrary rule that Craig Claiborne and Ruth Reichl came up with in their ivory tower over a bottle of '82 Margaux. It's a matter of usefulness: If we recognise that a restaurant is likely to change (by fixing mistakes and perhaps also by slackening off when the honeymoon period ends) then we should also recognise that for someone reading the review in two, six, or twelve months seeing what The Burger Bar was like on day two (even with the disclaimer) is not going to help.

Brock: Thanks for participating in the discussion. I appreciate what you're trying to do but have one question for you. If I can get a letter from a Toronto Public Health Inspector stating that while they strongly advise against it there is nothing prohibiting you from cooking a burger medium-rare will your kitchen do that?
North of 60 replying to a comment from Tim Sin / October 27, 2009 at 06:49 pm
That is not ironic, it is incongruous. Ironic is when a reviewer writes off an early attempt by a restauranteur as flawed and not worth a second look, yet gets defensive when readers criticize her owned flawed first effort.

A review should attempt to be a representative experience. A review on Day 2 is not representative of much at all since the restaurant will still be finding its way in small but important ways. Disclaiming that the review is, in effect, not representative is at the very least, odd, and at the worst, meaningless, since it's still out there.
Tim Sin replying to a comment from North of 60 / October 27, 2009 at 07:26 pm
You're right about it being incongruous and not ironic, thanks for the correction.

I don't see how a review can be anything but a personal experience. To be truly representative, wouldn't a reviewer need to have try out every single dish on the menu on randomly selected days over a period of time to get anything resembling a representative experience of the restaurant? How can one or even two trips give an objective impression that is reflective of the general opinions of a restaurant? If you want to get a representative view of the restaurant, a review written from a low number of visits is essentially meaningless regardless of when it is from two days, two months, or two years since the restaurant opened.
mr hate / October 27, 2009 at 09:29 pm
Tim Sin on October 27, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Mr. Hate:
Isn't it kind of ironic that you are criticizing a reviewer who just started writing reviews while at the same time trying to defend a restaurant that just opened? Kudos to you. I'm also curious as to why you think the reviewer knows nothing about writing reviews without so much as mentioning the rationale behind your comment (i.e. more like Commenter's comment), maybe that'll help June become a reviewer that's more to your liking.

No, it is not ironic whatsoever.

It is a generally accepted practice to not review a place that early into its existence. I did not make up this rule. It is unfair to the restaurant to do what Ms Too has done since a bad review so early could kill the restaurant. What's so hard about waiting a few weeks? As someone else pointed out, Caplansky's first week or two was a disaster. I would discount any review of the place in those first few weeks just as I discount Ms Too's here.

If Ms. Too wants to write restaurant reviews, she should follow the rules. If she waits until the joint has been open a month, I will gladly take her review seriously because then it'll be legitimate.

Christ why is this so difficult to understand?
Brock replying to a comment from Food With Legs / October 27, 2009 at 09:42 pm
I want to serve burgers mr / med, the health dept of toronto doesn't allow for it, but please talk to them. They do not strongly advise against it, they state them temp at which it HAS to be cooked, health Canada too.
That said, come in, introduce yourself, and i'l serve you a RARE burger if you want. If I know your not a health inspector or a snitch (how could I tell?)

I know the quality of the meat we serve, I worked for months on the blend with our butcher, and I realize that the kitchen cooks our burgers to health standards (ie. over cooked), which i think sucks, but as of tommorow I am addressing it with the kitchen crew to improve on it.
Would somemone really open a place called Burger Bar, offer natually raised beef as its basic burger, have organic and wagyu and not give a crap?
Well I do.

Thanks to all, for their critisism and support (not matt), If I screw it up, everyone here carries on as usual, I'm the one with a reputation, finances, and lively hood at risk.
North of 60 replying to a comment from Tim Sin / October 27, 2009 at 11:11 pm
If you were reviewing a restaurant and the power went out on the block, would you complain, in your review, that the only thing available on the menu was bread or that the service was slow? Would you even write the review?

Representative does not mean objective, it means representative of what a reader might expect to experience if she dined at that restaurant on a typical day. What would a reader expect to see, smell, feel, hear, taste, and pay? I don't think you have to try everything on the menu to give a flavour for the place, but showing up on the second day limits how typical might be the experience. That was my point.
plao / October 28, 2009 at 12:32 pm
I stopped by this place on Oct. 16 with my friend, and my initial impression is that this place really needs to work on their food and pricing.

I ordered a way overpriced wagyu beef burger that was burnt to a crisp, and served on a bun that was an inch bigger in diameter than the patty (see Aiba burger above). I ate more bread than the beef, and tasted more of the grill than beef flavour as well.

One thing that blew my mind was the extra charges for condiments. $1.50 for a tiny little saucer of mayo for our bland onion rings/burgers? Are you SERIOUS?
Ryan L. / October 28, 2009 at 12:42 pm
Despite this perhaps overly negative and unfair review, I think I will still check it out. Rice Bar always received very good reviews and the menu seems to be somewhat unique.

While I agree that a restaurant should be consistant, I think there should be a little leniency when it comes to recently opened restaurants. Even super expensive, upscale restaurants owned by Jamie Kennedy, Susur and Mark McEwen will run into unforseen bumps in the first couple weeks. Much of it can be completely out of their control, such as a delayed order of sunshades from the manufacturer. Or sometimes those bumps are near-unavoidable due to the cost of trying to overcome them (such as keeping the restaurant closed longer and having soft openings to make sure the staff knows its stuff and make sure the menu is perfected)
Himalayan / October 28, 2009 at 01:56 pm
Hmmm, the menu does seem overpriced.

A kobe burger with fries and a drink will run you over $25. I can get a medium rare kobe burger on Wednesdays at House on Parliament, including great fries and a topping that changes weekly but often includes cheese, for $14.95. A pint to wash it down will run me another $5-6 for an after tax and tip total of $25.
Davwud / October 28, 2009 at 02:01 pm
I went there last week. I had the "Free" burger coupon but they still got my for almost $12 after adding cheese and pickles and sweet tater fries and a cola.

If you look at the ratings above, it's 3.1 out of 5. For a place that you're gonna drop $20 for a cheese burger, side and drink, 3.1 is not very impressive.

Neither was the burger. It was good. Nothing special, nothing worth going back for though at those prices. It had a pinkish tinge to is and was juicy. It tasted like beef but really didn't have enough oomph to it.

The sweet potato fries were really tasty though. I rather liked them but the chipotle ketchup was flat, flat, flat. The fries were much better without it.

The next day I had a bacon cheese burger and fries at a local diner and it was $5.75 without a drink. A bit better burger but frozen fries (I don't get all upset about frozen fries if they're decent like some do). All in all a much better deal and where I'd take my business before BB.

FREE RANGE BURGER??? replying to a comment from Moxie / October 30, 2009 at 02:55 pm
OH MY, was it served on BAKED BREAD??
Don't even try and tell me the pickles were made of cucumbers, I won't believe it.

Ever been to a farm?? Drive by one??

Lindsay / November 2, 2009 at 02:17 pm
I went a couple weeks ago, which I guess was pretty close to their opening. The service was great, the waitress was really helpful because we hadn't been there before. Unfortunately the food wasn't as great, seeing as we had to pay extra for toppings on an already $8 burger that tasted dry and overcooked.
Taking into account that it was super close to the opening I think I would give it a try again, but not until I give them a long time to work out all the kinks in the kitchen.
Nancy / November 4, 2009 at 03:53 pm
Went to burger bar for brunch and found the food good, but was disappointed being allergic to wheat and dairy to find goat cheese on the Cowboy supper when it wasn't listed on the menu. I ordered soya milk for my coffee, asked for tofu instead of eggs and they still put goat cheese on. In the end it was super tasty but restaurants need to outline ingredients so that people with allergies can feel confident with their meal choice.
paul from king west replying to a comment from Jimmy / November 6, 2009 at 10:59 am
i agree with you jimmy. how can you not go back? these folks worked hard to build this establishment. By writing such a review after just one outing (on day 2 no less) is almost criminal. you can ruin people's livlihood, a**hole!

I don't like you. You are not a good food critic.
Japhet replying to a comment from Jerrold / November 29, 2009 at 02:07 pm
Ideally, yes but most restaurants end up doing a lot of fine-tuning during the first two weeks they're open. Things often change a lot in the first month.
BurgerBarBleh / January 12, 2010 at 07:58 pm
Went a few days ago. Burgers were terrible - overcooked, dry, bland, hockey pucks. Can't blame it on opening day problems any more...this place sucks.

Too bad, the Rice Bar was pretty good. But I don't think the Burger Bar will stay around for long.
paul for king west replying to a comment from BurgerBarBleh / January 13, 2010 at 11:41 am
BurgerBarBleh knows nothing about burgers.
Clyde / March 26, 2010 at 04:06 pm
just tried it, meeeeh.
food was ok at best.
service fake friendly.

but it was nice to sit outside.
fiveteamer / May 18, 2010 at 09:12 pm
I had a burger there on Sunday afternoon and it was great. Juicy great.
Jo Magpie / June 11, 2010 at 09:03 am
Went here last night. Burger was ok. Nothing special, don't think it was worth the $11.50 (with NO SIDES) they were charging. The bun that was used wasn't the best. It was like they went to No Frills and got the 10 for $5 deal on day-old buns. Sweet potatoes fries were just ok too. The spicy sauce that came with it was good though.

This place is nothing special. Good to try out but not to come back. Not worth the money.
Katie / September 13, 2010 at 07:02 pm
the veggi burger was cool...fries were awsome... but i dont understand why it cant come together... the staff is adorable .. the bathroom music is creepy.... its in the market so i feel like it is allowed to be a little unorganized. i still miss ricebar.
kyle woodley / September 17, 2010 at 10:18 pm
The burger Bar makes a mean burger. They also have a mean price tag. I gave it a "What A Treat" on my burger blog.
Jessica / March 31, 2011 at 03:59 pm
Burgers are ok at best. The service is probably some of the worst I have ever encountered and this is judging off more than one visit. Unless you're a regular or friend of the staff don't expect a waiter to stop by your table for the first 20 minutes, and when they do don't expect much. Will never go back.
mada / April 13, 2011 at 09:25 am
overpriced, no service, i get a better burger and fries from licks for alot cheaper....DONT GO HERE!
dave / April 17, 2011 at 06:05 pm
always enjoys the burger & fries , juicy and nice bun,
the room is a bit dim and look likes a saloon but no problems with the servers who are forgetful but always friendly

we prefer the burgers here to craft burger which is sooo hip & sooo over-rated

Pat replying to a comment from Moxie / November 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm
calm yourself
Becky / November 28, 2011 at 01:01 pm
This weekend I found myself in Kensington with a friend from out of town, who needed to grab a bite to eat on a strict gluten-free diet, and on a hunch I took her to Burger Bar. I'd been there twice before and liked the food each time. Not only did the Burger Bar have gluten-free buns, the waitress told my friend all she needed to know about the food prep. She left satisfied. In short, Burger Bar made me look like an expert host that had been around the Toronto restaurant scene for eons. Thanks, guys!
Ren Davis / December 4, 2011 at 08:21 pm
Well, I guess I'll add my vote to this divided comment wall: I thought that Burger Bar was... okay.

The burgers definitely tasted homemade, with both the advantages and drawbacks of that fact: The meat was pretty good and had a comforting, home-cooked kind of taste to it -- but it was served on a plain, cold bun that tasted like it just came out of someone's fridge. And so did the toppings. It tasted like the burgers I throw together in my own kitchen, in other words. That's certainly not the worst thing, but at $10 for a regular old burger with cheese, I was kind of expecting something I couldn't do myself. (I should say, though, that the onion rings were legitimately pretty delicious.)

Service was okay, too -- servers were friendly, but the food took quite a while to show up... which, considering there were only two other tables in the place with us, was kind of surprising.

In sum: we left there satisfied enough, but probably won't be back.
what to do about premature ejaculation / December 21, 2011 at 03:28 pm
Lately, I didn’t give lots of consideration to leaving feedback on blog page posts and have placed comments even much less.
richard / December 28, 2011 at 08:33 pm
Shut down!! Rodent infestation
Mikey / January 4, 2012 at 02:25 pm
Heard they are serving a mice turd burger now
Fancy pants / January 24, 2012 at 03:39 pm
DEFINITELY not worthy of one of the best veggie burgers. Maybe they do beef okay here, but I wouldn't recommend it for vegetarians. On the plus side, the burger was do dry & difficult to get through it gave me a chance to work my jaw muscles.
does diabetes cause impotence / March 24, 2012 at 05:07 am
wow, awesome article post.Really thank you! Cool.
Jules / June 6, 2012 at 09:33 am
Dear Brock (owner of Burger Bar),
I have celiac and came to your establishment with a craving for a delicious burger on a gluten free bun when I was pregnant in the winter 2011. I had the bison burger which was very bland and the bun was great! Kudos for doing a great gluten free bun, hard to find. Disappointed you haven't got a frier with just fries so that I could have indulged in those as well. However, I had a green tea which was horribly over-priced for the quality of service I got. When I asked your server why it was so expensive she told me because it was organic loose leaf and bought in the market. BIg whoop! I've never paid more for a tea than a coffee in my life before your place.

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