The Burger Hut
The Burger Hut - despite the fact it is not, in fact, a hut - is otherwise one of the most honestly named restaurants I know. This is because unlike say, Pizza Hut, the Burger Hut at least feels like a hut inside. It has that slightly shanty vibe going on with its plastic furnishings and drab slate walls completely coated in a thin sheen of residual oil built up from years and years of greasy fingerprints.
The red and white tile floor and vinyl counter conjure a certain nostalgic familiarity; part 1980's greasy spoon diner, part 1980's greasy spoon diner washroom.
It's like an old man at the YMCA locker room who just doesn't give a damn what you think anymore. There is something strangely assuring and confident about the identity created by this worn and passé ambiance.
Although the restaurant would never be what I call clean by merit of how it looks, the frayed edges (some literal) actually add a dollop of welcome personality. If you drop food on the floor here though, let's just say this: you should probably throw the three second rule out the window.
Speaking of which, the food! Another reason the Burger Hut is so appropriately named. This place serves burgers. And it cannot be stressed enough, but these aren't high class gourmet burgers we're talking about here. This is not a burger kitchen, or a burger company, or a burger cellar or anything la-di-da like that.
These are burgers meant to be eaten in a hut. Practically speaking, this means the fries, the breaded chicken sandwich, the beef burger patties, the chicken souvlaki and onion rings all come straight from the freezer, right onto a charcoal grill or into the well used deep fryer.
I elect for the slightly upscale option this day, which in this case is a 6 oz steakhouse burger with a side of onion rings. The total is just over $7 and does not include a drink, although a fridge full of canned pop and bottled domestic beer is available for those inclined.
After about 5 minutes, my styrofoam plate (the finishing flourish on the two-decade-timewarp vibe of this establishment) of onion rings is handed to me. They are of the heavily battered variety and still dripping grease so hot the plate holding them is starting to scar due to the oil perspiring from each piece.
The rings are crispy and the onion serves as a sufficient tensile material to give the fried batter a ring-like shape to cling to. They don't really taste like onions though. Whether that matters to you is subjective since I slathered them in ketchup anyways.
Another few minutes later and my cheeseburger (processed cheese) is hot off the flaming grill. I am given my choice of toppings which include the usual suspects: lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, hot peppers, ketchup, mustard and mayo. The accoutrement is generously piled if not necessarily the freshest produce I've ever seen.
The burger itself is like your favourite backyard bbq -- a frozen patty grilled to a smokey exterior while retaining a moist, slightly elastic interior texture. There are no juices as I bite into the mildly burnt (in a good way) tasting meat and the bun, a nondescript floured white bread job, serves admirably to keep all the components of the sandwich in place.
The Burger Hut is a case of managing expectations. Sure, you could compare it to sit-down restaurants or premium burger joints in the city that have turned ground chuck into a religious experience, but I'm pretty sure the actual owners aren't bothering to do the same.
If you're too lazy to fire up your own grill this summer, this is a filling, no frills option for quick and dirty indulgence in North York. Oh, and the fries are pretty decent too, crispy, chunky and overcooked.
Just eat them before they melt your plate.