Burger Stomper is now open for business on the Danforth just west of Chester. The 5-week old restaurant is co-owned by John and Nick who are both about as burger saavy as they get. John grew up in his family's Vic Park and Lawrence greasy spoon, Smiley's (sadly shuttered to make way for more condos), and is the former manager of the Real Sports Bar.
Nick on the other hand, has spent the last 6 years developing the restaurant's namesake Burger Stomper tool (a unique kitchen gadget that presses perfectly uniform burgers). He also notes that whilst developing the product, he's "eaten at every burger place across North America".
The concept is simple; they cook what they love, and these guys, LOVE burgers.
The space is bright and fresh. Rustic barn board compliments stainless steel counters and poured concrete floors. The open kitchen seems atypical for a burger joint but it shows off the immaculate prep station and makes the space feel bigger than it is.
Though equipped for quick take-away, there is also ample room to eat-in. Place an order at the counter and find a spot in the 25-seat dining area - the staff will bring you your food when it's ready. High-top tables and comfy banquet seating line one wall and offer enough seats for a summer sports team to dine together. Opposite, tables of two or the window facing bar offer comfortable options for pairs and singles.
Prior to opening, Balkos tells me his team meticulously sourced and rated buns, meat and cheese from suppliers across Toronto. The resulting menu features soft doughy buns, real cheese and triple A meat that is never frozen. The perfectly formed patties are all meat; beef, sirloin, salt, pepper. That's it. No egg binder or bread crumb filler here.
The fries are exceptionally good - hand-cut from russet potatoes. But, it's the onion rings that are the standout. The secret, I'm told, is that they're soaked in Sprite and then individually hand battered so that they pop when thrown into the fryer, making them crispy and a little sweet.
In addition to the standard fast-food fare, the menu also features more than a few unique offerings. The Cheese Please ($8.50) comes surrounded in a "skirt" of bubbling melted cheddar frico and is topped with tomato, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayo and of course, more cheese.
The Secret Stomp ($11.50) is the wild card on the menu. John changes it up every week and loads it sky high with experimental and off-menu toppings like cheese and gravy stuffed onion rings. When ordering, all you're asked is if there are any toppings you'd rather hold off on - everything else is left to the cook's playful sensibilities.
The Nutella Chocolate Peanut Butter Heaven milkshake ($4 small or $5.50 large) is a meal in itself. The consistency is thick and creamy and it's served with a big, fat "bubble tea straw" that makes it easy to finish... too easy.
Though the Danforth location is only 5-weeks old, Nick already has big plans for the coming year. Patio seating out front is already in the works and there is talk of at least 20 new menu items including salads and grilled chicken sandwiches. The Burger Stomper tool is also set to make it's retail debut in Canada (currently, you can pick one up at the restaurant) and it will soon be featured on next season's Dragon's Den.
Photos by Stephani Buchman