The Rude Boy
The Rude Boy opened rather quietly this past week on Roncesvalles Avenue in the location previously occupied by The Greek Spot. The foursome of chefs Liam Kelly, Faiez Bapoo, Paul Simmons and Alex Sengupta (The Lakeview, and the recently opened Samuel J. Moore) identified a hole in the culinary offerings in the neighbourhood and decided that a burger joint was just the ticket.
The menu is tiny with a total of five burgers (including "The Natural", $8.50, pictured at the top featuring lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle) and three sides, which include onion rings, fries dusted with parmesan and rosemary, and a house salad. We opted to split an order of the Sapporo battered rings with a house-made mustard ($4.50), after our pleasant server suggested them. The batter was light and crispy and perfectly salted. The portion, however, was a bit smaller than expected, and we probably could've had a full serving each.
My friend chose "The Veg" ($11.50) for her "burger" — fully expecting it to be a veggie burger. This, alas, was not the case. Though it came on the same burger bun as the other offerings, it consisted of marinated portobello slices, rapini and a tomato relish accompanied by a scant amount (3?) of homemade potato chips and a sliver of a pickle. While the combo of veggies was pleasant enough and the mushrooms and relish offered up a great tang, the bun to content ratio was unfortunately tipped too far towards the carbohydrate. And despite the lurking flavour, we couldn't help but think of the delicious veggie burger on offer right across the street at The Local.
Small menus can make one's meal choice rather difficult (everything sounded good), which was definitely the case here — their namesake burger "The Rude Boy" ($13.50) which consists of house cured bacon and peameal, beer mustard, garlic aioli, and a fried egg was particularly appealing but ultimately seemed a bit on the heavy side. I opted instead for "The Sting" (also $11.50) as the description (and name itself) seemed to promise bold, spicy flavours. Crispy jalapenos, Sriracha aioli, pepper jack cheese and cucumber slaw served atop an 8oz. beef patty.
The meat itself was extremely moist and well-seasoned (salt is crucial to a good burger) and the bun was nice and soft. Chef Kelly uses locally sourced meat from the fantastic Sanagan's Meat Locker in Kensington Market and then grinds it in-house. Unfortunately the toppings came up on the short side, and like "The Veg" the accompanying sliver of pickle and few chips pushed the notion of frugality to its limits. Perhaps more problematically, the deep-fried jalapenos, the suspiciously bland Sriracha aioli (more mayo-y tasting than anything) and pepper jack cheese layered heavy on top of heavy on top of heavy. The small amount of cucumber slaw provided little relief and I actually stole some of the mustard from our onion ring order in search of some much need acidity.
Rude Boy's cocktail list is rye-based, and they have a good showing of draft including Sapporo, Okanogan and Blanche de Chambly as well as a variety of pint cans. The music was the perfect volume but a bit all over the place switching from 70s reggae (yay!) to 90s ska (no!). The decor is suited to the stripped-down burger menu with multiple booths that seat about 40, messily hung pictures and the movie poster from which the restaurant takes its name.
Still in its infancy, The Rude Boy has solid bones. The arguably (is it even?) most important aspect — the burger itself — is locally sources and fantastically juicy. They could easily fully win me over by being a bit more generous with the accompanying pickle (hah?) and chips, considering the prices they're asking. Roncesvalles is undoubtedly lacking in late night fare, and Rude Boy helps to fill that void.
The kitchen is open until midnight Monday through Wednesday, 1am Thursday through Saturday and until 11pm on Sundays. The bar remains open unti 2am every night.
Photos by Denise McMullin