The Burgernator has been open for less than a week in Kensington Market (in the former home of Big Chubby Burger), but it's fairly easy to spot; from the logo, to the sandwich board, to the small plastic robot figurines on the island condiment stand in the shop's center, a lot of thought has clearly been put into the packaging (and consequent look) of the place.
Inside, it's fairly dark, due in large part to the slightly glossed black wallpaper, lending the space a grungy-bar-type atmosphere. Why black, you ask? All the better to see the various mission statements, slogans, and logos scattered across the walls in bright white paint (this isn't nearly as obnoxious as it sounds). Notable excerpts from their manifesto include "the burger is our weapon; the city is our battlefield," and there's a tongue-in-cheek "duty calls" marking the way to the bathroom.
They offer 10% off for students, and in exchange for five visits (and your e-mail), you'll receive a free milkshake. There's also a smirk-inducing game of Cards Against Humanity that's available for play. And yes, it's a game, not a pile of esoteric fortunes as I at first assumed: we pick out "African children," for what it's worth.
The family owned and operated business has already streamlined the process--from start to finish--thanks in part to the chef's rumoured previous experience at the Duke family of pubs. The menu runs the gamut from simple 4oz patties topped with cheese or the basest of basic toppings, to a homemade chill-topped burger, or the slightly terrifying Burgernator ($14.99), which sees a triple beef patty (and that's not even the worst of it), nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches, onions and sautéed mushrooms.
Yes, it follows in the footsteps of Burger's Priest, but no, that's not a court-worthy excuse when the coronaries start rolling in (writer's opinion, don't bite).
My partner is pretty clear in his verdict after just one bite of his Big Bang ($10.99)--"This is definitely fast food," he declares. Not to be mistaken with big chain burger spots, the mix of a 6oz freshly-ground chuck patty, buffalo chicken strips, canadian cheddar and roasted garlic rosemary aioli is flavourful, well-cooked, and satisfying--but still gives you that slight foreboding of meat sweats to come. The hint of rosemary adds some depth to the taste, and pairs nicely with the soft, fresh bun.
Our first side of fries ($2.99) comes with rosemary garlic aioli; the house-cut potatoes are well-salted, and the sauce is flavourful without being overpowering. My onion rings ($3.99) arrive with the same sauce, and are slender, lightly battered, and perfectly crisped. The frying is done with a lighter hand than elsewhere, and without an excess of oil, the dipping sauce shines through.
In search of something slightly healthier, I opt for the Battle Fields ($8.50). A crusted, fried portobello mushroom comes generously stuffed with cheese and herbs, then topped with lettuce, tomato, and guacamole. It's remarkably rich for a little vegetarian burger that could, and the cheese is unfortunately concentrated at the centre of the patty--yielding a jack-in-the-box squirt of sorts.
If they'd gone a bit lighter on that aspect (as I was daintily wiping globs off on the side of my plate), it would've been a near-perfect vegetarian offering--it gives a vigorous middle finger to the notion that only meat burgers are bad for you.
Pops on offer run the usual gamut, or you can opt for a milkshake with vanilla or chocolate ice cream ($4.50)--although this last one might be better reserved for the spring thaw. The prices are good, and if you can stand feeling like you're the first one at the bar just after lunch-time mid-week, Burgernator might just win you over.