Kookoo’s Kitchen is where you’ll find some of the most epically greasy burgers and sandwiches in the Toronto area.
Beyond the restaurant's frosted windows it’s an inviting atmosphere, an open short order kitchen behind the cash, with a chalkboard menu on the wall.
Their signature burger is, appropriately, the “Nutjob” ($21): two twelve-ounce patties of AAA beef topped with triple cheese and four ounces of peppery Montreal smoked meat.
Owner Robert Vinelli recommends mustard and juicy New York McCarthy pickles for your custom toppings, and finishes the job with one of their donut-sized onion rings, signature “cock sauce” (just really good sweet heat BBQ sauce) and smoked preservative-free bacon.
The bottom bun is always pressed to build stability (they even do pressed cheese buns), and topped with lettuce to collect juices that might otherwise sog the bottom.
Kookoo’s boasts that they have the best fish and chips in the area. A generous filet of flaky, moist halibut ($16) is enveloped in light, crunchy, golden batter and served to us by Vinelli with two homemade tartar sauces made with capers, relish and sea salt, one with some added fragrant white truffle oil.
When Kookoo’s does chips, they go all the way.
We get our fish with poutine ($7.50) taken to the next level with zesty fresh-sliced sausage ($3), an onion ring and chipotle sauce.
The “Big Breasted Chicky” ($11) keeps up the cheeky humour that runs through this place as well as the humongous portion sizes.
The burger at least sort of holds together whereas this massive sandwich doesn’t stand a chance, topped with a mountain of onions and acidic, balancing hot peppers.
The decor is a tad cheesy, but it fits with the “kookoo” attitude of this joint. Montreal, New York and Toronto are emblazoned on the windows: Vinelli’s second favourite city, where he learned the burger trade, and his hometown.