February 28, 2010

Sophistication in a burger

Grindhouse Burger Bar - Toronto, Ontario
Review rating: 2 out of 4 = Very good
Competition is a good thing, especially in the restaurant world. It brings out the best in products and services. The King West neighborhood (between Peter and Bathurst) has plenty of competition for anyone willing to spend $10-$15 for a decent meal. Craft Burger, Reggies Old Fashioned Sandwiches, Burrito Boyz, Lou Dawg’s and the list goes on. Now there is a new competition in town, and it is a very good one too.
Grindhouse Burger Bar, located near King West and Peter, is part catering company and part burger bar. As the name implies, burger is what they specialize in and burger is what you should order.
3 burger choices at the time of visit (Beef - $7, Turkey - $10 and Bison - $9). All 3 burgers are surprisingly good and worth trying, with the turkey burger being the most pleasing. Mixed with truffle and sandwiched between tomato, cranberry mayo and toasted bread, the turkey burger is subtle and flavorful. The truffle / cranberry combination create a wonderful character in an otherwise bland turkey burger. Grindhouse also offers a vegetarian burger ($6) to the non carnivore and gluten-free option is available for an extra $1.
Paired with house-made ketchup and mayo, the onion rings are light, crispy and flavorfully battered, a wonderful compliment to the burger and beer. Though, the fries are ordinary and almost disappointing.
There are other non-burger items (fish and chips - $12, wings - $13 (most expensive item on the menu), pulled pork sandwich - $10, poutine - $6). Stay tuned for an updated review for these items.
Although the restaurant name and menu suggest that it’s an order-at-the-counter-then-find-a-seat type of establishment, Grindhouse is actually a proper sit-down restaurant with a full bar and lounge-like atmosphere. And don’t be fooled by many Yelp and Chow reviews claiming that this is the same as Craft Burger but more expensive. Grindhouse’s ingredients are superior. Preparation and skills are much more diligent. You can tell by the burgers that the chefs have worked in a proper kitchen before. Comparing Grindhouse to Craft Burger is like comparing Craft Burger to McDonald’s.

The bottom line: Grindhouse still needs to work out some of the new restaurant hiccups, namely their identity (is it a proper restaurant, order-at-the-encounter joint, lounge or sports bar?). But regardless, it’s a great addition to the neighborhood with some tasty, refreshing burger choices at a reasonable price.

Recommended Dishes: Turkey burger and onion rings.

Wine/Beer List: Wine selection is limited and pedestrian. Beer selection is comprised of mostly Canadian local selection – Steam Whistle, Mill St, Amsterdam Blonde, Big Wheel, etc.

Ambiance: Fusion of a lounge and sports bar. Ideal for after-work gathering or catching up with friends.

Price Range: Appetizers, $4 - $13. Burgers/sandwiches, $7 - $10. Sides, $3 - $6.

Bang for your buck: Very good

Grindhouse Burger Bar
365 King Street West,
Toronto, ON, M5V 1K1
Tel: 416-977-3010
Web: http://www.grindhouse.ca/

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