Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pete's Big Bite Burgers - Cheeseburger and Rings

I've driven past Pete's Big Bite Burgers (817 Dundas Street W, Whitby) quite a few times in the past. It looked well decorated and funky with a classic diner theme so I decided to check it out.

On the menu was a 4oz cheeseburger ($3.75) and onion rings ($3.35). The burgers are flame-broiled which is my preferred cooking method, because, in my opinion nothing gives meat more flavour than a lick of flame. Upon witnessing the burger getting tossed onto the grill I immediately wanted to cancel my order.... A steakette similar to a commercially available Schneider's product was the meat of choice. UGH!

I avoid chains in order to support the local guy, the mom and pop places in hopes of some home cooking. For these guys to bust out a steakette nearly made me shed a tear.... The burger once assembled was pathetic. My lettuce, pickle, onion, mustard and mayo overshadowed the meat by a wide margin. The patty was thinner than the bottom of the Toronto Bread style kaiser bun. In fact, the patty didn't come close to reaching the edges of the bun. It should be renamed the Pete's Big Bite Failburger.

The onion Rings were once again standard pre-manufactured onion rings. Just plain lazy.


Kel's Chip Pit & More - Cheeseburger and Poutine

After some discussion on a food message board about the best chip trucks in Toronto, a recommendation was given for Kel's Chip Pit & More in Pickering (778 Kingston Rd West, at the intersection of Kigston Rd and Notion Rd in the Moodie's Motor Inn parking lot).

On the menuu for today was a cheeseburger ($4.50) and a small poutine ($4.75) taxes included.

The burger was griddle cooked and weighed in at around 6 ounces, a respectable portion. I had mine dressed as usual: mayo, mustard, lettuce, onion, pickle. At first glance you can see Kel's uses a coarser ground beef, you can see the texture of the grind before you bite into it. There is little to no filler in the hand-formed patty, biting into it reveals nothing but the texture of the beef. Excellent.

My only peeve about the burger itself is that 1) Kel needs to lighten up on the cooking time, the patty was well done to the verge of being dry. I like my burgers cooked through (medium well, with a slight hint of pink at the very least) so this isn't a huge deal, but, there's cooked through and then cooked to death..... My other peeve is that 2) the meat needs some seasoning, it's nice to let the meat speak for itself, but even the best cuts of meat need a little salt and pepper.

The bun was a D'Italiano style cornmeal topped bun you can purchase at most supermarkets. It was nothing special, but, in my opinion the bun is just the delivery vehicle for the meat, so this was perfectly acceptable.

The poutine was very well done. Kel's only gives their chips a single fry. This results in a crisp outer layer with a fairly stiff internal texture. I am a fan of the double fry method but these fries are very capable. They use real cheddar curds and a fairly standard beef gravy. It's not the biggest order I've seen for the price, but, in terms of quality it's right up there with some of the better poutines I've had.


Update: Kel's had been closed for  two years because she moved out of town. Apparently, while it was closed, someone stole the truck from the parking lot. She only found out it was missing when she decided she was going to sell it. Aren't people nice? Pics can be found on her Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Big Boys Burgers, Pickering

I stopped by Big Boys Burgers (located in the Lone Star Plaza at Whites Rd and Kingston Rd in Pickering) this afternoon for lunch.

Driving up, the place looked busy. Entering I was met with bright yellow painted and diamond plated walls, stools lined up along a bar top on one wall and racing seats in booths with folks seemingly enjoying their fare.

Looking over the menu I decided on a Big boy burger combo, an 8oz burger with fries and a can of pop (I added a slice of processed cheese for $0.65). After taxes the meal came to $10.67. Yikes!

The burger was par cooked on a flat top griddle and then held in a stainless steel tray and finished on the charbroiler. I don't know why places have started using this process. How much time do you actually save par cooking the meat, a minute or two? I once again find this unforgivable. My second peeve is that the cook broke the patty in half to ensure it was cooked. If you have any experience at the job, again, why?

You have the option of dressing your burger as you see fit and I chose, mustard, mayo, lettuce, onion, pickle and hot peppers.

The burger arrived and I must say it looked impressive, nicely charred on the outside and oozing juice onto the foil it was wrapped in. At first bite it hit me. This bad boy was full of filler, the meat had a pasty texture to it. I'm almost positive the patties have got a commercial hamburger binder mixed into them. The patty had the flavour profile of a Harvey's burger (but didn't have that cardboard texture that Harvey's patties seem to develop). The bun was a kaiser style bun available from a few bakeries (such as Toronto Bread) in the GTA. It held up well to the patty and was soft and fresh.

From there I moved onto the fries, at first glance they appeared to be moving in the right direction. They appeared hand cut and crisp. Biting into a few of them revealed an odd leftover potato taste. As a kid, my mom used to boil potatoes to go along with dinner and try to pawn off the leftovers on me the next day. I always hated how those gummy next-day potatoes tasted. These had a similar vibe..... To make matters worse, they weren't really crisp, some were, some were crispy fry imposters, limp and leftover tasting......