Monthly Archives: August 2015

Jackson’s Burger

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Jackson's burger

Despite using similar naming conventions as some gum-and-cigarette convenience stores, Jackson’s Burger turns out to be quite an interesting place, at least when it comes to the menu. There are more special burgers than I can remember, but suffice to say there’s a lamb burger, a beef patty covered with peanut butter and jam, and the usual “weird” options such as burgers topped with onion rings or lots of bacon.

 

menu

Just a small sample of some of the menu options

Quirky burger stops are practically a sub-genre in Toronto—like I said—sandwiches with fried egg or secret sauce are the norm. Jackson’s interior is nothing special: a small, downtown location with enough room for four reasonably comfortable tables and a bathroom; at least it isn’t cramped.

jackson's burger

What I found interesting was how the patties are made out of 100% Halal meat, with the option for a gluten free bun. Even the vegan option sounded intriguing: a burger with a chickpea patty that celebrated vegetables instead of making them into imitation meat. Be ye Muslim, vegetarian or celiac (or some cruel combination of the last two) this is a really friendly place.

halal

Alright, alright, we’ve already established the menu’s options are great, aware of people’s different needs and offering a lot of specialties, but that isn’t worth a bowl of gluten-free kale chips if the actual burgers are sub par. While I’m no burger aficionado—as evidenced by how my sandwich looks halfway through a meal—I can tell a juicy homemade patty from a dystopian slop squeezed out of the nearest Burger King. And Jackson’s is definitely the former, delivering savoury, moist patties with the best kind of char I’ve seen from a flat top.

 

Cheeseburger

Burgetta: with bruschetta mix, provolone cheese, fried eggplant, lettuce & pesto

During a family trip here, we got to try three different burgers: a chicken burger (filled with Philadelphia cream cheese and spinach) a Burgetta (Italian cheese, meat and herbs) and the Burgeritto (Mexican toppings, including a so-called “Avocado Explosion”). I found the Burgetta to be fascinatingly pleasant, tasting almost like a wood-oven pizza. With the melted provolone cheese infused with bruschetta. It was delicious.

chicken burger

My Nana’s Chicken Burger

Likewise, grilled chicken mixed with a creamy spinach cheese combo adds a ton of flavour to an otherwise normal sandwich. My order, the Burgeritto, was chosen as it was one of the more unusual options that I was actually willing to eat. That’s me, I’d eat crickets, but not the peanut butter/jam burger. Let’s just say they weren’t lying when saying it was an avocado “explosion”.

 

avocado burger

In case you were wondering where the guacamole was…Inside the brown fritter atop the patty

Avocado and beef go pretty well together; both bring a savoury, slightly fatty taste to the table, and the explosion’s clever breadcrumb shell kept the topping neatly inside the burger. To complement this was were some diced tomatoes and sour cream, adding a bit of tartness, and dusted onions for a little finisher. Pair this with a massive box of delicious, homemade french fries and you’ve got a perfect fast foodish meal.

avocado burger

My burger before the avocado explosion

 

Since Zomato has added a rating system, each review of mine will be paired with a 1 to 5 star ranking. While I understand the reasons for this, I feel it undermines the complexity of certain recommendations for my readers; what one person might consider a 5 star restaurant would be a one 1 star to someone else. So I decided to experiment with a loose pros and cons list.

Zomato

Pros: Jackson’s Burger intriguing burger combos, inclusive menu and the overall quality of the food itself. I’d definitely recommend it to people craving a burger while near or in downtown.

Cons: Really the only problem is Jackson’s small seating. Although I wasn’t fond of the music on the radio, that’s advanced nit-picking for a great burger place. If you live far from downtown—like in North York or Scarborough—you might want a closer establishment, but Jackson’s Burger is definitely a good Toronto meat-on-bread diner.

Jackson’s Burgers 374 Yonge Street

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Eulalie’s Corner Store

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Gerrard_Street,_Toronto

The neighborhood I live in is very interesting, mostly because it’s an experiment of how many different walks of life can fit into four city blocks. For instance, my house is located in a slightly ghetto but still safe and clean part of town, next to an abandoned store, empty used car lot and a sketchy bar. Two minutes away is the vibrant and exotic Little India, mix-mashed with more closed stores and middle class hangouts.

yuppie

Okay, here’s a bit of a problem. My neighborhood is being infused with middle class, local establishments, and that colours my review of a Canadian restaurant right in the middle of Little India. But I really can’t write about this without coming off as racist towards rich white people. What do I call them? Soccer mom and yuppie are common terms, but are derogatory, and I know I’ll get comments for using a word like dink or cracker. I’ve done my best to present things as neutrally as possible, but if there’s a way to talk about middle class Caucasians in an ethnic neighborhood without sounding bigoted, please let me know.

I mention this because local cafes Lazy Daisy and Flying Pony give off a very different vibe than what the rest of Little India gives, and newer places are opening up all the time to appeal to that same demographic. Eulalie’s Corner Store—or Eulalie’s for short—is part of this new trend, and I’ll talk about that later.

My mom and I had decided to sit outside during dinner, to enjoy the summer pleasures of being harassed by wasps and napkin-stealing breezes. An outside patio is the main seating area; the indoor space being cramped. This emphasize on outdoor seating brings up Eulalie’s first problem, albeit it’s one with their business model and not customer satisfaction. Patio dining is great during summer or the milder parts of spring and fall, but when the city gets covered in snow and ice, the novelty wears a little thin.

Oh look at that, three paragraphs in and I haven’t talked about the food, but did mention optimal business approaches and racial tensions. The blog got off course again, d@mn it. Well, at least you know how long it takes waiting for dinner at this place. We arrived at Eulalie’s probably around 7:40 and didn’t get our plates until 8:20, and that’s a conservative estimate. The long wait time gives you plenty to do: get annoyed by the loud customers, wonder what the odds are of a horrific disaster occurring within the next five minutes, or pick a fight with an intrusive wasp (I hate wasps).

 

Weird people and stubborn wasps notwithstanding, the wait time is long for a sandwich and fried chicken on waffles. My personal thinking is that Eulalie’s is intended to be a social place for friends to chat and laugh over booze—like a classy, alcoholic water cooler—and that customers would be so engrossed in loud conversation to not notice how long the food is taking. By that logic, anyone who brings an awkward first-time date might feel something closer to a relativistic effect, but I digress.

If the food was good, I might say the meal is worth bearing through all the time dilation. Spoilers, it’s not. My fried chicken pieces atop potato waffles weren’t bad by any means, but won’t be winning any awards either. The breading was crispy and edible, covering boneless chicken that was neither dry nor succulent. It overplayed thin but soft potato waffles that offered some sweetness and not much else. On the side of this John Smith of a dish was a type of wine sauce, probably the best part of the meal in terms of originality, but still average. It’s a bad sign when the best word I used to describe my meal was edible.

It’s basically the same song and dance for Mom’s fried green tomato sandwich, tasty but one could find good sandwiches at the cafe Lazy Daisy two blocks away, so I won’t go into this too much. There are some good things to Eulalie’s, such as the homemade mayo and ketchup that came with the tomato sandwich, or the wine sauce with my dish. Although anything’s better than store bought condiments, homemade stuff still adds a lot of flavour. Mom found the prices to be good, I didn’t as much because I’m a complete cheapskate. And for those who’d rather an inside pub, there is a mini bar next to a TV screen and three seating tables—like I said, it’s small.

The fact of the matter is, this is not really a place focused in food.  If you’re into the whole beer patio friend hangout thing, that’s fine. Just be sure the conversation will last till dinner arrives. At the least, Eulalie’s is part of an interesting social experiment. The people who visited Little India pre-Lazy Daisy won’t be going here, nor will many of those at Eulalie’s be seen hitting up the local buffets. So there’s a middle class suburban culture of Canadians who go to organic food markets, have evening social events and spend twelve bucks on a sandwich, right next to an Indian bazaar. And I’m not criticizing that by any means—just because I don’t like Eulalie’s doesn’t mean I don’t love going to Flying Pony or Lazy Daisy’s. In regards to Eulalie’s, if it’s all the same, I’d rather eat butter chicken or chana masala.

Eulalie’s Corner Store 1438 Gerrard Street East
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