Subway: St. Clair
Bus: 74, 88, 97, 312, 320
Visit: July 9, 2012
After 12 months, 49 burgers, and what seemed like an eternity, it’s finally time to make my first burger foray into Toronto. In the past, Burger 50 came from Ottawa and Burger 100 came from Quebec City. The logical conclusion was to choose Toronto as the next epic burger in the list. So, I’m closing the third season of the Great Burger Search with one of the most talked about burger places in the entire country, Holy Chuck Burgers.
Now, I’m not going to get into why I chose this place over others. What I will say is that this was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make for a season closing burger ever. In Toronto, a city that is just as big as Montreal, there are so many contenders for burgers. What drew me to Holy Chuck was all the talk surrounding it’s burger. The clincher was a vlog I saw last May featuring the restaurant. (The Food Junkie Chronicle Post) That was the moment I just had to try that one first.
Holy Chuck is located near the major intersection of Yonge and St.Clair. It was about 12:30 in the afternoon when I got there and I couldn’t believe how crowded the area was. For the entire time I was in Toronto, crowds of people were the only things you could see. So, the concern was that I would have to fight a crowd or wait a while, which wasn’t the case, to my delight. There were a few tables taken and the flow of customers was consistent.
Ordering is quite simple. You walk in and you immediately take a look at the menu on your left if you are not sure of what you want. Since I’ve been sure for months, I stepped up to the cash and rattled off my choices. The exchange was quick and courteous. I went to find a table in the dining area and got ready to wait for what I ordered. Even before I could really realize it, the food was on the table. It was pretty quick.
One of the things that I couldn’t help but remember was what I was asked at the cash. The cashier went out of their way to ask me how I wanted my burger cooked. I find it quite rare to have that asked to me. Having the choice of temperature puts the onus on you. That’s always a matter of choice for each individual, though there are smarter choices to make in this category.
The time it took me to eat took a little longer than normal. When you see what I ordered, you’ll know why. This gave me the time to observe. What was directly in front of me was the open kitchen. If you’re seated in the right place, you could probably see what’s going on. When there weren’t any burgers cooking, I couldn’t help the staff eying the dining room, keeping an eye on their kingdom, and what a kingdom it actually is. I’ll be honest, they were probably staring at the nut who ordered the most ridiculously unhealthy trio of all-time.
To my left was this arcade game. You just don’t see that every day in any restaurant. I just thoughts I’d note that. I try to always remember the things that stand out. That’s really important when you have so much competition. Even if it’s one simple out-of-place machine, it can be enough to keep people wondering. Curiosity never hurts as it does a lot to draw people in. It’s part of the reason I came in.
The next thing was right above the game machine. It’s a statement of facts and principles. It shows a new customer, like myself, a list of tips and facts that are vital in enjoying your Holy Chuck experience. In a way, it’s something that more places should do. We often get to hear all the talk, but never get to see in applied. It’s nice to see something like this.
On my right was something that really caught my eye. What I’ll give to Holy Chuck is that they have a real clear identity. Actually, the thought crossed my mind is that they could probably create franchises, but that’s another debate for another day. For those who quite can’t make out what the cow is doing, well it’s relieving itself. You just can’t help but smile when looking at that.
Before I move on to the insane trio of food I ordered, I want to touch on the Holy Chuck Challenge. It was the one picture I couldn’t get because there were people in front of the board. If you search for it on Google, you’ll easily find what I’m referring to. The Holy Chuck Challenge is where a person attempts to eat the massive Go Chuck Yourself Burger and a specialty shake, all in the span of 6 minutes. Yes, you read that right, 6 minutes! I don’t think I need to say more.
The first member of the trio was the poutine. This was made with real Quebec cheese curds. This would be my second poutine in Ontario and I was hoping that I would get something to be proud of.
The thing that made me weary a bit was the darker sauce on the poutine. It took away from the taste of the rest of the fries and cheese by overshadowing the other components. The parsley may have been a nice touch for the eyes, but I don’t know what the purpose was.
The curds were touted as being from Quebec. While the curds were alright, they seemed a tad too soft for my taste. They really needed the sauce to get a kick.
What saved the poutine were the fries. The hand-cut fries were the real highlight. They were as good as any other fry I’ve had during my search.
Being from the land of poutine, I wasn’t expecting really mind-blowing, pretty much because that would be nearly impossible. The portion size for the poutine seems fine, but when you put in combination with the other things I ordered, it was a lot.
Bacon, Fudge & Sea Salt Shake
As you’re reading the title to the picture and looking at this insane concoction, I can assure you that you are indeed reading that right. This specialty milkshake does contain bacon and sea salt, mixed in with fudge. I also have to note that I’m making personal history here with my first ever milkshake of any kind. What better way to introduce myself to shakes by having bacon?
I didn’t quite know what to expect going into this shake. The combination of ingredients here would also make things quite interesting. Once I took a first sip, nothing happened. So, you see how the shake is thick at first. With time, when some of it melted, the process of sipping became a whole lot easier. Towards the end of the shake, there was a little glob left over that wasn’t going anywhere.
Probably the biggest curiosity about the shake is the taste and the consistency. The first thing I’ll say is that the fudge part of the shake was tremendous. I’m definitely buying into the milkshake thing. What is different are the pieces of bacon that you have to chew to get down. You wouldn’t think that bacon and fudge go together, but it wasn’t revolting at all. They mixed quite well. In a way, I was wishing that I had less food so that I could enjoy the shake fully. It seems likes a crazy idea on paper, but a tasty one at that.
Holy Chuck Burger
This burger contains caramelized onions, cheese, bacon, and a double meat patty.
There was only 1 burger I wanted to try and that was the signature burger. There are a lot of other burgers to try on the vast menu, each more crazy than the next. But, with what I ordered and ate, this was the only sane option to take. Even at that, the sane option was a double patty and included my favorite ingredient, bacon.
The size of the burger was quite reasonable. It wasn’t too big, nor was it too small. With a double patty burger, you’re kind of expecting to have something huge, but the size of the actual meat were quite small. So, dispatching of this burger was an easy process. Stupidly, I had a brief moment of thinking that I could beat the challenge, but the rest of my meal brought me back to reality.
The fact that the burger has so few condiments, something that they hope you won’t use, is something that I found unique. If this is how they wanted their burger to be eaten, this is how I wanted it. With each bite of the burger, I didn’t miss or want anything to be added. Anyhow, I’m not the kind of person who adds ketchup or mustard to my burgers. This was simple and easy to eat.
The meat and the way it was cooked, to my specification, only solidified my thoughts about the burger. I was quite pleased with how easy it was to eat and how each bite didn’t force me to fight. Before I even knew it, the burger was gone and I was generally happy.
In all, what you have here is an example of how you can still have simple burgers that taste fine. You don’t need to jam-pack your burger with every known ingredient known to humankind to have something that tastes good. For those of you who love bacon, like I do, will find all kinds of great ways that pay tribute to the cured meat. The prices are affordable and the delivery of your burger is extremely quick. Since I’m not in the Toronto scene, the debate on whether Holy Chuck is the Holy Grail of burgers is one that won’t be solved on this day. Who needs to do that when you get so much bacon?