Damn Good Burger – Royal Meats Barbeque
25 April 12
Finding myself tailing along with a buddy on a business appointment just outside of Toronto, we were delayed in the timing of his meeting so we decided to go for a quick bite to eat. The sales rep we were waiting to see suggested that there was a “great spot for burgers – if you like burgers – right around the corner.”
Now I am a burger guy and this comment peaked my interest with the usual cynicism I hold when it comes to peoples evaluation of what a good burger is, what good wings are, what good street meat is (Diamond cut required) or who serves a good deli sandwich. These four items Ive searched far and wide for – and when possible, indulged, eaten, and evaluated. For years I’ve been complaining that no one could make a decent burger on Utila for example. Some people there blame it on the beef, some on the lack of fresh baked buns and others simply don’t care about this stuff and would look at me like “why does this guy talk and care about a freaking burger so much?”.
Recently when in was in Israel I went through the same process with friends there of whom most claimed to know of a decent burger spot in Tel Aviv or somewhere else. I digress, I was so enamoured with the high quality shawarma in Israel that I didn’t give even one burger the chance at my criticism, while I was visiting. I looked but didn’t take. At a cost of 12-15usd for a minced beef sandwich (with probably a crappy bun – although I don’t know why Im saying that), the thought of an Israeli burger just wasn’t doing it for me…….that ……. and the shawarmas were just that good.
On with the show here and back to this afternoon.
My buddy Hitch and I stepped inside a very tidy and simple restaurant with big glass windows and lots of light. Immediately I sensed that we might be in for a bit of a treat. At Royal Meats Barbeque, you select from the deli counter the meat you wish to be cooked. They favour burgers there (in two sizes, ½ pound and full pound) and they are well on display beside a few other items such as sausage and chicken fillets, which are also on the menu. After placing the order, you have a seat and wait a short time while the fresh made patty is grilled in the open kitchen with your eyes and nose as witness.
Once ready, they call you back up to the counter to garnish the fine looking specimen of beef. There are the traditional toppings – lettuce, tomato, full size deli pickles, and condiments. Further, they only provide Heinz Ketchup – there is only one kind (as WE know) and anything different would be sac religious on a burger (or anything else requiring ketchup) – check mark for that.
Also offered, was a special house dressing which looked decent, but I didn’t want to crowd the senses in the overall evaluation. This would be similar to being served a draught beer in a frosted mug – that is, youll never know if the beer has gone sour because of the coldness of the glass – always room temp mug for the first beer to verify a good brew, FYI. Royal Meats also offered another special “spread” we’ll call it. I believe the worker said it was a mixture of cream cheese and mayo. I usually add mayo to my burger so I reasoned this wouldn’t be too far off the path not to give it a go. They spread it on the underside of the top bun, looked good. Was a decent replacement for cheese.
Speaking of bun. This is where everything about a burger can fall apart – literally and figuratively. You can have a decent burger….heck you can even have a great burger…..but if the bun isint up to speed the whole thing can fall apart and go right downhill. This burger bun was big enough to cover the patty and was toasted as well – which made me a bit nervous. That is, with over toasting and a large portion to shove down the trough, a badly toasted bun can become hard and tends to cut/chafe the top of your mouth. Not a great description but a situation we can all understand. Well…….. this bun was perfect. A mix between toasting and steaming on a fresh baked bun that had the consistency and look of a ciabatta and Kaiser roll mix.
When leaving I inquired to the manager about the burger and he told me they were made fresh daily at their Royal Meats Butcher shop that has been in business for the past fifteen years. Also, they only use salt, pepper, chillis and onion in the patty……simple but good. Fresh and fast. Price was decent at $7.50 for the half pound and $9.50 for the full pound………youre going to pay a bit more for drink and fries if you even have the room.
And there it is……..a very decent burger at a relatively new joint.
Royal Meats Barbeque
710 Kipling Ave, Etobicoke, On M8Z 5G5
This post is dedicated to Dor, Arbel, Stass, Niv, Nir, and others.
An Expensive Big Mac.
It is top news in the wonderful world of economics that McDonalds has decided to lower the price of the Big Mac (and other menu items) in Israel. Apparently this is not about value for food, gluttony, our the fast paced world we live in, but rather, an actual economic indicator of some sort.
Written yesterday in the Jerusalum Post was an article referring to this unexpected drop in the “benchmark price of the Big Mac” throughout Israel.
I was visiting Israel in the fall for 3 months and although I never actually ate at McDonalds, I did have a look at the menu a couple of times, to see what they were offering ie. Kosher vs. non Kosher. In fact McDonalds was one of the only American franchises in the country I could find. I heard tales of Starbucks being driven out of there within a calendar year…..so this is possibly a picky place. With that said, the all American burger restaurant was in full swing, everywhere and people seemed to enjoy it. Remarkable were the prices though. Using my quick (but not entirely accurate exchange rate of 4:1 –shekels to the US dollar), you could easily spend upwards of $10 on a regular Big Mac meal. This of course is expensive for the value meal but none the less also reflective of the country where everything is more expensive. Me, going directly there from wonderful 3rd world Honduras, the prices seemed like highway robbery (see: lets just go for a walk to the beach, that wont cost us anything).
In any case, reading about the Big Mac its self got me thinking about two particular personal situations involving this menu item at this restaurant. The first, where in fact I vowed never to go to McDonalds again – ever. And the second, six years later where I ate a Big Mac meal – for the first time since my vow – that saved my soul. Location one: Thailand. Location two: Luxor, Egypt. Stories to follow in pt 2 and 3 blog.
Below: south Israel, on the way to Elat…a highway service center. Aroma Cafe to the left……the store whos name starts with an ‘X’, reading right to left. Probably the favorite of my places to go for a coffee if it was on the run, more or less. Coffees were absolutely amazing in Israel, and coffee shops were everywhere.