Welcome to part 2 of the Burger Review. Just for the newbies, this is a series based on a top 10 list of burgers published in Toronto Life.
Antler is #6 on this guy’s list and it’s always a restaurant that scores high on the Toronto food scene so naturally it was with plenty of excitement that we tackled this place and it’s burger.
The burger that we had was as follows:
Game Burger – Wild boar, bison, deer, hot mustard, garlic aioli and house smoked cheddar – $18
Before we begin the review, a reminder that the control burger is the Skyline burger (that is the middle of the pack) with the upper range being Casino El Camino’s Amarillo burger from Austin, Texas. I know that is unfair, but so is life, deal with it.
The burger, at it’s heart, is best served as a simple classic. It’s like the idea of America. Simple, once you start to complicate it a bit, then things can go sideways easily. This was our consensus on the game burger.
Let’s start with the positives – the bun was amazing. They take things very seriously at Antler and so everything is made in house. This meant the bun was fresh, soft and buttery good. It was the best bun I’ve had within the burgers we have tried out.
The burger seemed very interesting, it’s a combination of three animals that roam the plains of North America – wild boar (I don’t think there is a domesticated boar), bison and deer. I don’t know what type of deer, but it’s definitely Bambi.
At first, I was excited about the concept of eating 3 animals combined into one. Here are our renditions of what a bison-deer-boar would look like.
The modern art rendition:
And my scientific one, which is how I envision this animal would look had the chefs at Antler shot it in the Ontario wilderness:
So initial thought: 3 meats, 1 patty = exciting.
However, burgers are basically meat grounded together. This mean that each animal, which tastes slightly different, will have their meat combined together. This might work if each type of meat hits you in a different part of the eating experience but I didn’t really get that feeling. I’m not so sure the three meats enhanced the experience. I think that having one animal might end up being better since you get the distinct flavor. The burger had some game taste to it but was overly juicy which soaked through the bread and decreased the scoring in a new category I completely just made up – handfeel.
HandFeel – How does the burger feel in your hand? from the beginning of the experience to the bitter end. Did it feeeeeel like a burger? Was it a comfortable grip? Did the feeling change?
This burger started off with a reasonable handfeel. However, the juiciness of the burger was overwhelming and by the third or forth bite, the grease had soaked through the bun, making this a greasy experience. In some places, that is okay but you got to remember Antler is a fancy place and like I had a serviette on my lap so this was surprising.
The burger came with smoked cheese, garlic aioli, mustard and also lettuce and tomato. The garlic aioli tasted great but at times also served to overwhelm the taste of the burger. But it was good. The lettuce I think failed to do it’s part. Lettuce, with it’s crispness, has two roles in a burger:
1. Alleviate guilt by adding a piece of vegetable in an otherwise meaty meal
2. Cut into the taste smorgasbord of cheese/fats/meat with it’s crispiness.
The lettuce used was red lettuce which isn’t as crispy as say, iceberg lettuce and as a result, the grease from the burger overwhelmed it and it became limp and lifeless. Like, a really weak scratch on your back..not even sure if it was necessary.
The burger also came with fries which were delicious.
Antler’s Game burger is a distinct take on the burger idea, making a few subtle tweaks to the formula. The bun was great and I appreciated the burger being cooked medium rare, but aside from the slight gaminess of the burger, it failed to meet my expectations for a burger with 3 animals in it.
Here was fellow burger enthusiast Sarah’s take on it:
“The first bite was great, but unfortunately it was not a one bite burger”
Amarillo Burger, Casino El Camino – 10$ USD
Prime Beef Double Cheeseburger, Museum Tavern – 19$
Skyline Burger, Skyline Diner – 14$
Game Burger, Antler – 18$
Having said all that, the charcuterie plate at Antler was amazing and I would definitely go back to eat that and everything else.