Burger Review: Bombolone Burger, Bar Buca

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment

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Welcome to part 6 of our burger review series. We are on the final stretch. As a reminder, this is a series based on a top 10 list of burgers published in Toronto Life….


The Panic Manual follows no rules and after travelling the path laid out by Toronto Life, we decided to cater to our rebellious ways, go off script and pick our own burger place. It was a crazy decision, I know, but it felt so refreshing to not have to rely on a Toronto Life list for burger consumption. It almost felt like this moment in Pleasantville:

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To go further off the beaten path, we picked an Italian restaurant for our burger. Bar Buca. This was Sarah’s pick and here’s why she picked it.

“I picked Bar Buca because I did a very scientific Google search for “best Toronto burger” and it was one of the results on a list. I don’t know whose list, but definitely a list. Well, Internet, it’s not the best Toronto burger but it is definitely a good one so I thank you for your service.”

So there you go, thank you google.

On a side note: “And also, Ricky, the Harbord Room is not the same as Harbord House how dare you.”

Apparently I have been confusing Harbord Room with Harbord House for all my life, and this is sad, because Harbord Room was supposed to have a really good burger.

Anyways, back to Bar Buca

The burger in question was

Bombolone Burger – $15
beef and lardo burger, cured pomodorini, white radicchio, rosemary olive oil zabaglione

Now before we continue, an Italian language lesson:
Bombolone Burger = Donut burger?
Pomodorini = cherry tomato

At least according to google (thanks again).

The Verdict
First of all, you will notice that this burger is regal and fancy. Radicchio? Lardo? CURED pomodorini? Definitely not your traditional greasy American dive burger, but let’s celebrate diversity shall we?

Made from Bar Buca’s famous(?) donut dough (hence the name), the bun was solid. Toasted lightly, the bun had a nice sturdiness to it that crunched nicely when you bite into it. This was no surprise, as someone who spent the better part of last month in Europe, I can attest to one thing: Europeans know bread. I’m not saying they are European here, but it is an Italian restaurant after all.

The burger itself was a decent size. Perhaps smaller then some of the other places we have been to, but it was salted and flavored nicely. It was a bit greasy, as the napkin that my burger sat on quickly became identical to a rorschach test with all the grease dripping onto it. Despite the advertisement of lardo in the menu, I didn’t really detect it in my bite. My other complaint for this was that my patty actually fell apart into multiple pieces after a bite or two, meaning I had to eat it at certain angles to prevent it from falling. The patty was good, but this could not be overlooked.

Normally fancy ingredients detract from the burger, but actually in this particular case, the different ingredients served to make it better. The cured cherry tomatoes were really sweet, and there weren’t that many on the burger, so each bite was different depending on whether or not you hit the tomato. When you did, your initial meat bite finishes off with an explosion of sweetness that is quite pleasant. But it’s not every bite, so it doesn’t overwhelm the burger, which is nice.

There was also a coleslaw-like mix that also added a nice peppery taste to the burger. I really enjoyed the combination of sweet and peppery and it is one of the few instances where the veggie choices actually enhanced the burger eating experience.

Maybe this is just the going price these days for food, but 15$ for a not large burger and no sides seems more on the expensive side. I guess rent at King and Portland is pretty high.

With it’s unique flavor profile and good taste, we really liked the burger at Bar Buca. It was also a good spiritual lesson as we learned that we don’t have to follow the rules and things will be just fine. The great thing is that we learned this without having to murder a bunch of people like Christian Bale did in Equilibrium.

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Here was burger enthusiast Sarah’s take on it:
“This burger was tasty! It was hard to put down, both because it was delicious and because it wasn’t very structural. I am glad we went off list for it.”

Burger Scale

Amarillo Burger, Casino El Camino – 10$ USD
The Burger, Wickson Social – 19$
Bombolone Burger, Bar Buca – 15$
Prime Beef Double Cheeseburger, Museum Tavern – 19$
Skyline Burger, Skyline Diner – 14$
Brisket Cheese Burger, Carbon Bar – 22$
Game Burger, Antler – 18$
Vegan Mac Daddy, Doomies – 16$

Monday Song Reviews – Warpaint, Little Dragon, Waxahatchee, Pony, Hachiku, etc

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment


Every Monday, Spotify suggests me a new playlist. So I decided it’s a decent idea to listen to these new tracks since this is a music blog and all. So here are some tracks I heard today and my initial (aand final) subject matter expert thoughts on this. You will have to look these up yourself if u like it because I’m too lazy to do anything beyond what i did here today.

Edit: I have embedded it at the bottom, because I love you all so much.

Knox Fortune – Help Myself
Fairly forgettable song

Polica & Boys Noize – Lipstick Stains
Minimal sounding song that lacks hooks. Pretty much sums up Polica.

Big Dipper – LaCrois Boi
Another minimal low key song that takes advantage of a cultural moment in 2017. No one will listen to this in a few months. Similar in vibe to Chet Faker, where is he now?

Mount Kimble and James Blake – We Go Home Together
Another down tempo, quiet track. I realize it’s Monday and Monday’s are depressing but man, Spotify, shake me up yo.

Warpaint – New Song (Soulwax)
Soulwax??? what is this, 2003?. I really like the original version of this song by Warpaint and remixes generally ruin songs but Soulwax was somewhat entertaining back in the day. This song adds additional beats and extends the ending with additional beats and beepity boop sounds. Nothing spectacular but doesn’t ruin the song, so for a remix, this is a thumbs up.

Waxahatchee – Silver
Having seen Waxahatchee live before and knowing some of their back catalog, I knew what I was expecting. This was an upbeat tune and the guitars remind me of New Order circa the 90’s or perhaps a bit of the Cure, not a bad idea.

Cymbals – Decay
I like the strings in this song. Good mix of sampling and vocals in this track, there’s some complexity there I wasn’t expecting. This is a good song

Little Dragon – High
I’ve been a casual fan of Little Dragon since their inception or since someone told me about them. This song features Denzel Curry and Twelve’en on it and has a great chill mellow lounge feel to it. The addition of the guest vocals is a nice change of pace for Little Dragon. It almost has a ’90s r&b vibe to it, which is fair since every kid these days dresses like it’s the ’90s. I would listen to this song again.

Yehan Jehan – Phantom’s Boat
Not a whole lot that separates this song from the slew of random songs I listen to.

Luwten – Indifference
It’s funny this is the title of the song, because this is kind of how I feel about this song. There’s a nice backing vocal but I feel like this is every indie song.

Pony – DIY
I like this song. Sounds like a less rock version of the Dollyrots. It’s got so-cal guitars with a catchy chorus. I’m a sucker for that type of sound

August Eve – Ghost
Piano driven ballad, whoever is singing this has a nice voice and it’s a tune I enjoyed the one time I listened to it.

Hachiku – Moon Face
This song has a very cute intro. What makes a cute intro? I’m not particularly sure. Egg shakers? I like this song, it’s like a dreamy twee track. A nice track for when it’s 12:30 am and you are in a room full of people and you want to remind them that bedtime is soon, but in a nice way.


Travel Review: Everything I ate in Ireland

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment

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I was in Ireland in June, here is everything I ate. Seriously.

Day 1: Dublin
Irish breakfast
1 sausage, bacon, black and white pudding beans and an egg

Wuff was a fancyish restaurant, so the Irish breakfast was not the nitty and gritty oil fest I had imagined. The sausuage was very tasty and the beans had a strong rosemary flavor but was otherwise underwhelming.

Beshoff Bros Fish & Chips
Smoked haddock and chips

I love chowder, so this was the first of many. It was raining so we just went to a nearby franchisey place. The chowder was nice and thick and the smoked haddock had a really amazing flavor to it since it was smoked. The portions were rather large and I didn’t finish.

Day 2: Dublin/Galway
Irish breakfast

Yet another Irish breakfast, this one was a bit more basic and the restaurant had a nice cafe feel to it. Nothing special and it was mostly just too salty for my taste. The coffee was good though.


Loam is a Michellin star restaurant in Galway and served us some fancy ass shit. It was easily my favorite meal of the trip. The food at Loam is all local and some of it is foraged. The place is so precious it gave me a copy of the menu. Here is what we ate

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and here is what it looked like:

A post shared by Ricky Lam (@panicmanual) on

The squid soup was ridiculous, and I honestly had the best carrots of my life here. It was carrots of three types, roasted, dehydrated and one more. The sauce it came with was reduced carrot juice and buttermilk. It was awesome. I also had this flower pedal which was super tasty as well. Maybe I’ll go forage now.

Filet o fish & fries

Curry fries

Drunk Ricky had two meals at 3 am. Filet-o-fish, which is the best thing you can get at McDonalds and also Curry Fries from Supermacs, which is like Irish version of McDonalds. A great way to follow a 130 euro meal just a few hours later.

Day 3: Galway

Chicken pie with salad

You gotta have pies in this neck of the world. Mine was a classic chicken and leek pie that had the comfort I needed after a long night. Surprisingly, the highlight was actually the salad which had intensely flavored beetroots.

Sunday roast – lamb leg

The Sunday roast is a great tradition. The lamb was good but there was a severe lack of gravy for me to eat the potatoes with. The steamed veggies provided looked pretty sad and uninspired, which was a downer. Vegetables, as we would learn, are not a priority in this country.

Pizza – Spinach and stuff

I wasn’t even hungry but the pizza place smelt so good I had to get a slice and it was DELICIOUS. Thin crusted with lovely cheesiness to it, this pizza was as good as any slice I’ve had in a walk in restaurant.

Day 4: Galway/Aran Island


You do what you do

Crab dip
Seafood platter

It was a long day, going to Aran Islands so we were starved by the time we got back. I had the most amazing white fish chowder here, and then we followed it up with a feast of the sea. The seafood platter’s portions were quite small given what we paid but it was still good. The chowder was the star though. Creamy, meaty and flavorful.


So good we had to go back again to get it.

Day 5 Galway

This is just fuel for my body

Tea Room at Kylemore Abbey
Salmon quiche

Tourist spot, not too many options but this quiche had a lot of salmon which I like. Fun fact: They catch salmon in the lakes of Ireland. Who knew?

Morans cottage
Crab legs

One of the most famous restaurants in the west of Ireland, Moran’s had plenty of seafood. The oysters were okay, but I’ve had better. The chowder was fantastic – a lighter none creamy version that was more like an elevated seafood broth. The lightness was a good change as I was fearing that I was having too many chowders. The crab legs came recommended and were tasty, but I think that this place, while good, was maybe overrated.

Day 7 Limerick/Bruff

Story Cafe
Irish breakfast – 2 sausage, pudding, bacon

Limerick is not a glamorous town, and this was the perfect meal for the working man town. This was the cheapest Irish breakfast and was actually pretty good. I wish I had tried the 5 egg omelet, which seems very excessive.

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Fish n chips

In the town of Doolin, our tour stopped here for lunch. A very average fish and chip, I actually wish I had ordered the chowder.

Bake house (Bruff)

My friends wanted to stop in a random town, and we picked one called Bruff. It’s off the beaten path, they say. Anyway, I saw a lot of cows on the countryside so I figure they would have good local beef, but my steak was cooked a tad more then I wanted, which dampened my experience.

Day 8 Killarney/Cork
Spaghetti Bolognese

Killarney is a complete tourist trap and I really like spaghetti bolognese. Fun fact: I only started liking this two years ago in Africa, when our tour guide would make it for us for dinner once in awhile. It was super tasty and now I got the liking for the bolognese. This version was very average, unfortunately. It lacked umami, as they like to say.

Market Lane
French onion soup
Lamb Dish

I love soup, as evident by my ordering so far this trip. Market Lane is a very popular restaurant in Cork and it was nice to have a change. The French Onion soup hit the spot after a long day of hiking. I would have preferred more cheese, but honestly, that will always be the case because cheese is amazing.

Day 8 Cork

English Market
Irish lamb stew

English Market is like a smaller version of St. Lawrence market. There’s a restaurant in there that is rather popular, and I decided on the traditional Irish stew. Irish stews are actually a lot lighter then the stews you are used to, which is a good change. The lamb was tender and non-gamey, so score one for the big boys.

Son of a Bun
SOB Burger

We originally wanted to eat at a nice Irish place, but Irish restaurants close VERY early and we had to get the nearest thing that was open, which was a hipster burger spot. I did not enjoy my burger (you know I’m picky about that shit), but the fries were good. Probably the least favorite dinner the whole trip.

I had this at 3 am to soak up the alcohol. Probably wasn’t good.

Day 9 Cork/Dublin
Breakfast – Smoked Salmon

I had the hotel breakfast at Cork, and there was smoked salmon there, which was impressive, but it’s hotel breakfast so wasn’t overly special.

Dinner – Some Pub
Chicken and leek pie

After the super disappointing Guiness tour, we went to a pub and I had chowder once again, and then another pie. I did not come close to finishing the pie, but it was standard fare. The chowder was good but probably the last favorite chowder I had this trip.

Day 9 Dublin
Irish fry

Airport meals are never good unless you are in Chicago.

The Slow, Painful Death of NXNE

Posted on by Brent in Everything, North By Northeast | Leave a comment


Let’s face it, NXNE is dead. Or at least the brake lines have been cut and Lake Ontario is straight ahead. This year seemed to be more of the same as it was quite lonely throughout the club shows, especially Wednesday night at both The Garrison and down the street at the Baby G. A rough survey of the crowds saw about 25-30 of us scattered about at either venue. With more than ten listed as ‘media’ on each guestlist and likely a few of the artists’ friends in tow, that leaves the bartenders and a sound guy.

Dead like dinner.

Before their last song the lead singer of New Love (who’s a doppelganger for Phil Kessel by the way) said with all sincerity to the faint few: “Thank you to NXNE. I feel like we didn’t deserve it.” The sad thing is these guys from Hamilton seemed like good old boys decent enough to have their songs played on 102.1 or be on the Indie stage at a summer festival. Herein lies the problem with NXNE for the last two years – bands like these that are scheduled to play shows at club venues deserve better support and promotion from NXNE. Otherwise the festival needs to just focus on the big-name headliner weekend shows and make it a proper summer festival. Most of the Club Land shows, that were curated by other local artists like Brendan Canning, Shad, and Moe Berg to name a few, were poorly attended and took a distant second place to what was going on down at the inconveniently located Port Lands which, oddly enough, was also poorly attended.

Michael Hollett needs to figure out what the end goal for NXNE is. Does the festival exist to promote independent music at various venues throughout the city for a week while continuing to have three days of headlining acts at an outdoor stage or do one of those need to be re-jigged or scrapped altogether? Either way, Panic Manual has been writing reviews for this festival for ten years (seriously, here’s Ricky’s brief review from 2008) and it’s something we mostly look forward to every June. This is the first year that I’m doing shows by myself and feel little motivation to go out another night.

Sadly, the mismanagement and poor financial support has sunk this festival over the last two years and maybe it needs to take a year off and seriously reconsider what the end goal is.