Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Restaurant Review: Holy Chuck

After three burgers, three shakes and some sides, I have decided how I feel about this place.  This place being the Holy Chuck restaurant the replaced RetroBurger at St. Clair and Yonge.  The marketing and design all point to irreverence and a serious meat jones.  The logo of a burger headed cow holding a platter with cow's head reminds me of Douglas Adams' Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  On the wall there is a mural of a cow urinating and a place to put your shameful mug if you attempt to eat the "Go Chuck Yourself" in six minutes and fail.  Of course, equal space is available for the win but it ain't gonna happen often.

The menu is enough to make most meatatarians blush with the list of possible suitors.  There is a little confusion and a bit of stunned recognition when I first realized that you get your burgers from $5.99 for a jr cheeseburger to $19.99 for the GCY mentioned above AND then you order your combos for an additional $4.49 to $9.99.  Big meat costs.  A standard lunch will set you back $20.00.

I am not above spending a lot for lunch if I think it is worth it.  Over the past week, I have bit the bullet for a chance of superior beef or chicken or lamb or pork.  Oh, I forgot to mention the lone vegetarian burger, the Animal Feed.  Panko Portobello stuffed with cheese and topped with aioli.  Vegans need not even look in the general direction of this place.  Smelling the fumes from outside may qualify as too much meat drenched scents for one day.

Okay, great guns get to the food already...

Folks, do you want the good news first or the bad?  In general the burgers are passable.  For all the bad cow antics, this place cooks its meats on the paler pink to white side.  For beef and lamb lovers, this is an issue but one that can sometimes be overlooked.  However, most of the non-lean, non-white meats leave too thick a residue of grease that can soak right to the edge of the bun.  A little grease never hurt nobody nohow, so maybe that would be fine.  The fries are thin frites like beauties that are salted like ordinary fries and that means overly salty.  The beer chocolate chili tastes to the char side of smoky and needs to be finessed a little more.

The good:  I liked the shakes.  Wasabi, green onion and fresh ginger, Nutella and salted caramel, and bacon, fudge and sea salt.  These were all good.  The flavour consistency wasn't quite there.  Sometimes chunks of wasabi or frozen nutella would make the trip in a concentrated flavour hit and produce an off note.  But like with any punk bank, you can take it delivers that raw punk sound.  The flavour base is a little sweet but if the problems with the consistency get fixed, then this issue would disappear.

So, a mixed review.  Would I recommend it?  Well, the real crime is the price to taste ratio.  I have had really good burgers in Toronto and really innovative burgers at a lesser price.  For just a little more, I could go up the street and get an amazing meal at Didier's.  There are other twenty dollar lunches in this area that taste better.  Delica, Petit Thuet, and TOGO can all put together a twenty dollar lunch that one can justify easier than a burger and a drink.  If the burgers were just slightly better, using homemade or superior buns for instance, then this place might have a chance.

The other thing that might save this place...every time I have gone in, the staff/management has checked in on my order.  i.e. the flavour of the wasabi milkshake.  If they listen to their customers, maybe that will be enough to either improve the product or readjust the prices.

Holy Chuck on Urbanspoon

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