Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy’s


Wendy’s is probably my favourite fast food burger joint (it’s neck-and-neck with A&W).  But of course, being the best fast food burger chain isn’t exactly a tall mountain to climb.  That’s why I was so shocked at how much I enjoyed the Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy’s.

It’s topped with mushrooms, bacon, aioli, fried onion tanglers, and Asiago cheese.  It’s easily the best fast food hamburger I’ve had in a long, long time.

It’s still a fast food burger, so the patty itself wasn’t particularly great — but it wasn’t too dry and it didn’t have any off flavours.  For a big fast food chain, that’s about as good as it gets.

Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy's

Burgers from a place like this tend to be more about the toppings than the burger itself, and that’s where this one really stood out.  The Gouda was pleasantly sharp and creamy, the aioli was tasty, and the bacon was substantial enough to not get lost among the other flavours.

I’m normally not a huge fan of mushrooms on a burger, but these were well cooked and suited the burger well.  But what really put this over the top were the fried onion tanglers.  I assumed these were going to be the typical crispy fried onions that come out of a bag, but they were actually little onion rings that had clearly been freshly made. They were great.

Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy's

At first I was thinking that the price was a bit much — it’s about $7.50 with tax for the burger alone — but then I ate it, and yeah.  It’s worth the money.  It was good.  Not just good for fast food, but good, period.

I should note that the Wendy’s I went to was staffed entirely by adults who seemed to know what they were doing.  It was obvious that all of the components were relatively fresh, and it was assembled with care.  But it could have just as easily been thrown together by a bored teenager, so as is always the case with fast food, your mileage may vary.


Felix & Norton Frozen Cookie Disappointment

Felix and NortonI used to love Felix & Norton.  Their Unionville location was in a plaza right across from where I went to high school, so cookies were a regular occurrence.  I remember them being some of the best store-bought cookies around: lightly crispy and chewy, with a really great buttery flavour and high-quality chocolate chunks.

So when I saw unbaked Felix & Norton cookies in the freezer section at a local Loblaws, I couldn’t get them in my cart fast enough.

Felix and Norton

And it’s not a bad deal: nine bucks for a 500 gram bag, which works out to about 20 cookies.  I got Menage a Trois, which features cookies with white, milk, and dark chocolate chunks.

Felix and Norton

Alas, these weren’t the Felix & Norton cookies I remembered.   The chunks were more like tiny chocolate fragments, and barely added any chocolate flavour at all.  The cookies were just blandly sweet.  They were also insanely greasy, and yet had almost zero buttery flavour.

Felix and Norton

They weren’t the worst things ever, I guess — they were certainly better than something like Chips Ahoy, but they’re not even close to being in the same league as what you can get at the store.

Tasty Deli Sandwiches at Rose and Sons

Rose and SonsIf you were lucky enough to try Caplansky’s at its original digs in the Monarch Tavern, then you’ll know that it was truly something special.  One of the things that made their smoked meat stand out was its intensely smoky flavour.  This was greatly diminished once they moved to their permanent location and had to start making the meat in greater quantities (and of course, in a sad turn of events, Caplansky’s is now gone altogether).

Well, it looks like Torontonians craving that unique smokiness now have somewhere to go, because Rose and Sons was recently transformed into an old-school deli, and they’re serving up pastrami with a distinctively smoky flavour.

Rose and Sons

It’s actually quite good — I got the hot pastrami sandwich, and my only real complaint is that the meat should have been a bit fattier (they called it medium, but it was much closer to lean).

Rose and Sons

That’s an easy fix, though: I’ll ask for it fatty the next time I go, because there’s definitely going to be a next time.  It’s a great sandwich, with perfectly thick slices of tender, smoky, nicely spiced pastrami.

Rose and Sons

I also tried the potato and onion knish, which didn’t fare quite as well.  I think this might have been the second or third knish I’ve had in my entire life, so it’s possible that I’m just not a fan — but this was dry pastry encasing bland, crumbly potatoes with a slightly oniony flavour.  It desperately needed a gravy or some kind of sauce, or really anything to give it just a little bit of moisture (not to mention flavour).  I didn’t care for it.

Lamb Shoulder at Cherry Street Bar-B-Que

Cherry Street Bar-B-QueAssembly Chef’s Hall is Toronto’s first food hall — it’s basically like a food court, if food courts were amazing.

There’s a bunch of interesting restaurants here, though I was homing in on the burger from Resto Boemo, which I wanted to review for my burger blog.  But then I saw that Cherry Street Bar-B-Que was serving lamb shoulder as part of a St. Patrick’s Day special, and it was game over.  I love southern-style barbecue, and I love lamb.  Barbecued lamb?  Hell yes.

Cherry Street Bar-B-Que

It comes served on chunky mashed potatoes, and is topped with a generous amount of their Murphy’s Stout BBQ sauce, which was amazing.  It was extremely untraditional — it wasn’t nearly as sweet or as acidic as you’d expect, with a rich, tomatoey flavour that’s rounded out by the stout, which adds notes of chocolate and coffee.  It sounds odd, but it worked incredibly well with the lamb.  I should have asked if I could buy a bottle.

And that lamb was quite tasty, though like pretty much every barbecue place in the GTA, it had almost zero smokey flavour.  But in this case I didn’t even particularly mind — the amazing flavour of the lamb was front-and-centre, and it’s hard to complain too much about that.  It was tender while still retaining some texture, with some really tasty bark, and just enough fat to keep things interesting, but not enough to overwhelm.

Nashville Hot Chicken at Porchetta and Co.

Porchetta and Co.
Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto

I love Porchetta and Co.  Their porchetta sandwich?  Classic.  Best porchetta in the city.  Their fried chicken sandwiches?  Usually delicious!  Their Nashville hot chicken sandwich?  Uh…

Hey, they can’t all be winners.  And it wasn’t all bad.  The fried chicken itself was superlative, as usual: perfectly-cooked chicken with a crispy, crunchy, tasty exterior.  It’s good stuff.

Porchetta and Co.

Nashville hot chicken is a notoriously spicy dish that involves a post-cooking dunk into spice-infused oil to give the chicken additional flavour and heat.  It’s typically sprinkled with more spices, just to kick up the heat factor.  Porchetta and Co. appear to have remembered the oil — the sandwich was absolutely dripping with it — but forgotten the spices.  The oily coating on the chicken was bland, and worse, it wasn’t spicy.  At all.  The spice level here never registered beyond a mild tingle.  WTF?

The other components of the sandwich — lettuce, mayo, pickles, plain white bread — were fine, though the sugary-sweet pickles were a bit overpowering.