Fake Burgers and Real Onion Rings at Fresh

Fresh Yonge and EglintonLocation: 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto
Website: https://freshrestaurants.ca/

The original plan was to review the veggie burger from Fresh for my burger blog.  But then I actually ate it, and to be honest… I didn’t want to.

It’s not a burger.  They call it a burger, and it basically looks like a burger, but the taste and the texture both contain zero hamburger-like properties.  I only post a review on Tasty Burgers every couple of weeks, and it just didn’t feel right wasting one on something that absolutely, positively isn’t a hamburger.

Fresh Yonge and Eglinton

We started with the much-lauded onion rings, which are frequently called the best in the city.  And yeah, they’re good — maybe not best-in-the-city good, but they’re quite tasty.  They actually reminded me a lot of what they serve at A&W — they’re similarly hearty, with a crispy breaded exterior encasing a perfectly cooked onion.

Fresh Yonge and Eglinton

They were slightly underseasoned, however, and a little bit greasier than you’d like (which is particularly odd given the restaurant’s health food pedigree).  I think I like A&W’s version slightly more, especially given how crazy expensive the ones at Fresh are (eight bucks for five substantial rings).

Fresh Yonge and Eglinton

As for the “burger,” I ordered the banquet burger, which features fake bacon and fake cheese on a fake hamburger patty.

It’s fine.  It’s actually not bad for what it is, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s not going to satisfy anyone’s hamburger cravings.  The taste and texture are quite falafel-esque (but without the crispy exterior).  Like most veggie burgers, it’s on the mushy side — a problem that’s compounded by how incredibly dense the wheaty bun is.  It’s so unforgivingly brick-like that it’s actually quite difficult to eat, but I got through it.

Fresh Yonge and Eglinton

The fake cheese is basically a thick, salty paste, and the fake bacon literally could not have tasted less like bacon.  It was sweet and vaguely plantain-like.  It wasn’t bad, but comparing it to bacon is absurd.

Gelato Disappointment at La Viziatta

La VizziataLocation: 2470 Yonge Street, Toronto
Website: None

La Viziatta might be the oddest gelato shop I’ve ever been to.  It’s inside a video game store.

I don’t mean that they’re neighbours, or that they sell gelato on one floor and games on another.  I mean that it’s a video game store with a gelato counter.

La Vizziata

But sure, why not?  I’m sure the costs to operate a business in a high-traffic spot like  Yonge and Eglinton are quite high.  So if you can split them with someone else, you may as well go for it.

And they have an interesting assortment of flavours, including the one that brought me here: peanut butter and jelly.

La Vizziata

Sadly, it’s not nearly as amazing as you’d hope.  The gelato isn’t particularly creamy, the peanut butter flavour is fairly anemic, and the “jelly” is actually an overly sweet syrup rather than jam or jelly.  None of the elements are particularly offensive — I ate it all, and if you put another cup in front of me I’d eat that too — but nothing is as tasty as it should be.

Of course, it’s hard not to compare it to the PB and J flavour at Bang Bang, which is almost unfair — that might just be one of the best scoops of ice cream that I’ve ever had.  It’s the exact opposite of what they’re serving here: it’s super rich, it has an intense peanut butter flavour, and the balance with the jam is absolutely perfect.

A Mixed Bag at Tabule

TabuleLocation: 2009 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://tabule.ca/

I like Tabule a lot; it’s probably one of the better Middle Eastern restaurants in the city, though this particular visit wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring.

The starter was fantastic, at least — we got the sampler platter, which came with hummus, babaganuj, and tabule.  The creamy hummus had a nice garlicky bite without overwhelming, the tabule was fresh and zingy, and the babaganuj had a mild smokiness that really set it apart.  It comes with a basket of soft, toasty pita bread.  It’s great.

Tabule

My main wasn’t quite as good.  I got the eggplant, which comes served on mujaddara, a Middle Eastern rice dish with lentils and fried onions.

The eggplant was perfectly cooked; that particular vegetable can easily be mushy, but in this dish it had a satisfyingly firm texture and an amazing creaminess.  I think it might have been some of the most well-prepared eggplant I’ve ever had.

But while it and the rice were both quite tasty, the whole dish was one-note rich; the tahini sauce didn’t do much to contrast with the eggplant and the rice.  Something with some sweetness or acidity would have really rounded things out — as delicious as it was, I was getting tired of eating it by the end of the plate.

Tabule

I had the kunafa for dessert, which was a more unambiguous failure.  I actually had this on a previous visit, and that time it had a really great balance of creaminess and crispiness, without being overly sweet.  This time?  Not so much.

But to quote LeVar Burton: you don’t have to take my word for it.  Here’s a side-by-side of the the one I just had, and the one I was served on my last visit.

Tabule

Yikes.  And it was as bad as it looked — it was absolute mush all the way through, with an unpleasantly intense, throat-burning sweetness.