A new burger joint? Yes. We know the drill: design it the way you like it with choice of patty — beef, chicken, veggie, salmon, or lamb — and dozens of toppings. Not exactly an original concept, but in this case, at least the name is original. Literally: Original. And they give out free carrot sticks while you wait for your burger. Nice touch.
A few weeks ago, Majida Abou Hamad opened Original Burger Joint in the Glebe, down the street from one of the city’s seven Roast ’n Brew coffee shops, a franchise owned by her husband. The neighbourhood’s locavores will love the fact that this new joint is situated right next door to the Glebe Meat Market where it gets its “prime quality beef.” It was obvious from my first visit, that this latest contender for our burger bucks is trying to do everything right.
First, the cozy renovated bakery space has a clean, comfortable modern look. A little more polished and grown-up than fast-food places and yet the prices are comparable, if not lower, than other local restaurants in the upscale beef-on-a-bun category. The fries are freshly cut every day — a nice change from frozen. The glassed-in open kitchen allows customers to see the cooks in white coats at work with the fresh colourful ingredients laid out — this instills a level of confidence.
And if you need an extra reason to eat here, you can go with one of three “Feel Good Burgers” options that are tied directly to charities, including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. My dining companion enjoyed the CHEO beef burger topped with peameal bacon, double-smoked cheddar, and roasted garlic-dijon aioli. The restaurant donates $1.50 of the $12.99 (which includes fries or salad) directly to the Children’s Hospital.
I was curious to try more than one kind of patty so I opted for the trio of sliders. Unlike ordering a regular sized burger where there is a choice of having it cooked medium or well-done, 3-oz sliders arrive well-done by default. Thankfully, they were not completely dried out. I imagine the emphasis on sauces (at least 22 to choose from and “all made in-house” according to the menu) could be considered a clue that juiciness might not be the raison d’etre of these burgers. (Gratuitous aside: I have been spoiled by Black Cat Bistro’s $20 drip-down your chin medium-rare burger — an unfair comparison, I realize.)
With this quibble aside, I did enjoy my lunch. I was able to choose three sauces to accompany my trio of burgers and went with my server’s suggestions of the house jazzed-up mayo “OBJ sauce” for the beef, curry mango salsa for the salmon, and fresh tzatziki for the lamb. I enjoyed the flavour boost that comes from whole grain mustard seeds that were visibly worked into all of the patties, and adored the fresh dill and green onion in the fresh-tasting salmon burger. More points for good charcoal grill flavour on the meat and delicate flat-top handling of the fish. Carefully chosen slices of tomato and crisp lettuce, good, fresh toasted buns — lovely presentation on the plate. Not entirely original, but nicely done.
Cost: Slider Trio $12.99
Original Burger Joint, 873 Bank Street, 613-421-5802, http://originalburgerjoint.com/