On Sunday I learnt that an impulse purchase on Groupon can lead to you to places in the city that you’d never consider going too otherwise. ClementineDipple and I bought Groupons to make “Fabulous Fascinators” at The Make Den a little while ago. She is a *serious* Royal Watcher and Anglophile so this was a required Groupon. I am her somewhat crafty friend who loves to try new things. And so, we signed up and managed to rally a third friend to come along.
Turns out making a fascinator is a somewhat solitary affair which requires very careful work. After a serious evening of drinking on Saturday, I was surprised how well my work turned out on Sunday. But sewing and designing can take a lot out of you – especially when the class is from 5 to 9pm! By 9:15, we were famished. The Make Den is on Bloor close to Landsdowne. As a Torontonian who lives in North York and grew up in Scarborough, I rarely go more west that Ossington. There are always excuses why not too : it’s too far! there’s nothing to do! what will I eat? (as if there are no good restaurants when you are heading towards Mississauga!)
We asked the friendly ladies at The Make Den if they had any suggestions. One lady who had overheard my dramatic wailing about the emptiness of my stomach (somehow I thought a banana would be a good meal replacement for a hungover person) asked if we liked burgers. When we confirmed that we weren’t vegetarians she insisted that we try the burger at the The Whippoorwill. And so we took our new fascinators and headed down the street.
We walked in and sat down at one of the many booths for two (our 3rd friend had decided to head home) and were quickly greeted by a very friendly and knowledgeable server. She handed us the beautiful menus (separate ones for dinner and drinks) and informed us about the specials. An attempt to remember them, even for 5 mins was squashed by my overwhelming need for a burger. Besides the enthusiastic suggestion, the description on the menu made it hard to concentrate on anything besides great toppings that have become standard (aged cheddar) they also offered an add on of home smoked maple bacon. And so, we both ordered burgers with the bacon.
Even if I really wanted too, I decided against getting a drink. The drink list was exactly what I love: modern classics. If that doesn’t make sense: strong gin and bourbon based offerings. I think our generation got drunk on bad beer and screwdrivers from the age of 18 to 23 and then woke up and realized how gross both those things were. Or was that just me? Getting slightly tipsy can be a pursuit of delicious flavours. If I wasn’t hungover I would have ordered the Herbal Garden: Gen, Strega, St-Germain, Rosemary, Fresh Lime and Egg White.
A handy carafe of water is what hydrated us even as we toyed the whole meal with the idea of just one drink. The food arrived and……. I can easily say it was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. The bun a perfect size: not too big or small. Too big and you have too much bread for meat. Too small makes eating a problem. It was also egg bread – which was great. The meat: remarkably juicy. The “Russian sauce”? ( I still regret not asking what it was!) played off the other favours well: the cheddar, the small pickles and… the glorious glorious bacon. There were two very generous slices of bacon on the top of the burger which were delicious just by themselves but added a great salty component to the whole thing. Eating that burger was an experience. Not an elegant experience, but one that I didn’t want to end. Eating it was an absolute pleasure: I wasn’t able to think of anything else. I don’t think Clementine and I spoke at all except for full-mouthed mumblings of “OH MY GOD”. The side was boiled and baked potatoes which were perfectly crispy (and slightly spicy!) on the outside but warm and comforting in the middle. If one thing could have changed my eating experience, garlic aioli would have complemented the fries better than just ketchup.
I’m almost embarrassed at how much I enjoyed eating that burger. I felt like I put on a much more subdued version of Meg Ryan’s restaurant performance: my eyes were definitely closed and I am certain I emitted soft moans with each bite. Thankfully no one was sitting beside me and order what I was having. Or, perhaps the server thought nothing of it as she had seen to so many times before?
When I go again – because I must – I’d love to try the Pork Meatballs (on toast), the Korean Squid Salad or the Potato Gnocchi. Unless it is for brunch, in which case perhaps the Apple Pancakes.
What I am saying is: GO! I don’t care which part of the city you life in, but you should eat there. There’s a long table at the back if you insist on bringing a group. There brunch offering looks delicious and I will go back for every meal and try to drink every cocktail (but not all in one sitting). But please: don’t tell your pretentious friends about this one, I don’t want them to ruin it.