Triple B: Burgers, Bacon & Beer

Gonna take it right into the danger zone with Top Gun Burgers!!!!

Man, I don’t think I’ve even ordered Uber Eats ever since I had to spend time in “self-isolation” after my trip to Iceland (cuz that was still a thing back in January). But I can’t be rollin’ out all over this city, looking for Toronto’s greatest burgers, bacon and beer every night. Sometimes, I just wanna stay in and watch Top Gun for the 100,000th time. You KNOW I feel the need for speed, bro!!!!

And hey, if I’m gonna watch my second-favourite Scientologist (John Travolta FTW!) fly fighter planes, then there’s only one place I’m ordering takeout from, and that’s Top Gun Burgers, this funky little joint in Kensington Market. Not all of their sammies are named after characters from the movie — but a few of ’em certainly are. I guess you can’t copyright the word Goose, eh? 😉

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Now, I haven’t even seen Top Gun: Maverick yet, but it can’t be as good as the original, right? And when it comes to Top Gun Burgers, this OG is baller like Anunoby, bro! Maverick is a beefy double cheeseburger that’s almost as big as Tom Cruise in real life. You’ve got lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mushrooms, a fried egg, and all sorts of donkey sauce oozing all over the place. Clean up in Aisle Flavourtown, bro!!!!

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Goose is actually a chicken burger, which kinda makes sense. I mean, you’re not gonna find foie gras at a fast food burger joint (unless it’s Holy Chuck), so chicken is about as close as it gets. Now, this ain’t yer average chicken burger, either. Instead of one chicken patty, you’ve got four chicken strips. And yes, it’s about as messy as you might imagine, cuz it’s kinda hard to keep four separate pieces of chicken between two buns. But that chicken is tender, juicy, and just a little peppery… Show me the way home, honey!!!!

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And last but not least, it’s Iceman, a Philly cheesesteak sandwich smothered in queso and donkey sauce. You’ve actually got a few unusual veggies here besides onions and peppers — lettuce, tomato and pickles — but the main ingredients are definitely cheese and beef. On that note, the steak is not thinly sliced, it’s cubed, which gives it a little more chew. And that cheese sauce is soooo outta bounds, bro! You can be my wingman any time!!!!

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And yes, I did crush all three sandos by myself, bro. I don’t even feel uncomfortably full, but you can bet that in a couple hours, I’m gonna feel the need for something else. Let’s just say it’s time to buzz the porcelain tower… 😛

ROOFTOP PATIO EATS: Bacon-wrapped steak and an Aussie parmy @ Hemingway’s

Finally, patio season has come back to Toronto, bro!!! We’re heading up on the rooftop at Hemingway’s, the legendary Thunder from Down Under in Yorkville, and down through my piehole goes parm ‘n chips, mate!!!!!

But before we get to this Aussie pub classic… it’s time for some bacon-wrapped steak bites.

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Now, you know a place has been around for a while if they’ve still got steak bites on the menu. But Hemingway’s is keeping this culinary classic rock current by wrapping them in extra crispy bacon, bro! These Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in Flavourtown go down nicely with some BBQ sauce on the side…but I think they taste even better with ranch!!!!

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But now they’ve got me ringin’ Hells Bells for the main event!!! It’s not really known how the Chicken Parma came over to Australia , but apparently it’s as popular at the pubs down under as AC/DC and Fosters. And unlike most places over here that serve it with spaghetti, a proper Aussie Parmy comes with a side of fries — I like the way they think!

Hemingway’s Parmy, which is only available on Wednesdays, is coming in hot ‘n thick with ham, tomato sauce and a nice layer of cheese on top. The fries are the extra-crispy kind you’d used to get at a school cafeteria, which is kinda like a comfort food flashback in Flavourtown. And between the side salad and those carrots and celery sticks, I’ve probably eaten more veggies this evening than I have in a month…

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Now, since they don’t actually serve Fosters at Hemingway’s, I had to go with something Canadian for beer. So I decided to try an Amsterdam Fria Cerveza, which they had on special, to get the summer started. But I dunno, bro, I was expecting something more like Flying Dog’s Numero Uno, a Mexican lager with a hint of lime brewed right in, which I had a few summers ago down south. Instead, all I really tasted here was lime… No mas!!!

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Instead I opted for a Muskoka Detour ISA — that’s India Session Ale, son! A lighter, easier-drinking take on a IPA, at 4.3%, it does have some hoppiness to it…but when it comes to lighter IPAs, I prefer the flavour of a Blood Light. (That’s right, I said Blood Light, bro!!!!)

Pairing Belgian beer with Atlantic seafood @ Pearl Diver

Now, I don’t usually think seafood when I think of Belgium — hey, the country is surrounded by land on three sides. But at Pearl Diver, this funky little seafood joint on Adelaide, they’re importing Belgian beers from across the pond to go along with some off-the-hook seafood dishes…so naturally, I had to try two or three.

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We’re actually starting off with a beer that’s not Belgian, though. I’m a pretty big fan of Blanche de Chambly, a Belgian-style wheat beer from Unibroue in Quebec, so when I heard they had a blueberry version, Blanche de Chambly Bluet, I totally had to check it out! It’s more tart than fruity, but still not too strong — it definitely tastes more like beer than fruit punch, which is a good thing.

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We’re pairing that with the one-two punch of scallops and pork belly, along with some asparagus, almonds and a green, minty sauce. The menu says these come three to an order, but they actually gave me four…not that I’m complaining!

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But now we’re heading across the pond with Saison Dupont, a blonde ale straight outta the farmhouse. Unlike most saisons you see over here, this isn’t a sour beer, but rich and malty at 6.5% — which is actually kinda light for a Belgian.

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For the main course, we’re going with Atlantic cod with grilled zucchini, potatoes, avocado and pineapple salsa, along with some sort of spicy donkey sauce at the bottom. Fish was cooked perfectly, zucchini added a nice touch…but this dish was actually quite spicy. Guess I’m gonna need another beer, bro!!!

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This Westmalle Trappist Tripel kicks things up a couple notches at a hearty 9.5%. It’s got a strong flavour that’s literally bananas — and bananas is good! I think I’m gonna need some dessert with this one, though…

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Their chocolate brownie seems pretty tiny, but it’s also quite tasty. You’ve got nice bites of chocolate, along with some raspberries, blackberries and a white chocolate sauce. Doesn’t quite soak up the booze when you’re drinking Belgian tripels, though. I guess that’s what the sticky toffee pudding is on the menu for…

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: Burgers and Beers of Doom @ Kuma’s Corner

Man, I have been wanting to go to Kuma’s Corner ever since I first heard about the heavy metal-themed craft beer & burger joint a few years back. So there’s no way I was gonna leave Chicago without checking this place out, bro!!!!

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With so many awesome burgers on the menu, it’s hard to pick just one…but I went with the Sourvein, named after the North Carolina sludgesters. Basically, it’s a thick n juicy bacon cheeseburger topped with fried chicken n waffles, smothered in maple syrup and a spicy donkey sauce, which I scarfed down to the tune of “Deadly Sinners” by 3 Inches of Blood. Man, even the chicken is pretty good on its own…but throw in the beef, bacon and a bite of that waffle, and that just takes it to the next level, bro!!!!

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When it comes to beer, we’re starting off with a Zombie Dust IPA from Indiana’s 3 Floyds Brewing. Clean, crisp and not too hoppy, checking it at 6.5%. Gotta love that awesome artwork too!

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This Blueberry Sleazecake from Wake Brewing is a fruited sour that tastes like blueberry juice, and is deceptively strong at 6.5%. Man, this would go great with some Motley Crüe on the stereo — but it seems like the playlist here is mostly modern melodic death and Viking metal. (They’re pretty heavy on Lamb of God and Amon Amarth.)

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But it only gets heavier from here, bro! This Imperial Blood of the Unicorn from Pipeworks Brewing is a red IPA that checks in at 9.5%. This is quite tasty — a nice balance between the malt of an amber and the hops of an IPA. But let’s just say there’s a reason why they serve it in a little snifter…

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And since they don’t have a dessert menu, I am going for some liquid dessert with this Dino S’Mores Russian Imperial Stout from Off Color Brewing. Rich, chocolatey, and 2.5 times as strong as a Guinness — you ain’t drinking this one for breakfast, bro!!!!

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: This funky BBQ joint is honky tonk redonkadonk!!!!!

Man, I loves me some BBQ, so when I found out that Guy Fieri had visited Honky Tonk BBQ, this funky little joint in the Pilsen neighbourhood, you KNOW I had to check it out, bro! That episode was back in 2009, but I gotta say, this place stands the test of time…

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I ordered the Delux Personal Platter, and my food was ready in about 5 minutes. You have a choice of pork or brisket, but I went with the brisket — and it was some of the most tender brisket I’ve ever tasted! There’s just a hint of dry rub here, but other than that, this meat really doesn’t need any sauces or seasonings…

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On the side, this dish comes with cornbread, a hot link and your choice of side — I went with the mac and cheese, which was nice n creamy. Cornbread was soft and easy to eat, once you got it out of the corn wrapper, and the sausage was smoky, crispy and more than a little spicy. Nothing wrong with that at all…

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Of course, when I saw they had Bacon Candy on the menu, I had to get me some, son! Thick, chewy bacon covered in brown sugar makes this equal parts sweet and meat — it’s a winning combination in Flavourtown!!!

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: Brunching on French toast, bacon and beers, bro!!!

Before heading down to Wrigley Field, we’re hanging out in Wrigleyville at this funky little joint called Uncommon Ground. It’s not the closest bar to the ballpark, but people come here for some super-legit brunch and their own brand of organic craft beer from the in-house Greenstar Brewing.

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Their ham ‘n cheese stuffed French toast is fluffy, syrupy, with some nice bites of grilled ham. The cheese kinda gets lost here, though. I also added a side of bacon — first rule of Flavourtown is Always Add Bacon! — and the crispy bacon added a nice extra texture.

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They call this a Greenstar Beermosa, and it’ll cure yer Summertime Blues, bro! A malty Belgian single that checks in under 5%, with a splash of orange juice for a nice citrusy flavour, which does make it taste kinda like a mimosa. I could drink this all day, bro!!!

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But instead, I switched to a Certifiable APA, a nice, sessionable American Pale Ale that also checks in under 5%. It’s slightly hoppy, without being a total hop bomb — great for a warm day in the sun!

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And before heading out to the ballpark, I’m buttchugging this Flippin’ Bats Lager, a Mexican-style (don’t call it Corona) 3.8% brew. Go Cubs Go, bro!!!!!!

CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: Cheezborger Cheezborger Cheezborger @ Billy Goat Tavern

So we’re hanging out in the Windy City for a few days, and chowing down on the best that Chitown has to offer. Of course, our first stop has gotta be the legendary Billy Goat Tavern, the place that put the goat in the curse of the goat, bro! Now, my Blues Brothers from another mother Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi used to hang out here, back in the day, which inspired the famous Cheezborger Cheezborger Cheezborger sketch on SNL…so you KNOW what I’m gonna order, bro!!!!

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This Triple Cheezborger and a bag of chips (no fries, chips, bro!!!!) will only set ya back 11 bucks, after tax. The thin patties and processed cheese remind me of McDonald’s…but these patties are a lot juicier, cooked to order on the flat top. Their condiment bar was running a little low, so I only added pickles and onions — but that was all I really needed anyways.

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Also unlike McDonald’s, you can order beer here, such as their signature Billy Goat IPA. This little old-timey glass of beer is only five bucks — which might make this the cheapest meal I scarf down all week, son!!!

Whole lotta haggis @ The Caledonian

Dude, the last time I had haggis was on Robbie Burns Day at Mackenzie House in 2020 — one of the last Triple B adventures before the pandemic hit. So now that things are starting to feel a lot like normal, we’re chowing down on haggis two ways at The Caledonian, this funky Scottish pub on College St:

Now, the Scots are good at battered, fried things — more on that later — so I had to kick things off with some haggis fritters. These super-crunchy great balls of haggis are kinda like hush puppies on the outside, but they’re filled with some nicely spiced organs for that extra little kick.

Up next, we’ve got a Highland Haggis Burger, topped with blue cheese. Basically, it’s just a beef patty, topped with a haggis, topped with cheese, with no other veggies or condiments whatsoever — a perfect part of any meatatarian’s diet!!!

We’re washing this down with some Elvis Juice, a grapefruit-infused IPA from the Scottish hooligans at BrewDog. Now, I’ve been hearing about BrewDog for a while, dawg, but this is the first time I’ve seen one of their beers on tap — so I totally had to try it. Let’s just say they weren’t kidding about the “grapefruit-infused” part, cuz it tastes just like grapefruit juice. I would totally crush a few of these for brunch, bro!!!!!

But you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, and in the dessert department, it doesn’t get more Scottish than a deep-fried Mars bar. I dunno who was the bonnie lad who first decided to drop a Mars bar in the deep-fryer…but to him, I say “You can take my freedom any day, bro!!!!!”

This Royale Cheeseburger is part of a balanced breakfast.

Now, I’m a pretty big fan of Reign, the fancy restaurant inside the Royal York Hotel. At this place, we’ve chowed down on wild boar, a badass bison chateaubriand… man, I even ordered takeout from them on Valentines Day! So when I heard they were open for brunch, I figured I should probably check it out. Of course, here on Triple B, brunch doesn’t mean avocado toast, or a seasonal salad or something. Instead, we’re going for their signature Royale Cheeseburger — it even has a fried egg on top!!!

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OK, so I had to pay extra to add the egg (7 bucks, as it turns out), but this still makes for the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time. You’ve got a thick ‘n juicy patty, topped with white cheddar, some nice, thick bacon, lettuce, tomato and pickles, on a brioche bun. The egg just kicks it up a notch!

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Fries are also on point, fresh-cut and chewy. They only give you this tiny little thing of ketchup, though — please sir, can I have some more???

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Since the Royal York is right across the street from the Union Pearson Express train, it only makes sense that they’ve got Henderson’s Pearson Express IPA on tap. I remember their beer selection being much  better the last couple times we were here, but hey, the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had one more for dessert…

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Crushin’ sandos with a fuckin’ Puppers!

Dude, I see ads on TV for the new season of Letterkenny like 13 times a hockey game, bro! So after binging Season 10 for the third time, I need me a fuckin’ Puppers…

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Now, this was not a real beer when the show first aired, but somewhere along the way, Mill St made Puppers Golden Lager happen. You can get ’em at The Beer Store, for $3.15 a can. And it tastes pretty much like what you’d expect some hicks from a small town to drink. I’m not saying it’s Molson Canadian, but it’s definitely Canadian-adjacent, somewhere in between Mill St Organic and Labatt 50. Hmm, I wonder if this beer is organic, too?

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Of course, you KNOW I can’t drink Puppers without crushin’ sandos like Reilly and Jonesy, bro! And it turns out that Brick’N’Cheese, this funky French sandwich shop I’ve been meaning to check out for a while, has a 2-for-1 offer on Uber Eats until Jan 30. Now, in France they call these tacos, but they’re actually more like a San Diego style burrito, with fries on the inside… except these bricks are pressed flat and grilled on a sandwich press. Food took almost an hour to arrive, but they were still nice ‘n warm.

Now, you can add veggies or cheeses to your brick, but it’s gonna cost ya extra. So I just went with the classic beef, potatoes and cheese sauce. (I did pay 20 cents more for some Andalouse sauce, which added a nice little tang.) I just wish that Uber Eats would let you get two different sandos with the BOGO deal — that way I couldda gone with one chicken, one beef instead of crushing two beef sandos. You can never have too much beef though, bro!!!

#letterkenny from Puck me up, fam!

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