Monday, November 3, 2014

Review - Wahlburgers Open in TO

A New Kid, Blue Blood,  Marky Mark, entourage creator actor and Chef brother Paul, some of the Wahlberg clan from Dorcester, Mass. bring their Wahlburgers Restaurant growing empire to Toronto for the first Wahlburgers restaurant in Canada.  Both Mark and Donnie Wahlberg have a great history with Toronto with their films, shows, fans and friends so they thought it would be the perfect location for them to expand into Canada.

The Wahlbergs can also be seen in an A&E reality series about the Wahlberg family and the restaurants.

The restaurant in Toronto had their soft opening this week but their GRAND OPENING is November 15th, 2014.

Since I was already in the area for the Chocolate Show I decided it was a good time to go check it out and try their family recipe Burgers.

Let's start with the restaurant before I get into the food.  You can't miss the Neon Green signature colour chairs that jump out in the space.  There are a couple of banks of TV monitors with various sports channels and a loop of their A&E reality show promo.  I would love to see one dedicated to some of their individual work like their films and live shows.. maybe that will come.

It is a sit down restaurant even though the food is a fast food type of food.  I think you can get take out but when I walked in I was immediately welcomed and directed to a seat.   The waitresses are typical young girls with short black skirts and white shirts.  It caters to the sports bar crowd or a young group of friends that want to hang out and grab some quick bites.

The space used to be a hair salon so there is another level above but I think that will be a spill over seating area.

They play classic rock music fairly loud but not as loud as a bar would be.  The space is pretty airy and bright from the large windows but I bet would be a bit darker on grey days but it still has a nice fresh feel about it.  Gone are the dark pub days that hide the beer spills in the carpet.

And now to the food.   I ordered an Ice tea to start... I'm not a beer or wine drinker and prefer water or ice tea with my meals.... yes I am boring but I enjoy my food.   They do have all kinds of drink concoctions but this was the afternoon and the people in the restaurant were mostly drinking beer.

I then ordered their OUR Burger which is their main signature burger.  It's a pretty classic burger with Paul's sauce which is probably similar to the Mayo, ketchup, relish, mustard combination.   It's a flat top grilled burger that doesn't have any gourmet things stuffed inside.  It's just a basic clean burger that gets it's flavour from the flat top crust they build into it by cooking it properly and leaving the juices in it and not over cooking it.  It was very tasty and it hit the spot.  I would like to see a bun that could stand up to the juices a bit more.  I like soft hamburger buns but don't like it when they fall apart when you are trying to eat them.

I also ordered the Tater Tots.  They were just basic tater tots and as you would expect.  I think it might be nice for them to include a Nacho cheese sauce as a side to them as a nod to their longtime friend Nacho who has been bugging them to do a burger in his name anyway.  I think that a cheese sauce would elevate them for sure instead of just ketchup on them.

Now let's talk about the location.  It's located on Blue Jays Way across from Wayne Gretzky's and attached to the Soho Metropolitan Hotel.

Here are my pros and cons on this location.
It's a sports bar restaurant located across from the same type of establishment.  Con.
It's located in the Soho hotel which can be a pro and a con.  A pro because tourists may go because of the familiarity with the Wahlberg brothers and US restaurant.  Con because it's mostly a tourist area.

Where I would have loved to see this would have been within a block of Roy Thompson Hall and the Bell Tiff Lightbox where there are always events that people of Toronto and tourists attend and also connected to the events at David Pecaut Square.  There are restaurant spaces available on King Street across from Roy Thompson Hall and I think somewhere around there would have been great.  I am probably purely thinking of myself here as I would go there more often when I am at Roy Thompson Hall for the film festival or at the many festival and non festival events at the lightbox that I go to.  It's a bit of a walk from Roy Thompson Hall when you only have an hour to go, eat and rush back for the second screening at Roy Thompson Hall.   But I am sure that wasn't their priority when they found the location but I have to say it is a nice space and I will probably go there when I have time to kill when I am around the Lightbox and just want to get a decent burger and fries.   I didn't try the fries but I will the next time I visit Wahlburgers.  

I hope they are successful and open a couple more in other parts of the city... like the north end maybe??   yeah me wishing again.

So drop by for their Grand Opening on Nov 15th if you are in the area.  

Here is their info:

Wahlburgers Toronto, 46 Blue Jays Way (at the SoHo Met), Toronto,  416-489-8922 
Open 7 days: Sun-Wed 11:30AM - 12:00AM, Thu-Sat 11:30AM - 2:00AM

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