Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Burger's Priest: Sinfully Delicious

In a city full of people who love a good burger and no shortage of places to find those two fisted feasts, The Burger's Priest reigns supreme among many burger-philes. Since opening its first shop at Queen and Coxwell in June 2010, this classic American-style burger emporium has rapidly gained a devout following. The burger king himself is Shant Mardirosian, a man who's almost evangelical about meat. The California native grew up with old-fashioned burgers and after visiting a popular burger joint in New York, decided Canada needed a burger revival. The Armenian-American moved here in 1984, having graduated from Tyndale University College & Seminary and planned to be a pastoral minister until God called him to something else. That 'something else,' he discovered three years later in a burger joint in New York, was “redeeming the burger one at a time” — but only six days a week. “We close everything down on Sunday.” 

The high altar of Burgerdom — Burger's Priest open kitchen on Queen West

All burgers start from a custom blend of premium beef that’s ground in-house several times a day and rolled into 4-ounce balls and seasoned with just salt and peppers. They’re cooked to order on a flat-top griddle, where they’re smashed into patties and transferred to small, soft, white and squishy buns. The menu, posted on ecclesiastical hymn boards, features cheeseburgers, double cheeseburgers, as well as veggie burgers, called 'The Option', made of fried, cheese-stuffed Portobello mushrooms. The Priest burger is an 'Option' plus a cheeseburger. The oddly popular Vatican City boasts two grilled cheese sandwiches, made from buns and two cheeseburgers. The Pope, a double cheeseburger plus Option, becomes the Tower of Babel when you add the Vatican City bun. There’s the Noah’s Ark, an Option with chili, cheese and onions, and the Religious Hypocrite — an Option plus bacon. The Judgment Day, two Options in a cheeseburger, becomes an Armageddon when you ask for two cheeseburger patties, a positively sinful experience. Oh, and don't forget the bag of fresh cut fries. Will you feel guilty after eating at The Burger’s Priest? Absolutely. Will you enjoy it? You bet your sweet bippy!

Hymn boards with engraved crosses are retrofitted with the burger menu 

The 'High Priest' Burger with two beef patties, special sauce, lettuce and processed cheese on a non-sesame seed bun

A side of fresh cut french fries is a 'must' with the burgers

The simple Cheeseburger with one beef patty, special sauce, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion and processed cheese on a non-sesame seed bun

The 'Armageddon' burger with 2 patties and two fried, cheese-stuffed Portobello mushrooms

Burger's Priest founder Shan't Mardirosian — Zagat’s just named it the third-best restaurant in Toronto, after Scaramouche and Chiado! photo © David Laurence

Beer-themed proverbs cover the wall as a nod to Shant Mardirosian's seminary background

The 'Vatican City' Double Cheeseburger squeezed between two grilled cheese buns
was named 'Burger of the Year' by Toronto Life magazine