Last week, I had the privilege of attending a blogger dinner at Wild Burger, a new 30-seater gastro burgery owned by Suman Roy, a globally renowned chef and Gautam Banerjee. Located in the Eglinton and Mount Pleasant area, Wild Burger is very different from other gourmet burger houses in the city. Rather than a huge list of toppings, they have quite a few patties to choose from, especially game meats and seafood. The focus on game meats is not only to be different, but also for health – they tend to be lower in calories. Rabbit, for example, has 97 calories and two grams of fat per three ounce serving and elk has 94 calories and 1.2 grams of fat. The menu also has a more diverse range of fish sandwiches – three in fact (salmon, tuna and cod) opposed to the standard fried white fish or grilled salmon.
Game meat options
At my visit, I was able to try seven different burgers (not whole burgers – portions of them rather than sliders). The burgers included a kangaroo, camel, lentil as well as tuna and a standard beef burger. Of course, there are also the fries, or rather, “fancy” poutine. We tried too many items to highlight all, but I have to say that my favourites were the following:
Pickle and Things Poutine: I’m not typically a fan of pickles. In fact, I hate them. However, I think this platter has just changed my mind! It’s huge, so it’s definitely for sharing (it’s under their sharing plates), and it contains a delicious combination of fried pickles, regular fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings as well as jalpeno, blue cheese, sautéed onions, Korean style chicken, kimchi and the sauces are Thai sweet chili and sun dried tomato pesto. The blue cheese may be strong, but compliments the dish quite well. I think this dish is best shared among four or five people or three very hungry individuals and is a great alternative to nachos at a party.
Indian Lentil Burger: This is the only vegetarian burger on the menu and what makes this burger different from the competition is not only because it’s made predominantly from lentils and chickpeas and bound with chia seeds, but also because it’s soy free. The burger is topped off with jalapeno havarti, mint and cilantro sauce as well as sautéed onions and texture is less “burger” like – I’d probably classify it as being half way between that and a sloppy Joe. The spice level isn’t overwhelming, either.
Middle Eastern Camel Burger: Spiced with zaataar and chili, the burger also has cilantro sauce, brie, baby spinach, mango, onions and dried fruit salsa. It’s very juicy and the toppings are an excellent compliment. Like the lentil burger, this one is not overly spicy and I personally loved the combination of brie (my favourite kind of cheese), spinach and mango. I am sure many agree and I can see why this is their best seller!
I’d say that a close runner-up is the tuna and portobello burger. This is very different from your typical fish sandwich. Not only is it tuna and sandwiched together with a nice portobello mushroom, it also contains brie and is deep fried. The sandwich comes with guacamole, roasted red peppers, artichokes and dry, roasted spices.
In terms of sides, the standard fries and onion rings are available, along with sweet potato fries, deep fried pickles, beans, home made kettle chips and salad. Note that the fries are cooked in duck fat unless you ask for a vegetarian version (canola oil). Also available are gourmet sauces, all perfect on fries, which I was able to nibble on while waiting for the rest of the diners to arrive. The three I tasted were sun dried tomato, “spicy” blackberry and cilantro jalepeno, with the blackberry being my favourite.
I find Wild Burger very “Canadian.” With the exception of camel and kangaroo, all other meats are from Canada, with many from Ontario. At the same time, many of the burgers have connections to an “old world” culture (such as India (lentil), Korea (chicken) and the Caribbean (rabbit)). In other words, it’s a menu of cultural diversity. I am also not surprised that the game meats do better than the “regular” burgers (chicken and beef) as Toronto is not as bland in terms of palate compared to even five years ago. Our food scene has really opened up and people are more willing to experiment.
Would I make any suggestions to Wild Burger? Not much, other than offering a bun-free/lettuce wrap option as well as gluten-free buns. The option of ordering “vegetarian” fries (i.e. not fried in duck fat) could also have been made more clear on the menu boards. And yes, I will definitely be coming back. I want to try the ostrich burger!
Wild Burger is located on 709 Mount Pleasant. Its hours are Monday to Saturday from 11 AM to 10 PM and Sundays from noon until 8 PM. Take-out is available.