Forget the myriad of burger joints that dot downtown Toronto. The best burger you are likely to find in this city is available at The County General. Rare on the inside, charred on the outside, it is moist without spurting rivulets of grease down the chin.Shades of New York where every restaurant with a thought of creating the city's best burger has a secret blend from Pat LaFrieda, Victor Barry sought help from Cumbrae's. Served up on Thuet's milk bun, the patty is garnished with the classics--lettuce, a slice of heirloom tomato, a slick of mustard with a spear of dill pickle for crunch. Mustard and pickle? In house,naturally.
Though bigger than a slider, this is a burger that will not leave you stuffed. This is a good thing since you will also need to try the fried chicken sandwich. Cooked sous-vide, the juicy thigh is then battered and fried to perfection. Unlike most fried chicken coatings which end up as a pile of greasy crumbs around your plate, this almost-transparent batter clings to the meat. Again, garnishes are minimal but effective: an avocado chutney, cilantro, and pickled shallots. Once again, Thuet's milk bun is the base, as it is for a catfish sandwich.
An heirloom tomato sandwich is scrumptious if messy, as any good tomato sandwich should be. It also has a dab of avocado plus lettuce and tomato.Its base is a baked-in-house white sourdough.
The Reuben sandwich had a couple of bread issues. Also baked on the premises, the rye bread was just short of a full load of flavour. To add insult to injury, it was closer to "burnt" than "toasted". However, what was between those slices was fine: smoked brisket, a slice of gruyere and rather mild sauerkraut. The homemade side of Russian/thousand island dressing was, of course, several levels above the usual.
Fries come with an excellent smoky catsup. Alas, our fries were ruined by steam by the time we dug in.
There are some people who questioned what Victor Barry was thinking in choosing to go so down market. From his perch at Splendido, he is a king of fine dining. We question no more. Victor Barry is also the king of diner fare.
Price: Five sandwiches, $67.47 and well worth the money.
Location: 936 Queen Street West (at Shaw)