GROUCHO'S (994 Eglinton West, at Rostrevor, 416-784-4434) Complete meals for $10 per person, including all taxes, tip and a pop. Average main $5.50. Open daily 11 am to 9 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN
The canine hamburger gimmick is not without precedent here in the Big Slush. The Toby in Toby's Good Eats (ask your grandmother) was a bull terrier, and what may have been Toronto's greatest ever burger bar, Parkdale's late lamented Thumper's, was named after a sheepdog.
So it's with highish hopes that we enter Groucho's bulldog-themed interior. The walls are covered with reviews, but it's worth noting that many of them date back to the last century. More compelling is the sign stating that Groucho's burgers are made from "fresh meat prepared daily. Our hamburgers are prepared on the premises. Our burgers are always fresh, never frozen."
So why does the Groucho cheeseburger ($7.60) taste so much like a processed patty? Maybe they grind it too fine. Maybe the mania for low fat robs them of juiciness. Maybe the belief that all burgers should be served well done asks too much of this patty.
Regardless, the resulting disc is so bland that you could almost confuse it with the veggie burger.
This burger, contrary to Groucho's assertions otherwise, is no big deal, especially when topped with a slice of processed cheese.
The veggie burger benefits from some tasteful options like grilled zucchini, roasted garlic and garlic mayonnaise, but beyond that, it mirrors its beefy counterpart: competent but unremarkable.
Since the pooch approach is so powerfully stated at Groucho's, we decide to take the foot-long hot dog ($4.55) for a walk.
The grilled wiener is lacklustre and, having been microwaved and toasted, the bun has lost its charm.
Yays to the fresh cut fries ($2.40). Nays to the frozen onion rings ($2.75). Okays to the chocolate milkshake ($3.45).
Maybe they should start naming restaurants after animals other than dogs. How about Hammy the Hamster's Hamburgers. Or a fishburger joint called Gills? And I'm still waiting for Jonathan Livingston Seafood.