HERO CERTIFIED BURGERS (55 Avenue Road, at Lowther, 416-963-5526) Complete meals for $15 per person, including all taxes and a bottomless paper cup of pop. Average main: $6. Open Monday to Wednesday 11 am to 6 pm, Thursday to Saturday 11 am to 7 pm, Sunday noon to 6 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Located in the lower level of the formerly fashionable Hazelton Lanes, Hero Certified Burgers prides itself on using only 100 per cent Angus beef. You can see it displayed in the glamour shot of its Hero Signature Burger (4-ounce $5.75/6-ounce $6.35/8-ounce $6.95) blown up real big behind the takeout counter. It looks like an awful lot of food, so I ask the person at the till if the HSB has an 8-ounce patty or if the whole things weighs that much.
"I think that's after it's cooked," is the vague reply.
Back at the lab, this Whopper wannabe weighs in at 10 ounces total, the patty a paltry 4. If, indeed, this ever was a half-pound of raw hamburger, 50 per cent of it has disappeared during the cooking process.
Other than that, the food-styled billboard-depicted garnishes turn out to be two slivers each of red onion and pale tomato, and its Hero Certified Sauce a McDonald's Secret Sauce clone. In the picture, the cheese slice looks like it just decided to go limp, but here it's a melted mess. We also test the 4-ounce HSB and find only 2 ounces of beef.
Grey, chunky Ultimate Fries ($1.95) come pre-salted, while crisp cumin-scented coleslaw ($1.75) has unexpected bite. But pass on the unremarkable cheesecake ($4.95).
To compare, we visit Harvey's to size up its big-pimpin' Big Harv ($3.99). Here's the result: total weight 12 ounces, beefy patty alone 6 ounces, garnishes plentiful, sesame-and- poppy-seed-coated toasted egg bun nearly identical to Hero's Whole Foods-supplied roll. Harv tastes almost exactly the same and is nearly three bucks cheaper. But, then, it's not 100 per cent Angus beef.