Wednesday, 13 August 2008


Man, this entry is almost a year late! Sorry about that, Burger Fans. And now, without further ado, let me take you back to...

Sept. 28th, 2007

Aw yeah, head out on the highway, looking for excitement-- I mean, HAMBURGERS. My wife and I are being piloted through Toronto’s permanent rush hour by our good friend Mags and his little baby Emily, heading West across the city, past construction cranes and condos, heading ever onwards toward that Hamburger At The End of The Rainbow.

We drive on, past the giant windmill spinning down by the lake, past the huge crackling Canadian flag at the ol’ Exhibition grounds, past the landscaped ads on the highway embankment that used to be made of carefully groomed flowers but are now made of grass and gravel.

It’s a beautiful end-of-summer day, the sunlight bouncin’ off the lake, leaves on the trees still mostly green but some gold and red starting to sneak in along the edges. We veer off the highway onto the South Kingsway Exit and drive through The Kingsway, all Dallas-wide streets and huge stone houses. This is where Mags grew up and he points out the sights as we drive along: the ol’ sledding hill, his childhood school.

Then we pull into a Dallas-style strip mall and step out into the sunshine parking lot and breathe in the smell of fresh grilled meat-- oh yeah, that’s a positive sign. We have arrived at Magoo’s.

Mags used to work here, back in the teenage years, and he tells me a bit about the background of this particular burger joint. It’s owned by two brothers and a sister and even though they’ve been approached many times about franchising, they’ve always said no. With one restaurant, they have greater control over the quality of the burgers. Sounds good, I think, turning from the display of sponsored sports teams on the wall to take in Magoo’s bright primary colors: yellow and blue walls, yellow tables, red chairs. Behind the counter is what I’ve come to think of as The Burger Statement: “In the interest of both your good health and good taste, all of our Magoo Burgers are prepared daily on the premises using only the freshest 100% lean ground beef and are always well cooked unless requested otherwise.” I order a straight-up burger. Here at Magoo’s the condiments come later, Harvey’s-style: after your burger is cooked you tell the Burger Maker what condiments you want and the Burger Maker adds them on. Mags tells me the onion rings are good and damn, they do look pretty tasty so I order some of those as well. I take my receipt, stake out a table and wait for my number to be called.

Little Emily is laughing at the grill and she smiles and grabs my arm as I go up to condimentify (ATTENTION WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY! BRAND-NEW WORD ALERT!) my burger. I opt for mustard, red onion, pickle and lettuce. Lettuce? What am I, a rabbit?

I get my foil-wrapped burger on a blue tray, cart it back to the table and crack it open. Toasted sesame seed bun-- good, good-- and the burger looks nicely grilled. It smells damn delicious and I’m not waiting another minute. THE FIRST BITE floods my brain with grilled meat goodness. The pickles... Strubbs Pickles! Aieeee! Ain’t no such animal in Dallas, TX. The onion rings, however, are perfect: golden brown and crispy. (Man, I need to think of some more adjectives to describe onion rings. “Fantastically Ringy.” Well, I’ll keep thinking.)

Then Mags, my wife and Emily kick back and dig on burgers and rings and ice cream, Emily smiling huge in her pink zip-up sweatshirt, laughing as she rips her napkin into shreds.