Hard to believe it’s been more than three years since Wahlburgers launched in Toronto’s SoHo Metropolitan Hotel, backed by considerable Hollywood star power: Spearheading the restaurant is actor Mark Wahlberg; his brother Donnie (actor and founder of boy band New Kids on the Block); and another brother, Paul, executive chef.
The high-ceilinged, two-level space, accented in electric green, is outfitted with chairs fronting gleaming tables, booths and a small bar. Bright and airy, the space combines a quick-service restaurant with a sports-bar vibe and buzzes with energy.
Burgers, of course, anchor the menu, which also features sandwiches (chicken, portobello mushroom and crispy haddock), salads and sides.
Salads are excellent. A balanced red wine vinaigrette animates supremely fresh spinach and radicchio topped with slivers of crisp apple, sharp gorgonzola and soft chunks of bacon. That same vinaigrette jazzes a salad of mixed greens, red onion, cucumber and grape tomatoes.
Made from Canadian AAA grain-fed beef, burgers are meaty and moist. The O.F.D. boasts an 8-ounce patty accessorized with house-made tomato jam, bacon, Swiss cheese and loads of earthy mushrooms.
Five-ounce patties adorn Our Burger and Dad’s burger, which is garnished with Wahl sauce, pickles and onions.
Perhaps the most unique offering, however, is a burger that’s like Thanksgiving leftovers — ground seasoned turkey, stuffing, Paul’s orange cranberry sauce, roasted butternut squash — layered inside a bun.
Sides also excel. Speckled with salt, sweet potato tots are delicious — addictive, even. Ditto the thin-sliced onion rings, sweet and wearing a whisper-thin layer of batter.
Finish with ice cream (vanilla, strawberry, or vanilla sprinkled with Oreo cookie bits). Or go all-in and opt for the Banana Fluffanutta, a toasted sandwich made from peanut butter, banana, marshmallow fluff and Nutella. It arrives toasty and oozing peanutty, chocolately, banana-y goodness. It is, in a word, irresistible.
Buyouts will be considered for the 120-seat space.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,400 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.