There's nary a person who can deny the seductive charms of a burger. Once you've found "the one," you'll fiercely defend it as your favourite -- to have someone spew vitriol at it would be akin to firing hateful words at your own child. So when there's a battle afoot, what more diplomatic approach is there than to have your fans declare which is their preferred patty fo' life?
And this is the route Duggan's Brewery in Toronto took to determine the fate of their beloved burger.
It all started in the kitchen between the brewmaster/owner Michael Duggan and the chef, Eric Snidal. The former insisted that all burgers be cooked on the flat top, while Chef was adamant about the grill. In the scuffle, they turned to their Twitter fans and began asking them to vote for either #TeamGrill or #TeamFlatTop.
To weigh in on this beef (yup, I went there), I visited the restaurant in Parkdale on showdown day where the winner would be declared that evening. In addition to asking diners to fill out a voting card, three judges weighed in on their cooking method of choice.
While Joel Reilly of Community 54, Bertrand Alépée of The Tempered Room and Candice Knihnitski of Indie88 were scarfing down the goods, I had an opportunity to sit down with the chef and ask him why this burger was so popular. First, they don't purchase certain cuts. They get the whole cow from a local Ontario farm and break it down so nothing goes to waste. Then it gets dry-aged for at least 30 days to intensify the flavours. For the beef patty itself, they use a mixture of the belly, roast and sirloin cuts. Why? Each type brings varied flavour notes, fat for moisture and tenderness to the party. Ground in house, 8 oz of beef gets cooked till medium. It is slathered with hot pepper infused burger sauce topped with marbled cheese and nestled on a fluffy egg bun. But why does the chef vouch for the grilling method? For the love of char. The infusion of the smoky grill adds a delectable dimension to the beef. There's also a textural component -- the seared, crispy edges that's contrasted with the creamy cheese -- another factor that causes people to swoon.
Photo courtesy of Tiffany Leigh
And what about flat top aficionados? Because the burger essentially cooks in its own fat, it is insulated and kept moist -- retaining the texture of a squishy, succulent patty melt.
Then, two buxom burger babes were placed before me to try. I had just heard that the vote went 2-1 from the judges for team flat top! And which one did I prefer? It was a difficult decision! The intensity from the char-kissed, grilled burger made for a more sturdy meat and the kind you'd find yourself eating on the deck at your cottage The only caveat? It was ever so slightly drier. The flat top (pictured below) edged out the grill in my books as the winner -- simply because it was so luscious and moist. It's that kind of messy burger you'd need a body bib for -- and that's the type I adore. And apparently, I wasn't the only one to rave about the flat top. The votes were tabulated and it also declared as the champion by the fans. From now on, all burgers at Duggan's will be cooked this way. And what better way to try and enjoy it than with their plentiful craft and local beers on tap.
Photo courtesy of Tiffany Leigh