I admit: I was satisfied. I ordered a classic burger and fries. The fries were thin-cut and plentiful. They were a teeny bit soggy, but I sort of liked them that way. Greasy and decadent instead of crispy. The burger tasted satisfyingly homemade, and it was nice to eat real, full-fat ground beef instead of those pasty patties you get at most places. I was a little bummed that I couldn't really pick my own condiments, but I admit that the burger was good without any special extras.
The man reports that his pulled pork was delicious and I believe him. (I don't do the sweet meat thing, so I didn't have a bite.) We both admired the plates of fried chicken going by and resolved to try those next time. (Note that it takes a good 15 to 20 minutes if you want friend chicken, though.) And speaking of wait-times, we arrived on a weekday during what I suppose was the lunch rush and had to wait a good 15 minutes just for our basics. That said, considering that you get something freshly made, the short wait is worth it. The best part of the meal besides the burger was our drink: an unusual iced tea infused with ginger. Very refreshing, if a bit overpriced at about $2.50.
Facts worth knowing: this is NOT really a sit down place. They only have counter seating, and few spaces at that. They have weird hours and are closed Mondays. And they don't take reservations. Oh, and they are often sold out of pastrami (in fact, someone was bemoaning that while we were there). The Stockyards powers explain the pastrami problem here.
The staff is lovely -- really friendly and upbeat, and the vibe is nice and rustic-casual. They've done cute things with vintage and salvaged decor, using old barn board instead of cheap baseboards, and barn board on the ceiling as well (creatively slotted in in place of the acoustic tiles that used to be there) and lining one wall with the sorts of mirrors that used to be part of one-piece country dressers. It's all very cute.
It may seem overpriced, but if you're not full when you leave, I'll eat my hat. The bottom line is that this place is good. My only reservation is the fat-content. I felt a bit more guilty with every bite.If you don't mind the assault on your waist line, I say go. Go at least once.
699 St. Clair Ave W
Toronto, ON M6C 1B2
* Image from the Stockyards website.