Located right around the corner from Big Smoke Burger (formerly Craft Burger) is another franchise burger joint – Hero Certified Burgers. Scattered around the city, Hero offers a similar promise: 100% Canadian heritage angus beef, hormone-free, etc. Unlike Big Smoke Burger, which seemed to make an effort in their decor (and smelled like grilling meat), Hero was created with a ‘food court chic’ as a benchmark, and there was nary a hint of cooked meat in the air (which should have been my first warning sign).
One aspect that I liked at Hero was that you could choose the size of the patty: 4oz, 6oz, or 8oz, which is perfect for the varied appetites. There’s also a fairly extensive list of add-ons: cheeses, peameal bacon and portobello mushrooms are all $.99, and guacamole, button mushrooms, coleslaw, and fire roasted peppers are $.59, plus a number of items (sauces, tomato, etc) which are free. I went with the 6oz classic Hero Burger, with the following fixings: guacamole, portobello mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, tomato, red onion and spring mix ($8.21 with tax).
The board at the front warns that “great taste takes time – cooking time approximately 5 minutes.” It was certainly correct in the latter (I waited about 8 minutes), but unfortunately, not so much on the former. The moment I unwrapped the extremely well-branded packaging, I knew something was off. The patty looked dry and slightly burnt, and had a compressed, machine-pressed appearance. There were a few positives: the bun looked nice – adequately fluffy and speckled with both sesame and poppy seeds, and the tomato and onion seemed fresh. Unfortunately, in this case, looks were not deceiving. In a blind taste test, I think I would have guessed the burger originated in the frozen section of a mainstream supermarket, and then cooked by someone with a phobia for bacteria. The jalapenos were canned, the smear of guacamole was fairly tasteless, and the mushrooms were flaccid and watery and tasted canned or steamed (why can’t they grill them?).
If you’re craving a burger, the just-around-the-block Big Smoke Burger is an excellent choice for just a few bucks more. But if you like a choice of burger size and are okay with a patty that is a slight step-up from fast food, Hero Burger would fit the bill.
Hero Certified Burgers
79a Yonge Street, Toronto
Yonge and King
The views expressed above are the writer's alone and are not meant to represent a restaurant review or critique – rather, the article documents the writer's experience on a single occasion.