Most people have fears that are very normal and rational: heights, sharks, spiders, snakes, enclosed spaces, large crowds. Everyone can understand how these things can be frightening.
Me, on the other hand… not such normal fears. My primary fears are: clowns, monsters living at the bottom of apartment block rubbish chutes, getting caught in revolving doors, and catching public transit.
As laughable as mine are, if you know me well, you know I attract weirdos on trains and buses (or even at laundromats). If I am stationary in an enclosed area, I will have some creepy old guy talking to me about nudist colonies within a few minutes.
My dear friend Alex in Toronto is trying to help me overcome this fear of public transit. When we go on our meal adventures together, he meets me at King Street Station in Toronto, and we catch the subway together to our destination.
On this occasion, we were meant to attend Doug McNeish’s vegan restaurant, but through a comedy of errors, we don’t attend and end up catching the subway to University Avenue, and walking up to the P&L Burger.
It’s lunchtime and the P&L Burger is PACKED. Seriously, people are about to spill out the front door. And that’s just the people sitting down, not the ones taking their food back to their workplaces.
If you love burgers, this is a serious burger joint. It gives off a hipster vibe: minimalist décor, trendy fonts on blackboards, 50s style diner food containers, and attractive male workers, replete with tattoos and beards.
But it’s totally missing the aloof hipster attitude. Everyone who serves me is polite and very kind. Particularly the kitchen guys and chef I spoke to. I would have loved to have a longer chat with the chef about the sort of food they make and he actually seemed to be amenable to it (I know, a chef who wants a polite chat, right?) but HANGER was setting in and I needed my burger fix.
We are both starving and order combos, with a side of onion rings.
Alex chooses the The Deluxe – a beef patty, bacon, American cheese (and without the usual tomato and red onion), iceberg lettuce and P&L sauce.
I choose the sans meat option without cheese – The Big Tempeh, which is marinated and grilled tempeh slices with cheddar cheese, red onion, tomato slices, iceberg lettuce, and P&L sauce. [For the tempeh uninitiated – it’s basically soy beans – like edamame – pressed until they decompress into big blocks, and usually marinated with tasting things like garlic, sesame, soy, coconut, curry etc]. If you’re concerned about making it vegan and/or gluten-free, go bun-less and have the BBQ sauce instead of the P&L sauce (or you could just put your own ketchup and mustard on at the condiment stand).
And like all good North American diners, the pop (or soft drink as we call it in the southern hemisphere) has free re-fills.
Alex’s burger looks juicy, tender and dripping (though that makes me feel a little ill to type). My tempeh is tasty and nice and thick. And the fries are that crisp, fresh out of the fryer hot. Usually I’d have a lot more to say, but hanger set in and all I remember was that both of us were extremely satisfied at the end of the meal.
And I hear that P&L are now doing delivery… which could be a nice, lazy option for Saturday nights after work at the pilates & yoga studio!
Are you like me? Do you like to destroy all of your clean eating and exercise with a burger binge? What’s the best burger place you frequent?
Location: 507 Queen Street, West, Toronto.
Getting there: It’s about a 20 minute walk from the Eaton Centre (Yonge Station) or Union Station. Or you can catch the TTC to University and walk up Queen Street West.
Cost: $12 each for the Delux combo and The Big Tempeh combo.
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica over at Google.