For the first months, the place was always packed. I went about a half dozen times to try everything on the menu and hope that the ordering kinks exhibited in the first few days were fixed. Well, I went back a few weeks ago to prepare for writing a review for the new one. It is not as packed as it was earlier on. For the past few weeks, I have been wrestling on what to say about it.
It is easy to see what the restaurant is aiming at. By Retro, it seems to be talking about the 80s given the music and the menus. It is in imitation of Johnny's Hamburgers (Scarborough) or Apache Burger (Etobicoke). An aside, my wife was raised in Scarborough and swore up and down about the legendary burger place but when we went back she remembered it being better. I did not grow up in Toronto and Apache Burger was my favourite until the Burger's Priest. Aside finished. Anyways, it is attempting to be a salt crusted burger with great fries. It falls short because the patty ends up watery and salty without the crust. The buns act as a barrier to tasting the meat rather than a stage to show off the beef.
The second issue is the pricing. Originally, the burgers were priced reasonable at the Yonge location and they offered late afternoon specials but the prices have continued to rise and the specials evaporated. The food has not gotten better. Some of the toppings are good but not exemplary. The fried onions are what I am talking about.
Once again, the placement of this new location is an underburgerized area near a McDonald's. I don't like writing about a mediocre place. It is easier and more satisfying to write about a place you love and would like a few tweaks. It is a more guilty pleasure about writing about a horrible place and coming up with an interesting way to explain your disdain. It is hard to write about ordinary. This place will probably do well but I would like to see better from them and every burger place.
Update Just to be clear, there is a new location of this restaurant opening at Coxwell and Danforth but the one used to review the chain was located at Yonge and St. Clair. See comments for discussion.
As of August 22, 2011, the Retro Burger on Yonge has closed shop to be replaced by another burger place.