Going Retro outside the Metro

The hunt for a great burger sometimes goes outside of the city limits.  I was in Ajax recently and saw Retro Burger tucked in a strip mall on Bayley St. I went for two reasons.  First, I left like a burger.  Second, I wanted to determine what exactly made a burger “retro”.

There was a time when the word retro was used to describe things that occurred well before my time.  As I get longer in the tooth (that saying in  itself ages me), I realize that I am, in fact, retro.  Although I can’t relate to the objects in the Grey Power commercials, I could relate to the Pac-Man icon on the wall and the fact that the smiling and enthusiastic staff were likely half my age.

Growing up, I remember two types of burgers.  The first were the dry, underseasoned and  overcooked  ones I ate at home, likely the result of an exaggerated fear over some type of food-borne illness. The second were the  oversalted fast food variety which included McDonald’s, Deluxe (a Sudbury staple) and  A&W which,at the time, was served on a tray which hung off your car window while you sat in the drive-in.

Retro burger was neither.  I would call it cross  between Five Guys and Harvey’s.  The burger was Five Guys except char broiled : moist and a nice thickness relative to the bun.  What can I say?  Bun:meat ratio is important to me.  The toppings were Harvey’s style; choose your own from the offerings behind the glass.  In addition to the standard condiments, they offer a number of sauces to spice things up.  I went traditional, opting for cheese, mustard, onion, pickles and hot peppers.  A sesame seed bun is always a good call. The fries were skin on and a nice thickness.  The combo (including a drink),  was around $10, taxes in.

Retroburger and Fries
Retroburger and Fries


Cross Section of a Retroburger
Cross Section of a Retroburger

There are a number of other items on the menu including philly cheesesteaks, hand- dipped fish and chips and souvlaki. The guy in front in front me order the cheese steak and it looked rather delicious.

My Take

After going to retro burger, I’m still a little perplexed at what makes this place retro.  I couldn’t eat the burger off a tray hinged to my car window. It didn’t remind me of the pitiful, overcooked burgers I ate as a kid.  Maybe it’s the fact that they pleasantly serve  a decent burger at a decent price (including an after 2 pm  special) without  complicating things by offering kobe beef/buffalo patties topped with avocado, pineapple or a fried egg. Although the experience didn’t flood my brain with the nostalgia of 1982 ,  at least I wasn’t put through the torture of Tommy Tutone dialing phone numbers or  forced to ensure one-hit wonder Buckner and Garcia’s “Pac-Man Fever”.


Retro Burger on Urbanspoon


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