All burgers can be organised into a few families and no matter how much afficianados bitch and moan the fast food chains do belong to one of these groups. I have likened the Stockyards’ excellent burger to the flat-top griddled tradition of fast food style burgers that goes from nadir at McDonald’s to its pinnacle at In-N-Out. Golden Star has a closer relationship to the well-known Canadian burger chain, Harvey’s. To my mind, Golden Star is like Harvey’s cousin who still maintains his ’74 Dodge Charger and handlebar mustache–the gentleman wielding the pickle tongs on my visit sported just such a mustache–in peak running condition. It’s both a throwback homage and criticism by contrast.
The decor, from the one-piece plastic benches to the back-lit menu board, are from a time (and colour palette) that one usually has to travel further from Toronto to see. Places like Hamilton’s most excellent Tally Ho come to mind. At Golden Star the nostalgic ambiance is executed without seeming dirty or threadbare.
The house special hamburger is the only route to go at Golden Star. It’s too bad that it has to share space on the menu with a pre-frozen version because it is made with a tasty mix of ground beef that retains a toothsome texture. Though cooked to well done they feature both a large helping of juicy savour and the distinctive charring from the grill. I paired mine with the onion rings that while not spectacular did a good job of combining sweet melting onions and the sort of batter that holds tightly to the rings rather than puffing out.
My dining companion had the fries and didn’t really like them. They’re served piping hot and taste of well-seasoned potatoes but I agree there is a background note of slightly dirty oil. I polished off many of the rejected fries.
The resemblance should not be entirely surprising given that the Harvey’s chain was started an eight minute drive (six and a half in a ’74 Charger) north of Golden Star on Yonge Street. Though the fryer oil could be cleaner and the burgers shouldn’t be cooked for as long the food at Golden Star is three or four rungs above what one can expect from its chain cousin. I was heartened to see that the first nice Saturday in March brought a crowd to this Thornhill milestone that skewed heavily towards young families. It’s good to see the recent wave of burger popularity is washing over old shores as well as the new and trendy.