About the joint
If you'd ever thought about doing your own rendition of Two Girls, One Cup, save yourself the hassle: just go to Tom's.
The horror. The absolute horror.
by benjamin on August 3rd, 2012
The reason the Founding Derbists started Burger Derby was to help create a resource that would guide burger enthusiasts toward burgs that represented the very best of burger craft so that all of us, together, might derb and derb more abundantly.
The flip side is to also steer derbists away from inferior burgs. The only thing more bitter than a mouthful of wretched food, is having paid for that bite. No one wants to waste time and money on bad products. On questionable food. On poor burgs.
What gives added force to a bad dining experience is expectation. Eagerly looking forward to a meal and anticipating delight, only to have hopes dashed by shoddy cooking is a trauma no derbist should have to endure. It is the cruelest pain, full of the deepest sorrow. Wondering for years about Tom's Burgers, imagining it might be some remarkable gem in the burger wasteland that is Markham, I found myself in that most precarious position. And, as I feared, I was dashed into a thousand pieces, each one weeping, crying out and asking, "Why!"
* * *
I drove past Tom's, on accident of course. I'd misjudged the distance to the driveway. But after a quick u-turn and an immediate right, clawing at my seat belt buckle.
The car door closed behind me with a louder than usual bang. Excitement I suppose. I must have appeared as a blur to anyone watching, as I moved with supernatural haste, up the dilapidated steps, through the dilapidated door, into the dilapidated shack, I was, after so much anticipation, finally about to dine at Tom's.
Two old and miserable Greeks stood unwelcoming behind the counter. The thought dawned on me that perhaps they'd bribed a government official to obtain the green "Pass" certificate I'd caught a glimpse of in the window. Of course I dismissed the notion as wild imagination. I have since come to learn that premonitions can, and do exist.
I ordered the Homemade burger, with bacon and cheddar of course. The taller Greek – the more miserable one – took my money. He seemed put out that I meant to do business with him, and that no amount of cash could have made me a welcome sight.
In a flash the beef patty, very clearly not homemade, had finished grilling. The shorter, fatter, older Greek who'd unlovingly cooked the burger, slathered the bun with the condiments I'd chosen. The sheer volume of sludge he poured explains very well why the patty slid away from me when I raised the sandwich for my first bite. It seems in retrospect the burger was trying warn me, "Keep back! You don't want to eat me!" It was courteously trying to excuse itself from the table, and I foolishly ignored its kind gesture.
Now holding the burger perfectly horizontally, I at last sank my teeth in for a bite. Years of expectation and fantasy all came together, converging upon a single point, located precisely where my mouth eagerly closed.
And then nothing. The periphery darkened. My vision narrowed onto a single real estate ad, printed on the paper that lined the beige plastic tray on which this sinful mass was served me.
"That seems rather high for a semi-detached in Stoufville", I murmured to no one, caught in a trance.
Unbeknownst to my mind, my mouth had independently chewed and swallowed. Rejoining my body I shuddered; and raged. The foul taste of rancid beef filled my mouth. The distinct pang of fishy tones accosted all my senses. Despair and horror bewildered me; I'd been sucker punched by some cowardly thief, and robbed of every treasure.
I shuffled up to the counter, and upon my protest was handed back my money. Of course, the "restauranteur" looked just as unimpressed as when I'd first passed the cash over to him.
Back in my car, parked below the red and yellow hand painted sign whose tattered face reflected my own, I sat quiet for a moment. My only thought – the singular strain running through my mind – was that I was right.
They must have bribed someone.
Over the next six hours, I threw everything in reach down my gullet – beer, coffee, two entire meals – trying to expunge that horrendous taste from my palette. The next day I would have flashbacks. All at once a vivid impression of the fraudulent certificate. The miserable faces. The rot that Tom tried to pass off as a burger.
The only consolation I have in this life, is the hope that not all memories will make it across to the next. How could it be heaven with such evil haunting the minds of the saints?