Fionn MacFly… err, MacCool’s

When one travels from airport to airport, one must know where you can grab a bite.

Westjet flies out of Terminal 3 at Pearson’s International Airport. This means that food choices are limited – especially if you’d like to have a rest and enjoy a sit-down meal. There is a Swiss Chalet, a couple of food counters, 2 small bar and grills. And since last December, there is a Fionn MacCool’s.

Part of the Prime Pubs family and opened in partnership with HMSHost, this is the second airport location for Prime Pubs, the first one being a Darcy McGee’s at MacDonald-Cartier in Ottawa. At the same time, Prime Pubs announced the opening of another Fionn MacCool’s – this time in Orangeville – making MacCool’s the leading brand of the company with 8 restaurants.

The Pearson MacCool’s menu is more limited than their other locations, but you can find the usual Irish-inspired dishes, such as a Guinness Steak and Mushroom Crock or Shepherd’s Pie, as well as other Prime Pubs favorites such as the Prime Rib Burger, the Chicken Curry and the Chicken Tikka Masala.

Located at Gate C-25, Fionn MacCools is open every day, from 5 am until the last flight. On our way to the NDP Convention in Vancouver, our Westjet flight stopped for a 3 hour layover in Toronto. I knew where we had to go. And so, followed by NDP MPs Bevington, Dusseault and Brosseau, and their entourage, I lead our small delegation to the Irish Pub.

Walking in, you get the usual atmosphere one gets in these establisments – once you pass HMSHost’s ‘grab and go’ counter, which looks out of place. The pub features a nice, long oak bar, well stocked, and a comfortable seating area. We sat towards the back, in a partial booth. From the windows, we had a great view of the different jumbo jets pulling in and out of their gates. The number of seats near the windows are scarce, however, so you’ll need a little luck to sit by it.

I ordered a pint of Guinness (despite the outrageous $9.99 they were asking for it), I peered through the limited menu, and settled on the Guinness burger, finally available as previously reported by The Waffle.

The Gourmet Irish Cheeseburger was made of a half-pound of freshly ground prime rib, served with Cahill‘s Guinness Cheddar, roasted red peppers and sautéed mushrooms. The bun is topped with a pickle, giving the burger a nice classic look.

As usual for all sandwiches and burgers in a Prime Pub establishment, the Guinness Burger comes with a choice of fries with sea salt or an Emerald green salad. You can, by coughing up a few extra bucks, substitute a side of sweet potato fries, a Caesar salad or a cup of chowder.

I stuck with the Emerald salad, which, if not exciting, was fresh and crispy – a nice mix of greens with a predominance of Romaine lettuce.

The burger was pretty big – as expected for a half-pounder. The meat was cooked to medium-well, leaning on the well side, but wasnt’ too too dry. It was well seasoned, a bit salty, a fine beefy flavor. The red peppers were nicely roasted, but the sweetness and boldness seemed out of place under the delicate flavour of the Guinness Cheddar. I would argue that onions would be a better choice of toppings, and by that I mean caramelized onions, not their usual crispy, stringy fried onions – which by the way are nowhere to be found on this burger. Together with the mushrooms, it would have been a better combination.

The cheese had melted somewhat, but could have used more heat. The Guinness Cheddar is a firm cheese and remained firm on the burger. The recognizable brown mosaic veining was clearly visible, giving a nice look to the burger. Nice, rich flavour, buttery, with a hint of malt coming from the Guinness. The Irish porter is fully there visually but is more subtle on the palate, which is a good thing. The burger was served on a fresh bun, big enough to hold the meat and its companions. The bread was a bit floury, which is a style I’m not particularly fond of, but not a real complaint either.

All-in-all, Prime Pubs’ Guinness Burger is interesting. It held together, and if it is not the perfect combination, it is a cheeseburger worth trying, maybe worth repeating – at $14.99, it is a better deal than a $9.99 pint of Guinness!

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