Friday, April 27, 2012

Strange Wolf

Burger reviewed: Strange Wolf Beef Burger
Venue: Strange Wolf
Date: 27/4/2012

This week's burger adventure saw the Fellow's strut up to the Strange Wolf bar on Strachan Lane. A tucked away bar which specialises in making one thing - burgers!

We walked down the stairs and were greeted by a place more congested than St. Kilda's backline - probably with the footballing talent to match. Zac Dawson = a poor man's Jason Saddington! But that is off topic.

What then commenced is the most intense game of musical chairs that the world has ever seen - and not fun a game of musical chairs where everybody wins (like the one in that episode of the Simpsons where Bart gets placed in the remedial class in Cypress Creek) but one where every person that leaves the place has a swarm of people dive on their chair like Joel Selwood dives on the footy (except they are looking for a chair rather than a cheap free kick). My recommendation for people going to this place is to fight dirty!

I will just come out and say it.. the service was poor! I think this was the first time that the Fellow's handed out a Krispy Kreme donut for speed of service. This place made Arjuna Ranatunga look like Dwyane Leverock (minus the greatest catch in cricket history - youtube it if you haven't seen it).

The chips were as lifeless as a Mumbai cricket pitch, even more unfortunate is that lacked they heat of Mumbai (a place that brought you such cricketing royalty as Ajit Agarkar - the only test cricketer to score seven ducks in a row). The analogy that I would use to describe the chips would be that of Simon Wiggins - a bloke that Carlton continuously forgot to delist because he was so forgettable. Even worse was that the sauce came in the bottom half of a shot glass - although I have seriously thought about sipping smokey BBQ on the rocks - this was not ideal.

The burger itself was really good. The patty was spilling out over the edge of the bun (picture the gut hanging out of Derek Kickett's shorts), was cooked well, well seasoned and had a rustic texture (even though one of the fellow's doesn't actually know what texture means). One positive is that they didn't waste time with greenery - a few julienne's of iceberg was about it. My favourite part of the burger was the mustard - the kind of mustard you spread on your Christmas ham on toast. All up, the burger worked as a whole despite being disadvantaged by the side dishes around it and the overall set up (Gary Ablett much?).  

Following the usual lively Political discussion that has become expected of the sacred gatherings of the Fellows, we began to talk about which sports person this burger reminded us of. One person that came to mind was Brent Stanton as he delivers when there aren't any people around him, but he is no good in traffic (this is reference to the poor speed of service during congested times). However, as this is an Olympic year - a year in which the best athletes in the world come together to see who can get their hands on the world's least detectable forms of performance enhancing substances - I thought an Australian Olympian would be more fitting. Therefore, I have chosen Australia's number 3 man, Daniel Kowalski. Much like the perennial bridesmaid's bridesmaid, Strange Wolf were technically very good, but just slower than their main rivals.  

In conclusion, I would go back for the burger, but not for anything else.

Which brings me to this week's burger Friday life lesson - God is just Dog backwards, so have a laugh instead!

Peace out!

Burger Friday Rating: 32.67/50
Strange Wolf on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Andrews Hamburgers

Burger reviewed: Traditional beef burger with the lot.
Venue: Andrews Hamburgers Albert Park
Date: 20 April 2012

The iconic Andrews Hamburgers in Albert Park was the venue of this weeks Burger Friday. Having served up burgers since 1939, there is little doubt that Andrew know burgers, and accordingly so, Andrews Hamburgers reputation for dishing up delicious burgers is widely known across Melbourne.

The word icon was originally used to describe works of early Christian religious art. Now the word is commonly used in the general sense of a symbol — i.e. a name, face, picture, edifice or even a person readily recognized as having some well-known significance or embodying certain qualities. For Andrews hamburgers the latter is probably more applicable than the former. While hardly recognisable as a religious piece of art (except maybe on the way home after a dozen frothies), but certainly a delicious and modern iconic burger. And let's be honest, besides the grand prix, and the lake (which arguably both relate to the same thing), is there much else which Albert park is known for?

The burger with the lot is a lot of value for the money (coming in with chips at under $15). It is big, honest and flavor some. Think fish and chip shop burger, and then make it bigger and better. While grilling the meat patty, grilled onions are pushed on top into the meat and then covered with swiss cheese to melt away deliciously into a sticky beautiful mess. The meat and cheese mess is then perched on a bun on top of a bed of cabbage and lettuce, covered with crunchy bacon and topped with a dollop of the old trusty dead horse (heinz big red) to complete the beast. Wrapped in paper and served in a paper bag, this is take away burgers at their mighty best. Hot tip for young players - make sure you assume the position, i.e. when your going to take your first bite, lean forward and stick your arse out to avoid making a mess of your clothing. 

Now if I do my math correctly, having opened in 1939, that is 73 years of burger flipping. It is clear to see that these guys know what they are doing behind a hot plate and the crowds of tradies and hipsters flocking to Bridport street to indulge in this well known burger can attest to that. The sheer number and consistency of the burgers being served by the staff was akin to the skillful brilliance of disposals coming from Nathan Buckleys right and left foots during his playing prime.

If your local served up this burgers you would probably die from a heart attack at age 50, but would go out in a bloody big coffin as a fat and happy man. If in the area it is definitely worth giving a crack. Like Michael Malthouse, these guys just know what they are doing, and have been doing it for years. While there are new venues with flashier game plans, sometimes a good game plan just works. You don't win the best burger in Melbourne (aka the premiership) multiple times for no reason.

Burger Friday Rating: 39.40/50

Andrew's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Burger reviewed: Big Mac - Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions - all on a sesame seed bun
Venue: McDonalds
Date: 13 April 2012

The fellows decided that it was time to rate a burger that our many readers can relate to – a yardstick if you will. We therefore ventured to McDonalds to try their stalwart, the Big Mac. For the sake of argument I wanted to mention that the McDonalds we ventured was the Southbank one, located close to Yarra. If you listen to the McDonalds advertisements this fact is of little relevance, as whether you are in Melbourne or Belarus, a Big Mac is apparently identical. Some fellows reminisced about the famous Big Mac song as we entered. For those of you who are not familiar with the tune, you will find it at the following link

While this blog is primarily about burgers, we fellows also give a smaller weight to the Burger Friday experience in general. This contains such criteria such as atmosphere, cleanliness, speed of service and whether a beer is included in a meal. While beer is available in some European McDonalds stores, the Australian version obviously struggled to figure in this category. The cleanliness of McDonalds is usually a hit and miss. If the restaurant is quiet, it would normally be impeccable but generally at peak times the cleanliness can be an issue. The stories we hear about our mates who used to work as cooks for McDonalds makes you think that the OHS inspector will revoke some licences quicker that Nathan Tinkler revoked the A league licence of the Newcastle Jets, but of course these stories cannot be verified. We can also officially say we have found the Usain Bolt in terms of speed of service, but you would expect that from a “fast food” chain. Enough about the experience let’s get to the real stuff.    

The Big Mac is inherently linked to being Big, but as the photos above may suggest, the Maccas advertisers have definitely perfected the art of optical illusion. There are two-all beef patties which is apparently meant to make the burger big, but in reality both patties are so thin, that they would struggle to match the size of generally accepted single patty. The McDonalds patties are also bereft of flavour, but that is what you would come to expect from pre-packaged meat. However all is not lost, as flavour does come through in spades through the Big Mac’s special sauce.  Google tells me the sauce is a mix of various types of salad dressing mayonnaise, various pickle relishes and even some ketchup. Whatever is in it, this special sauce is what makes a Big Mac, a Big Mac. The sesame seed bun is a soft as a Jason bedding pillow, but I have doubts about its ability to match the pillow’s toughness. The burger may not have it all, but tell me you have sunk your teeth into one after a steady night on the piss.       

Onto the famous Maccas fries. We have noticed that most burger joints have used these shoe strings as a template for their own establishments and it is easy to see why. Crisp, easy to eat and the perfect amount of a salt, create a sumptuous side dish. The only time McDonalds fries are not good is when they are cold and soggy. The fellows were lucky enough to experience a recently cooked crop of fries. Big tick. Only issue is that you must request sauce. Seriously McDonalds, just include the bloddy sauce in the take away bag or tray. You can’t be saving that much money. Speaking of money, at $7.85for a large meal, even the tightest people should be able to scruff up the change to afford this burger.     

The Big Mac is a burger you can rely on. You know what you’re going to get whether you are in Melbourne or Belarus. While this burger won’t have you salivating for more, few can argue about its consistency. A lot like St Kilda utility Jason Blake, a player who has played over 200 games  but has yet to poll a single bronwlow vote. The Big Mac, ultra consistent, but not the burger of your dreams.

Burger Friday Rating: 29/50

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Waterside Hotel

Burger reviewed: Wagyu Burger.
Venue: Waterside Hotel
Date: Thursday, 5 April 2012.

Not excited by the prospect of a fillet-o-fish on Good Friday, the Fellows unanimously elected to invoke the operation of clause 37 of the constitution and bring forward our traditional Wagyu burger to Thursday. In doing so, the Fellows ventured off to the corner of King St to the Melbourne landmark that is the Waterside Hotel.  As with any trip to King St, there is a certain expectation of satisfaction and this journey was no different (albeit that the manly table service that we received was not quite what we have come to expect from this former industrial precinct). 

Like the great Scotty Palmer, the Fellows are not ones to hold back on their punches and the Waterside Hotel is certainly not going to win any awards for beauty. It's a venue in which you are more likely to run into Danny Southern or Mark Zanotti than one where you might find Shawn Hampson cuddling up to Megan Gale.  While this might not be the venue to take the lovely lady for an anniversary or valentines day,  let's not forget that this is not Coxy's Big Break and the Fellows are here to judge burgers, and a great burger at that.

A bit sick of the gourmet 'knife and fork' style burgers that we have started to become accustomed to, the Fellows were delighted to get their hands on a uniquely Australian-style burger.  This was a burger that brought back memories of munching on a rustic burger from the local Fish-N-Chip shop while watching Wayne Carey put on a clinic in the early 90s.  

As the photo can attest, the Russian judge is surely going to give it a whack for presentation but who cares when it tastes that good.  Accompanied by crispy bacon, a sunny side down egg, beetroot and the usual salads, this was a hearty burger with all the trimmings and represented exceptional value for money. Although the patty was a tad small,  and the burger had some serious structural issues, this was overlooked because the burger as a whole just worked.  If anything, this burger epitomised synergy - while the sum of its parts may not have been great, as one, it was something to behold.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the quality of the chips.  They were an equally impressive sidekick, which, like Scottie Pippen, probably don't receive as much kudos as they probably deserve given the quality of what surrounds them.  The chips were thick, golden, fluffy and well seasoned, and a welcome break from the standard French Fry which has crept its way onto many burger menus of late.

A number of names were canvassed on our amble back to the office, but this burger is most appropriately likened to 2011 Grand Final captain, Cameron Ling.  It's not pretty but highly effective.  As Ling aged, he became a more robust and rudimentary footballer, who continually got the job done on seemingly more skilful, quicker and arguably better opponents.  However, his persistence to perfect the little things, saw him take many scalps in his prized career - none more so than Brownlow medallist Dane Swan in the 2011 Grand Final. This burger is know different - it does the little things right without the need to be flashy.  

While we may not rush to the Waterside for our next date, don't be surprised if you run into a few of the Fellows indulging in the $12 burger and pot special before wandering over to Etihad stadium.  A great burger and a bargain at this price. 

Burger Friday Rating: 36.25/50

Waterside Hotel on Urbanspoon