Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Burger reviewed: The "12" burger

Venue: Flottes - Rue Cambon, Paris

Date: 08/09/2103

Today's burger adventure saw the Fellows sample our first burger treat in the "City of Love". Our venue of choice, Flottes (do not ask me how to pronounce it), is a surprisingly large venue with a much larger English influence than many other restaurants about town (this was evidenced by the menu being written in English only). Located next to Pierre Herme's world famous macaron store, Flottes specialises in traditional French cuisine with a slightly modern twist.

The first thing to note is that the service was top notch. When we walked in we were immediately greeted by a waiter. Let that be a lesson to all restaurant staff - all you have to do is simply acknowledge me with a "I'll be with you in a moment" and I will happily wait for 10 minutes to be shown a table. Without acknowledgement I would be lucky to wait 3 minutes. To make things even better we were sat in a private room complete with nice paintings and French books on the walls. It was a truly lovely setting to enjoy our first ever Parisian burger. 

Upon glancing over the menu we noticed several burgers but the one that caught our eye was the "12" burger. Unfortunately, after I read the menu and ordered the burger I was expecting a 12 inch burger. Instead of a Man vs Food style giant, what arrived was a modest sized burger put together with high quality ingredients. 

The beef patty was exceptional. It was clearly handmade and I think the patty mixture was simply a porterhouse run through a mincer a few times. Due to the quality of the meat used in the mince this beef patty was delicious, covering all parts of the palette like Zizou covering all parts of the soccer field. The inside of the patty was cooked to more of a medium rare (which seems to be the style of French chefs) but the outside of the party was not charred as much as we would have liked. If the chef turned up the temperature of the grill plate a few notches this would have given the best quality patties we have tried a run for their money.

The bun was a real let down. It seemed like your stock standard burger bun that you would pull off the shelf at Coles. I really expected better of a country known for their bread. 

The toppings on the burger were unlike any that we have ever had here at Burger Friday - an interesting combination of sauteed mushrooms and foie gras. Foie gras is a French delicacy and is the liver of specially fattened ducks or geese. Foie gras has come under the fire of animal rights enthusiasts who have claimed that using tubes to force-feed the animals in order to fatten them up is inhumane. This initially put me off. But upon consulting our friendly waiter, we were informed that the foei gras used at Flottes was not sourced from farms who employ this tube force-feeding technique. Rather, a different type of feed that is used to fatten up the animals. Knowing this settled my stomach enough to tuck into the burger without feeling like a terrible human being. And what a result! In our opinion, foie gras is in a league of its own in terms of decadence (and not the kind of decadence like on the Inbetweeners movie) - velvety, rich and creamy. It was a pure delight to eat. However, teaming foei gras with sauteed mushrooms was not a good idea. The two had a similar texture which gave the burger a slippery feel/texture. I was kind of hoping that the foie gras would essentially melt and ooze down the burger creating a quasi-sauce. But as you can tell from the picture, the foie gras was quite substantial and basically acted like a second patty rather than fulfilling my saucing needs.

The burger did have some top quality bacon which was cooked crisply enough to partially cut through this slippery texture but the race was run.

This is the part of the blog where I usually talk about the sauce and how adequately it meshed the ingredients of the burger together. Unfortunately, this burger had no sauce to speak of. Meaning that the burger was very rich and left you feeling greasy. Even a cheeky French Hollandaise would have lightened the mood a bit. With the lack of sauce this burger was bit on the dry side meaning that you needed to choke it down (don't get me started on French athletes choking). 

All in all, this burger had a number of the highest of quality ingredients, including the ultimate X-factor in foie gras, but lacked a sauce to bring the burger together which ultimately resulted in a burger which underperformed. Seeing something with the X-factor only to underperform reminds me of so many French sportspeople but the one I am choosing today is former French tennis player turned Channel 7 special commentator Henri Leconte. Leconte burst onto the French tennis scene by winning the 1981 French junior championship and spent a number of years at the pointy end of grand slams thanks to his sizzling play. The pinnacle of Leconte's career came in 1998 when he made the final of the French Open, only to be smashed in straight ones by Mats Wilander. Ultimately, Leconte found most of his success playing doubles and actually nabbed a grand slam. My advice to Flottes would be to follow in the footsteps of our dear Henri - team up with a quality sidekick (a tangy sauce for the purposes of this analogy) who can make up for your deficiencies. If that happens, you are onto a real winner.

I would definitely recommend this burger if you find yourself strolling down Rue Cambon. In order to counteract the richness of the burger, I recommend the macarons next door. Or if you would like a more traditional French dessert try the in-house creme brulee - I caused a bit of a disturbance in the restaurant when I cracked the caramelised sugar on top of the creme brulee with my spoon. Seriously, it sounded like glass shattering.

Score: 37.5/50 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Shack

Burger reviewed: The Western King

Venue: The Shack (Perth)

Date: 26/07/2013

Today's burger adventure saw Burger Friday tackle the first of Perth's many pseudo burger chain restaurants. The venue of choice - The Shack (previously known as The Local Shack. And before that, The Burger Shack). What is particularly perplexing about the name changes of this venue is that The Shack does not give off the feeling of a shack at all. With its high ceilings, big doors and rustic paint work you could be forgiven for thinking you are chowing down in a cafe in inner-city Melbourne. But who cares about the venue? We are here for a burger.

The Shack boasts 18 different burgers ranging from the stock standard beef burger to a chicken burger called the "Thai Cockfight" (whenever I hear the word cockfight I can't help but think of Seinfeld episode where Kramer and Little Jerry Seinfeld take on Marcellino's "dog with glove on its head"). This presents an obvious selection dilemma in that we are spoilt for choice. However, as we have a selection policy of choosing a burger that our rating scale is not prejudicial towards, we ordered the Western King with cheese and bacon and got ready to nosh.    
The patty was well put together and had that fibrous texture indicative of a handmade patty. What became obvious from the start was the adventurous use of dried herbs and spices in the patty mixture which created a flavoursome first bite. My only gripe with the patty was that it was cooked to more of a well done than a medium which meant that some of juice from the meat had been cooked out of it. I would recommend that the chef at The Local Shack turn the temperature of the grill plate up slightly - this will allow a slight charring of the outside whilst keeping the inside juicy and medium rather than cooking the patty completely through (we should write a book on grilling burger patties - "A time to grill" or "To grill a mockingbird").

My main gripe with this burger is around the quality of the bun. It didn't seem fresh, was a bit on the crusty side and was quite heavy. And to make things even worse, this was one of the hardest burgers to eat from a structural integrity standpoint. This burger resisted all burger management techniques. Even the universally accepted "cut the burger in half" burger management technique (pictured above) - a technique so proven it has taken its rightful place along side the other game changing techniques such as the famed "bite and suck the filling" pie eating technique and the hair dressing methodology of putting the hair between two fingers and cutting above them. If it wasn't for Clause 7 of our sacred Constitution, I would have reached for the knife and fork.  

The salads were fresh and played their part. Salads on a burger is like Snicko in the Decision Review System - while it can add value, it is left out of the decision making process for good reason.

The sauce was the real winner. An eclectic mix of guacamole and seeded mustard which created a tangy and refreshing salsa that cleansed the palette with every bite. Full marks for the sauce. 

The chips were a quality side dish. Similar to the burger, they were sprinkled with dried herbs and spices and were accompanied by a quality sauce. Plentiful in supply (a large serving was enough for two people) and cooked to a level that saw them crunchy on the outside but remain fluffy on the inside.  

Overall, the herbs and spices used in the patty and chips teamed well with the extravagant sauce combination. However, the cooking of the patty and the poorness of the bun let the team down. This display of flare and extravagance only to be ultimately let down reminded me of Dean Wallis in the 1999 Preliminary Final against Carlton. A rugged defender without an attacking bone in his body, Wallis decided to take the game on in the final minute only to be caught by a Fraser Brown tackle, ultimately costing the Dons a chance of overrunning the Blues and a spot in the Granny.  

If you find yourself in the CBD and need a beef injection, check out The Local Shack and the vast array of burger treats it offers.

Score: 33/50

Monday, September 23, 2013

Shake Shack (New York)

Burger reviewed: The Double Shack

Venue: Shake Shack

Date: 17 August 2013

Continuing on the Burger Friday Fellows journey around America, our next stop on tour is the Shake Shack.

If you like burgers and have not heard of Shake Shack then you might as well have been living under a rock. Nine years ago, New York's, and arguably the world's, hamburger landscape changed forever when an unassuming shack began serving up humanely raised 100% Angus beef.

Started by Danny Meyer in Washington Square Park in NYC, this little roadside burger cart grew into a hospitality group and a cultural phenom, and the rest is history. Since then, Shake Shacks have been popping up worldwide developing a market, alongside companies like Five Guys, into what is now known as the Better Burger market (i.e., above your McDonalds or Burger Kings, but below your gourmet burgers). As the Fellows like to dabble in cult phenoms, as well as food which falls into the Better Burger market, Shake Shack was high on our list of food to try in NYC. This and the fact that almost all of the fellows burger loving friends were continually yabbering about it before we left.

So while in NYC, the Fellows headed to the original Washington Square Park site on what was a glorious summers day to try the most talked about burger in the world to see if the hype lived up to the bite.

Greeted by a line curling around the Parks walkway, the Shack almost blends into the surrounding greenery, with the only give away being the connecting fairy lights and the hundreds of people mingling around in excitement. After about a 30 minute wait to order and another ten whilst it cooked, our food arrived.

In true Burger Friday tradition we ordered the signature Shack burger and decided to do it with a double pattie because, as with beef and beer, two is always better than one. The Shack burger is a 100% Angus beef pattie served with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and a special Shack Sauce, all squeezed between a marshmallow-like soft bun.

The incredible simplicity of the ingredients listed above, belie the complexity of the flavourings and sensations that exploded in my mouth on that very first bite. While almost everyone I know has talked up this burger as being almost orgasmic, i had found it hard to believe the hype until I could taste it to prove it. So after that first bite, I was a believer. This is a great burger.

The burger literally melted into your mouth with every morsel, dissolving into a beefy and savoury remnant. I would say that this is without doubt the softest burger I have ever eaten. Think of velvety cake like substance that just happens to taste like burger.

While small in size, it was extremely rich in flavour and by the end I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed by choosing the double.

Although it may seem sacrosanct to criticise the burger, and that this act may cause Shack devotees to seek me out for directed acts of revenge, I did have some things I did not like about the burger.

The hero and the villain for me was the Angus beef pattie. Cooked to a perfectly juicy medium from reportedly ground fresh daily beef, it was so buttery soft that it hard to determine where it stood on the liquified to hockey puck pattie cooking ratio. For mine if it had an offsetting somewhat less soft bun, it would have been perfect. Ala the M&M effect. Or, alternativel,y with the bun it had, I would have liked to have seen the pattie charred to give some contrast in texture. (What's soft on the outside and hard on the inside? - maybe avocado?)

The super soft bun, plus the soft pattie meant that there was too much of the sameness, and towards the end of the burger it got a bit blah.

The other thing which I thought it could have also used was slightly more tang. Whilst the Shake Sauce was zesty, I found myself adding American mustard which was freely available from the condiments stand.

The accompanying chocolate shake and crinkle cut fries were both solid and a good addition to the burger, in flavour and at making sure my daily calorie intake was met in a single serving.

In light of the hype, and the overwhelming softness of the burger, I am going to dub this the Wayne Gretsky. Like Shake Shack, Gretsky is universally known as one of the all time greats. While it might be hard to argue that he was truly soft, rumour has it that whilst teams usually have an enforcer who fights your battles on the ice, Gretzky supposedly took it a bit further by having a bodyguard roam the rink just in case things got too out of hand. Regardless it is still a hall of fame burger and I can testify the hype.

If in New York, or a Shake Shack is near you (they are expanding at a rapid rate), definitively go try it out to see what the fuss is about for yourself.

Burger Friday rating: 42/50

Friday, September 13, 2013

Prospect Espresso

Burger Reviewed: the Prospects Burger

Venue: Prospect Espresso - 2A Prospect Hill Rd, Camberwell

Date: 15 July 2013

On a stereotypical Melbourne day - torrential downpour followed by blue skies and sunshine - we ventured to Prospect Espresso in Camberwell. Espresso is the type of cafe that makes a name for itself through word of mouth; the type of place that you could be forgiven for overlooking on your way past the many shopfronts on Burke Rd, but fortunately for us this place has started to make a name for itself in burger enthusiast circles. Needless to say, we were not disappointed.

In a world where first impressions count more so than ever before, we were greeted promptly by an energetic and bubbly waitress who quickly found us a seat at the large wooden communal table. A growing trend in Melbourne hospitality, the table dominates the décor but is complemented by a mixture of smaller tables. Although space is at a premium, it is a well organized layout which fits nicely with the rustic furniture and fittings. It has somewhat of a refurbished inner-city warehouse apartment feel to it and although quiet loud, it still has a homely and welcoming vibe.

Although Prospect Espresso receives rave reviews for it's coffee, we ventured to this cafe to sample the house burger - house minced beef, bacon, cheese, pickles, lettuce, chips and aioli for the fair price of $18. It came out in good speed for what was a busy Friday afternoon but most impressive was the presentation. While some of us here at Burger Friday prefer the look of a greasy, juicy, American-style burger, I am one who prefers the postcard burger. This would be right at the top of that list (unfortunately my camera work on the iPhone 5 doesn't do this justice). Credit must be given for the use of props; the inclusion of the traditional (albeit miniature) frying basket to hold the chips is a great look.

The burger was smaller than what we're used to, but what it lacked in size it made up for in flavour. The burger was cooked to perfection, it was charred on the outside trapping in the moisture and juices from the gelatinous pattie. The ground and hand pressed pattie was lightly season and while some might have preferred a bigger statement from the pattie (in terms of herbs and spices), the precise cooking makes this pattie a winner. Many outstanding patties have been ruined by the chef (or should i say cook), but this was mastery of a fry pan at its finest.

It didn't stop there though. The bacon was equally impressive as it was crispy and charred, with enough rind left on to provide a salty crunch. While no one wants a pork belly rasher of bacon (i.e., 90% fat), the burger does benefit from having some of the natural fat stay on the bacon. This was evident here as the saltiness of the bacon balanced tang from the aioli. This rivals the Trunk Diner for best use of bacon on a burger - a real pleasure.

When you have two genuine stars like the pattie and the bacon, you can be forgiven for overlooking the other accompaniments. There was nothing to fault with these, the lettuce was crisp and the pickles provided a nice savoury touch. They were able contributors to a two starred attack, not too dissimilar to Jack Gunston or Pau Puopolo to the Hawthorn attack.

I have already touched on the presentation of the chips, but it is one thing to look impressive, it is another thing altogether to meet (and exceed) those expectations. These chips were top-notch. Golden brown, crunchy, seasoned yet fluffy and light in the middle. They were perfectly suited to the aioli which was fresh and light.

My only real gripe with this burger was the absence of a boutique beer, or any beer for that matter, to wash it down with. Hardly relevant in our culinary quest to find Melbourne's best burger, particularly given the number of licensed venues in close proximity, but there is something extra special about a soothing ale to accompany a delicious meal.

I had some difficulty, and agonised long and hard, as to who I would liken this burger to. Ultimately, I settled on Daniel Geale. The little known Australian boxer (which is changing quickly) is a no-nonsense, honest and rugged fighter. Where the likes of Mundine have polarised the Australian boxing public, Geale is a contemporary gentleman in a sport that is characterised by ego, salesmanship and bravado. Although he recently lost his IBF world title, he retained his humility and will be back fighting in those ranks before too long. Like Geale, the Espresso burger is understated and unpretentious and also has the potential to be a household name on the burger circuit. A relative unknown; it won't last for long.

Do yourself a favour and go sample this burger now. You will not be disappointed.

Burger Friday Rating: 41/50

Prospect Espresso on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Mitre Tavern

Burger Reviewed: Mitre Angus Beef Burger

Venue: The Mitre Tavern

Date: 9 August 2013

Resident of the oldest building in Melbourne, the Mitre Tavern (naturally) claims the title of the oldest pub in Melbourne. It is a traditional British-style pub that you would expect to come across in a quiet country town; not in the heart of Melbourne. Out-of-place in sorts; with a mixed clientele of businessmen, tourists and your average Joe; the Tavern does a roaring trade as it traverses social classes and aligns people to the oldest and humblest of origins - the love of beer, hearty food and a yarn.

The venue is split in three. The outdoor beer garden, without a blade of grass in sight, is spacious and offers ample outdoor dining yet seats are hotly contested (particularly on a Friday). The type of place you would enjoy a beer on a Friday afternoon before a short stroll to the MCG. Upstairs is the acclaimed steakhouse, where 'business lunches' run into 'business dinners'. An upper class affair, it's the sit-down-napkin-across-your-lap meal you reserve for special occasions, but we were here to sample the humble burger and such delicacies do not require such grand service.

Given the inclement Melbourne weather we opted for the third alternative - to dine inside. Not a bad choice as we were greeted by a highlights reel of Matthew Burton, the 7ft gangly North and Fremantle ruckman of the nineties. Watching the human praying mantis ply his craft before a feast was a real pleasure. My nostalgia of Spider Burton was overshadowed by the history that adorns the walls inside. An unpretentious and classic interior, you could only begin to imagine the number of embellished yarns that have been shared inside these walls. An authentic pub in the truest sense of the term.

We ordered the house burger at the bar and it felt like before we had sat back down that our meal had arrived at our table. This got me thinking of the speed continuum. At one end of the spectrum, which frustrates all patrons, is the painfully slow, hunger-wrenching burger that feels as though the cow was slaughtered in the kitchen before being cooked. A worry for any patron as you start to fear the incompetence of those in the kitchen. Equally as worrying is the other end of the spectrum, which the Mitre Tavern finds itself, is the super quick, bain marie burger. Fortunately, this burger didn't have the 'pie-warmer' feel to it; rather, a rigorous application of Henry Ford's supply change principles.

Not surprisingly, the speed at which the burger arrived did nothing to assist in the presentation. As the photo attests, do not expect to see this on the front cover of the epicure magazine. But lets be honest, you come to a pub with an expectation of a hearty and wholesome meal, not a dainty image you can post on instagram. In accordance with our expectations, this burger was simple pub food - seasoned prime Angus beef, tomato, lettuce, cheese, caramelized onions, homemade tomato relish on a toasted bun for the reasonable price of $18.

The first bite into the burger left a sweet aftertaste in my mouth. Too sweet. While I am ordinarily a big supporter of caramelized onions, the caramelization coupled with the tanginess of the relish was too much for my liking. Both were in generous supply, which meant that they overpowered the other flavors. Perhaps some mustard on the base of the bun might help to offset these strong flavors.

The bun was thick and fresh, but was not toasted as the menu suggests. It lacked that crunch and contrast in textures that a golden brown bun can provide.

In contrast, the chips were crisp and crunchy. Traditionally cut without any herbs or spices; a little salt wouldn't have gone astray though. We compensated for this with some tomato sauce from the bar; alternatively, you could have gone for an off-the-shelf mayonnaise. Neither were glamorous but were hard to fault.

There was no side salad. Hardly a problem with that. The salad that was on the burger was fresh and met our expectations. As is the key with any salad on a burger, it did enough to be noticed without being noticed - if you've ever had to pick out wilted lettuce or a rotten tomato from a burger, you'll know that going relatively unnoticed can be a good thing.

What you do notice when you sit down to eat this burger, however, is the thickness of the pattie. Albeit this was not as thick as previous visits, the burger takes on an almost rissole like consistency. It is cooked through which can lend itself to being too dry - if you're going to use such a dense piece of meat, it should be seared and retain some pink in the middle. Unfortunately, for mine, this was overcooked and meant that any flavors or seasoning were overpowered. A simple fix would be to cook this on a high heat for a shorter period of time to make the pattie the star of the show it should be.

When working out who to name this burger after, I was inspired by watching the highlights of the North Melbourne dynasty of the 90s on the big screen. In particular, the man colloquially known as 'the Fridge' - Mark Roberts. Although he had stints at Sydney and Brisbane, the Fridge is best remembered for his time at the Kangaroos. The Fridge, like the Mitre Burger, is not the prettiest thing to look at; both are keg-like in their appearance and would look misshapen next to many of their counterparts. But the way Roberts approached his football - rugged, robust and honest - is quite similar to the Mitre Burger. Nothing flashy, just honest. Moreover, were you to combine the Mitre Tavern with the Fridge, I reckon you would happily settle in for a long lunch cum dinner as he would have some ripping stories to share about his career and there would be few better venues to hear it.

If you are in the CBD and in need of something to quench your thirst, I definitely recommend stopping at the Mitre Tavern. It's a great pub, in a fantastic location and should you be hungry, try the burger.

Burger Friday Rating: 31.5/50

Mitre Tavern Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Five Guys Burgers and Fries (New York)

Burger reviewed: The Bacon Cheeseburger All The Way

Venue: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Date: 13 August 2013

Currently in New York City, the Burger Friday fellows decided to make a quick stop at the chain restaurant Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Five Guys), on route to catch a ball game at the house that Ruth built.

Having originally opened in 1986 in Washington DC by the entrepreneurial Murrell brothers, the business exploded like an Alfonso Soriano home run when it decided to franchise in 2003. With over 1000 stores in North America and a further 1500 in the pipeline, it is the fastest growing fast food chain getting around.

Perhaps the most important indicator of its influence is that it holds the enviable mantel of being one of the most talked about burgers on the internet. With a focus on quality food and good service, it has gained a cult like status with celebrity endorsements even ringing all the way up to Barack Obama, which is exactly why it was on our list of venues to try.

An example of its commitment to quality is its shunning of twentieth century technology by refusing to have freezers in its stores. The end result is that all meat, potatoes and other produce are fresh. This attitude somewhat reminds me of the Olympic runner Abebe Bikila who just said screw you to footwear and won a gold medal in the marathon barefoot. While I am definitively not averse to technology, it is nice to know that the food is fresh.

The burger reviewed today was the bacon cheeseburger served all the way, which I was reliably informed by the guy behind the counter was in his opinion "the only way". At Five Guys, they give you the option to add whatever toppings you want – for free. With as many as 15 free toppings there is literally 262,143 combinations of burgers available, if you ‘do the math’.

When you go all the way, you get almost all of them. The all the way bacon cheeseburger consisted of a soft sesame seed bun topped with a double beef pattie, crispy bacon, cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mayo, and mustard.

And lets just say all the way was almost better than the first time you got past first base. The pattie, which was clearly handmade, was cooked to a very good medium well, with a nice bit of char on the outside, giving it bite and flavour. The bacon was crunchy and complemented well by the sauce combination of ketchup, mayo and mustard. Every bite of the burger was mouth-wateringly good, with seemingly different flavours and textures between the current bite and the one previous.

Ably accompanied by handcut chips with the skin on and endless soda refills, it is easy to see why Five Guys is cult worthy. While your waist line might not thank you, your wallet definitely will. Total cost for the meal came in at under $14USD for what is a very good quality burger.

While a distinction exists for burger purveyors between gourmet burgers (served on a plate, and generally neater in appearance) and fast good burgers (served wrapped and delivered in a bag), of which the Five Guys clearly falls into the latter category, the flavours and quality of their offerings can be held up against any of the gourmet burgers we have tried.

In light of its punch above its weight stakes and not necessarily good looks, this is the Phil Mickelson of Burgers. Mickelson is an unabashed fan of Five Guys who once in a press conference, unprompted, told a roomful of reporters that Five Guys served “hands down the best burger he has ever had.” It was revealed a week later that Mickelson was an investor in Five Guys franchises. Regardless, who doesn't mind a little bit of self promotion when the burgers can back it up?

This is one burger chain I would love to see come to Australia. If in North America skip the Clown (McDonald's) and the Crown (Burger King) and definitively get to Five Guys!

Burger Friday rating: 42.5/50

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Angry Moose

Burger reviewed: The BELT The Moose

Venue: The Angry Moose

Date: 04/08/2013

Is there a better way to spend a Sunday than by taking a leisurely stroll down street to smash a burger? Maybe a "Silly Sunday" session with your footy mates after your season has just come to a end? Although the Burger Friday crew were a part of the former, we still got to sit there and witness the antics of the footy team (let's call them the Bankstown Foaklies) who were drowning their sorrows along side us. Most enjoyably, in true Silly Sunday fashion - one bloke brought his missus.

In light of the rather rowdy crowd making up the patronage of The Angry Moose, a venue known for manly style burger combinations, we calmly sat a safe distance away from the Foaklies and ordered the "BELT The Moose" burger. Settle down Nick Maxwell, this isn't cruelty to animals. It is simply the code name for the regular burger with bacon, egg, lettuce and tomato. Despite the backlog of orders, our burgers came out in reasonable time and the mere sight of burger had me salivating.

The patty was a real winner and provided the centerpiece for the rest of the elements of the burger to work around. It was of the ideal size and thickness, was cooked to perfection and had the crumbly and fibrous texture indicative of a handmade beef patty. Not to mention a nice sprinkling of dried herbage which was worked into the patty mixture. Some burger makers endeavour to impart the majority of flavour through a flamboyant patty mixture whereas others focus more on sauce combinations. We don't have a preference as long as the end result is quality (much the same as our opinion on Josh Kennedy's kicking action).      

The bun was one of the better ones we have tried in the great state of Western Australia. A lightly toasted Turkish style bun which was solid enough to hold the burger together but light enough to soak up all of the juices. It was the type of breadage you would happily dunk in a container of hommus for a light Sunday snack.

The burger was complemented by a simple yet very effective sauce combination of Heinz Big Red and mayo. The two seemingly plain ingredients combined into what can only be described as "fancy sauce". And like Dale in Step Brothers, "I like it".

The remaining ingredients for which this burger gets its name added to the already solid set of flavours while not overpowering the stars of the show. The runny yolk of the egg added a creaminess which was complemented by the saltiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the grilled onions. In my opinion, the lettuce and tomato are out of place on a manly burger - which would leave bacon and egg as the additional ingredients in what would be called the "BE The Moose" burger. Just food for thought.

Some additional food for thought - Tiger Woods' ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, currently sits fifth on the PGA tour money list for the 2013 season behind Brandt Snedeker - this automatically qualifies her for all four major championships in 2014. I thought this was worth a mention.

The chips were the highlight. An extremely generous serving of well sized chips accompanied by some garlic Aioli. The most enjoyable facet of these chips was the superb crunchiness you got from the outer chip while maintaining the appropriate level of fluffiness inside. The outside of each chip was slightly blistered and when consumed, these blistered spots seemed to burst with crunch and flavour. Anyone in our readership know how this is accomplished? Perhaps someone whose parents owned a fish and chip shop?
Overall, this burger hit all of the right notes. The flavours were all there - the bitterness from the patty, saltiness from the bacon and sweetness from the grilled onions were complemented by a texturally complete burger.

One warning I will give in relation to this burger is the dreaded "food baby" you have to deal with afterwards. Both times I have had the Angry Moose burger for lunch, I have felt so full for the rest of the day that I have not eaten dinner. Therefore, I imagine that this burger would not be one you would prefer to consume before or during a big afternoon on the sherberts. This phenomenon left me feeling sorry for the Foaklies.

I enjoyed everything about this burger but left a bit full. So the sportsperson this burger will draw comparisons to is the much maligned English offspinner Monty Panesar. A man known for his passion for the game and extravagant wicket celebrations, Monty recently landed himself in hot water for relieving himself on a nightclub bouncer when he too found himself a little full. A revenge a number of people would like to inflict on a power tripping bouncer I would imagine.  

Honourable mentions for people who have landed in hot water for relieving themselves in public - Brendan Fevola, Mark Williams (during a VFL game), Nate Robinson and R Kelly.

If you find yourself on Beaufort Street, don't think twice about stepping in for a quality burger.

Score: 38/50

Monday, August 12, 2013

In-N-Out Burger

Burger reviewed: Double Double Burger Animal Style

Venue: In-N-Out Burger; Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Date: 5 August 2013


Continuing Burger Friday’s American burger adventure, our next stop was the famous In-N-Out Burger.

Originating as a drive-thru some 60 years ago, it is now one of the most iconic of burger chain restaurants on the west coast of the USA. As the chain expanded over the years, it, unlike many other stores, has avoided adding products such as chicken or salads to its menu. Neither has it changed its preparation methods. This is, simply, good old-fashioned food.

The fact that it is only available on the west coast had eluded us until we realised that we were about to leave the state of California and this burger opportunity could be gone for a significant amount of time. With FOMO striking (fear of missing out), it was a somewhat frantic state that we raced to the Fisherman's Wharf store in San Francisco to see if the burger was going to be the best thing since sliced bread or just over-hyped like Michael Hurley.

Located right on the bay of San Fran, the hype was evident from the big line streaming out the door. Having done some solid research while in the queue (i.e., five minutes of googling on the iPhone), we stepped up to the counter and duly ordered the double double burger and asked to turn it animal style. While turning it animal style sounds like we were asking to go all Grant Hackett and start flipping grand pianos, it is actually referring to the cooking style and toppings of one of the most popular ways to have an In-N-Out burger off the Secret Menu.

This Secret Menu is actually not so secret afterall because they advertise it on their website. Instead of a broad menu like other competitors, In-N-Out just has a real simple menu with maybe ten items, but also has unadvertised variations of its burgers that are based on customer preferences. These include: double meat, 4 x 4, grilled cheese, protein style and animal style.

The Double Double burger animal style is two mustard cooked beef patties, double American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, ketchup, grilled onions and a spread sauce (somewhat similar to a thousand island dressing or perhaps more literally, like the sauce you get on a Big Mac).

The burger came out presented in a cardboard container and unlike every other chain restaurant burger actually looked like the pictures you see of it. Its presentation was flawless. The burger was cooked to a medium well and was very very tasty. The bun was soft, in an almost velvet-sledge-hammer-style, and with the addition of pickles, tomatoes and onion this was a full flavoured and well balanced burger. The combination of ketchup and the spread was spot on.

My criticisms would be that the double double American cheese just overwhelmed the burger taste a little bit too much. While the cooking methods haven't changed in 60 years, I think you could tell that this burger was not going to be good for the cholesterol levels.

We accompanied our burger with some excellent homemade fries which you can actually see still have the potato skin on to evidence they may have really originated from real the vegetable. Coming in with an endless soft drink refills at a total of sub-$8USD, this clearly gets full marks for value.

In honour of In-N-Out originating in 1948, I will dub this burger after NBA hall of famer Nate Archibald who was also born in that fabled year. Archibald was a willing passer and an adequate midrange shooter. It was his speed and agility, however, that made him difficult to guard in the open court. Like Nate, the In-N-Out burger franchise is a very good burger by itself, but the speed of service, consistency, presentation and price make this burger great.

If on the West Coast of USA make sure you stop by In-N-Out Burger and see what the hype is all about.

Burger Friday rating: 39.5/50

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Burger reviewed: The Meisterburger

Venue: BurgerMeister, San Francisco, CA

Date: 2 August 2013

One of the first stops on this American burger tour of joy is the city of San Francisco, famous for its hills, food and home of the 49ers and San Francisco Giants.

The venue of choice for our first burger review in San Francisco is BurgerMeister in North Beach.

 As a fan of both food and sports, it certainly feels like at the moment, being organic in this way would put BurgerMeister in rare company. Whilst the Windy Pills saga has raged on in Melbourne, doping scandals in US sports are part and parcel of every sport it seems. So it is fantastic to see a restaurant who wants to buck this trend and give people real food.

Set out in a classic American style diner, serving up as they put it, "real American classic comfort food". BurgerMeister has an astonishing 18 burgers on the menu, and, if that’s not enough, you even have the additional option to make your own. This means the combinations are virtually endless and definitely not for the indecisive.

While Australia has undergone a burger revolution of sorts in recent years, the Burger Friday fellows are continuing our mission to sample burgers far and wide. This means going beyond the land girt by sea, to visit the home of the burger - The United States of America.

Currently spanning six stores, this Bay Area burger chain specialises in burgers made with meat sourced from Niman Ranch; meaning that they are guaranteed to be all natural and free of hormones, steroids or antibiotics.

The burger reviewed by the Fellows was the signature MeisterBurger, awarded as the best Burger in San Francisco an astonishing 6 times in a row. An admirable dynasty, but still quite a way from arguably Australia’s greatest ever female athlete, Heather McKay, who went unbeaten in competitive squash matches from 1962 to 1981 and only lost two matches for her career. Only 15 more burger titles to go…

The MeisterBurger is a 1/5lb Niman Ranch beef pattie cooked to choice, topped with crispy Niman Ranch Applewood smoked bacon, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed onions, fresh avocado and cheese on a traditional sesame hamburger bun. Served with crispy cooked fries and your choice of ketchup, mustard or Dijon mustard condiments at your table, this burger is an absolute winner.

While perhaps the sloppiest burger I have ever tried to eat, meaning structural integrity was an issue for even the top burger management experts, this critic was over shadowed by the exceptional flavours.

The toppings on this burger were first class. The crispy bacon was cooked perfectly and provided beautiful crunch to offset the softness of the burger bun and the sautéed mushrooms and onions. I was a little hestitant about the addition of fresh avocado (which was literally a whole avocado) on the burger, but was pleasantly surprised with how well it worked with the juiciness of the mushrooms and onions and the mustard sauce.

The star of the show was the beef pattie, which was cooked perfectly to a medium and was undoubtedly one of the best tasting patties I have experienced on my burger Friday journeys. Large in size, organic, perfectly seasoned, it just ticked all the right boxes and was simply excellent.

Given the sheer number of ingredients going on in this burger full marks must be given for the synergies that they have managed to create. A fantastic combination of sweet, savoury, crispy, soft, and tangy make this burger an absolute ripper.

In honour of the local San Francisco NFL team the 49ers, I am going to dub this burger after its quarterback Colin Kaepernick. After being drafted in 2011, Kaepernick lead the 49ers in 2012, breaking various individual post season records, all the way to the Super Bowl, only to be defeated narrowly by the Baltimore Ravens. Just strolling the streets of San Francisco and seeing the sheer number of people wearing clothing with his name can tell you he is the people's champ. And I am going to bet by the time his career is over, he will have an awards listing similar to that of BurgerMeister.

If in San Francisco I highly recommend you get around this burger now.

Burger Friday score: 42.5/50

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Alfred's Kitchen

Burger reviewed: The Hamburger with Bacon, Egg and Cheese 

Alfred's Kitchen (Perth)


Today's burger adventure marks a significant milestone for the Burger Friday fraternity with this Burview being our 50th. Hazzah! 

When the Fellow's first came together in February 2011, we believed we had what it takes to complete multiple burger reviews. Not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7. Like the Miami Heat and the recently crowned King James, we at Burger Friday find it necessary to surround ourselves with talented people in order to put ourselves in the best position to succeed. As such, the lure of the 50th Burview saw Burger Friday introduce a number of high priced recruits - including All-Australian Ruckmen Nic Naitanui, a trio of Australian Diamonds netballers and Collingwood Premiership player Nathan Brown's brother Mitchell. Honestly, I haven't seen a team recruit this well since the Adelaide Crows gave up Chris Groom for Andrew McLeod in 1994. 

50 is a number whose significance is reflected in many sports. From a bullseye on a dart board to the quick raise of the bat and tweak of the box associated with a half ton in cricket. But most enjoyably, the number 50 is reserved a special place in the annals of basketball history. It was the number worn by Hall of Famer, "The Admiral" David Robinson. And it is the number retired by the University of North Carolina Tarheels for "Psycho T" Tyler Hansborough - a man whose idiotic persona on the basketball court has paved the way for other A-grade jousters such as Lance Stephenson, whose disappearing act in this years Eastern Conference Finals was made all the more enjoyable by the fact that he sledged LeBron for being a choker last year. Oh how I love watching people's comments come back to bite them on the arse! But it could be worse, Lance could have acted like former UFC Middleweight Champion Andersen Silva in his recent world title fight - where Andersen copped a glancing hook from Chris Weidman, acted like he was knocked out, only to be knocked out cold one second later. 

But enough clowning around, let's get to the aforementioned milestone review. 

Alfred's Kitchen is a quaint truck stop style burger kiosk located just across the road from Perth's Bassendean Oval, the home of the Swan Districts Football Club and WAFL sensation Murray Newman. Alfred's kitchen has specialised in serving fish 'n' chip style burger treats since 1946. One of the more enjoyable facets of Alfred's service was the open fire roaring out the front, which signals that Alfred's is open for business. With my inner pyro chomping at the bid, I had a look at the menu (or the "Graham Manou" as I like to call it) and Alfred's boasts over 40 burgers ranging from the coronary option double hamburger with egg, bacon and cheese to the lighter option of the lentil. We promptly ordered the single hamburger with bacon egg and cheese and got ready to chow down. 


The patty was, as it should always be, the star of the show. The subtle bitterness from the slightly charred outside of the patty mingled seductively with the coagulated meat fibres in a way that only a perfectly cooked handmade meat patty can. The juice and flavours covered and excited all parts of the palette like they were Igors Vihrovs dutch winking and flat bagging his way to the gold medal in the floor exercise at the Sydney Olympics (just wanted to send a shout out to our Latvian readership (almost 150 views from the great country). Anyone remember this bloke from Roy and H.G.'s "The Dream"?). I cannot say enough for how well this patty hit the spot. 

The bun was exquisite. Like a sesame freckled breast of an angel lightly toasted to perfection. There is so much to be said for the simple act of lightly toasting a burger bun. Actually, from this day forward I am going to declare a war on untoasted burger buns - these should be outlawed from burger production the way centre circle bounced pads were outlawed from the AFL in 1999 when they caused Shaun Rehn's leg to snap in half.

The salads played their part - crisp and refreshing. Salads on a burger are like the guys making up the bench on an NBA team - slapping a towel on the ground is as flamboyant as they should get (Patty Mills - if there was a ring for towel waving, you'd be the finals MVP), but their main job is to hold back the other bench sitters when the stars of the show heat up, so that nobody gets a technical foul.
The condiment of choice for Alfred's was a simple dollop of Heinz Big Red. Whilst some may gripe at the lack of a gourmet sauce, I applaud it. This is after all a burger aiming to do all of the simple things right
, to become a whole that is more than the sum of it's parts. What you get when you have a "simple" burger try to be something else with an extravagant sauce combo is an unmitigated disaster - a Tony Romo if you will. Romo is one of the more talented QB's in the NFL but tries to do some extremely extravagant things on a football field (19 picks in the 2012 season alone). Stick to doing the fundamentals well instead champ.  

The chips were a perfect accompaniment to the burger and stayed true to the brief. They were crunchy, light on the inside and adequately dressed due to the selection of condiments. One of which was chicken salt. Nuff said. 

The overall rating of this burger suggests that there are some aspects for improvement, but if you start adding extravagant ingredients you take away the burger's identity. We here at Burger Friday encourage burger diversity and can find enjoyment out of all styles of burger. So I would not change a thing here.

The sports person who I will compare this burger to is fast bowling icon turned breast cancer ambassador Glenn McGrath. As a result, I am dubbing the Alfred's Kitchen burger - "The line and length" burger. This burger hit all the right notes with its simplistic design and ingredients. It is a burger that would be successful all year round and in all kinds of conditions. As for Glenn McGrath's association with the number 50 - he scored arguably the most loved half century in all of cricket against our rivals from across the ditch. I cannot help but laugh at the look on Pidgeon's face after he slog sweeps Vettori for six. Enjoy. 

What is next for Burger Friday you ask? Well our fellow 50, Curtis Jackson, got shot nine times and "he ain't going no where". So buckle in an enjoy the ride to 100.

Score: 41/50

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Grill Station

Burger Reviewed:  Beef burger with the lot

Venue: Grill Station - Fairfield

Date:  28 June 2013

On the burger continuum – with the contemporary, knife and fork, dare-not-pick-it-up style burger at one end – the Grill Station in Fairfield happily bucks the modern trend and parks itself as an ambassador of the humble and rustic burger.  There is something particularly enjoyable about eating an unpretentious burger that doesn’t try to sell itself with ingredients that would not look out of place on a Jacques Reymond menu.  A throw back to the good old days, we sampled the beef burger with the lot – lettuce, tomato, egg, bacon, onion and tomato sauce – which was a steal at $12.50 with chips and a can of soft drink.

As you would probably expect, the décor of the Grill Station was befitting the burger.  Located a stones throw away from the train station, it was modest, down-to-earth and clean.  You felt that the focus of the budget for the fit-out was selectively used to purchase the large screen plasma which was throwing out live images of the footy – no complaints here.

Being old-fashioned and understated is hardly a criticism.  On the contrary – and this was never more evident than by the service we received at the venue; some of the best I have received from any on our burger journey.  While speed is one thing, and Grill Station cannot be faulted there, as first time visitors to the Grill Station we all left feeling as though we had known the staff for years.  Where your inner city venue might define the quality of service by the fancy jug they use to pour you a glass of water, the staff at Grill Station make you feel right at home.  A real pleasure in a time where you are more accustom to dealing with a machine or an offshore service centre.

To the burger.  The first thing you should notice about this is the size.  It is a rare occasion, and perhaps I was having an off day, that I struggle to finish a burger (and I am proud to say that I am still undefeated) but this was one satisfying meal.  The type of burger you crave when you’ve had a few too many sherbets the night before.

While the burger might have been enormous, my main gripe with this burger was the thickness of the pattie.  On a burger that cries out for the prima donna of patties, it was unfortunately overshadowed by the myriad of ingredients that accompanied it.  It must be noted that there is the option for additional patties, and maybe we’d consider upsizing in the future, but the robust flavours of the pattie seemed to get lost in the strength of the other flavours.  What there was of the pattie was tender, handmade, juicy and expertly cooked and seasoned.   

Although the pattie was more than capable of being the star of the show, there was a bit of Lance Picioane about the other accompaniments to the burger.  For those of you not versed in Triple M’s football commentary team’s use of this man’s surname as a verb – a quick history lesson.  Picioane, an honest but not great footballer, was renowned for making a concerted effort at the end of the match to spend as much time as possible speaking to the opposition star players with a view to getting a bit of airtime for himself.  In burger circles, a Picioane is an ingredient that tries to dominate the wholesome flavor of the beef.  In this instance, the egg and the bacon.  Both were perfectly cooked, the bacon charred and the egg fried so that the yolk wouldn’t run, but their perfection overshadowed the pattie.

The lettuce, tomato and onion were all fresh and well-seasoned as you would expect.  My preference would be for the onion to be sautéed slightly long, but lets not allow personal bias get in the way.  The cheese was of the simple tasty variety, which did well to cover the entire length of the bun.  While on the topic of the bun, this was fresh, toasted to a crunchy golden brown and big enough to wrap your mittens around.  It was the type of roll you would expect from a bakery rather than the fancy brioche number – a safe option that is hard to fault.

The chips were thick and well cooked.  They came out hot and crispy, but could’ve done with a pinch more salt – this wasn’t so noticeable as we were given a full bottle of refrigerated (let’s not go there again!) tomato sauce to use.  While your amateur burger blogger may have read the label and taken the Heinz tomato ketchup on the label as gospel, this was clearly a refilled bottle of plain tomato sauce.  Ketchup/tomato sauce? Six of one, half a dozen of the other – there is a difference though.  Ketchup any day of the week for mine but when you consider that similar venues are charging you twenty cents for a sachet of sauce that is majority air, you’re not going to be to upset when you get to give the bottle a generous squirt. 

To the favourite part of our blog – I am going to tag this as the Geoff Huegill burger.  The man who prematurely retired from the Australian swimming team only to return two years later looking as if a couple of airbags had blown up inside him.  While he was never quite able to make it to the elite category of swimmers, a 140kg bloke doing butterfly stroke when others of similar size would be happy to just float certainly endeared him to the Australian sporting public. Like Huegill, the Grill Station burger is massive, and while not quite at the top of our list, it is the type of place that you cannot help but warm to.  George and his team, like Huegill, are certainly the type of blokes you would love to sit down and have a beer with.  

A great rustic burger with top-notch service and outstanding value – you won’t be disappointed.

Burger Friday Score: 37/50

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