Friday, April 19, 2013

Metro Bar and Bistro

Burger reviewed: The beef burger 

Venue: Metro Bar and Bistro (Perth CBD)

Date: 12/04/2013 

Today's burger adventure marks the first of many Burviews conducted in the booming Australian town of Perth. After being promised year round sunshine before I moved over here, I was quite surprised to find the first Burger Friday in my new home town was on a day in which the rain was absolutely persisting down. A sign of things to come? I am not sure. 

The first venue in the Perth CBD I managed to mosey on down to was that of Metro Bar and Bistro. A fancy looking restaurant which had a comprehensive menu full of all your favourite pub food. However, we were here for the burger so lets make like MC Hammer and  "break it down".

The patty was the star of the show - it seemed to be handmade, was cooked to a juicy medium and just melted in your mouth. But the sizing of the patty was completely wrong in that the patty was quite tall but no more than 2 inches in radius. This meant that it left a good inch of uncovered bun either side of the patty. I haven't seen something so small be that good since Romesh Kaluwitharana used to towel up Glenn McGrath in the first 15 overs of a one-dayer.

The bun was fluffy, soft and acted like a perfect sponge soaking up the juices and sauce that cascaded down its edges. But due to the sheer minuteness of the patty there were some structural integrity issues. The patty was like a wet cake of soap, just slipping around inside the bun making it difficult to sink your teeth into.

The sauce combination was delicious! A nice dollop of Heinz Big Red and a helpful lathering of what can only be described as a souvalaki style garlic sauce. Picture a sauce that is not as garlicy as a sauce that you would expect to get at 3am on a Saturday night on Brunswick Street but a much better sauce than you would get at Anthony Koutoufides' chain of souvalaki stores (what a monumental flop they have proven to be). But it could be worse for Kouta - he could be James Hird!

The toppings played their part - crispy lettuce with a couple of fairly thick cut tomato and beetroot slices. Salad on a burger is a lot like a good caddy in golf - they do their job but they never get their mug on the TV. I am talking to you Stevie Williams! Adam Scott is the hero and not you champ! 

The chips were of the highest quality. They had a superb crunch and were still fluffy and soft in the middle. It was a real pity that they were in short supply.

As this is my first Perth review, I have decided to apply a Western Australian theme to today’s sporting analogy. And to be truthful I am spoilt for choice. Some of the sporting greats hailing from or calling WA home include D.K. Lillee, Adam Gilchrist, Margaret Court, Peter Matera, Craig Parry and arguably the greatest man to ever hold a hockey stick (trust me I know) in Jamie Dwyer. 

However, as this week saw the end of March Madness in the United States (the fact that it ended in April is almost as stupid as the United States crowning their National Football League winners as 'World Champions'), I have decided to pay homage to WA's best basketballer in Lucien 'Luc' Longley. In his four years at College, a tall and slender (at the time) Longley led the University of New Mexico Lobo's to the big dance each year, only to have his teams reputation for that period tarnished by the "Lobogate" scandal - a lurid episode involving forged academic transcripts and other dishonest behaviour designed to permit individuals entirely lacking academic credentials to represent the University of New Mexico Basketball Programme. 

Clearly, Longley and the Lobo's had a few problems early on. But once Longley filled out and entered the NBA he went on to be a starting centre for the Chicago Bulls and occupied the paint in the latter of the two Chicago Bulls' three-peats in the 1990's. The 1995-1998 Bulls are arguably the greatest basketball team of all-time (in the 1995-96 season the Chicago Bulls amassed a world record 72 wins in an 82 game season en route to winning it all). The Metro burger is very similar to Luc Longley in this regard, if the patty put on a bit of size (call the Weapon! He should be free these days) and occupies more of the bun then all of a sudden this burger is a cracker.

Give it a bash if you are in the area.

Score: 35/50   

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The South Melbourne Trader

Burger reviewed: The Wagyu Beef Burger

Venue: The South Melbourne Trader

Date: 5/4/2013

On a glorious autumn day in Melbourne, this weeks Burger Friday saw the Fellows stroll to sample the burger wares of the South Melbourne Trader (TSMT) in South Melbourne.

Located on the corner of Market and Cecil Streets, at the bottom of the Spotlight centre, TSMT is figuratively a Scott Muller throw away from one of the iconic food spots in Melbourne, the South Melbourne Market, birth place of perhaps the world’s most famous Dim Sims. An eclectic space, with high ceilings and cray fishing pots for light fittings, TSMT is a somewhat unassuming venue. With the suburb turning into a “foodie” mecca in recent years resulting in significant competition, it may have been easy to miss TSMT amongst some of its more recognisable/glamorous neighborhood counterparts such as St Ali and Chez Dre.

Having worked nearby for a significant period of time, I had often walked past this venue without second thought of it being good for anything more than a takeaway coffee (they serve Five Senses if anyone cares). But with what we experienced on Friday, TSMT should rightly hold its own in the upper echelon of establishments not only in the area, but across Melbourne.

With new head chef, Johnon MacDonald (previously of Rockpool & Ginger Boy) in front of the hot plate and a fresh new menu that included a Wagyu beef burger, we were given the tipoff that TSMT was worth giving a go. That tipoff may have been on par with getting told that Black Caviar was going to be a fairly handy horse before its first race. 

As aforementioned, the burger reviewed today was the Wagyu beef burger. Served on sensational looking pieces of brioche bun with bronzed curves that would make a Serena Williams envious, the burger incorporated a sizeable handmade beef patty, gruyere cheese, pickled sliced cucumber, pickled red onion, tomato, cos lettuce, and finished with tomato Jamaican jerk style relish spread on the bottom and fresh mayo on the top.

The pickled ingredients served to provide both sweetness and tang, something that is greatly savoured by the Burger Friday Fellows, as well as a great crunchy contrast in texture to the softness of the bun. The Wagyu meat patty was just melt in your mouth goodness, cooked to a perfect medium, every mouthful was a pleasure.  A special mention must be given to the Jamaican jerk sauce, which was unlike anything we have witnessed before on our Friday adventures. Somewhat similar to a tomato kasundi relish, this unique flavor and spiciness was a #winner.   The pairing of the mayo and the Jamaican jerk sauce was an excellent combination. Whilst vastly different flavours, they were highly complementary to each other like ying and yang or in sporting parlance, Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, Kobe and Shaq, or Lebron James and Dwayne Wade if you will.

On the topic of complementary combinations, the burger came accompanied by a generous serving of hand cut chips with the skin on, more Jamaican jerk sauce and a selection of imported and local beer including the likes of Dos Blockos and White Rabbit. As part of a promotional special, all of this came to the impressive price of $19.50. Whilst we can’t guarantee that the special will last, we can guarantee the quality of the burger will.

This burger we are proudly dubbing the Gary Ablett Jnr. The man they nicknamed God, Gary Ablett Snr was one of the most freakish players to have ever played AFL. However his offspring Gary Ablett Jnr in the eyes of many, in particular this Burger Friday Fellow, has managed to surpass the old man. Similarly with this burger it is clear to see the influence and pedigree from the Rockpool training of the chef. However for mine, surpassing in both taste and value this burger is better than its proverbial old man and should rightly be held as one of the best burgers in Melbourne.

Congratulations Johnon MacDonald and the South Melbourne Trader…..ladies and gentleman we have a new leader!

Burger Friday Score: 44.13/50

The South Melbourne Trader on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Parlour Diner

Burger reviewed: The Parlour Burger 

Venue: Parlour Diner 

Date: 1/4/2013

Today the Burger Friday Fellows ventured to the Windsor end of Chapel St to sample the offerings at Parlour Diner. Parlour Diner is an American style diner, serving mac & cheese, fried chicken, ribs and a various array of delicious burgers.

While having opened only as recently as 2012, the style and layout of the diner has that shabby chic feel which would be easy enough to fool you in to believing that burgers had been flipping here for the last 50 years. With the retro vibe, long diner bar and old school stools and tables, the décor made it feel like we could have easily been kicking back in a bar in New York, listening to Micky Mantle smashing homeruns on the wireless in the fifties! 

We were seated at the bar, which provided a perfect vantage point to watch the chefs in the open kitchen dishing out mouth wateringly consistent burgers the whole time we were there. Consistency is an underrated virtue in both restaurants and sport. These chefs had the type of consistency that only comes from years of controlling and patrolling the hot plate. For the customer it provides that comforting reassurance that these guys know what they are doing, they do it well and to just leave it in their capable hands. This is much more than can be said for the long suffering Melbourne football club supporters whose team do not look like they know what they are doing and are only consistent at being inconsistent.

As is tradition, the burger reviewed today was the signature Parlour Burger. Coming with a sizeable hand made beef pattie, tomato, generous amounts of lettuce, cheese and pickles on a picture perfect brioche bun, this burger is the quintessential embodiment of the Americana burger movement. That is to say it is bloody good! And for a burger with so few ingredients, it was surprisingly packed with flavour.  While the burger seemed moderate in size, the sweetness of the bun and the richness of the cheese melted over the meat pattie more than make up for it, to make even the most seasoned burger eater satisfied.

The pattie was the star of this burger. Generous in size and clearly hand molded, it was beautifully cooked with a lovely crunchy chargrill on the outside and enough juice to keep serious flavour. A hand made/minced pattie is just an absolute winner for burgers, and this pattie was a nod to the traditional, with the mince fairly coarse to help both keep the pattie moist and together.

The accompaniments to the burgers at Parlour Diner also deserve special mention. Curly fries served with a slightly spicy aioli were just awesome. The coke was glass bottled, which is clearly the most superior way to serve cola. And the condiments of the imported French’s Classic Yellow American Mustard and ketchup were just a textbook pairing for the burgers. 

The only slight criticisms I would give the burger was that it lacked a bit of the zing/tang factor and did not come with bacon. Although it had pickles, these were a little overwhelmed by the dominant flavorings of the sweet bun and the pattie/melted cheese. It was not unlike watching the AFL debutants in round 1 suiting up for the real thing. Whilst you can clearly see talent, it’s pretty hard to make an impact straight up. Having the genuine American mustard however did assist this quite ably.

This burger for me was like Joe DiMaggio. Quintessentially American, DiMaggio was a good looking rooster, known for his incredible consistency with the bat, setting a record 56 game hitting streak which still stands today. The burger was equally American, good looking and consistent. And if the burger is DiMaggio, then the curly fries and glass bottle coke accompaniments are his second wife Marilyn Monroe, who was quite clearly a star in her own right.

Overall with the low price point, great vibe and very good burgers I would definitively recommend you give Parlour Diner a try. 

Burger Friday Score: 40/50 

Parlour Diner on Urbanspoon