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

Grill Station on Urbanspoon

Sea Salt

Burger reviewed: The Beef Burger

Venue: Sea Salt

Date: 4 July 2013

Nestled in the hustling and bustling hip avenue of Degraves street, the Burger Friday fraternity located it's next burger adventure, Sea Salt.  As far as locations go, Degraves street showcases just what the real Melbourne ambience is about – cobble stoned streets, narrow laneways, Banksy-esque graffiti (art) adoring the neighbouring walls, and surrounded by mixture of boutique and eclectic shops. Uniquely Melbourne, it is the type of place you don’t mind your burger taking a bit of time to come out as there is so much to absorb.

Sea Salt unashamedly fits within this diverse shopping strip, it is unassuming yet deceptive at the same time.  At first glance you could be mislead by the large variety of homemade sushi rolls displayed in the front window to think this is just a sushi bar; should you enter, the perpetuating shout of fish and chips orders might give you a different impression, or were you to take a seat at the neat tables at the front of the store, you are likely to get the cafe-style lunch vibe.  It is the Swiss army knife of venues, or to use a contemporary football term – the ‘swing man’ of venues (ala Jake Carlisle, Michael Hurley and Ben Reid this year, or even your Adam Hunter who held the mantle for a while around '05/06). 

Before we get into the ratings, a little background of how we stumbled across this gem. Sea Salt is known around Melbourne (CBD) for its fish & chips, namely, its $8.90 Salmon Burgers & chips combo. However, due to beef being the BF meat of choice, we have steered clear of Sea Salt – until now.  It was with great enthusiasm that we heard whisper that this Melbourne institution was to debut it’s Gippsland Angus beef burger (for a limited time only).  Coincidence or fate... we think fate. Kudos to Sea Sat for branching out in the competitive burger market.

The burger came out in good time despite the peak hour time slot. The the waiters were friendly and unassuming, in many instances this has been a rare occurrence to us, it is however a very important reflection on the eatery. The presentation could not be faulted, the burger came out on a wooden board, with an aluminium mini deep fryer basket - although we've seen this presentation on a few occasions, it is a delight to the eye and very impressive.

The burger consisted of lettuce and tomato, tasty cheese, beetroot, mayo, tomato relish together with the pattie. The Gippsland beef pattie was well cooked, slightly pink in the middle, and lived up to all expectations. The beetroot was an absolute winner, an uncommon ingredient in the upper market burger industry; together with the tomato it was highly refreshing. The one let down of the burger was the oversupply of mayonnaise which filtered through to the pattie and provided an unpleasant creaminess which overpowered the charcoal finish and the texture of the pattie. There is an obvious solution to that – tell Popeye in the kitchen to lay off the spinach – or, better yet, include a slice of crispy bacon, the saltiness of which would help to offset the creaminess of the burger.

Having said that, credit must be given for the chips. Golden, crispy throughout, well drained and generously seasoned. These chips were a craftsmanship to be proud of and must have taken years to master. Hats off guys!

After much deliberation, we have decided to dub this burger the Paul "Big Fish" Salmon.  After an illustrious career as one of the best tap ruckman in the business with Essendon and Hawthorn, the Big Fish was poached out of retirement by the old fox Kevin Sheedy, where he was primarily used as a forward in order to prolong his career.  Similarly, Sea Salt has forged its way successfully in the fish & chip market, and is now making strong strides into the beef burger industry. With a little improvement, Sea Salt Angus Burgers will be a mainstay of DeGraves St.

We can only hope that this limited edition burger becomes a permanent fixture on the Sea Salt menu.

Burger Friday Rating: 36/50

Sea Salt on Urbanspoon