Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Uncle Joe's (Perth)

Today’s burger adventure saw a rag tag crew of burger lovers venture down to Uncle Joe’s Mess Hall in Perth’s CBD. Uncle Joe’s also doubles as a barber and is responsible for some of the freshest (and most expensive) salads that Perth has ever seen (the irony of this is explained below). The burger of choice was Uncle Joe’s Angus Beef Burger.

(not our photo - hence, the chips)

The patty was a bit like Steph Curry in the NBA Finals – it had all the talent to put the series away but came up short when it needed to be the MVP. How about you take a unanimous seat over there Steph and have a good hard unanimous look at yourself. But I digress. The burger struck me as something which was not hand made in that it had that hockey puck shape which is typically indicative of a burger straight from the packet. But the flavour was reasonable (a bit of extra herbage may have helped) and was cooked perfectly.

The bun was the highlight of the show for mine. When it came out I instantly thought I was in for an uber sweet brioche but it was actually a pretzel style bread and had the perfect amount of crust on the outside whilst maintaining the fluffy inside. The size of the bun in proportion to the patty was spot on such that burger management was never an issue. Although it does say a little something about the burger that the side kick, being the bun, was the star of the show – call it Draymond.

The salads on the burger were virtually none existent apart from a few sprigs of rocket – call them Harrison Barnes. Whilst the salads are not the main guy on the team, you notice their lack of presence if they go missing (2 for 20 from the field in games 5 and 6 – good luck in free agency young fella). I must admit that I was slightly disappointing that the most prevalent salads at Uncle Joe’s were situated on the scalps of the customers of Uncle Joe’s Barbers. Also of note, Uncle Joe’s employed the recently favoured technique of deconstructing the burger by serving a dollop of mayo, a pickle and a teaspoon of salsa on the side. This doesn’t do much for me. Just plonk this stuff on the burger and get on with it.

The sauce combination was actually very effective – with the aforementioned mayo and a delightful seeded mustard. The use of seeded mustard is quite seldom but given it goes smashingly well with a steak then it makes sense that it would go well with a burger. The benefit of the seeded mustard is the vinegar content and its ability to cut through and neutralise the char on the burger which can be overpowering if not done well – call the sauce combo Iggy.   

There is not much I can write about the chips because there weren’t any. Just a small section of grilled corn which played a role but not what was needed in the circumstances – call the lack of chips the “King Flopper” Anderson Varejao.

Overall, the burger worked quite well as a whole but was missing a piece or two to get the job done. The burger has been talked up big time and to add to this, every hipster and his dog is now on the Uncle Joe’s fresh-cut salad bandwagon (just like everyone is on the Steph Curry bandwagon – although a few people have unanimously left that train of recent times).

In light of the above, I am coining this burger the 2016 Golden State Warriors burger. Ironically, the architect of the Golden State Warriors is a guy by the name of Joe Lacob. Perhaps he owns Uncle Joe’s. Illuminati shit right there.

Score - 36

The Reveley (Perth)

Much like Sam Smith’s feeble attempt at a “Bond song” the writing was well and truly on the wall well before we ventured down to The Reveley located at Perth’s new Elizabeth Quay.

To start with, it was the first day of 2016 where it actually rained in Perth. Given this typically occurs only 10 times a year over in the West, it was an early sign that it was going to be a tough day out there for this young player. (For those Melbournians reading this review, the writer appreciates that just surviving New Years Day without rain is cause for celebration over East, nonetheless we weren’t happy with the rain in our parade even if it was the end of April).

The Reveley opened to much fanfare down at Betty’s Jetty and being the second CBD establishment of the owners of Stables Bar, this burger enthusiast had high hopes. The three storey venue is a great addition to the Perth foreshore and when the deserted Quay finally has a tenant or two it is sure to attract regular crowds on a Friday night for a cheeky frothy.

The burger served was a Wagyu Beef burger with bacon and a side of chips for the not so poultry sum of $26.

Unlike the writer of our previous review, this writer is not going to indulge in a selfish ego boosting monologue about whether or not bacon belongs on a burger. This writer acknowledges that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and those who are of the opinion that a burger requires bacon are simply wrong.

With that out of the way our attention is turned to the burger itself, initially the rating received was slightly higher than that which was landed on as some members of the voting panel made revisions to their scoring when the burger had failed to properly digest a number of hours later.

Starting with the biggest gripe of the reviewers – the patty. Advertising a Wagyu Beef patty is a sure fire way to get this lad salivating at the prospect of a big, juicy and fresh meat patty. The false advertising here was much like Coles’ attempt at “Fresh Baked Bread”. It may have contained some form of Wagyu beef but sourcing the patty from the Coles frozen food section and then serving it up at a fine establishment like this saw the ratings heading “down down” right from the start.

The bun was of sound size and freshness, and while the Bun should never steal the limelight in “The Burger Show” when the Melbourne Stars take the field, it certainly would help if there was a little bit of Cameron White excitement (e.g. some charcoal toasting) to add some flavour to the match. (A shout out to the hipster of hipster’s – The Big Show, who was kind enough to make time in his schedule to join us for this review).

The salads were a bit of a non-event – staying with the cricket theme here they were a bit like Luke Ronchi, promising so much on paper with the suggestion of some dill pickle and caramelised onions but falling for a duck with a forward defence that leaves a mighty big gap between bun and patty. Some advice is offered at this point: wash and dry the lettuce (especially if its iceberg). I guess the expensive fitout left the owners short of enough cash to invest in a salad spinner. Or maybe it was all invested in maintaining a fresh salad atop James Faulkner’s mug.

The caramelised onion was however a great addition, and the pickles good (although lacking in quantity). Those reviewers who appreciate bacon in the burger did comment that the maple smoked bacon was a good addition and could be great if given a little more love.

Finally, it was the lack of sauces which resulted in an expensive last 5 overs for The Reveley. It was always going to be an uphill battle when you’re taken out of the attack after starting the over with 3 full bungas from Dirk Nannes and forget the Mustard. But to replace it with Michael Beer who without any discernible turn (or in this case mayo or tomato sauce) meant it was going to be a very boring finish to the match.

The saving grace for this burger was the chips. Coming in at the end of a long batting line-up to save the day like David Hussey, the fries were crispy and well coated in salt with solid aioli and tomato dipping sauces. They simply did the job in terms of quantity and got enough runs on the board to put forward a competitive total.

Overall, this burger was a big let-down for a venue that promises so much. I should note that before signing off there were some members at the table who were very satisfied with their crumbed whiting fish and chips – a dish that this reviewer is known to get just a tad excited about from time to time.

Given the good looks, significant hype and advertising one cannot help but be reminded of Jack Watts when reflecting on this burger. Like the Melbourne coaching staff we are torn by the promise of the talent displayed by the owners at Stables Bar in the reserves (e.g. the 2008 Under 18s) but since making it onto the big stage the pressure seems to have become too much to handle. Let’s hope that The Reveley doesn’t take 8 years to find its way like our mate Jack who has only now decided in 2016 to get those fingernails dirty and win his own ball every now and again.

Score - 29.4

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Howling's Bar (Hood Burger)

In the immortal words of Michael Jordan from March 18, 1995:

“I’m back.”

After a hiatus of almost two years, we are delighted to announce that the Burger Friday crew have enlisted some help defence and are back bigger and better than ever. Such a glorious return to the spotlight needed to be accompanied by a burger to match (MJ played his first game back in Indiana for those playing at home) – so we wandered up the terrace to Howling’s Bar to sample the pop-up Hood Burger which has set up shop at Howling’s Bar.

Howling’s Bar is located on the busy Hay Street in the Perth CBD and was opened after a rather expensive renovation of the facilities. The first few months for Howling’s Bar were tough as they copped some heavy criticism on the interweb for their menu. To their credit, they took all of this feedback on board and enlisted the help of the pop-up stall – Hood Burger – to offer patrons an array of burger treats (and pretty much nothing else). The end result is a dude mecca which satiates the need for quality affordable burgers in the Perth CBD.

The venue itself isn’t going to knock your socks off. It feels a lot like a University nightclub which gets opened up during the day. Although it appeared that no one told the DJ – the music choice was reminiscent of the R&B room at Room 99 in Geelong – Bump, Bump, Bump…. Baby If You Give It To Me…. Independent Women. First class tunes.

The best part was that we appeared to be served by Boobarella from The Simpsons.

But enough about the venue, we are here to talk about the burger which came in at $14 with bacon plus $5 for chips.

The burger itself was in the upper echelon of Perth burgers (not an overly great achievement) in that it did the simple things right.

The patty was one of the best we have tried – it was clearly hand-made and the chef achieved the perfect balance of the Maillard Reaction and keeping the inside of the patty to a juicy medium. Pretty much full marks for the patty.

In addition to this, the bacon was cooked perfectly and the cheese was cooked on the patty whilst it was on the grill.

The sauce combination was a simple yet very effective mustard and tomato sauce. This was perfectly balance and left us thinking whether we had wandered into a fancier version of Hungry Jack’s by mistake.

As for the salads – salads on a burger are a lot like Sacremento Kings point guard Rajon Rondo, when he focuses on facilitation and making his teammates around him better then he is an asset to any team. When he lets his ego get in the way and tries to go outside of his role – he is detrimental to the locker room. Luckily, the salads on the Hood Burger knew their role and complimented the other ingredients by cutting through the richness.

Now it is at this point that I feel I need to raise what is probably the most pressing issue in burger society at the moment – does avocado belong on a burger? Or maybe a better way to phrase that question is why would anyone in their right mind believe that avocado belongs on a burger? When I think about these people I am drawn to a quote from the Dark Knight:

“Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

For some reason, one of the top-up players we enlisted the help of was on the side of avocado. I am without words.

The chips were the subject of great debate. A number of the crew were disappointed that the chips were dry. My response to this is two-fold:

1.      Who the hell wants a moist chip? Have you ever heard anyone say – “Oh yeah man those chips were so moist! I was in heaven. I love it when my chips are moist”.

2.      Dry chips are more conducive to sauce – the jalapeno mayo offered with the chips copped some flack as well.

So the chips were marked down very heavily by one member which diminished the overall rating. But we welcome a diverse range of opinions to give you the most complete picture possible.

Overall, this burger is well and truly worth the short stroll to the venue. Given the criticism that Howling’s Bar has copped, it is hard not to draw similarities with Richmond Captain Trent Cotchin. Clearly he has a few things to work out in terms of his performance but some of his attributes are league leading and it is just a matter of time before he finds his groove and is a force to be reckoned with.

Score – 38.8


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kermond's Hamburgers

Burger reviewed: Burger with the lot with extra cheese

Venue: Kermond's Hamburgers (Warrnambool)

Date: 22/4/2014

Today's burger adventure saw the Fellows venture down to God's Country - South-Western Victoria - to sample the burger treats at Kermond's Hamburgers. A local institution, Kermond's has been operating since 1949 and specialises in an honest-to-goodness fish and chip shop style burger which has served as the savior of many an inebriated man. Kermond's is your typical country fast food establishment with its retro coke memorabilia and large selection of spiders and thick shakes to choose from (how good are spiders?!). But we were here to sample the burger so we promptly ordered the burger with the lot with extra cheese and got ready to nosh.

The burger came out in a flash and was piping hot - in a Burger Friday first, we actually had to let this burger cool a bit before tucking into it. But I am happy to cop the second degree burns to my mouth, lips and feet (I was wearing thongs and some of the juice squirted down onto my feet when I took the first bite - I was a tad unlucky to burn myself there I thought) to know that the burger was not sitting on a bench for 15 minutes getting cold and wilted prior to delivery.

Let's break the burger down into its parts. 

The patty was thinner than a lot of the burgers we have tried in the past but it was tender, juicy and cooked well. Kermond's employ a technique used by fish and chip shop owners for generations which is to fry some brown onion into the patty during the cooking process. The sweetness of the caramelised onion shards complemented the bitterness of the charred burger patty for an opening partnership which would rival Davey Warner and Bucky Rogers - despite being on opposite ends of the flavour spectrum, somehow it just works.  

The toppings were plentiful and all played their part. The bacon was crisp, the egg was creamy and cooked to a point where the yolk still maintained its glorious ooze, and the Aussie slice of beetroot provided a hint of acidity and tang which cut through the richness of the other ingredients. I have never understood what is so quintessentially Australian about putting beetroot on a burger. The only people that harp on about beetroot on a burger being Australian seems to be the McDonald's advertising team when they reintroduce the McOz burger every six months despite it still being on the menu the entire time. Anyways. 

To be honest I imagine that not all burger enthusiasts would enjoy this burger for what it is - which is the holy grail of late night pissed food - as there were a couple of minor drawbacks that are not everyone's cup of tea. The first being the structural integrity. As the patty and the toppings were so plentiful, the bun was not big enough to contain everything meaning that the paper bag that the burger was served in was required to do the heavy lifting from a structural integrity stand point. The second gripe is the aftertaste associated with the chips. I am not sure if it is the type of oil that the chips were fried in but they had an unusual after taste (which was not dissimilar to the flavour of the animal fat on a steak or chop that has not been properly rendered). A good squeeze of Heinz Big Red was required to mask this after taste. 

Overall, the Kermond's burger is a glorious mess of comfort food made from quality country ingredients and ripping value at $18.50 with chips (I am convinced that inflation is a principle that has only been applied to Metropolitan areas). As such, we are naming this burger after another South-Western Victorian icon in Jonathan Brown. A brut of a man that is made from all the right stuff (JB's old man Brian played league footy for Fitzroy) who all 17 other AFL clubs would love to have on their list. Not to mention Jonathan Brown's known love of a beer - a Kermond's and tinny would be a match made in heaven.

If you are in the area and are looking for a good burger, look no further than Kermond's. But if you are looking for more of a foodies getaway, head down the coast to Timboon for some of the finest produce in the district. 

Score - 40/50