Friday, March 29, 2013

Jimbo and Rex

Burger Reviewed: The Jimbo and Rex Burger

Venue: Jimbo and Rex

Date: 28/3/2013

Given that Good Friday funnily enough happens to fall on a Friday, the Burger Friday Fellows this week have decided to fall in line with religious tradition and do the right thing by avoiding meat this Friday. So instead of missing out on what we love, we decided to move Burger Friday forward instead. As such, for this week's burger the Fellows visited the bright lights of Crown Casino to sample the burger at Jimbo and Rex on what was essentially Burger Thursday.

Formerly known as the Pub, Jimbo and Rex is the newly fitted out venue located at the west end of Crown. Having visited the old Pub and now the new Jimbo and Rex, I must say it was like going from the proverbial boiled lollies to chocolates. Or given that its the Easter long weekend, from home brand to red tulip chocolate eggs and bunnies. Completely revamped with a swish new interior, this pub decides to stick to the classics and serves up all the traditional counter meal finery of parmas, steaks, fish and chips and most importantly burgers.

The burger reviewed today was the Jimbo and Rex burger which comes with grilled beef, cheddar, cheese, egg, dill pickle, spicy relish, smoked bacon, chunky chips and a side of coleslaw. As the signature burger of the venue, and one which they have attached their name to, one can assume that this burger should epitomise all that Jimbo and Rex stand for as a venue. So if that is correct, then Jimbo and Rex want to be known as providing big, solid meals. This burger was a monster!

The burger to mouth ratio was one of the biggest we have seen on our Burger Friday journeys. I would put my money on even the great trash talker himself, Charles Barkley, widely known for having the biggest mouth (and worst golf swing) in professional sports, struggling to get his dentures under and over the top & bottom buns of this great meat sandwich in a single mouthful. Now this is not something to complain about, as everyone loves good value for money, but it serves more as a word of warning that unless you have got the lips of Steve Tyler, wrapping your lips around this burger requires a plan of attack worthy of Sun Tzu.

Despite its size, this burger was well cooked, and quite well proportioned, with special mention going to the fried egg which was cooked enough to have a deliciously gooey yolk but still be somewhat crispy on the outside. Egg on a burger is not something seen much outside the burger with the lot at the fish and chip shop, but when done right, it can be as great. Its not dissimilar to the adding of the eccentric but potent Chris "Birdman" Andersen to an already unbelievable team in Miami. When done well it can be the perfect addition as we recently saw with the Birdman playing a key role in the amazing 27 game winning streak. Done badly it can literally implode like the Birdman did in 2006 when he was expelled from the league for drug offences. Fortunately on the Jimbo and Rex burger it was done very well. 

The sides of chips and coleslaw were passable accompaniments to the burger, but definitively nothing worth writing home about. The most disappointing thing for me was the dill pickle. As visible from the photo, it was served sitting perched on top of the burger, like some kind of deity on a throne. But in reality this was a fake messiah (Michael Malthouse at Carlton anyone?), as it was definitively more cucumber than pickle.

The inclusion of a good sliced dill pickle could have really added some much needed tang to this burger to offset the savoury meaty notes and achieve that perfect balance of flavours. Nethertheless this is a good burger without being spectactular.

In light of its genuine size and solid all round performance, I am going to dub this burger the Mark Roberts. Roberts was appropriately nicknamed the Fridge due to his considerable bulk. An AFL journeyman, having played for North Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, Roberts was a genuine utility who was a good player (and premiership player) without being a genuine star. The Fridge is also credited with one of the fastest knee reconstructions in AFL history which is probably appropriate given the quick turnaround on the conversion of the Pub to become Jimbo and Rex.

If you are around the Casino and can't get into Merrywell or Rockpool this is a solid alternative. Just make sure you come hungry!

Burger Friday Score: 36/50

Jimbo & Rex on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Maha Bar and Grill

Burger reviewed: The Best Burger

Date: 22/3/13

Venue: Maha Bar and Grill

Maha Bar & Grill is a one hatted restaurant known for its Mediterranean inspired Middle Eastern cuisine prepared by renowned Chef Shane Delia (who recently snaked his way through a field of carnage to finish second to Brad Hodge in the Celebrity Grand Prix at Albert Park). In much the same fashion, the burger at Maha has snaked its way through a field of fierce and not-so-fierce competitors to take ownership of second place on our list of burgers. So the aim of my blog entry today will be to pay tribute to the guys who finished second (aka the bridesmaids) with a little Mediterranean inspired Middle Eastern influence (at least in the general vicinity of those areas - geography is not my strong point). 

Usually when we blog about a burger we break it down into its parts and then critique how well these parts interplay as a whole. However, that is a little more difficult for this burger as it was simply made up of a bun, patty and bacon in a simple but extremely effective offering in what is commonly referred to in today’s pop culture as "dude food". Let me be the first to say that I like this style of burger – there is a lot to be said about getting the fundamentals of a burger right (just look at Tim Duncan).   

Firstly, we will take a look at the patty. A patty of this thickness presents a great deal of difficulty for the person cooking it in that it is difficult to cook it all the way through. However, this was not the case at Maha as the patty was cooked perfectly and was spiced to perfection. This big-hitting, beefy patty with loads of flair is not dissimilar to former Moroccan Tennis player Younes El Aynaoui - best known for his five-hour five-set marathon loss to Andy Roddick at the 2003 Australian Open. 

The bun was light and fairly skinny but was big enough not to cause any structural integrity issues. The slim physique of the bun reminded me of former Moroccan 1500m runner Hicham El Guerrouj - most famous for his choke Silver Medal in the Sydney 2000 Olympics. El Guerrouj was highly favoured to take out the Gold Medal in the event but mindblowingly forgot to chase down his pacemaker in the race, Kenyan Noah Ngeny (he really should take a leaf out of Sebastian Vettel’s book on that one). 

The toppings on the burger were simple yet very effective. The prosciutto added saltiness while the cheese and sauces (olive mayo and relish) worked in perfect harmony to cut through the richness of the burger and bring it all together (there is an analogy in there somewhere about the two Spanish birds who won the Silver Medal in synchronised swimming at London but you get the point).   

All in all, this burger is an absolute belter and is for a limited-time only. Hopefully, the "beer and burger for $15” offer forms a permanent part of Maha’s menu and the burger does not suffer a fall from grace once the offer gets taken away in a few weeks time. If it does, this burger will fittingly draw comparisons to Cypriot Tennis Player Marcos Baghdatis. Most famous for his run to the final at the 2006 Australian Open, Marcos has since fallen out of the World’s Top-30 rankings and spends more time smashing racquets than he does smashing winners. However, Baghdatis’ run in 2006 was truly something to behold and one that made him a favourite with Australian fans, if only for a limited time. 

Get around this burger right meow as it will leave you wanting seconds! What else would you expect from a Doggies supporter? 

Burger Friday Score: 43/50

Maha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Maori Chief Hotel

Burger Reviewed: The Maori Chief Burger

Venue: The Maori Chief Hotel

Date: 16/3/13

“All sorrows are less with bread” – Miguel De Cervantes
We begin our blog this week with a quote from world-renowned 16th century Spanish novelist, Miguel De Cervantes (author of the fiction classic ‘Don Quixote’), who may have been the first writer to accurately capture the joys of a burger.  Surely he wasn’t referring to a ham, cheese and tomato toastie?! If we have interpreted Miguel correctly (and I suspect we have), then he may be the inaugural ambassador of the Burger Friday ethos – all things are better with bread. 

Our sorrows this week were cleansed at the Maori Chief Hotel in Moray St South Melbourne, a cavernous Burger tasting arena too say the least. The hotel name accurately alluded to its New Zealand roots and of course, a ferocious love of rugby. Unfortunately Friday lunchtime isn’t the usual prime time to see the All Blacks in action, however I was assured by the barman that on a Saturday night with the All Blacks headlining you would have to lay a Richie McCaw tackle or demonstrate the speed of Sonny Bill Williams jetting off to France ($$$$) in order to find a seat.

We were fortunate enough to be treated to perfect burger tasting weather as we made our way upstairs to the beer garden/outdoor dining area and were greeted with the mercury hitting a touch above 28 degrees Celsius.  Not surprisingly, there was an impressive turn-out of patrons with the outdoor dining area resembling the internet sensation – the Harlem Shake – as it became a fight to secure a table (even without the rugby on!).

We ordered the signature Chief Burger which entailed a lightly seeded Panini bun, along with the usual suspects – lettuce, tomato, melted cheese and caramelised onion – and finished by BBQ grilled egg and bacon. It is worth noting that impressively, a range of sauces were available for the burger including; tomato relish, BBQ sauce and even our personal favourite down at BF HQ; sweet chilli mayo.

We’d like to personally commend the chef on the bun, week after week of sweet brioche buns was taking its toll on the BF crew and left us wondering whether we’d have head into subway and order an Italian herb and cheese roll to remind us of our Italian heritage. The Panini Bun, light and fluffy, with the texture of sour dough bread and the ability to soak up the remanent moisture from the patty was truly a treat. Kudos.

The patty was thick and juicy, but this caused serious structural integrity issues and with arguably the most lop-sided bun-to-patty ratio we have seen, only the most experience burger eaters will be able to tackle this burger without fear of it falling apart.  It might be worth heading down to the Westpac Centre beforehand to grab a hold of one of Quentin Lynch’s or Travis Cloke’s gloves – as it may be the only way you can get a good hold of this burger.

Big, ugly, yet highly effective.

With those characteristics in mind, the uncanny similarities of the burger must be made to none other than AFL life member Mick Martyn. Mick was a monster of a man standing at a towering 190cm and weighing in at 105KG. He possessed no silky skills nor was there anything pretty about his game (or himself for that matter), however he just got the job done on the opposing full forward every week, and during his duel premiership career he became one of the most reliable and feared back men in the competition.

The Chief Burger wasn’t easy on the eye, however if you’re in need of a feed in the South Melbourne area, it will get the job done.

Burger Friday Rating: 34/50

Maori Chief Hotel on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Burger reviewed: The “Theo”

Date: 12/3/13

Venue: Huxtaburger

Today’s burger adventure saw the Fellow’s mosey on down to Huxtaburger on Smith Street to rate a burger joint that has quite frankly been hyped up more than Joe Daniher and Jack Watts put together. But unlike Daniher and Watts, Huxtaburger actually delivered.

Immediate points were given due to the fact that this burger joint and its various burgers are named after characters on The Bill Cosby Show. We immediately ordered the “Theo” – named after Theodore Aloysius Huxtable, the middle child and only son of Cliff and Clair Huxtable. Theo’s character was played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who after his role of The Bill Cosby Show, directed a much acclaimed teen-oriented public health video entitled – Time Out: The truth about HIV, AIDS, and You. Useless information aside, lets review the burger.

The first thing you need to know about this burger is that it is an absolute juice box! However, the burgery goodness that ends up all over your hands and shirt (anyone remember that robust woman on Almost Footy Legends who spilled the entire pie all over her shirt?) is so pure, I do not recommend ever washing your hands again after eating this burger. Slightly unhygienic, I know, but look on the bright side – you could still get a job at Domino’s.

The patties were thick enough and tasty enough but they seemed processed and looked like the Black and Gold hamburgers that we used to have after VicHit down at the Port Campbell Swans Cricket Club (minus the Hall’s Fruita cans – seriously how good was that stuff).

The toppings played their part. The bacon was crisp; the cheese was melted and provided that savoury/nutty element; and the salads provided the burger with freshness without being too noticeable (salads in a burger should be like an AFL umpire – there to make sure that nothing gets out of control but you shouldn’t even notice him (or her – love you Chelsea) on the field).

The sauce combo of mustard and aioli complemented the burger well. A lot of the burgers on the lower end of our scale could benefit from including mustard in their burgers as it provides a zip that really brings a burger together.

The chips were crispy, plentiful and were dunked it an abundance of Heinz Big Red.

Now to the major talking point – the bun. Huxtaburger use a brioche bun that is definitely on the sugary and greasy end of the brioche scale. Some people love buns like that (myself included) and some people really do not enjoy it (usually the kind of people that dab the oil off of a pizza with a paper towel before they eat it). Whether you like this style of bun or not, the bun was slightly too small to contain the burger and structural integrity issues arose. Come to think of it, we really should do an instructional piece on burger management.  

All in all, this burger has all the talent but the processed patty meant it fell a tad short of the top burgers. Therefore, I am comparing this burger to that of Shane Watson (prepare for a rant). To be perfectly clear, I am comparing this burger to Shane Watson during his Allan Border Medal years where he was making 90 after 90 after 90 (seriously, how good was it seeing his dream shattered every time he went out? They even made a Facebook group about it).

The main reason I make the Shane Watson analogy is that while it is all well and good to parade yourself on TV ads and magazine covers (Huxtaburger recently graced the cover of Gourmet Traveller Magazine), a 90 is simply not as good as a ton. And whilst a processed patty can be above average, it is simply not as good as the flavour that comes from a handmade beef patty. If you fix this patty then the Theo gives our number 1 spot a shake.

Now for the Shane Watson of today. Shane Watson was recently sent home from India for refusing to provide his Coach with an email or text message detailing three areas of his game that he could improve on for the remainder of the series. Allow me to take the liberty of doing this for you Shane:

1.       You are susceptible to LBW’s early on in your innings because you are too slow (both on your feet and in general) – this is evidenced by your recorded skin folds that would make even Mark Cosgrove cringe.

2.       You play ridiculously attacking shots too early on in your innings and give way too many chances – even Brad Haddin would say that.

3.       Your profound lack of ticker makes opponents salivate at the mere sight of you – all you have to do is watch how slowly you chase after a ball in the outfield or how you bat when Australia is trying to save a match.

Please forward Mickey Arthur’s mobile number to me and I will happily send that through.

Score: 40/50      

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Burger and Beer Lounge

Burger Reviewed: The Beef Burger

Date: 8/3/13

Venue: The Burger and Beer Lounge

Today the Burger Friday fellows stopped via the Beer and Burger Lounge in Swan St Richmond on route to watch the Melbourne Rebels, the most recent addition to the field of professional sporting teams in Melbourne.

The Beer and Burger Lounge is a new player in the ever growing burger market. Having opened only recently, the premise behind this venue is just sheer blokey brilliance. And really the name says it all. Take two separately awesome things, being beer and burgers, and then combine them together into a half takeaway and half bar venue, and boom the Beer and Burger Lounge was born.

Located with in proverbial spitting distance of the Melbourne sporting precinct, this place has all the elements to be successful. Or at least all the hallmarks of a great venue to grab a feed on the way to or on the way home from a game.  

On what was celebrated as international women's day, it was with bemused interest that we heard on the journey in that a new league of the Legends (formerly Lingerie) Football League will also soon be joining the Rebels and the Melbourne sporting landscape, with a new franchise to open. Running such a story on the radio on women's day must have had Germaine Greer's big arse wobbling with rage on the way back to the kitchen. Burger, beer and Lingerie Football, it might just be the holy trinity.

Onto the burger. It is worth noting that in choosing today's burger, the fellows were spoiled with a plethora of choices. Being a burger restaurant, it was not surprising that there was multiple types of burgers available. However the variety of meats available certainly was. It was as if someone had butchered the cast of charlottes web. The choices included beef, chicken, salmon, game (duck was the game of choice on special), lamb, pork. In compliance with the Burger Friday Constitution and the meat hierarchy, the burger reviewed today was the signature beef burger.

The beef burger arrived with a substantial and juicy pattie on a brioche bun, smoked bacon, gruyere cheese, beetroot relish, American mustard and topped with an onion ring. Soft and full of flavours, this was a real Americanised tasting burger which quite easily seemed to melt in your mouth. 

As we know, the perfect burger is about the balance of the sweet, savoury, saltiness, and tang. Whilst certainly delicious, there was two things overwhelming the beef burger from reaching its real potential for mine. Firstly the Gruyere cheese, which as visible from the photo was extremely generous. Melted onto the pattie, the volume of the cheese just seemed to try and take over the burger. Attempting to keep the cheese in the burger bun itself required serious burger management and "folding" skills which would make a chinese dry cleaner proud. In the end, the amount of cheese left the burger cheesier than a lump of Stilton.

The second thing was the bun itself. Whilst brioche buns are naturally sweet, this bun was on the very sugary end of sweetness. This was coupled with the bun being extremely soft, ala the velvet sledge hammer Matthew Lloyd, which led to a number of structural integrity issues. 

In combination, the strength of the cheese and the sweetness and the softness of the bun meant that the flavours of the pattie, beetroot relish and american mustard all got overrun like the way Jonah Lomu used to trample blokes with his Maori sidestep.

The accompaniments to the burger were both excellent. Beautifully crispy chips, that just had a perfect amount of salt and which together with the freely available choice of sauces available at the bar (including dead horse, bbq, HP) provided the most perfect pairing seen since Shannon Elizabeth in American Pie. And then this was topped off with a deliciously refreshing Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, genuinely one of the best beers going around.

In honour of its extreme cheesiness, I am going to dub this burger the James O'Connor. If you have seen the swisse vitamin commercials, then you know what I am talking about. O'Connor is the epitome of the blond pretty boy and the face of the Melbourne Rebels. He is also one of the Bungy Brothers alongside blokes equally as happy with themselves like Buddy Franklin, Sharrod Wellingham, Kurtly Beale and Josh Gibson.

The burger is similarly a good looking rooster, very tasty and extremely cheesy burger, accompanied by some absolute stars in the chips and beers. But like O'Connor and the Melbourne Rebels they look the goods but struggle to keep it up for the full eighty minutes. With a couple of little extra tweaks though they could be a genuine championship team.

Overall, if you are around the area definitively give this boy a crack. Good value for money and serving some great beers to accompany some very tasty burgers, you can't really go wrong.

Burger Friday Rating: 36.83/50

The Beer and Burger Lounge on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wayside Inn

Burger Reviewed: Wagyu beef cheese burger, smoked bacon and hand cut chips  

Venue: The Wayside Inn  

Date: 1/03/2013 

The Burger Friday fellows rolled down City Rd to the Wayside Inn, an atmoshperic gastro pub nestled somewhere in between South Melbourne and South Bank. Atmospheric refers both to ambience of the location and to the presence of gaseous substances from a beer garden located close by to a road route frequented by big semi trailers. 

Having been named as pub of the year for 2012 by the over 60s station 3AW, it would be easy to expect that this local would be full of geriatric geezers with nothing better to do than talk about their gripes regarding young footballers sideburns being non respectable whilst whinging about the price of fuel, the influx of Asian citizens to Melbourne and some blokes called Ross and John? (I'm much for of a triple m bloke myself). Thankfully there was absolutely none of this. Instead this pub is a genuine cracker, reinvented in recent years with a full makeover and doing some very good food and craft beers. 

But enough about the venue, and on to the food. So after being seated in the beer garden on what was a glorious Melbourne day, as is the usual burger Friday tradition we proceeded to make the waitresses life infinitely easier by having an order consisting entirely of burgers and beers. This strangely enough is the also the entire diet of Darren Jarmans after football career (do yourself a favour and google Darren Jarman fat into google image search - very good for a laff). 

The burger arrived, also similar to Jarman post AFL retirement, rotund and robust. The sizeable pattie was cooked a very solid medium with just enough juice to indicate it was not over. Presented on a brioche bun, and completed with smoked bacon, cheese melted over the pattie, beetroot relish and a tang of american mustard this burger for mine hit all the proverbial flavour spots as easily as Ben Barba commits assaults... 

For me, the real winners in this burger were the combination of the excellent pattie and the generous helping of the oft under appreciated beetroot relish. While maligned over the years in various nappy San and omo commercials, the tanginess and sweetness of the beetroot relish really does well to complement the paired back simplicity of the meat pattie. For mine, beetroot relish is like the Tony Parker of relish. It is a little bit foreign compared with its more famous counterparts like tomato, and consistently underrated despite always delivering the goods. 

As mentioned, it is the combination of flavours and how well these complement each other which is critical to the development of the perfect burger. The perfect burger has an amalgamation of saltiness, sweetness, and savoury flavours in each bite that just makes your mouth sing. This burger had the excellent balance of a young Macedonian marvel Peter Daicos, with each mouthful pure enjoyment. If I was going to give a criticism of the burger, it would be that it could have used a smidgeon more of that American mustard for tartness. 

Visible from the photo the hand cut chips accompanying the burger must have been cut by old buckets Stu Loewe because they were ginormous. Whilst definitively tasty, a few of the Fellows felt they could have used slightly more of the crunch factor. Perhaps the AFL illicit drugs policy could have given provided an improvement (i.e. thrice cooked). 

Extra points should also be considered for the excellent choices of beers available, such as Trumer Pils and an absolute favourite beer of the Fellows, Stone & Woods Pacific Ale (direct from the Byron Bay). Beer and burgers, just a match made in heaven. 

In honour of a player who was singled out this week as not being hungry last year (yet still averaged almost 40 touches a game!), I am going to liken this burger to the great man himself Dane Swan. Like the pub he has undergone major paint job over the last few years, and is a bit rough around the edges (like the pubs location).  And like the burger he is slightly rotund, but very well balanced, loves a frothie and just manages to deliver the goods week in week out in an honest and consistent way.  

Get around this burger now! And do yourself a favour and compliment it with a pint of Pacific Ale.  

Burger Friday Rating: 39.17/50

Wayside Inn on Urbanspoon