Thursday, May 23, 2013


Burger reviewed: The Footy Meal Deals Burger

Venue: Cotta at Crown

Date: 17 May 2013

Our weekly sojourn continued this week to Cotta, located on level one at the west end of the Crown casino complex.  As is often the way when trying to navigate through the labyrinth that is Packer’s palace, Cotta was about as easy to find as a Melbourne supporter after the three quarter time siren.  If you do eventually find Cotta, you will notice that the venue has been furnished in a manner that is consistent with the broader Crown redevelopment.  It is a sleek, yet somehow quaint, café with a mixture of contemporary and retro fittings.  The type of café that would not look out of place in Carlton or Richmond and quite a pleasant surprise to find in the middle of a gaming floor.  

You would expect that a modern café surrounded by the glitz and glamour of the adjacent poker machines and card tables to provide enough noise and excitement, but Cotta was the site of an impromptu and uncharacteristic debate.  Our loyal readership might come to expect the topic to be along the lines of who was the better sibling – Anthony or Mark Minichiello, Brendan or Michael Gale, Adrian or Gilbert McAdam – but, surprisingly, our heated discussion (excuse the pun) was whether tomato sauce should be refrigerated.  The overwhelming majority voted, contrary to the instructions on the packaging, in favour of keeping the sauce in the pantry.  To the sole naysayer, and those that accord to the theory of chilled ketchup, you need to have a good hard look at yourself… there is a reason you don’t see people dipping their hot chips into a bowl of Gazpacho. It’s just not right.

While on the topic of sauce, the burger had both sweet tomato chutney and an off-the-shelf mayonnaise.  A bit like the Richmond Football Club’s run of being the bubble boy of the AFL, the sauces, although not demonstrably wrong, seemed to lack that extra bit of spice to move into the next echelon. A plethora of crappy clichés spring to mind – ‘do it right, do it once’, ‘less is more’, ‘quality over quantity’ – but the simple principle is that you’re better off mastering one thing before branching out.  If you have to have two sauces, perhaps a lesson can be learned from Trunk Diner which gives you the choice of either of their homemade tomato or BBQ sauces.  To their credit though, Cotta didn’t overload the burger with sauce (if anything, it could have done with some more chutney) and they also got the hierarchy right (mayo on the bottom underneath the lettuce and the chutney on top).

The other accompaniments to the burger were your usual lettuce, tomato and cheese combo.  Nothing to fault there, the lettuce was crisp and the tomato fresh.  The choice of tasty cheese was a safe option but, in continuing with their theme of duplication, I was surprised to see two slices of cheese atop the burger.  Heart foundation tick? Unlikely.  However, this was one of the bigger burgers you will wrap your mittens around so the extra cheese wasn’t so much of an issue.

When it came to sides, Cotta clearly knew who their target audience for the Footy Meal Deal was and didn’t bother filling up half the plate with salad.  Rather, they used this space to provide a generous amount of shoestring fries which were well cooked but could have done with some salt.   Alas, some semifreddo tomato sauce had to suffice.

To the star of the show, the pattie.  It was handmade, thick and juicy yet it tasted more like a rissole than the type of burger you would expect off the barbeque.  It was well cooked but was good without being great.   The Brock McLean of patties if you will –  heavyset and workman-like.  You’re certainly not going to be disappointed with it, but it probably lacks a few of the tricks that puts you into the A-grade level.

This week we have chosen to take a break from routine of likening the burger to a professional athlete and instead we take privilege in labeling the Cotta burger the inaugural Burger Friday ‘cash cow’.  The ‘cash cow’ is a term which was popularised by the Boston Consulting Group in its BCG growth-share matrix and has featured in many management textbooks worldwide, but ultimately it has found its home in fantasy football vernacular to denote a player who generates a substantial amount of cash relative to his price tag.  A coveted icon on the website, it has proudly been adorned by the likes of Ed Curnow (2010), Jonathon Giles (2012) and more recently by Jaeger O’Meara and Brett Goodes. Clearly these are not the biggest names in the AFL, at least not yet anyway, but in the competitive world of fantasy football, these are the names that are the most treasured.  After months spent deliberating which rookies will be included in your supercoach squad come round one, there is no better prize than a player that simply outperforms his pricetag. 

The Cotta burger is no different and is a genuine diamond in the rough.  At the generous price of just $9.90 for a burger, fries and pot of Carlton Draught, you will struggle to find a burger which provides more value for money.  As with Curnow and Giles not being the biggest names in the AFL, this is not to say that this will be the best burger you will ever eat but at that price it is hard to be too disappointed.

Burger Friday Rating: 36.5/50

Cotta on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Melbourne Public Cafe - South Wharf

Burger reviewed: The Angus Beef Burger

Venue: Melbourne Public

Date: 3/5/13

There is nothing better than looking forward to a burger every Friday morning. Unfortunately, one of our own took this mantra to heart and ended up fainting from anticipation a mere few hours before the scheduled lunch time visit. Sympathy or softness, you can be the judge…

Nevertheless, the Burger Friday crew (minus one) made our way down to South Wharf to sample the wares at Melbourne Public. Nestled in between the Polly Woodside, DFO and the Exhibition Centre, Melbourne Public is “Melbourne’s newest drinking and dining secret set on the banks of the Yarra River” (as highlighted by their website).

Topped with all the usual suspects, shaved bacon, caramelised onions and special sauce (per the menu) the signature Angus beef burger had all the ingredients of a winner. However, unlike the Essendon faithful, we weren’t getting ahead of ourselves as any fan would know, the real test doesn’t begin until September (sorry boys no premierships are won in May, better start getting back on them tides).

After a short wait at the counter (interesting that they would be flying solo at the till during a Friday lunch), we managed to order our burgers and chips for the reasonable price of $21.50. It should also be said that the Melbourne Public has a free drink offer available via the website and needless to say that some of the more thrifty amongst us could not hold back their excitement (starting to sound like a bit of a theme). As we waited patiently for our Friday birthright, Kim and the team were kind enough to put on re-runs of Watson Snr and the team getting thumped by Hawthorn in the 89 semi final.  These days, Tim does his best work every morning on the Morning Glory radio show on SEN (a blatant plug for a shout-out to the Burger Friday team wouldn’t go astray).

As the burgers arrived, we were instantly drawn to the simple yet effective setting. Chips a plenty with ample sauce, the signs were looking good. The burger is what you would expect from a pub style beef burger. The trimmings including caramelised onions complimenting the perfectly cooked beef pattie with the slight sweetness of the bun presenting a great combination. We often sample burgers which try to do too much without getting the basics right. This cannot be said for Melbourne Public’s beef burger which absolutely ticks all the base boxes which you are looking for in a burger.

The burger however was not the star of the show. Presented in the deep fryer from which they were cooked, the chips were crispy and slightly seasoned. It’s not often after a Burger Friday that the majority of conversation post meal is devoted to the sidekick to the main course. Like Watson is to Holmes, Clarke was to Ponting and Ricky is to Seal, the quality of the accompaniments although complimentary can sometimes also take over as the star.

In the sporting world, there are multiple examples of solid performers who just get the job done each week, making most of the ability which they have been given. Some, such as Mr Cricket, Luke Donald and Nick Maxwell might have even stretched their abilities levels and could be even considered great. Then there are others who (perhaps fortunately for them), realise the limitations of their ability early and begin to focus other personal traits. Names which come to mind include Mick Malthouse (who was a decent enough player but has become one of best AFL coaches of our time), Liam Pickering (again, an average player who has since benefited significantly from Ricky Nixon’s inability to stick to his age bracket) and James Brayshaw (did any one actually know this guy used to play state cricket?).

Although all worthy nominations, I will need to dub this burger the Caroline Wozniacki. Caro (not to be confused with the award winning and 100% factual reporter) was the first Scandinavian woman to hold the number one world ranking in the world (in 2010) whilst never reaching the peak and winning a grand slam singles title. Woznaicki is a solid performer who cannot be faulted on her tennis technique, however she lacks a spark which has prevented her from becoming elite. Similarly, the Melbourne burger although faultless in its execution, needs a certain BFX (Burger Friday X-factor) to rise up our rankings. Caro has talent written all over her and should really be one (if not the most) marketable players going around. Oh, and her tennis isn’t too bad either…

All in all, congratulations to Kim and team on presenting a cracker of a burger which you would happily drop in for if you were in the area. With a free beer to boot, you can even tell the missus that you got an even better bargain than she did at DFO.

Burger Friday Rating: 38/50

Melbourne Public Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Rising Sun Hotel

Burger Reviewed: The Riser Burger

Venue: The Rising Sun Hotel

Date: 28/4/13

Today the Burger Friday Fellows ventured to the inner Melbourne suburb of Richmond to visit the Rising Sun Hotel. Whilst Richmond may have plenty of pubs, from the very snazzy gastro pubs through to the old traditional styles, the Rising Sun Hotel (or the Riser as the locals call it) is what some nowadays might politely call "unique".

Located on the corner of Burnley and Swan Streets, the Riser is a quintessential blokes pub, nothing fancy, but just chock full of all the honest parts of a good old fashioned local. The food is strictly old school pub classics, reasonably priced and set out in a comfortable dining room, replete with TV’s covering all sports. And it may be the only place in Melbourne where you can still play Big Buck Hunter. Yes, that is the kind of unique we are talking about. 

That almighty of combinations of sport, beer and food is exactly what brought the Fellows to the Riser. With the UFC Middleweight title fight of Jon Bones Jones v Chael Sonnen on the TV’s, the Fellows were able to indulge in all three elements .

After more trash was thrown around pre fight than you would find at a garbage tip, the fight disappointingly ended in little more than a yelper with Bones Jones easily completing his title defence inside the first round. Fortunately our stomachs were more satisfied with the burger than the preceding “ground and pound” of the UFC fight card.

The burger sampled today was the Riser burger. Coming in at a very reasonable $15 with chips, the Riser is a burger with the lot, comprising a generous house made burger, crispy bacon, fried egg, cos lettuce, tomato, tasty cheese, and topped off with the triply whammy sauce trio of onion jam, aioli and bbq sauce on a soft bun.

The ménage a trois of sauces was a massive tick, as was the handmade meat pattie which was cooked perfectly with just enough juiciness. Also worth giving special mention was the inclusion of tasty cheese in the burger, which I personally think is underrated . Whilst gruyere often gets all the kudos, tasty cheese just continues to perform week in week out and has done so for decades, not unlike the way Dustin Fletcher goes about it.

We have discussed it on a few previous occasions on Burger Friday but its worth reiterating that if you are going to name a meal after the venue, it should be symbolic of the venue itself. And that was certainly achieved here. The Riser is all about just sticking to a tried and true formula of giving the punters what they want. While it won’t be pushing any culinary boundaries, the Riser burger is tasty, satisfying and honest.

In light of the above, I will dub this burger the Roy “Big Country” Nelson. Big Country is an MMA fighter who despite looking like he would have the athleticism of an overweight truckdriver, he is an honest fighter who has a habit for delivering some big old classic hits, including the knockout of the fight card whilst we were at the Riser. Similarly, the Riser despite its looks it just delivers good old pub classic hits and its burger is certainly one of them.

If you are ever looking for a pub that shows sport, you can have a bet, a beer and a feed, then the Riser fits the bill.

Burger Friday Rating: 37/50

Rising Sun Hotel Richmond on Urbanspoon

The Duke

Burger Reviewed: The Duke Burger

Venue: The Duke of Wellington Hotel

Date: 26/4/2013

On a glorious post ANZAC day lunch, the BF crew headed to the Duke of Wellington Hotel on the corner of Flinders St and Russell St. The Duke of Wellington, known simply as the Duke, was established in 1853, making it one Melbourne’s oldest hotels and somewhat of an inner city icon. Having been closed for extensive renovations, the Duke recently reopened with quite impressive results. From what was a tired and weathered pub, the Duke is now fresh and modern. 

Consisting of a stylish wooden interior finished with a fine polish, complemented by the huge windows allowing for maximum natural light, and a number of TV screens, this is a perfect spot a pre or post game feed given its proximity to the Melbourne sporting precinct. 

The burger reviewed today was the signature Duke Burger, priced at about an even $20. Comprising of a house ground beef pattie, cheddar cheese, lettuce, bacon, tomato, mayo and dill pickles sandwiched between a golden brioche bun, this burger had all the elements to be a belter.  Unfortunately, despite having all the makings of a champion, it didn’t quite wow us.

The burger was certainly well proportioned and pretty as a picture, but it just seemed to miss some X factor. The pattie was cooked well and clearly homemade judging by its tendency to fall apart. Although this caused significant structural integrity issues, we are prepared to forgive this as it goes a long way to proving it was not of the pre-packaged polystyrene Woolworths variety.

Contributing to the lack of X-factor was an absolute clanger from the kitchen. This one skimmed right off the side of the boot as one of our burgers ordered was missing its pickles. This meant that one burger didn’t have the zest  to provide that sharp contrast in flavours for one poor fellow. This was an ode to Tom Scully who currently leads the AFL in the damning statistic of clangers.

The sides of thick chips/wedges were well salted and in decent supply, although they could have perhaps been deep fried for a tad longer to achieve that real deep crunch to elevate them above average. Accompaniments of El Yucateco, HP and ketchup earned huge brownie points amongst the group; although they were far from the main attraction on the day, like 3rd string San Antonio Spurs point guard Patty Mills, they pitched in well when required, however were usually watching on idly.

Putting aside that it lacked X factor, the Duke Burger was an overall enjoyable experience; a neat and solid burger, served in an iconic Melbourne venue. On the Duke website, it boldly claims to have the greatest burger you could ever eat. This kind of Chael Sonnen style trash talking definitively encouraged us to step up the plate and give it a crack. To be fair, you are not going to proclaim on your website that you are selling just an average burger, so they can be excused for the hyperbole. While it wasn’t as good as it claimed to be, it was still a very solid and tasty burger.

Given the above, we liken this burger to its namesake Mark ‘the Duke’ Viduka. Starting out his career in the A-league’s predecessor, the NSL, Viduka quickly made a name for himself and secured a move to Europe. After bouncing around Croatia and Scotland, the big Duke finally found a home in the English Premier League. Whilst a champion of Australian soccer, in relative terms the Duke was an above average performer in the international football world, and didn’t mind engaging in a bit of trash talking. And that’s about where we think the Duke burger sits, above average.  

The Burger Friday team would like to congratulate the Duke of Wellington for a highly successful re-opening and on an excellent refit. If you are in the area, it’s worth the visit.

Burger Friday Rating: 36.25/50

The Duke on Urbanspoon