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It’s been exactly a year since I began my burger hunt- oh so many delicious memories… I’ve had some amazing burgers, and my preferences and my ideas about burgers have changed along the journey. Some might say it’s been a journey of self discovery and growth… Well, there’s been some midriff growth, but I don’t know about the rest. Anyway, Damo and I decided to revisit the first stop on this momentous life changing journey – Rockwell and Sons – to see how they stacked up a year later. I remember this first burger and some of the really bad photos’ I took – I had no idea what I was doing (I still don’t). You can read my pretty average first attempt at burger blogging here: http://wp.me/p4owfB-A

Not having the depth of experience that I do now, I judged the burger on a different set of criteria, so I was interested to see how I would rate their burger a second time around.

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For those of you how don’t know – (People living in a cave, vegetarians etc…) Rockwell and Sons have been attracting a lot of attention for a while now, largely thanks to their delicious takes on American classics – their burgers in particular. As you can see they have one of the most photogenic burgers going around “The Double Patty Smash Burger”. It just screams, eat me, and have another. Which we kind of did on this occasion…

We decided to get in early to beat the hipster hordes that crowd Smith Street on a Saturday night, so we arrived at about 5:30pm – got a park right out front as well #winningatlife… What we didn’t realise is that they were closed until 6:00pm (Apparently for the all Valley Karate tournament – ah hipsters and your obscure 80’s pop culture references). Since it was so damn hot, we decided to kill some time by sampling a craft beverage or two down the road at the local pub. Finally the clock struck six, and we raced back to stake a claim to table outside. The lovely server offered us some cool water and enquired about our desires – we didn’t need the menu, we knew what we were here for. Two Double Patty Smash Burgers were quickly ordered.

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We also got some delightful tater tots on the side which came with cheese sauce and bacon gravy. They had me at Bacon gravy…

We didn’t have to wait long for the burgers to arrive. Two perfectly created buns, housing two perfectly cooked, slightly pink patties, covered with oozing cheese, amazing burger sauce and crispy bacon. This is burger heaven. The buns here are a brioche style, but they seem like they’ve been slightly steamed or warmed through enough so that all that cakeyness that you sometimes get is completely gone. The Bun is sweet, but not too sweet, and soft and spongy. The first bite is a delight to the senses, juicy, beefy beef, cooked to a medium, hits you first. The crunchy, salty bacon is a great addition and is a nice counter point to all the oozy, soft textures. Speaking of which, the burger is encased in oozy, melted Kraft cheese slices, which actually work really well here. That salty cheesy flavour, mixes with the magic of the burger sauce and adds to the juicy beef.  That burger sauce – oh gosh – simply put, it’s amazing. I can’t completely work out what’s in it, but you definitely get a hint of dill coming though which just really works. The pink hue would suggest some ketchup added to the mayo base – the rest – must be magic. The pickles at the end add a nice sharpness and round out the burger.

Finishing off this burger, I sat back satisfied and though to myself – gee I’d love another one of those right now. It’s not your biggest burger, even with the two patties, and you don’t get any sides with that. So at $16 with the bacon, it’s not exactly cheap. The tater tots were great, but I’d say you’d want one each, not one to share if you were reasonably hungry. Since we still had room, Damo and I decided to order the chicken burger as dessert and split it.

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The chicken burger here is also amazing, crispy, tender pieces of marinated chicken, paired with iceberg lettuce and a tangy, vinegar hot sauce. Amazing. A great dessert if you ask me.

Rating the Double patty smash this time around I’d have to say that it has benefitted from the addition of bacon. This is a great, burger. A bacon cheesy just the way it should be. I give it a 9.

Rockwell and Sons on Urbanspoon

 

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I love a good chicken burger (Chicken Sandwich if you’re from the States), but my  focus has been on my unrelenting quest to find Melbourne’s best burger. And by burger, I mean beef burger. But there’s been something recently that has called out to me – telling me to give chicken a go. Actually that something has been a someone, whoever is behind the instagram account @chickencentralashburton. They sounded pretty confident that their burgers were worth the drive, and their instagram photo’s looked pretty damn good. They pretty much threw down the tasty chicken burger gauntlet… So when Friday night rolled around, Katie and I decide that it was time to pick up the chicken gauntlet – it was chicken burger time.

Driving past chicken central at 7:30pm the place was pretty busy – there was a line out the door – good signs. Once I got a park and managed to shoulder my way through the hungry hordes, I decided to go the special – the president and make it a double. The president comes with a special sauce, two slices of American cheese, caramelised onions, lettuce, loads of pickles (Yes!!) and char grilled chicken breast. Katie went for the BOP, which has bacon, pineapple, sauce and lettuce. Both Burgers came in a lovely, soft and fresh Turkish bread bun – perfect for a chicken burger, but unfortunately these would fall apart with a beef burger. It was a nice change from the really dense, sweet, Brioche style buns I’ve been eating lately. Both Burgers were also under $10 normally – which is great value.

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Straight up – The chicken burgers here are delicious. Often, a chicken burger can be chewy and dry, these were just so succulent. My burger was particularly good – I loved the sauce and the pickles – they didn’t stint on the pickles, and it matched so well with the American cheese and the caramelised onions.  The bun was a prefect match to the juicy chicken fillets – next time I’d go 3 and probably add bacon, well because bacon… And because I had a bite of Katie’s BOP and chicken and bacon just work so well together… Once we had finished I immediately said – I could go another, even though I was reasonably satisfied. This has only happened to me a few times on my hunt, and on each occasion, these burgers have lived on in my memory.  My 8 and half month pregnant wife, Katie, made the point that “this is burger I could crave – you know, just need to have one right away”. I wouldn’t argue with her on this one. Although I did note the closing time is a ridiculous 8pm. What gives there. What am I to do if Katie “needs” a BOP burger at 8:30pm? If you are going to sell burgers this good, then really, you owe it to the community to be open later than that!

I’d say this would be a pretty good benchmark chicken burger – I think a new side hunt begins…

Chicken Central Ashburton on Urbanspoon

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My brother and I have been hanging out for a schnitzel for some time now – we just haven’t been able to make it work. We finally got our act together and organised to catch up after work and grab ourselves some crumbed meat. Christopher suggested I do the research and I sent a few links his way – one of these related to The Hungarian. His first question was – why is there an Italian flag on their website… Then, do they do schnitzels at a Hungarian restaurant. On a side note, my brother is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Considering that he’s actually been to Europe, you might think he would know the difference between Hungry and Italy, and that yes, they do serve schnitzels in Hungarian restaurants. My question, “didn’t you go to Prague, which is not all that far from Hungary, and didn’t you sail along the Croatian coast? Surely you noticed that Hungary was one of the countries next door to Croatia?”  – was met with, “I was pretty pissed most of the time…” I’m not sure if he experienced all that much culture while he was there… Oh well, I do try to educate him, but it appears that he is further gone than I had feared… Eventually after some slow and tedious explanations we settled on The Hungarian on Bridge Rd in Richmond.

The restaurant itself is interesting, it’s a quaint, café type of affair, with absolutely no pretentions. Interestingly, considering their history with communism, There’s a small photo of Vladimir Lenin on the wall – who’s that – was the question from Christopher when I pointed out the photograph. Oh, did we learn about him in that animal book we read at school…Oh dear… But I do find it interesting that there seems to be a resurgence of nostalgia about the communist era in Eastern Europe.

I love their menu here, there’s lots of little funny passages – if you go, read their menu entry on Punjabi Buttered Chicken… Anyway, we were here for crumbed meat, and lots of it. On the menu they offer what they call the “Gipsymix/Sült Vegyestál” – which is seriously under priced at $54 for 2 people. It comes with pork schnitzel, chicken schnitzel, smoked kransky, pork-and-beef chevabs, chips and some coleslaw on the side. When we asked the waitress if she thought it would be enough for the two of us, she explained with a grin, that it would be more than enough for the two of us.

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We decided to play it safe,and ordered an appetiser of the pelmeni (Also because I really love these dumplings). Theses tiny dumplings are delicious, and taste great with the sour cream and dill offered on the side.

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Eventually a rather large and impressive plate of meat arrived. Eating this was going to be a challenge, but thankfully I was fully prepared and ravenously hungry. The first thing you notice, apart from the sheer volume of meat is the huge kransky sausages. You get two of these, and they’re really good. Next the chevabs, hidden amongst the schnitzels, these are a mince meat dish, kind of a skinless sausage you might say. The Chevabs (I know them as cevapcici) were nice, but a little plain for my tastes – and I could have done without them to be honest. With all the side meats out of the way it was time to dive into the schnitzels. The Pork and Chicken schnitzels were lovely, a nice thickness, not too thin so they didn’t dry out, although, as the waitress advised, you need the sauces to go with them. We had the mushroom, the pork gravy and some of the dill mayonnaise to go with ours – all three were great. The chips and the coleslaw rounded out the meal.

This is a seriously good value meal for two people. Essentially $26 each, and you get enough food for three hungry people. Next time I have a craving for Schnitzel I have a feeling I’ll find myself back at this quaint little place.

The Hungarian on Urbanspoon

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I was in the city for some lectures on the American revolution, and I decided to take a break and get something Americany (that might not be a word…) for lunch.  Fellow burger aficionado, Chris, just also happened to be having a lunch break – lucky coincidence I guess… Not far from where he works is a place called Son of a Burger, it seemed like a reasonable place to get some burger goodness, so off I tramped through the city to meet Chris and to grab a bite to eat. Son of a Burger is actually in a food court – this didn’t inspire me with a hell of a lot of confidence, and when pressed, Chris mentioned that he had actually been here before. His, well… I’ll let you make up your own mind, also didn’t leave me thinking I was about to have the best burger of my life. The Burgers here are slider sized, so always order two, there’s no point just getting one – get two. I ordered the mishmash, so you choose two sliders – I got the Texan BBQ brisket and the Chicken, and it comes with a side of really good French Fries. Sitting down to eat at a small table in a food court really doesn’t add to the dining experience – But who care we were there for food not ambiance… lets talk about the burger – sliders, tiny things, whatever they are…

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After quite a wait – Chris mentioned they take a while – two rather small buns come out. They’re almost hors d’oeuvre size if you were to cut it in half. Chris’s comment – you’d be pretty pleased to get one of those at a wedding, basically sumed them up for me – Next time I think I’d get 3… Apart from size, the shape is different, the bun is oval, rather than round. First bite and the bun is soft, slightly sweet and really fresh, the BBQ brisket was nice, but needed a bit more punch, there wasn’t enough BBQ for me. The one slice of brisket would have been better pulled and then sauce I think. The sweetness of the bun worked really well with the BBQ flavours though – just a shame there wasn’t more of them. The second bun was the Chicken, packed with fresh flavours – it seemed Thai inspired – I’d order this one again. I’m not sure where I sit with this place, it’s not a burger really – they don’t even do a traditional kind of beef so it’s hard to judge against other “burgers”. I would have say that I enjoyed it though, as an interesting take on finger foods. I’d give it a 7.

Son of a Burger on Urbanspoon

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I think sometimes I’m too hard on Grill’d. Like an ex-girlfriend, sometimes all you remember are fights and tough times you had during your relationship. But I think it’s been long enough now. I’m beginning to look back with fondness and accept that there are some things that I still really like about Grill’d… It was probably 10 years ago that I was introduced to Grill’d, I was younger then, and less experienced in the world of Burgers. One warm summer evening out in Hawthorn, my friends Paul and Ness told me about this amazing new burger place. They do Gourmet Burgers, Ness excitedly told me – we just have to go there for dinner!  It was a rough start, my first Burger with Grill’d was burnt – but they offered my a free meal so I came back. I thought nothing of Grill’d for  few years and then one afternoon I stumbled in and got reacquainted with the amazing herbed mayo and delicious chips. Grill’d made burgers and chips like nowhere else. Sure Grill’d had some sort comings – but I saw past those. I even took friends and family to Grill’d. Oh those were heady days… But somewhere along the way the relationship soured. It wasn’t Grill’d it was me – I’d changed. I wanted more, I was looking for… Something different, I don’t know. I didn’t see Grill’d for a long time – it was probably for the best, it can be rough otherwise.

Today I decided that I’d drop by – I wanted to see what was going on. Some things had changed, some were still the same. I decided to get a Tuscan Chicken – an old favourite- and of course some of the delicious herbed chips and the amazing herbed mayo.

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I still love the chips – there a few places that match grilled in this area. And the Tuscan Chicken is still damn good, the pesto and the mayo work well together and for this burger the crunchy traditional bun just works. But the chemistry that we had shared had gone. There was a time when I thought that a good beef burger started and ended with a Grill’d Mighty Melbourne and that it was impossible to get a better chicken burger. I now know that’s not true. It was never going to be the same as it was all those years ago – I’ve change too much.

Grill’d isn’t bad, in fact it’s pretty good, but it suffers by comparison to the multitude of other independent artisanal burger bars that have popped up over the last few years. However, I am willing to concede that I still heartily enjoyed my Grill’d burger. I’ll probably be back – no, let’s be honest, it’s around the corner – I’ll be back.

Grill'd Burwood on Urbanspoon

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Katie and I love brunch – it’s possibly the most stress free dinning experience there can be. It’s slow and relaxed and you can just take your time, sipping your tea or coffee (gross – don’t even try to tell me coffee taste good). There just a ritual kind of aspect to Brunch that I like – it makes the day so much easier to face. Today’s brunch destination was in Camberwell – or Surry Hills – I’m a little confused as to which suburb this café is situated… Anyway, it’s a short drive down Riversdale rd. Katie did a little research and found All Blue Espresso, so this turned out to be the venue for our “Valentines day date”. I placed that in  “” because Katie is really the only one who would refer to our brunch as such. I on the other hand refuse to bow to this commercial hallmark holiday!! I’ll buy my wife flowers and shower her with attention when ever I feel like it thank you very much. Of course I’m hoping she doesn’t read this – Katie is after all, American, and they tend to take these things a little bit more seriously than us Aussies. Add in the fact that she’s pregnant… Well let’s just say that this valentines day I had to make more of an effort to shut my mouth (Debatable as to wether I succeeded).

All Blue Espresso is quite a small café, located in a row of shops off Riversdale rd. On arrival we were a little worried that we may have need to book – not to worry though, we managed to find a table inside easily enough, and were soon hungrily perusing the menu. After some indecision, Katie selected the corn fritters and I decided to go with the same dish I get just about every time, just about anywhere we go for brunch – the big breakfast. The “I’m Hungry” breakfast comes with chorizo, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, toast and eggs. No baked beans with this one, which is a bit of shame as I do love my beans. The breakfast itself was pretty standard, I liked the fact that they had buttered my toast – strangely enough so many places don’t these days, this just makes me annoyed. Who wants dry crusty toast? The mushrooms were almost a dice, but they were quite flavourful, and the tomato was a whole tomato, not halved, still spherical, and roasted which I really liked. The chorizo was lovely although a little spicy for me – but so nice that I kept eating it. What I didn’t much care for was the fact that the bacon was just the short cut:

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I may as well have a piece of ham – it’s the fat that gets crispy and tastes so good. Why leave that out?? Oh well. Katie quite enjoyed her corn fritters and the service was quite good. The price was also pretty  reasonable. We both got drinks – a pot of English breakfast for me – which was lovely, and a coffee for Katie. All for less than a $50. Whilst good, I’d say there are many great choices in the area, so I’d probably not go out of my way to go back just for Brunch (Or I’d try something different). The hunt continues…

 

All Blue Espresso on Urbanspoon

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I got kicked out of the house on the weekend – Katie was having her baby shower so I had to go hang out with the boys. Obviously this meant a hamburger and a cool refreshing beverage needed to be found. Some sport to watch would also round out the afternoon nicely.

I ended up at my brothers house in Hawthorn with my mate Paul coming by to support the cause. After some refreshments we decided that it was time for food and so off we headed to Humburger for some hamburger. Humburger is located in a fairly narrow shopfront on Glenferrie rd. (Not so easy to get a park…), They have some seats out the front, although inside there’s plenty of room and you can sit out the back in the courtyard if you like. The menu offerings are pretty straight forward, you get 5 choices of burger and then a host of options to add if you so desire. I went with the “New York” option at $14.5 – it comes standard with double patty, bacon, cheese, caramelised onion, pickles, mayo and tomato sauce, all on the ubiquitous brioche style bun that no self respecting on trend burger joint could go without… I got a side order of fries with herb hollandaise (Which tasted to me like béarnaise… quite nice actually) and a salted caramel milkshake – because a non-salted caramel milkshake would just be too… not salty??? Anyway, once the boys had ordered their burgers and fries we sat outside awaiting the arrival of our tasty treats. The New York is a good looking cheeseburger – oozy melted American style cheese, a good amount of sauce, two good sized patties on a seeded and lightly toasted bun. On looks alone it gets top marks. First bite in and everything seems as it should, the beef is well seasoned and juicy – although I’d like mine a little pinker. In saying that it seems more of a fast food, chuck style mix of beef so it’s still juicy regardless. The melted cheese encasement does a good job of keeping everything juicy and it’s the right type of cheese – American style cheddar. The bacon was good, salty and slightly smokey, a good paring with the sweet/savoury caramelised onions and of course the pickles did their job well cutting through the fat. My one, admittedly small issue with this burger was the bun. There was just too much of it. The bread to meat ratio was a little off, and since it’s a light brioche style bun, it’s also quite sweet and with this much bread, a little cakey for me. My brother only had one patty and he felt it was far too much bread. Don’t get me wrong –  with the double patty it’s not a big deal, but I just feel like this particular burger could use a little less bread. Overall, I quite enjoyed my burger and I’d score the Humburger New York a  7.5.

Humburger on Urbanspoon

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Quite a few people had told me that I needed to get down to Burgled and sample their burger offerings, I’m just annoyed that I didn’t act on this information sooner. Located not far from Huntingdale station – admittedly not the most picturesque of locations – Burgled is actually a couple of stops from my work. This may not work out well for my expanding waistline. I’m calling it a sympathy pregnancy belly (it’s a thing)… Wont be able to get away with that in 5 weeks though. Hmm, Burger and baby adventures?? Good excuse… Anyway, I digress… Burgled offers unpretentious, quality burgers in the south east – a diamond in the rough.

Damo was along for the ride on this one on a warm Saturday afternoon, thankfully it was early as the place was filling up fast.  We both ordered the same meals, starting with the Salted caramel milkshakes (How on trend can you get?) – actually on a side note, a very deep discussion was had at work the other day about the salted caramel epidemic. Is it possible to get normal caramel these days? What’s next salted caramello Koala?? What has this world come to? Regardless of all of that, I loved the salted caramel milkshake and I am more than happy to jump on board with this food trend. Ok, so let’s move on. We also ordered a large chips and onion rings to share – Both OK to good.

Our burgers where the Gettysburger (Each burger option is based on a country – this one was the USA option for those of you who aren’t students of history…), we got them as doubles and added bacon. The Gettysburger comes with lettuce, tomato, caramelised onions, pickles, mustard, ketchup and aioli and cheese. On arrival we were glad we opted for the extra patty, I think it might be a bit small otherwise. Damo suggested we guess the rating before the first bite and he suggested a 7.5 – quite high off the bat, but they sure did look good. I concurred and proceed to test our hypothesis.

First things first – I’ll tell you what I really liked about Burgled, the fact that they didn’t serve the burger in a super sweet Brioche bun! The bun here is a soft white burger bun, fresh, savoury, not sweet at all. A really nice change and exactly the right bun for this style of burger. Don’t get me wrong – a good brioche bun can work wonders, but it has to be the right burger style, and it has to be fresh, otherwise it gets too cakey. Anyway, let get back to this burger shall we – The meat patties here seem like a mostly chuck construction – giving a traditional flavour profile. Cooked all the way through, they were still juicy thanks to the higher fat content. Seasoned well and lightly worked, they maintained tenderness and with the addition of some light herbs, the patty’s tasted beefy and delicious. The cheese was an American style cheddar melted nicely and oozing all over the place -helped to keep the patties from drying out. I really loved the pickles in this burger, with the mustard they added a nice sharpness that cut through the fattiness – a must in this style of burger. The caramelised onions were diced and added a really nice savoury/sweet background. Whilst Damo thought the bacon was too salty in this burger I’d have to disagree, I quite liked mine. Finally, the salad elements – standard, but of course worked to freshen up the burger. This is a place I know I’ll go back to. It’s quality from start to finish, and the burgers taste like you expect a good burger to taste. I’d give Burgled an 8.

 

Burgled on Urbanspoon

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Katie found a gem with this one – Fordham’s Milk bar, is a lovely café and actual milk bar located in Camberwell, not far from Hartwell train station. After all the moving and baby stuff lately, Katie and I needed some time to just sit and relax and have a nice brunch. Thankfully, Katie suggested Fordham’s – which is not too far from us. As it was a nice warm day we decided to sit outside and enjoy the breeze. I was pretty hungry so I order the big breakfast which comes with eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. Katie ordered a breakfast burrito and then a croissant. Both meals were really delicious. Apparently Katie’s coffee was good, my tea was nice – but then it’s hard to stuff that up – although I did like the fact that it was loose leaf tea and the water was nice and hot.

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You can also probably see that I got an order of the Boston baked beans on the side as well. Whilst they were nothing like “Boston” baked beans I’ve had in Boston, they were still amazingly scrumptious. The crumbled feta added a nice sharp note and spice blend on the beans was really good. not sure if I’d call them Boston Baked Beans though… Everything else on my plate was executed exceptionally well. The scrambled eggs were done nicely, creamy and not dry at all. The sausages were excellent and had a nice flame-grilled flavour. The mushrooms were lovely and even the spinach was nice. I’d go back in a heart-beat. Apparently they have a burger as well. I know where my next burger adventure is taking me… Highly recommended.

Fordham's Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

 

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Bit of a sneaky afternoon burger adventure this one. Katie had organised to meet up with a student midwife at a café (Coco Loco) in Glen Waverly – part of some program run through the royal Womens… Anyway, Katie felt it best if I tag along so we could both meet the student midwife. I wasn’t feeling too great, but obviously I wanted to support Katie, being the great husband that I am, and so I pulled myself off the couch and off we went.

Located in the heart of the bustling Kingsway area, Coco Lounge looks like your standard café/restaurant, a nice enough spot, but nothing that really stands out. Originally we had just planned to stop for a drink and a chat with the midwife and then go on our way – however I spied the dinner menu, and it just happened to have a Wagyu burger… Thankfully, even though it was quite early, the kitchen had just started the dinner shift and I was able to order the burger. Advertised as coco’s signature Wagyu Beef Burger, it comes with aged cheddar, tomato and dark ale relish, aioli, crispy onions, and chard leaves, on a brioche bun. You also get a side of delicious twice cooked chips with some relish, aioli and herbed salt on the side. Back to the burger though – when it comes out it’s served American style – open. You get to admire the crispy onion rings I guess and it allows you to add a bit more sauce if you wish – but I’m still not a fan.

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I suspect the real reason it’s served this was is because they want to disguise the fact that the burger is hardly bigger than a slider. This is one of the smallest burgers I’ve had that wasn’t advertised as a slider. At $24.90 I’m really expecting a bit more beef for my buck – And it was really annoying because the burger was actually quite impressive otherwise.  First bite after you put the burger together you get the sweetness of the Brioche bun, and with this burger it matches well with the other elements, the sweet, beefy patty is excellent, although I like mine to be a little pink, it was still juicy and well seasoned. The crispy onion rings were great, it’s like caramelised onions with crunch – awesome. There was a bit of bite from the Chard, and the sauces and cheese really balanced out the burger. I wasn’t left thinking – gee, I’d really like this burger more if it had … in it. It was a really well balanced burger. However, it was also a tiny burger, with a small handfull of chips on the side – this is not a value for money burger. I’d give it a 7.5, but I’d be thinking over 8 if it was the normal size!

Coco Lounge on Urbanspoon