Posts Tagged ‘Poutine’

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Sometimes you have those moments in your life when it seems as though all is well with the world. Admittedly, at those moments you’re probably not reflecting very deeply and it’s possible that the sumptuous burger that is filling your mouth is making real introspection difficult. Regardless of the realities of the Greek financial crisis or third world poverty or Miley Cyrus –  I had one such moment at Mr Scruff’s. Had you observed me at that point in time, you would have witnessed an overweight, balding man, grinning crazily and probably giggling at times as he shoved a rather larger burger into his mouth – possibly pausing occasionally to stare at the beautiful burgery goodness that fate had seen fit to place in his hands. Oh my goodness indeed…

Ah, I should probably explain as this is getting a little weird… Damo and I had not caught up for quite some time and with Lucy fed and in bed, I decided to head out for a burger. I’d heard some buzz about Mr Scuff’s and I felt that now was my opportunity to test out the reports. Damo was keen for a catch up so off we went. 7:30 on a cold Tuesday in the middle of the Melbourne winter had not dissuaded the punters and Mr Scruff’s was pretty full. We had to wait for a table to clear so we could sit down. But since it was “Chewsday” I guess it was always going to be busy. I was happy to wait, so we ordered our burgers. Damo went for the chewsday special – the Pooter Burger which came with think gravy, mozzarella, a bacon weave (which just means heaps of bacon!!)  kipfler chips, usa cheese, a beef patty, cos lettuce and mayo – for $18. That actually didn’t sound particularly appealing to me so I went for the standard burger with an added patty and bacon. It comes with Cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and a special sauce – $17 in total. We also ordered the Poutine – because, Poutine – and some onion rings. Both side were exceptionally good. I really like the poutine here – it was about as good as I’ve had outside of Canada to be honest – although still not quite right (Missing the cheese curds – grated cheese doesn’t work as well). But we’re not here to talk about the sides – however good they might be…

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My burger was, from start to finish – amazing. One of the best burgers I’ve had full stop! The bun was perfect for this burger – a fresh white bread with a soft and spongy feel – although strong enough to stand up to a juicy, saucy, double meat burger. The bacon in this burger was great – a nice crispy cut which was smokey with just the right amount of fat without becoming greasy. The cheese was perfectly melted and the American style was the right choice. The patties were the standout however – both well cooked with a nice hint of pink – and a really good size for a double – not too thin and not too thick. The meat was ground on a fairly coarse setting which allowed for a juicy, beefy texture and the seasoning was on point. The lettuce added the freshness and the pickles were necessary to add sharpness and cut through all the rich fatty elements. Overall the burger was perfectly balanced. Each bite was burger heaven – and even though I was feeling pretty full, I know that if another burger had been placed in front of me, it would have been pretty difficult to stop myself from giving it a shot.

This to me, is a perfect expression of this style of burger – quality ingredients, well executed, balanced. It’s the bacon double cheeseburger that you dream of when you want one – but never get (Until now!).

I give it a 9.5 – If I were asked where you should go for the best bacon double cheeseburger in Melbourne – this would be it. I want one right now!

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There’s not many other burgers that have stuck in my mind like the burger at The Spotted Mallard… This was one of the very early burger hunt venues that we visited last year. Jo, Myself, Damo and Katie checked out the burger and poutine at The Spotted Mallard back in April last year and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. Since Rusty – Katie’s Brother – was in town, I decided that we needed to take him out for a good burger. Damo suggested The Spotted Mallard, and I couldn’t agree quickly enough… Thankfully Mum was happy to babysitting Lucy – and let’s be honest – we have to pry Lucy away from Mum when she’s here, so it wasn’t hard to convince “Nanna” to spend some time with her only grandchild!

We headed out on Saturday night with Rusty in tow, keen to show this American just what Australia can offer when it comes to the humble burger. Well, there’s nothing humble about this burger. There wasn’t much thinking to do when we arrived – we all ordered the Wagyu Beef and Bacon Burger – Damo and I manned up and went the double. That’s 2x 150gm Wagyu beef patties, bacon, gruyere, caramelised onion, pickles and chipotle mayo. Comes with a mound of chips for $27 or $20 for the more sensible single patty. We also got some of the Pulled Pork Poutine – they don’t have the Lamb Poutine anymore unfortunate – however the Pulled Pork Poutine is pretty good.

Anyway, we were here for the burgers, not the chips… As you can see the double is a bit silly, you can’t eat it as a double, although Damo tried (and failed – he was using the knife and fork at the end)… I removed the additional patty, which was also covered in the extra cheese and bacon.

It’s when you eat the patty on it’s own that you get an appreciation for the quality. Cooked to a nice and juicy medium, still quite pink, the beef is lightly seasoned with a hint of cumin (Damo thought this was too much when you had the double at once) which is risky as cumin can over power the meat, but in this case it was just spot on. The cheese added a nice nutty, creamy note, with the fatty salty bacon finishing it off. On it’s own it’s probably too rich and a bit fatty, but when you add the rest of the elements of the burger it works so well. The bun is a Lievito brioche, lacks the cakey sweetness of other brioche’s and is one of the best buns going around. A few burger places use these buns and I’m always happy with the outcome.

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The chipotle mayo is great – a light spice, more a hit of pepperiness, and some smokiness there that just adds to the experience. But for me, the best part is the lettuce… Yep, I said lettuce. I don’t know what the trick is exactly, I mean the lettuce seems to be the usual crisp iceberg, but it’s like they’ve added a sharp vinaigrette. The outcome is a light, pickle like sharpness that cuts through the richness and balances the whole burger. It’s a great burger it really is. In Rusty’s opinion it was the best he’s ever had. This from a guy who grew up in small town USA. Big call. But I don’t think he’s all that far off the mark. Price wise, this place is not cheap – although you do get the chips included, so I guess you could say $16 + $4 for chips – which is not too far above the mark. Plus these are good burgers. For me – this burger is an 8.5 – right up there with some damn good burgers.

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Chris and I were driving down Chapel Street, trying to pick a burger place for a quick bite to eat when we drove past Boston Sub. Chris noticed that the sign out front said “Boston Sub – Sandwich Americana”. Well that can’t be bad we thought – let’s have look. Knowing nothing about the place, we walked in and perused the menu. There seemed to be some sort of naming convention for the subs – with names like “The Jordan”, The Ali”, “The Lincoln”, although we couldn’t figure out the connections – The Lincoln was lamb, mint sauce and coleslaw… The Poutine’s were similarly named, although we figured out the Jabba the Hut, which was a loaded poutine, at least sense. Anyway, we were sufficiently intrigued to hang around and order. Chris ordered the Jordan, and I got the Ali, we got a Jabba the Hut to share and then I got a salted Banana Milkshake and Chris a Wheatbeer. Strangely they had a very large and eclectic selection of beers for a small take away sub shop… They also had a really large fridge door – but more about that later.

I’m not sure what we were expecting for $7.50, but when the subs came out I was a little disappointed. They were rather small and plain looking and Chris’s was really just a hot dog – it looked like a good hot dog, but I think we were expecting some sort of massive American style sub. Well, appearances can be deceiving. The “Ali” was advertised as Beef with BBQ sauce and cabbage. It was exactly that, but at the same time, it was much more. The sub was a very soft, sweet 6 inch roll, spongy and fresh. It complemented the delicious pulled beef, the cabbage and mayo added texture and fat. It was actually really good – just not what I had envisaged when I walked in. The Jabba the Hut on the other hand was exactly what I was expecting. A huge mound of chips, pulled beef and lamb, pork crackle, bacon, cheese curds and gravy. God I love Poutine – that crazy Canadien contribution to the fast food landscape. My Salted Banana Milkshake was also pretty damn tasty.

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So Chris and I were sitting there ruminating about how the food had both exceeded and fallen short of our expectation when a group of young, hipster types walked in and asked to go to the bar. I’m sure there was some sort of secret nod, wink or hand shake, and then the large fridge door was opened and the secret passage was reveled. So the sub shop was just a front for a blind tiger – a speakeasy straight from the roaring 20’s! After a few more well dressed trendy looking young things had been shown through, Chris plucked up the courage to ask if he too to go through. I was half expecting the guy to say, “Um, I’m sorry, I don’t know what you are talking about? You want go in the fridge? There’s no bar here…” Through the fridge door lies a very nicely appointed cocktail bar, it’s a Alice in Wonderland like transition. Very weird, and of course nauseatingly Melbourne. Apparently it’s really popular on the weekend, it just so happened that we were there during a quite period, so we were able to sneak in for a look. It seemed like a pretty cool place to relax with a group of friends. Anyway, back to the food – at $7.50 for a sub and $15 for the massive poutine, it’s good value, and the food is really good. I’d definitely come back, and the surprise factor of the bar out the back is pretty cool too.

Boston Sub on Urbanspoon

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Katie wins again at finding amazing places to eat! Originally I had planned to visit another burger joint, but Katie was craving buffalo wings – and you don’t argue with a Pregnant woman who has a craving. You smile and nod and ask when she would like to leave… Le Grill is located in Hawthorn, off Burwood Rd – well actually I’m not sure if you can get in off Burwood Rd, we went down a side street and parked out the back – they have this little eating area where you order the food with big share tables. It’s actually quite handy because trying to find a park on a Friday night on Burwood Rd was proving to be rather difficult. The Menu is short and sweet. A couple of burgers, various types of fries, wings and ribs.

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Speaking of fries – they have waffle fries and poutine!!! I just love poutine,  My kind of joint. Anyway, so Le Grill has a bar out the front, and upstairs area for functions and the eating area out back which is where you order.  We ordered some wings, fries – poutine and waffle, and some burgers and then sat down on one of the large share tables waiting for a lobster to vibrate (They give you this lobster pager that vibrates when the order is ready). It wasn’t too long before our food was ready – although it was clear that we ordered too much. I thought the waffle fries would be just enough for one and the poutine would be the same size but it looked like both were share size… Oh well, better to have too much than not enough. The wings were delicious, tender, falling off the bone, with a nice hot sauce, although I’d like a bit more kick to mine – Katie enjoyed hers. The poutine was nice, with house made cheese curd, although it reminded me more of a goats cheese than the more rubbery cheese curds that you get back in Canada – this was more of an upscale version. Waffle fries baffle me – how are they made – they seem to be these impossible constructs of potato goodness (Yes – I am clearly easily impressed). They came with a nice little ranch style dipping sauce. We thoroughly enjoyed them but couldn’t finish them.

Of course it’s the burgers that were the big ticket item for me – so lets talk beef. I ordered the Cheeseburger as a double with bacon. They are usually cooked medium rare which I love, but Katie was also ordering a burger and made sure that they cooked hers all the way through for safety reasons (Is this really that important? So many things you can’t eat when you are pregnant apparently…). I think they thought she meant both burgers because mine was also well done. Damn. Still the burgers were juicy enough. The meat is clearly good quality beef, nice and beefy, well seasoned – I’m not sure of the cut, but I’d say that there’s chuck there but also a better cut as well because you get that “steaky” flavour – Very nice regardless. The buns are a traditional burger bun – soft white bread with a scattering of sesame seeds on top. Lightly toasted, they hold up well to the rigours of eating a double. The burger comes with two types of cheese – as you can see, very cheesy! They also come with a sweet mustard and a homemade ketchup, which is also on the sweet side. You also get some caramelised onion interspersed throughout. The bacon was ok, but I didn’t get a lot of flavour to be honest, it seemed to be overpowered by the other elements. I think I would have loved a nice sharp pickle in the burger – but then I ALWAYS want pickles in my burgers. This was a good solid burger – I was quite impressed, I’d love to try it medium rare to let the quality of the meat really shine through. I give this one a 7.5, and I’d love to see what it’s like properly cooked (Pink).

Le Grill on Urbanspoon

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I’d have to say that this burger hunt is probably the most controversial to date. I guess it comes back to the question –  What attributes must be present for a food item to be classified as a burger? When is a burger not a burger? This was the issue faced by Chris and I on Monday night. Since Chris is a much better writer than I am, he has kindly provided his take on the whole affair – however I will provide my own tasting notes on the burgers and judgement here – (as a side note –  we ordered two Burgers, a side of Poutine, and dessert – sticky date and chocolate fondant) :

For all intents and purposes the burger looks like a pretty normal burger. It’s a bit on the small side for my tastes – that annoying size between a slider and a hamburger, but you get a heafty slab of meat so you won’t leave hungry… The bun is a nice light brioche, very spongy and soft with a nice shiny glaze and a light kiss from the grill to give the bun some char marks. It  held up well to the burger and I’d have to say was the prefect bun in this case, even though it was a bit on the smaller size.  I know what you’re saying – So far no controversy… Ok, lets continue – The burger comes with a nice cheese crisp, a delicious red miso aioli and smoked tomato relish and some fresh and crisp iceberg lettuce that adds a lovely texture and crunch to the burger. Hmm ok, still no controversy… Ok, onto the first bite – admittedly it was a sensational first bite, juicy, meaty, smokey notes, sweetness from the brioche, crispness from the cheese and lettuce… But it was the patty that had me all worked up – I should have realised that a 12hr Wagyu shin burger patty really meant that it was a pulled meat patty. Compressed back into a patty and given some time on the grill to add a caramelised crust. The patty was juicy and moist and literally melted in your mouth. It worked sensationally when dipped into the sauce as well. But, for all of this, it was not a burger patty, but a pulled meat patty. So does that qualify as a burger or as a pulled beef sandwich??  Well lets hear what Chris had to say:

 

I love accompanying Andrew on his burger adventures. But every time I go I sometimes worry. “Is this it? Is this the night when we get a terrible burger?” I’ve been really lucky, from Gloria Swanson’s kitchen to Rockpool, I’ve been fortunate enough to join Andrew in eating some of the best burgers that I’ve ever had. But that can’t last can it? There must be a bad burger with my name on it out there somewhere…..

It was a Monday night and we were both up for a burger. Where to go? I chucked a few suggestions in the hat but Andrew pulled out “Half Moon” in Brighton. That’s right down the road from me so I said yes. I’m lazy like that.

Half Moon is your typical trendy Brighton destination all polished wood and weird angles but the bar itself had a good ambiance even if Andrew and I were the youngest people there, a strange feeling these days I can tell you. Comfortable seats and a good beer section left little to complain about although on a brisk Melbourne night it might have been nice if they had turned the fire-place on. We perused the menu and ordered our beer and burgers at the bar, we decided that we should also get the Poutine because we were both ravenous by this stage.

The menu proclaimed that the burgers that were going to arrive were 12 hour shin Wagyu burgers with a red miso sauce and a smoked tomato aioli to dip our chips into. To my mind anything that volunteers a cooking time is usually good. We were looking forward to it.

When the burgers came they looked the business with a good portion of red sauce on the side although the chips were standard frozen pub chips. The Poutine was the same chips, with an ok gravy (although not enough of it) and some mozzarella melted over it. Disappointing for $12.

The burgers were a different story. They were amazing. The buns were perfect, a slightly sweet brioche with a simple salad of sliced greens, some aoli and then double cheese on the top and bottom of a pulled beef patty of what was clearly top quality beef cooked for hour and hours to concentrate its flavour packed with Umami. This brought to mind what the burger minds at Nshry were going for but failed at. Here they had succeeded.

And then the debate began.

Andrew: “Is this a burger?”

Me: “Yes…um…no….maybe?….I don’t care it’s delicious”

Andrew: “Oh I agree, but is it a burger, would people be upset if they ordered a burger and got this instead?”

Me: “Are people upset if they order a Kia and a BMW turns up instead?…No…this is a surprise, but it’s a good surprise”

Andrew: “But this isn’t this more of a pulled meat sandwich?”

Me: “This is a sandwich in the same way the Mona Lisa is the painting of some chick”

Andrew: “Oh it’s good, there’s no doubt about that…but can we call it a burger?”

This went on for some time. The bottom line is that we are both right. To be fair to Andrew, it’s not a burger but to be fair to me, in the end that really doesn’t matter – it’s delicious.

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I understand why they called it a burger, because people want the familiar, but as a burger I could only score it an 8 great! To be sure, but not the best I’ve had. But it would be by far the best sandwich I’d had or sloppy joe and on those terms it would get a 9 or even 10. There is an argument to be had though that the fact that it’s different works in its favour, it’s not your everyday burger that other places are doing and now doing well. It’s different, it’s delicious and I never at any point felt let down by its lack of traditional burgerness.

I don’t think I convinced Andrew with this argument though and I too was let down by the chips although the Red Miso sauce was awesome and great to dip your “burger” into.

All that said, it is amazing and well worth the trip, but a small word of advice. Don’t get anything else on the bar menu, both Andrew and I were sufficiently impressed by the burger/thing that we decided to stick around for desert and…well…that wasn’t worth it.  When we left we were envious of the people who had just ordered the burger and were about to have the best pulled sandwich experience of their life. I’ll be back.

 

Half Moon on Urbanspoon

Another Friday night, another burger adventure… I’m really starting to love my Burger nights – the anticipation builds throughout the week, and I start to have day dreams about burgers. Actually I’m not sure if this is healthy… I’m starting to sound a bit weird. Ok, forget I said all that. Anyway, let’s talk burgers – and poutine. After not much research this week since it was the last week of term , I decided on a place called Spotted Mallard. It’s located just north of the city. This whole area just north of the CBD seems to be at the cutting edge of the Burger renaissance at the moment, a melting pot of burger experimentation and excitement if you will. Um… ok I need to calm down obviously, anyway, the place was on Sydney Rd so you have easy access on public transport. We – that is, Damo, Jo Katie and I – arrived at about 6:30pm and there were plenty of tables available – although if you are going later I’d book as it’s a bit of a live music venue and it was pretty full by 8pm.

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We were all pretty hungry so we started with some Poutine and some pork riblletes. For those of you who don’t know, Poutine is French Canada’s gift to the culinary world – those crazy Quebecoise’s like to add cheese curd and gravy to their chips. When I lived in Canada I must admit I partook more than once. In fact, McDonalds in Quebec (The French speaking province) even sells Poutine. Spotted Mallard even has a Poutine menu, although they don’t offer a traditional Poutine, so we ordered their Lamb Poutine. Both starters were very good and the poutine was an all round success – definitely recommend if you are feeling peckish before a burger.

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We all ordered the 150g Wagu Beef and Bacon burger and waited patiently for our burgers to arrive. On arrival, I was impressed by the burger, it looked juicy and was a good size – the buns are from Lievito and they’re a Brioche style – I can actually buy these buns from my nearby specialist grocery store and they’re my go to burger bun  when I make a burger. The chips were apparently triple cooked – and they certainly had a lovely crunch and soft centre – the reminded me more of a roast potato. The skin on was less of a factor here as they were not fries, but large crunchy wedges (Still feel that they would have been better without the skin). They were amazing in the poutine, but without the Gravy they weren’t as good – chips this size need a sauce of some description. The Burger was a Wagu beef – listed as only 150g but it seemed more, it was cooked to a medium well, but still very juicy. Included in the burger was lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and bacon – the sauce was a peppery chipotle. To me this was a great Burger – just what I wanted, the bacon was smokey and delicious, the pickles were amazing, the cheese was melting and gooey and not sticky and dry like you can get. The patty was  juicy and delicious and the whole burger was just lifted up a notch with the spicy sauce. And they weren’t stingy on the sauce:

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The good thing about that was I could use the chips to wipe up the excess sauce (Next time I’m getting extra for the chips). A small let down for me was that the Bacon was a little cold on my burger – although covered in sauce and sitting on the hot meat patty you hardly noticed – but surely that’s not hard to rectify. Some of the tasting “panellist” felt that the burger was too salty – now I know I have a high salt tolerance (Must be in the genes, as my Pop was the worst, he’d just shake the salt over his meal saying, “is it coming out?” for a good 5 seconds…) however, even I noticed that the burgers were a bit salty. Too me you have to get your seasoning right – not enough and the meat taste bland, too much and every thing is just too salty. A couple of the guys thought that it crossed the line and was just too salty, but in my opinion it was just fine. The final point for me was that when I was finished I automatically started looking at the burgers of those who hadn’t finished and I just really wanted another bite. In fact right now I wouldn’t say no if someone offered me one of their burgers. I would highly recommend this burger. Delicious.

The Spotted Mallard on Urbanspoon