Saturday, 15 December 2012

Cadillac Diner, Wellington - 6/10

Note 19 December.  I just saw in the paper earlier this week that Cadillac Diner had closed.  I guess I wasn't too far off the mark.  Anyway, I believe in creative destruction.  This failure was necessary and creates room for another one to do it right...

Maintaining a burger blog in New Zealand is a little bit tricky because in general in New Zealand, a burger is usually an item on a wider menu at a cafe or restaurant.  However, there are a few places that focus on burgers and you would expect any burger blog worth its buns to review those places.

Cadillac Diner fits that description.  Modelling itself on an American Diner, it has a range of burgers on its menu.  Unfortunately, the feedback on the place means that I have been avoiding going there, even though a review would be an integral and expected function of this blog.

So biting the bullet, I ventured there a couple of weeks ago.  So i wasn't overwhelmed I took my good mate Matt along.

Matt has been with me on a number of these reviews and provides great insight into the relationship between quality/quantity and price.  We do tend to disagree slightly on the weighting of price/value in the final burger rating.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Uncle Mikes Kansas City BBQ, Petone - 8/10

Worlds Best Burger.  A juicy, flame-grilled burger cooked to order, garnished with lettuce, tomato and onion.  With cheese. - $15

So Uncle Mike's was another place that I felt I had to review, but couldn't quite bring myself to actually go out of my way to get to.  Especially after what was a fully expected let down at Cadillac Diner a week earlier.  So it was a stroke of fortune that the mall was shut and Tony and I couldn't decide on a curry alternative before our movie. Skyfall - brilliant by the way.

While not much to look at, you just knew it was going to be tasty!!
The bun defied its appearance.
And so I tentatively suggested Uncle Mike's as an alternative option on the premise that I had to review their burger at some stage and, considering we weren't overly inspired to visit a particular curry house, we could review a burger instead.  Probably wouldn't be good but, in the interest of the blog, it had to be done...Tony agreed and we went.

We were surprised that the joint was busy.  Last time I visited I was one of two tables there.  There was a glimmer of hope that the food was on the improve.  Flipping to the burger section on the menu, the first burger was referred to as the "Worlds Best Burger".  Way to keep expectations low Uncle Mike!!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ekim Burgers, Wellington, Lil Mike - 6.5/10

Lil Mike - Double Beef and Cheese $8.50.  All Ekim burgers come with Ekim Sauce, Mustard and a salad of fresh lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle.

Ekim Burgers in Lyall Bay was on the top of my list of burgers to try in Wellington.  I actually felt like a bit of a pretender for not having had an "Ekim Burger".  I had good intentions but, being in Lyall Bay, its not something I could just pop out for.  For me to try it, there had to have a broader event supporting it.

And so last weekend we piled in the car to pick up the mother-in-law, who was down for the school holidays.  I knew that this was the perfect opportunity and so kept my intentions to myself, knowing that any discussion could see my plan for an Ekim Burger shuttled.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Pub, Wellington, Homemade Cheeseburger - 6.5/10

120g Homemade Cheeseburger with aged Swiss cheese, caramelized onion, iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, fresh beetroot and fries - $10

The burger looked fresh with crunchy iceberg lettuce
 and a sesame seed bun that could have been from MacDonalds.
101 The Terrace has another potential victim, with The Pub the latest to try its luck.  The location has had a string of failed ventures including The Eating House and La Bella Italia.  However, the guys behind The Pub have a solid reputation and, perhaps, they can deliver something the previous two tenants weren't able to.

With a $10 and a $15 lunch menu, they are definitely offering a sharper pricing strategy.

The menu is made up of good, hearty staples, including the 120g Homemade Cheeseburger.  Which is what me and Mat were there for.

The Pub was packed so we had to perch at the bar.  We both ordered the burger. An added bonus was the burger came with fries.  Not bad for a tenner.  I also splashed out and ordered the standard Bundaberg Ginger Beer.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Colonial Cafe, Wellington - 5/10

Colonial cafe is a neat little cafe down the bottom end of the Terrace.  It was probably best known as as the last cafe to allow smoking before non-smoking legislation made smoking in public places illegal.  

Having lost its competitive advantage (the last vestige for smokers), it has turned back to being the 'everymans' cafe.  Turn your thoughts back to the 80's cafes with the cabinets filled with pies, rolls, squares and sandwiches.  

Now I know this place because it makes the best sausage rolls in the City.  But that is another life and totally unrelated to burgers.  Apart from the fact you eat them.  And that they potentially can make you fat. Practice moderation people and exercise!! Thats all I can say.

Now Mat and I got our wires crossed when discussing $10 burgers on the Terrace.  I assumed he was talking about The Pub, which had just opened across from work.  In fact he was talking about the Colonial Cafe, which I had never ever thought of as a place for a lunch burger.  So, as he was keen, and Brad couldn't make it (working from home in the Wairarapa - lucky for some). I decided to give it a go.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Ti Kouka Cafe, Wellington, Sticky Beef Burger - 7/10

Sticky Beef Burger with braised beef brisket, red cabbage, beetroot, smoky BBQ sauce & Watercress - $16.

 Glistening chunks of brisket with  fatty goodness still attached.
With Burger Wellington over for another year, I was feeling a bit down.  Luckily, I went for lunch with Dawn to Ti Kouka, one of her favourite haunts.

Surprisingly, their menu had a Sticky Beef Burger on it.  Despite my disdain toward non-minced-meat burgers, how could I resist?

Now just a bit more about Ti Kouka - its a really neat place hidden away upstairs on Willis St (It used to be Katipo).  Has a really awesome vibe to it.  The menu is tight and well planned out giving a range of options.  The actual food looks great and the service is excellent.  A bit hard to get a table (we were seated on the benches next to the counter) but well worth it if you do.  And now back to the review.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Cuba St Bistro, Horopito & Lamb - 3/10, Burger Wellington 2012

Minted premium lamb patty with a horopito leaf and caramelised onion relish, brie, lettuce, tomato and lemon mayo with hand-cut fries - $18

Rushed presentation.  Initial disappointment...
The Horopito & Lamb burger from Cuba St Bistro was an absolutely disappointing way to end the Burger Challenge.  This was the worst burger of the lot.  Although the worst thing was, we weren't even meant to go there.  Oh well, its fate.  We won yesterday with Charlie Bill, and this time, we lost.

But I still have to apportion blame.  You could argue that between the four of us one would have taken the initiative and booked a table at Pravda (which is where we were supposed to be for "the Ultimate Truth" burger).  You could also argue that, with four of us, one could safely assume that someone else had booked.  In any case, nobody booked and Pravda was booked out.  No amount of begging could get us booked in.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Charlie Bill, Miss Piggy marries a Prawn Star - 9/10, Burger Wellington 2012

Pork and prawn patty with Harrington’s porchetta and apple relish on a Brezelmania chilli corn bun with roasted gourmet potatoes - $22
It just looked tasty.  Blow this picture up to full size and salivate!!

As luck would have it we lucked onto Charlie Bill today.  Weren't meant to be going there at all.  Lucky.  

We were supposed to be somewhere else but got a tip-off the day before that where we were going wasn't all that good.  On asking where we should go we were told that Charlie Bill was getting pretty good reviews.  

A quick discussion with the team and it was agreed that Charlie Bill was where we were going.  A phone call to reserve and we were locked and loaded.

Now the reason Charlie Bill wasn't on our list was the fact it was a pork and prawn burger.  Being a classic burger afficianado  I had targeted establishments serving beef.  And to be honest, I wasn't overly excited leading up to the visit.  Boy did I get it wrong!!

El Matador, The Munchener - 6/10, Burger Wellington 2012

Parrilla-grilled Wairarapa beef patty with Kapiti aged cheddar, salad, housemade tomato relish and mustard, on an Arobake bun - $9.90

A good looking and unassuming burger
El Matador is a Buenos Aires style eatery - or so it says on their website.  I wouldn't know what a Buenos Aires style eatery was.  Unless I was in Buenos Aires.  And then if I walked into an eatery it would most likely be a Buenos Aires style one.

Walking into El Matador, you definitely knew you were not walking into a Kiwi cafe.  You were greeted by smoke (guessing from the BBQ).  And there was an entire butterflied lamb carcass hanging by the grill.  I have no idea what it was doing there.  Or what its function was.  I wonder if you could like point at a part of it, i.e. the rump and say "I'll have that portion please.  Medium rare if you don't mind".  However, it remained untouched throughout our visit so its purpose is still unknown.

Monday, 20 August 2012

The General Practitioner, The Great Philadelphian Cheeseburger - 6.5/10, Burger Wellington 2012

PrimeStar Wairarapa beef and pork patty with Parkvale field mushrooms, bacon, onion and a secret cheese sauce made with Kapiti Pamaro New Zealand parmesan in a Pandoro Bakery bun, with straight-cut chips - $22

The secret cheese sauce wasn't hiding and was slathered on pretty thick!!
Brad was back and raring to go after missing out last Friday's lunch at Trade Kitchen.  Joining us this week at the General Practitioner was Regan H, otherwise known as Hoppy.  Being his first burger challenge, he was really quite excited.  He turned up late!

And we were all quite excited by the Philadelphian, which from its blurb sounded absolutely delish.  I had tried their offering last year, where they raised the bar by adding pate.  This time round it was a beef and pork pattie and a secret cheese sauce.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Gusto, Krop Surtic - 7/10, Burger Wellington 2012

Harrington's eco pork shoulder with Kingsmeade Opaki manchego cheese, Rutherford & Meyer quince and celeriac remoulade on a Bordeaux Bakery bun, with gaufrette chippies - $25

We were quite excited about visiting Gusto for a burger, particularly as it was based in Petone, in the good old Hutt Valley.  Nothing like supporting the home team - and all three of us lived in the Hutt (some longer than others).

Another reason for excitement was that Gusto was a burger finalist in 2011, with a superb morrocan lamb number that my better half claimed was the best burger she had ever tasted!!

So Gav, Tony and I turned up with some pretty high expectations (Tony and Gav seeking something special after Trade Kitchen on Friday, and me as I knew what these guys were capable of!!).

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Trade Kitchen, Tradesmans Burger - 6/10, Burger Wellington 2012

Pure Wairarapa beef with Ōtaki beetroot relish and Kapiti blue cheese in a housemade bun - $20.

When asked what the worst thing about the burger was he replied "the blue cheese".
When pressed about the best thing about the Tradesman burger he replied "there wasn't too much blue cheese on it".

I'm not sure whether a tradesman would have been satisfied by the size of the burger?
Now blue cheese is one of those dividing flavours on a burger.  You either love it or you hate it.  Personally I could thing of many better cheeses to add to my burger ahead of a stinky blue.  But then it is what it is.  Blue cheese does go nicely with caramelised onion and, perhaps, with beetroot relish.

To be fair we knew there would be blue cheese on this burger.  And we have not let it affect our review...Tony liked the blue cheese!!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Atlanta, Beehive Burger - 5.5/10, Burger Wellington 2012

Island Bay Butchery corn-fed chicken thigh with streaky bacon, cos lettuce, caesar dressing, Kapiti Pamaro parmesan, free range fried egg and (optional) white anchovies on an Arobake ciabatta bun, with handcut potato chips - $20

Would you like four fries with that?

Here is another review from Fiona and her girlfriends.  By the sounds of it, it wasn't the greatest burger ever.  In fact, I probably would have scored it lower...J

I had a girl’s lunch scheduled and needed a burger location close to work, this meant Atlanta was next on my list.  My friends Jo and Loren were happy to go along with this after I sent through the link with the burger details.  Lots of positive comments and anticipation that’s for sure.  Unfortunately Atlanta didn’t live up to this anticipation. 

Upon arrival the service was good, as always, and we were quickly seated and our orders taken.  However, it took 35 minutes for our burgers to arrive during which time Jo had told us all there was to know about her new house and Loren was about to start chewing her handbag!

Cafe Polo, Polly's Gone Burger, 8/10 - Burger Wellington 2012

Freshly ground Wairarapa beef patty with PrimeStar beef bacon, caramelised onion, Polo BBQ sauce, housemade pickles and Kingsmeade Wairarapa Jack cheese on a toasted bun, with handcut truffle fries - $21.50.
I am burger.  Eat me now!!

After striking out in the first review, I have encountered my second home-run in succession. 

I sort of already knew that Cafe Polo was going to deliver a great burger.  They won last year's competition with a vegetarian offering.  This year they were going full on burger - beef, more beef, onion, pickles, cheese.  How could it not be good!!

An awesome support crew on this mission.   Anna, Sarah and Kelly - all extremely knowledgable when it comes to food.  Most with experience in eating and rating burgers.  

The table was booked and the burgers were ordered before we had even sat down.  The only option for me was burger, but I was a bit surprised the others all went burger too, considering the enticing dine lunch special that was on offer.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Boulcott Street Bistro, The T-Rex - 8.5/10 (Burger Wellington 2012)

Preston’s Hereford BBQ short rib and ground chuck patty with horseradish celery salad and beetroot relish, with handcut fries - $29
A real burger is served on bone!!

Bravo!!  Take your hat off Boulcott Street Bistro!

Finally, a burger that comes close to our vision of what a GREAT burger should look, feel, and taste like.  

And well done Wellington on a Plate, for providing a medium that allowed us to partake of The T-Rex!!

Brad acknowledged that this was probably the best burger he has had in New Zealand (apparently Bite Me in Sydney had something better - but they no longer exist?).

Best thing about the burger?  The pattie - a standout!!

Worst thing about the burger? Interestingly while the presentation was amazing the bone was not the most effective dish.  While they did supply a plate on the side, I somehow managed to spill beetroot relish onto their nice white starched table cloth.  Luckily I had just put the starched white napkin on my lap, because that wore it as well.  Hey!  We needed something to criticize and it was pretty hard to fault the actual burger.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Arthurs, Just a burger - 7/10, Burger Wellington 2012

a very homely looking burger!!
Arthurs 'Just a burger' burger.  Beef patty with Harrington’s bacon, Wairarapa Jack cheese, winter coleslaw, Arthur’s mayonnaise and Ōtaki tamarillo chutney on a homemade burger bun, with crispy fried potatoes - $19

With over 60 burgers to review, you didn't expect me to do them all myself...

Thankfully, Fiona has stepped up to the plate as well and will be doing a few reviews as well.  Although after reading the review I would be quite keen to give this one a go anyway!!

The brown crockery plates were stolen from Phil's Nana's house
A rainy Sunday afternoon in Wellington is best spent in a café.  Arthur’s, at the top end of Cuba Street, is a good spot for this – not just from the point of view of the food but because of the quirky, entertaining décor and the good service.  For these reasons, Phil and I opted to begin Burger Wellington here.

Arriving on brown crockery plates that looked like they were from Phil’s Nana’s house, our burgers were of a good size and the crispy fried potatoes were of a good portion.  As a first impression we were not disappointed by the presentation or the size of our $19 meal.

We expected a beef patty with bacon, cheese, winter coleslaw, mayonnaise and tamarillo chutney, and that was all included.  We also got tomato and lettuce to keep the winter coleslaw in check.

The cheese was thickly sliced and worked well with the bacon and beef patty.  The beef patty was thick, and had a good combination of herbs and onion.

The winter coleslaw was tasty, particularly with the mayonnaise and tamarillo chutney.  Our only question about the meal relates to “on a homemade burger bun”.  As the photos show, those sesame seed buns don’t look like they were made on site.

It is going to be messy to eat...
Phil loved the crispy fried potatoes – they were well cooked and seasoned and were a good compliment to the burger.  If he could repeat those chips at home he would never eat fish and chips again!

The only downfall of this burger was trying to eat it.  Once the burger was cut in half it was messy to eat, with sauce and filling spilling out.  However, the crispy fried potatoes were on hand to mop up any spillage, so not a complete disaster.

The burger got a 6, but with the crispy fried potatoes and the size and price of the meal, we gave it an overall rating of 7.
Arthur’s was good place start to Burger Wellington, and I look forward to my ‘working girls’ lunch’ at Atlanta and their Beehive Burger.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Arizona, Surf & Turf – 3.5/10, Burger Wellington 2012

The best thing about the burger was the presentation!!

It’s always hard being first up in a burger competition, particularly when Brad and I had been anticipating Burger Wellington for such a long time.  So you have to sort of feel sorry for Arizona … but only sort of.

 To be fair, we did slightly misread the entry and so were surprised when the burger actually wasn’t a burger but steak in a bun!!  When I got back to the office I checked out their entry and yes, it was clearly listed as “Wairarapa beef steak with cos salad, a parmesan and garlic dressing and tempura prawn”.  So we are not really sure why Arizona was on our list, but it probably had to do with their memorable entry in 2011, where I scored it an 8.5/10.  But anyway here is our review.

Burger Wellington Starts Today!!

And i can't wait.  An event within Wellington on A Plate, Burger Wellington is now in its third year, and sees over 60 restaurants competing to serve the best burger in Wellington.  Try a burger.  Text in your rating out of 10.  The top five restaurants are then involved in a cook-off, with four informed burger aficionados rating the burgers and selecting a grand champion.

I just happened to luck out last year and be one of the four judges, and am still hoping like crazy that I am one again this year.  To hedge my bets I have seven burgers lined up already and am hoping to hit some more.

Chef David Thrulow with Café Polo's The Polly Burger
 - Winner of Burger Welllington 2011
BTW, the winner last year was Cafe Polo, with the Polly burger, which was vegetarian!!!  Don't let this happen again people - so make sure you get out there and try the burgers and vote!

Burger Wellington starts today and runs through to the 24th August.  Jeremy Taylor "the Omnivore" will be taking on the challenge of a burger a day in his blog.

BERL is the sponsor of the event. If you are thinking "what is the link between an economic consultancy and Burger Wellington?" the answer is  "Me".

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Empire, Petone - Beef Burger - 7.5/10

The Empire is a gastro pub in Petone.  It serves some awesome food, with an English slant.  
This is a burger that I tried quite a while back but never got around to writing the review.  

It is listed on the menu as 'the Empire Burger - a 180g pure beef pattie with salad, bacon, melted brie, and crisp onion rings in a gourmet bun with B.B.Q sauce and a side of crisp fries.'

Presentation was pretty good.  Fries were kept separate from the coleslaw, which was pretty good thinking that kept them from getting soggy!
 From memory it was a solid burger and came with a tasty coleslaw on the side.  What made it really good were the onion rings (I can never go past onion rings!!)  
The pattie didn't really stand out as far as I can remember. And the BBQ sauce doesn't really do much for me.  

However, the main thing that I felt let it down was the bun.  All of those seeds sitting on the top actually detracted from the flavour and texture of the burger. They could have saved some money by not going with the 'gourmet' bun and probably improved the offering.  Same with the brie cheese.  I am not a real big fan of brie in a burger.  So, considering the ingredients, at $19 it was good value for money!!
I cant really thing of anything else.My apologies for the half-assed effort at a post here, but they say a picture tells a thousand words and I offer you three. 

Monday, 30 July 2012

Devil Burgers, Queenstown, Yankee Devil - 6/10

Queenstown was humming. School holidays meant the hordes were in town. After struggling to find somewhere to eat the night before (we ended up in a dingy food hall, where the kids had MacDonalds and I went hungry) we decided to eat at Devil Burger, which was relatively empty at 5.30pm (this was in stark contrast to FergBurger down the road where there was a queue). It was also a chance for me to review a burger outside of Wellington (I knew I had called it BurgerNZ for a reason!!)

I went for the Yankee Devil as this was the closest i could get to a cheeseburger.  The basic devil burger comes with their own Devil Relish, which i wasn't too keen on sampling.  The Yankee Devil came with cheese, pickles, fancy lettuce, red onion, tomato, aioli and tomato relish.  I ordered the regular size for $12.50.  (Large was $14.50 but looked significantly larger).

When the burger arrived it looked ready for the ball.  Well wrapped, the onion and mayo offering a glimpse out the front end.  Unfortunately it was all window dressing.  Check out the opened burger.  The onion and the mayo were planted in a position of prominence but the rest of the burger was neglected.  They were joined by a solitary slice of tomato and enough lettuce to hide the pattie and the cheese.  At least they were consistent.  A lone gherkin slice was perched on the onion.

The burger, overall, barely squeaked past average.  My score of six was largely in support of the initial presentation, a solid bun, and an alright pattie.  I would expect more from a place that specialises in burgers.  There is a reason this place is relatively empty, whereas Fergburger was packed!!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Fergburger, Queenstown, Double Ferg with Cheddar cheese - 8/10

This is a national burger blog.  Really it is.  And on a family trip to Queenstown I hit paydirt.  Surprisingly I had never heard of Fergburger as it appeared that every man and his dog was lining up outside the joint.  This was the first time that I had ever seen a queue for a burger in NZ!!

A few questions were asked and I was advised that Fergburger was an institution in Queenstown and that they were the best burgers in the country.  There was always a queue, which was exacerbated by it being school holidays.  It was even mentioned by the Mayor in her welcome speech at a conference I was attending.  OK I was sold.

And so every time we (I was with the wife and kids who aren't necessarily burger fans) went down Shotover Road, I assessed the opportunity to stop.  The line was always too long.  So on the last day of our holiday I bit the bullet.  I left the wife and kids at a cafe and lined up with the throng.

Surveying the menu, I couldn't go past the Fergburger with cheddar cheese.  And just to make it worthwhile I upgraded to the Double Ferg and ordered a side of onion rings.  $15 for the burger and a further $5 for the onion rings.

I was told there was a 30 minute wait.  Took it on the chin and said "no problem".

Went back and checked on the family.  Their order was just arriving.  Went back and stood amongst the faithful.  25 minutes.  30 minutes.  35 minutes.  It wasn't going to be on time.  There were still a few numbers before mine (they have a number system...).  Finally, after 45 minutes my number was called and I grasped my Fergburger, which was neatly stored in a paper bag, and hightailed it back to the cafe hoping the wife and kids were still there.  They were.  Just.  Unfortunately they were ready to go back to the hotel.

So, being the family man, we went back to the car, and then back to the hotel.  Got the kids settled and then sat down at the table to sample the burger.  So here is where i raise the caveat.  While you cannot tell from the photos, the burger was not fresh!!  It was at least 30 minutes old before I ate it.  The onion rings were cold and so were the two meat patties and cheese.

As you can see from the photos, the burger looked damn fine.  Awesome presentation, wrapped and bagged.  It just looked tasty.  Taking it apart it was put together just as well.  I did not have to rearrange a thing.  This was a first.  For a place that was so busy, it was brilliant that they still took the care to put the burger together well!!  kudos.

 The bun was a proper burger bun.  Good texture.  Not too crumbly and not too tough.  Just right.  The same could be said for the flavour.  The right quantities of quality mayo and sauce, ensuring a moist burger.  Frilly lettuce, and a good amount of tomato and onion.  Cheese was melted on.  Unfortunately, the patties were a bit hard by now and so weren't as juicy as i would have liked.  The downside of the patties was amplified as I had ordered a double!!

And here is where I don't think I can do this review justice.  If the burger were fresh I probably would have scored it a 9/10. I will not make that mistake again.  Next time i will sit down at Fergburger and eat it right there and then.  I am pretty sure the discomfort (of probably not being able to sit down) will be worth it.  Don't be put off by the wait.  Think of it as an experience, which the wait only enhances.  Well done Fergburger.  I will be back!!!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Big Mac Index 2012

And no burger blog is complete without reference to the legendary Big Mac, even if it is in relation to purchasing power parity and has nothing to do with rating the burger (which i believe sits around 7.5 to 8 on my scale out of 10).  The link is that i am a practicing economist, so when you can combine my two passions, then the rationale for blogging about the Big Mac index becomes clear!!

The index calculates the exchange rate that would leave a Big Mac costing the same in each country.  The assumption is that the product and the processes required to produce it are the same and so it should cost the same wherever it is made.  If it costs more then that country's exchange rate is overvalued.  If it costs less, then that country's exchange rate is undervalued.  Straight forward.  Easy to understand.  But a bit simplistic and there is so much more that you need to consider when discussing monetary makes my head hurt just trying to think about what i should be thinking about.

What is more fun, really, is seeing how much people pay for a Big Mac!!  A Big Mac in New Zealand is worth US$4.  IN the US it is US$4.33.  I pity the Venezuelans, who pay close to US$8 for a Big Mac, while your Scandinavians are also hit hard for their fix.  At the other end of the scale, Hong Kong pays a meager US$2.13 but are probably up against a mean kung pao chicken...

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Wendys, Greenlane - Warriors Burger

I'm in a bit of a dilemma.  Do I review burgers from the Fast Food Franchises.  Now this is a difficult call and I'm not sure I have the answer.  To be sure, some fast food burgers taste better than a fancy schmancy restaurant burger.  But is this enough to justify inclusion?  I eat a lot of them (fast food burgers).  Again not a justification in its own right.

Oh to hell with it.  I will include them but only when I feel like it.  And I won't score them as its too tricky.  For example, do I score them on the same scale as a gourmet burger?  How would I score or rank my beloved Big Mac?

So i had an hour to spare before a meeting and chanced upon a Wendys.  Rather than drive around for an hour I thought i would park up.  Entering, I thought it would be rude not to buy anything.  But its only 10am.  Stuff it.  Im here so Im going to have a burger.  And wait!! there is a Warriors burger.  Score!

$10.90 for a small combo.  The drink was not small!!  Solid serving of fries - which were  quite tasty by the way ...

Probably what gets you the most at fast food places is that when you get your burger it is absolutely nothing like the advertisement.  In this case ... the observation held.

Okay! So that's a bit of lettuce peeking out!

Nothing like the advert.  It was smushed.  The pattie in particular was a lot smaller in real life.  And you couldn't even see the fillings.  So I had a look under the hood.

That will teach them for paying me minimum wage!!
Opening it up it looked like it was slapped together by someone on minimum wage. Oh wait!  they probably were...

 So I rearranged the fillings and spread that bacon and mayo evenly across the burger.

I ate a few more fries to fire myself up.  However, upon taking a bite, I was pleasantly surprised.  It actually tasted not too bad.  The bun, which looked stale, was actually quite tasty. The pattie was flavourful, and supported by the bacon, which added salt and fat (more).  The mayo gave it a bit of moistness and creaminess (and more fat), and the lettuce was crunchy.  All in all a pass on the taste test.

 I don't eat Wendy's much, as the nearest one is in Paraparaumu.  But based on this effort I may go again.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Celcius, Petone - Chicken Burger -5/10

Had the in-laws down over Queen’s Birthday weekend and searching for somewhere uniquely Petone for them to experience.  It looked like every other in-law was in town with cafes packed and parking at a premium.  Luckily I had an ace up my sleeve!!
Presentation was awesome!

Celcius Cafe is not on Jackson Street.  It is planted in the middle of the industrial area on Old Hutt Road.  Even with the out of the way, hidden location, there was only one table free – so we lucked out.

So I wasn’t planning on a burger as I knew they didn’t do one.  Toasted sammies are their specialty!!  However, there happened to be a chicken burger on the menu.  And my wife convinced me (I think or am I just laying blame) that I should give it a shot.

And on that long winded entry I apologise for breaking my first rule and including a non-red meat burger on my blog!!  Sorry!
Spot the protein?
To be honest, the burger wasn’t too bad!!  It had a really good bun, and the chicken was actually a pattie of sorts.  It wasn’t quite a fillet and it wasn’t quite mince.  Intriguing!! 

Compared to a beef burger it was a bit like having a spring salad – not quite the filling feeling you get from a solid serving of meat.  

Oh wait.  Maybe it was the fact that the pattie was tiny.  In fact I had to pull it out and cut it lengthwise so I could fit it across the whole burger. 

It was supported by lighter flavours including the mayo.  Basil, a pesto of sorts.  Okay Im starting to guess here.  But you could really taste the vegetables – cucumber, tomato, onion.
The pattie wasn't quite a fillet and it wasn't quite mince.
However, it was quite small!!
The showstopper was the hand cut fries.  A really good crunch and super tasty.  You can really taste the difference between mass produced fries and homemade.  Unfortunately I can’t score on the fries and it is an indication of sorts when they are the most memorable part of the dish!  

In any case, I did like the burger, but I wouldn’t order again so again a 5 out of 10 (perhaps I need to be more ruthless. But if you like chicken burgers I’m guessing it wasn’t a bad specimen).

I think it cost around $15 but don’t quote me on that.

Tiki Lounge, Lower Hutt - Beef Burger - 5/10

Tiki Lounge recently moved from its previous location in Waiwhetu to the Hutt CBD in the premises vacated by the Cadillac Diner (which has moved into Wellington).  Mental note that I need to go and review a Cadillac Diner burger!!

By chance happened to be at the Carpet Court across the road and thought it would be a grand opportunity to try their burger (which I had looked at with envy when at the Waiwhetu cafe a few months ago).

So I was excited when the burger arrived looking every bit as majestic as I had remembered.  If presentation was anything to go by, this was going to be a winner.  It was billed as a “beef burger, grilled cheese, bacon, caramelised onion and lettuce.  The patty looked juicy and the bun looked perfect.  As you can see it came with crinkle cut fries.
Messy!!  Note the burnt top bun!

However, upon opening it up I was a bit disappointed at the way it had been thrown together.  Perhaps this was a sign??  Lettuce was mesclun and the caramelised onions were, well, onions.

To be fair, there was a nice sear on the pattie.  But that is where the praise stops.  Okay it had everything there but it just wasn’t quite there in terms of flavour.  The top half of the bun was burnt making it like a piece of toast.  The bottom half of the bun was mushy from the liquid (which came from??).  Further the burger just crumbled when you tried to pick it up (even after cutting it in half!!).  The pattie itself crumbled.  It was messy eating.  Might as well have been mince on toast.

Perhaps I had just worked myself up too much and my expectations were too high.  I reluctantly score it 5 out of 10.  But to be honest, I would take the Burger Wisconsen over this, particularly as it costs $17.50 and i am pretty sure i enjoyed the Wisconsen burger more.   I had better stop here before i talk myself into scoring it a 4.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Elements of an ultimate burger - NY Times

Pattie; seasoning; bun; cheese, fillings; condiments.  All Elements of an ultimate burger.  Okay, this is only a link.  And its from 2009.  But i think it provides the ultimate overview of what makes a good burger.  The associated article is here or you can get to it from the previous link.

 I must admit i would love to see a burger like the one shown at a cafe/restaurant somewhere in Wellington.

If anyone is aware of where good burgers are at in Wellington please let me know.  I want to eat them!!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Gasworks, Miramar - King Kong - 7.5/10

I had never been to Gasworks and so when the opportunity arose, i piled the kids and the wife into the car and headed across the city to Miramar.  Had the kids keep their eyes peeled for hobbits as they tend to hang around that area when they aren't required on set!!

Gasworks took up one whole side of a suburban shopping centre - there was no way you could miss it.  On entering we were asked whether we had reserved a table (in Miramar?), which we hadn't and then were shown to one of several that were unoccupied.  There was definitely an air of Cobb & Co to the place, when the kids received large placemats filled with activities, jokes etc. and a kids meal combo for $9.95.

With only one goal in mind i ordered the King Kong.  A char-grilled, 1/2 pound prime angus beef pattie, crispy bacon, swiss chees, tomato slices, red onion, butterhead lettuce and our very own southern style BBQ sauce.  Served with classic cut fries. $19.90.

On arrival, the presentation was impressive but confusing.  The burger was served on a ciabatta type bun (which they had neglected to advertise on the menu - but which wouldn't have stopped me from ordering it).  And it was served as an open sandwich!!  Burger King style - keep the hot side hot and the cold side cold...

No problem.  After photographing the evidence, i rearranged the burger slightly as the bits were a bit all over the bun, slapped it together, and cut it down the middle.  (Experience has shown me that with a ciabatta bun you dont want to be trying to eat it whole as, without the give, the contents would go everywhere.)

The pattie was well cooked and appeared juicy.  I would question whether it was a half pounder - but won't go there.  It was plenty big enough anyway.  On tasting the pattie did well.  It was juicy and had nice texture.  If i have to criticise, it did lack a bit of seasoning.

In terms of flavour, the contents worked well together.  The butternut lettuce was an improvement on mesclun definitely.  However, the southern style BBQ sauce was more of a bland tomato sauce more suited to a pasta dish than a burger.

But lets not be too picky.  It is still the best tasting burger I have reviewed on the site so far - I have scored it 7.5/10.  To be honest, however, it could have been so much more.

Footnote:  my wife ordered the Holy Cow - Prime angus rump steak, beer battered onion rings, swiss cheese, creamy mushroom sauce, tomato slices, red onion and butterhead lettuce.  We didn't know till it arrived, but it was a burger as well...This doesn't show on the dinner menu, which has another three burgers - a goat mince (Barry Crump), chicken (Chicka Dee China) and a kumara (Albert Einstein)...Note to restaurants - steak burger's rarely work.  you simply cannot bite through a steak burger with all its fillings without pulling the whole lot out unless you are a shark.  Serve it as an OPEN STEAK SANDWICH!!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Arizona, Wellington - Beef Burger, 7/10

a nice looking package - held together with a bamboo twizzle stick

After a good night out at the basketball, where the Palmy Jets schooled the Wellington Saints, a mate and I had a bit of a hunger on.  The Arizona Bar and Grill on the corner of Featherston and Grey Street was an obvious choice as it was in a direct line between the stadium and the car.

No, I did have prior intel as I had enjoyed their stellar entry in the 2011 Burger Wellington, which I scored a 9/10.

So it was with anticipation and a sense of familiarity that I steered us towards Arizona.  We entered the establishment and after deliberating for all of 10 seconds, we ordered two beef burgers.

The Arizona beef burger is advertised as a “200 gram grilled beef patty with bacon, cheese, mesclun, tomato, gherkins, barbeque chipotle sauce and roasted garlic mayo in a bun, served with chunky fries”. - $19.50

bacon and cheese placement was a bit rough
- is that the barbeque chipotle sauce ?
The burgers definitely looked good when they arrived.  A nicely packaged burger, in a bun that I would suggest was a bap.  The condiments were all as described, and the pattie was definitely in the 200 gram range.  The cheese and bacon were thrown in and looked a bit messy, but overall, it was well put together.  Extremely juicy, I decided it was best to halve the burger rather than try to pick it up whole.

Now, overall, the burger tasted good.  It had the right level of juiciness, although this was largely provided by the fillings rather than the pattie.  The pattie, while seasoned well (with a slight Mexican flavour), was dense and dry.  This was the only disappointment as the rest of it worked.  It had the right amount of lettuce, sauce, tomato and, thankfully, gherkin.  I’m not too sure whether there was a barbeque chipotle sauce or whether it was just mayo (didn’t notice roasted garlic in there either).  However, this didn’t really matter as I don’t think either of those would have been a gamechanger.

a solid pattie.  A bit dense and dry...
Cleaned up the burger, left most of the chips (which were run of the mill frozen chunky fries) and then consulted with my mate.  We decided it was definitely better than average, but not spectacular to any degree.  Considering the lady at the next table had left half her pattie on the plate, we decided we couldn’t score it any higher than a seven out of ten – and so that’s what it scored – 7/10.

endnote - Arizona charges an extra 1.5 percent if paying by credit card.  What is up with that?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Parade Cafe, Wellington - Beef Burger with Bacon, Egg and Onions - 3/10

 Parade Cafe has taken over the Tugboat on Oriental Parade, and an awesome venue it is - apparently now complemented by tasty food.  Its Beef Burger with Bacon, Fried Egg and Onion served with salad and wedges  ($19) had me all excited.
Parade Cafe - a fine looking burger
This excitement escalated when the burger arrived.  As you can see from the picture it was an awesome looking burger - well constructed on a nice looking sesame seed bun.  Now I dont believe in egg so this was quickly removed from the burger.  The burger had mayo and a bbq sauce, along with some salad leaves.  All looking good so far...and then I attempted to eat it.

Parade Cafe - burger opened up for analysis

It's a cut in half and eat burger as a result of its size; and thats ok with me.  Unfortunately looks deceived and I was immediately disappointed as I took a bite.  The bun, instead of being soft with a bit of crunch was pretty hard and dry - i.e. stale.  The meat patty was solid as lacked moistness and flavour.  The bbq sauce and the mayo were all that gave it any liquidity - i even slathered some of that tomato sauce onto the burger in an effort to make it more palatable. Perhaps the egg yolk may have provided some more moistness but i didn't see the point at that stage.  Again, the salad leaves didn't add value and i cant recall the fried onions at all.  Were they even on there?

Overall, a good looking burger that just did not stack up to the taste test. I doubt whether i will be trying that burger again - 3/10.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Thunderbird, Wellington - Thunderburger with Cheese, 7/10

Thunderbird Café is on Featherston Street in Wellington.  As their website suggests, their menu displays influences and flavours from Southwest USA and Mexican cuisine, comingled with NZ favourites.  So, simply listed as a seasoned pure beef pattie with cheese, there was no surprise when their burger was delivered with a chipotle mayo.

Now this is a tasty little number.  The bun is fresh (a sesame seed bun, which i would have toasted), the pattie is beefy and nicely seasoned, and the additions are simple – lettuce, tomato, cheese – and chipotle mayo.  A juicy burger.  Easy to eat whole (which is what I love – there is nothing worse than having to use a knife and fork to eat a burger) and leaves little mess on you or your plate.  This one comes in above average and I give it a score of 7/10

Now when I said this is a tasty little number I was being literal – it is a relatively small burger!!  However, as I have only had it for lunch it is quite sufficient.  And this is also relevant when it comes in priced at $9.50.  If you have a solid appetite then order the curly fries or the onion rings (which again come with their chipotle mayo) as a side.  If you have a huge appetite, then you probably want to go somewhere else (or order two burgers).

Adding fries at $6.50 or onion rings at $8.00 does put it at the pricier end of the burger/fries spectrum so if you need more then you are really pushing it.  But you pay for what you get and you get a pretty damn good burger with some quality sides.  I have eaten this burger more than once!!