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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.


There were two burger options (three if you count the fish burger - I didn't)  The colonial had the standard fillings but included bacon, egg and beetroot ($10.50).  the bacon, avocado burger didn't have a fancy name like the colonial and so came in at $9.50.   As the description suggested it came with bacon and avocado rather than egg and beetroot.

(Egg +beetroot) - avocado = $1.00.  You need the price of two of the three to work out the third but to me the Avocado seems like a good deal.

Anyway, Mat ordered the Colonial and I ordered the Avocado (I've renamed it as both had bacon anyway so it wasn't unique).  Picture for both are included.  I didn't try the Colonial and Mat didn't try the Avocado. But if you liked egg and beetroot you would probably prefer the Colonial and if you didn't but liked avocado you would go for the Avocado.  Long form for saying the burgers were otherwise pretty much the same but for the different additions.

Presentation was surprisingly good.  I particularly liked what they did with the avocado - not cutting all the way through and then fanning the pieces out.  The Colonial they offset the top bun so you could see the fried egg sitting on top.

The buns were buttered and grilled.  However, they were quite bready i.e. crumbly.  The bacon was not the fancy stuff.  The pattie was processed and had a sausage-meat consistency and taste to it.  However, it was all fresh and put together with care.  So good on them.  Ultimately, the quality of the ingredients reflected the price point.

Being the burger aficionado that I am, I had trouble getting past the processed pattie.  In my mind there is no reason why you wouldn't go with homemade.  It is just that much better. 

Looking at the economics (and I am just hypothesising here as I have no idea of the price of a processed pattie vs. a homemade one and so I am guessing), if they upgraded to a homemade pattie it would add probably $1.00 to their cost.  They could easily raise the prices by $1.00 and still sell just as many, and probably more as it then becomes a gourmet burger and not a run of the mill fish and chip shop/bakery burger.  Remember, you are on the Terrace, where there are people with money!!

But then wouldn't you upgrade the bacon?  And then why not the bun?  Ultimately its probably best to set the price low and sell it for what it is - a well made burger with a processed pattie and no frills.  So no expectations and, if anything, an 'exceeded expectations' result.

I scored the burger a five out of 10 as I can't say it is better than the Burger Wisconsen Cheese Burger (which is my benchmark).  However, if I was rating it against a fish and chip shop burger, I would put it toward the top end.  They produce a consistent product and definitely have a market considering the number of burgers being ordered. Value for money is probably up there...

Mat will go back as he sees value there.  And many people actually like the taste of processed patties.  Take the Sausage McMuffin as a case in point.  Me, I'm probably a bit more picky, particularly as every burger I eat goes straight to my waistline and so I don't want to waste quality calorie space.

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