Prime beef cheeseburger - Lettuce, beetroot, tomato, gherkin & horseradish mayonaise, hand-cut jumbo fries, tomato sauce - $28.
They say you get what you pay for. And at $28 we were expecting something pretty spectacular. Outside of the Wellington on a Plate competition, this was the most expensive burger we have reviewed!!
Crazy Horse steakhouse is the premier steakhouse in Wellington, only open for lunch on a Friday. On arrival we were greeted by quality wait staff and shown to our table. The step up in service was apparent. As was the quality of our surrounds. Quality cutlery, crisp white napkins. Three types of water to choose from (we chose tap) and free bread and butter. Just to digress, the butter was white, which was quite novel.
The Crazy Horse was chosen by Gary a.k.a. Puller, who was obviously eager to impress upon us his love of burgers and keenness to become a part of our growing burger afficianado following. (To be honest the only growing happening has been our waistlines).
Upon arriving with our menu's we immediately informed the waitress that we knew what we wanted and that what we wanted were the burgers. She didn't require any further information and whisked away our menus (the Friday express lunch looked like the goer if you aren't going to order the burger). Just as quickly the menus reappeared when we realised we had an excellent choice of quality craft beers to choose from. Two A.P.As and a Indian pale lager were ordered and we then reflected on the past 10 or so years of our lives while waiting for our burgers to arrive.
The burgers arrived in good fashion and were mighty impressive looking. A toasted brioche bun and a quality homemade meat pattie with melting cheese on top and relish. The waiter informed us that the salads were separate to a) keep them crisp and to b) give us the freedom to choose what we wanted to add.
On the side were lettuce, tomato, gherkin and beetroot. Two pieces/slices of each. and then a smattering of finely sliced red onion. The beetroot, as we will discuss later, was home pickled.
Rounding out the plate were some full on deep-fried wedges with the skin still on, and a small bowl of ketchup (we guessed Heinz). Now some amongst us would argue that the Heinz ketchup brought the quality of the meal down and he would have a fair argument. I, however, argue that you cannot go far wrong with Heinz ketchup to bring out the real quality of a french-fry or, in this case, wedge.
The bun was nicely browned to the point of being almost blackened. The cheese was perfectly melted onto the pattie, which was a nice fit in the bun. An almost perfect proportioned burger. And with me placing all the condiments with precision it was a pretty perfectly constructed burger as well!!
The cross-section incision exposed a nicely prepared pattie, with good texture and juices, which suggested a moist package. The burger fit nicely and was a pleasure to hold. No cutlery necessary. All looked good leading up to the first bite.
For $28 you expect something above the ordinary, with a bit of a wow factor. This burger definitely had that. The brioche bun was soft and with a slightly sweet melting texture. The pattie had bite, and you could feel the meat in your mouth (I even pulled out a bit of gristle, which shows that it had a good mix of lean and fat). There was a strong tartness, which I took to be the gherkin. There was crunch from the lettuce and the gherkin.
After eating through half the burger and trying to work it all out (there was a lot going on, and it was a different flavour sensation) we took pause and compared first impressions. Did we really like it or was it simply the quality of the ingredients and surrounds we were trying to like. Did the sweetness of the brioche go with the strong pickled flavour? Did the flavour of the meat pattie stand out or was it drowned by its supporting cast?
For the second half, I removed the remaining beetroot. Great that they had added homemade beetroot. However, I realised that it (the beetroot) was the reason the burger was so tart!! It was almost overpowering and added none of that beetrooty sweetness you generally expect when included in a burger. Some real thought went into the second half of that burger.
Without the beetroot it became clearer that the main issue was that the pattie really needed a good dose of seasoning. While it had texture and juiciness, it tasted relatively bland. And all three of us concurred that this was the case so it wasn't our imagination. Inexcusable from a restaurant of this calibre, particularly one that specialises in meat. An immediate dismissal on Masterchef!! Perhaps they were looking to let the flavour of the meat speak for itself. But if that were the case they would not have included the pickle or the beetroot at all.
So as we finished our quality beers, we pondered how we would score this enigma of a burger. Excellent presentation. Perfectly proportioned. Quality, unique ingredients - Brioche bun, pickled beetroot. Awesome service.
Brad started at a six and convinced himself that it was a seven (with my help). Gary started at a 6.5 and worked himself up to a seven (with my help). I started at an eight and was being convinced down (with their help).
Okay. So everything about it made me want to give it a good score! It had everything right. Apart from one thing. The taste. Something about that burger just didn't quite work. And even if the pattie was perfectly seasoned, it still would have been missing something. A less pickled beetroot? A normal bun? Homemade tomato sauce? We discussed some more and agreed that we would grudgingly score it 7.5 out of 10.
We went to the counter and paid the bill. $115 for three burgers and three beers. A seven it was.