The Empire, Petone, 20/20 Burger (WOAP 2013) - 6/10
Deluxe cheese burger of handmade minced scotch fillet, Zany Zeus smoked brinza cheese, rocket, beefsteak tomato and homemade aioli on a brioche bun, with roast duck-fat potatoes - $20
Luckily, friends wanted to meet up for lunch on Monday, and they were keen to try a burger.
Being in the Hutt, we recommended the Empire Bar & Restaurant in Petone, whose offering did sound exciting, and had been highlighted on my burger bucket list.
In particular, the idea of handmade minced scotch fillet appealed. Ginza cheese sounded interesting, and a brioche bun is usually a pretty good call. Roast duck fat potatoes is an added bonus.
It was interesting that the menu stated they were only making 24 of these daily. Exclusivity. They must be good. The waitress was a bit surprised when we ordered four. They were the first four of the day and so only 20 left...
The burgers arrived and the initial impression was positive. The pattie was substantial, and the cheese was nicely melted onto the pattie.
The cross section gave a better indication of how the burger would taste, and there were a few warning signs.
The pattie looked quite dry. It was very grey, which suggested that it was cooked well done - unfortunate for a homemade pattie, which gives an opportunity for it to be cooked medium.
The second warning was the bun, which was quite bready, and had a lot on top as you can see in the photo.
The complete lack of pattie juice on the plate confirmed my concerns. This wasn't the juiciest of burgers. In fact it was very dry.
The saving grace was the Ginza cheese, which had a bit of a sharpness. It could have been supported by a bit more seasoning, to offset the slight sweetness of the bun. Tomato, rocket and aioli did not add value.
Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the whole experience. The score reflects the fact that expectations rise with the competition. I have had a burger here before, and that one was better than their competition offering!!
The waitress did suggest that she was surprised the burgers were not selling faster. There could be a reason for that as word in the burger community gets around pretty quick.
The two fellas next to us had burgers as well. 18 to go before the sold out sign goes up. Somehow I don't think it will.