Beef and brisket burger with basting - $14.50The Canteen is a relatively recent addition to the Wellington cafe scene. It had been open five weeks when Tony and I stumbled across it by accident. I'm glad we did.
We were actually meant to be at the Fork and Brewer, for what sounded on their menu like a pretty impressive burger. However, when I turned up at 12.05pm, Tony was the only person in the dining area - not a good sign. I quickly ushered him out of there.
Because I had a plan B. On my way, walking along Bond Street, I saw a beef and brisket burger special in the window of what looked like a bustling hip cafe. What caught my eye was the mention of 'brisket' in the burger description. This place obviously knew what made a good pattie. Sorry Fork and Brewer but there has been a change of plan. Tony and I were eating at The Canteen.
The first thing we noticed on being seated was we were the only males dining. This was interesting considering that it was a pretty meat-centric menu. Perhaps it was the decor - eclectic, mismatched op-shop? Or the fact all the servers were wearing gaudy aprons? In any case this is not relevant to the review but it was interesting nonetheless and deserved a mention. One other guy turned up while we were there...
When the burger arrived it was obvious that the focus was on the pattie. I was real impressed in that this was the first burger that didn't have umpteen ingredients. It was bun, pattie, cheese, basting (sauce) and salad leaves. To be honest, they probably could have lost the mesclun leaves as well...
My initial issue was with the bun. As well as being sourdough and it was oval. Sourdough is an interesting choice as it is a relatively tough bread with a hard crust. An oval bun when the pattie is circular had me concerned. Ultimately the bun was not too tough. I'm just hoping their supplier had run out of round buns because oval doesn't work (unless you have an oval pattie...
The cross section revealed a damn good looking homemade pattie. The grind was not overly fine and the pattie was relatively loose. There was a good char on the outside but a slight hint of pink in the middle. However, worryingly, there was little in the way of pattie juice.
The burger tasted good. It was really meaty and had a smoky flavour. This may have been due to the solid char on the bun, but it was probably also due to the basting, which I am assuming was a gravy of some sort. It is obvious that the focus was intended to be on the pattie.
The pattie started off well. It had great mouth feel and was nicely seasoned with a solid, meaty flavour. However, outside of the centre it was quite dry. Not sure why. It was dry. Sigh!
In any case, both Tony and I agreed that the intent was right. The ingredients were all quality. There was effort in the preparation as well. The cheese was nicely melted and combined nicely with the basting to give good flavour. A couple of tweaks - the pattie probably needed to be cooked better. And it needed a better supporting cast if it is designated the star.
Finally, we were still a bit peckish at the end of it all. A side of fries would not have gone amiss. At $14.50 you would expect to have seen a few of them alongside the burger.
It was obvious when paying that The Canteen was passionate about its food. They were excited to know what we though of the meal. We were told that the burger is moving off the special board and onto the dinner menu. I am guessing that it could potentially become a fixture on the menu.
I could see where they were trying to go with this burger. They just need a little bit of time and feedback to get it right...Lets hope it happens.