Concrete, Wellington - Beef burger 7.5/10

The Concrete Bar is on Lambton Quay, upstairs on Cable Car Lane.  They have taken a relatively unique approach to their lunch menu, allowing you to pick and match mains and sides.

A great thing about the lunch menu is the burger selection.  Consistent on all burgers is red onion, lettuce and tomato on a sesame seed bun.  You can choose chicken, beef, tofu, bacon or steak.  For an additional $2 you can order cheese, bacon or egg.  You then get to choose two sides.  There are 13 of these.  Finally you get to choose a sauce.  There are 14 different sauces.  How many different permutations can you get out of that!!

While the selection is great, by the time you have ordered your standard beef and cheese burger, (I went with fries and Caesar salad for my sides), and a sauce (chilli infused bearnaise) you are looking at a $23 meal.  Adding bacon and egg would set you back $27, which is well outside what I would spend on lunch.  Fortunately I picked up a voucher for two mains AND two drinks for $25, which was a steal.

Now that we have discussed the economics, lets get on with the burger review.

Despite the price (or perhaps because of it) this was a really good example of a cheeseburger.  It contained all of the usual suspects, and they were all quality.

The burger was well constructed and in a nicely sized toasted sesame seed bun.  This is always one of my bugbears so I have to say it was a revelation not having to rearrange any of the fillings.

Even the order of the ingredients agreed with me.  In order - mayo, pattie, cheese. tomato, onion, lettuce.  I liked it.

A cross section view provided even more cause for celebration.  The pattie was cooked medium with a tinge of pink in the middle.  The cheese was nicely melted.  There was a excellent ratio of pattie to filling to bun.  I was really looking forward to the taste test!!

The burger tasted really good.  Unfortunately, the flavours didn't exactly pop or match the quality of the ingredients or construction.  This was a bit disappointing.

I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly why it didn't excel on the flavour front.  Lack of seasoning?  Wrong salad leaves?  Or maybe the construction and ingredients had raised my expectations to a point where the burger didn't have a fighting chance.

Now don't get me wrong.  This was a pretty good burger.  And the sides were just as good.  They had my favourite 2X4X8 fries - crunchy and salty  and pillowy in the middle.  There was a cos salad (in a bowl), which is fancier than a simple mesclun side.  It was served in great surrounds.  Have a look at the total package in the final photo.

If I could offer constructive criticism it would be to be bolder with the flavour.  Spice up the mayo a bit, sharper cheese, more seasoning on the pattie.  And make the cheese standard.  Don't charge an extra $2 for it.  At over $20 dollars you would expect cheese.

But then this is a classy establishment.  I would definitely take a business client or a friend I wanted to impress here.  And I wouldn't be shy in ordering the burger again.  I would cringe slightly when I paid the bill; and I wouldn't ask for cheese on principle.

I actually picked up another voucher when I got back to the office.  At $25 for two it is great value!!


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