Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kermond's Hamburgers

Burger reviewed: Burger with the lot with extra cheese

Venue: Kermond's Hamburgers (Warrnambool)

Date: 22/4/2014

Today's burger adventure saw the Fellows venture down to God's Country - South-Western Victoria - to sample the burger treats at Kermond's Hamburgers. A local institution, Kermond's has been operating since 1949 and specialises in an honest-to-goodness fish and chip shop style burger which has served as the savior of many an inebriated man. Kermond's is your typical country fast food establishment with its retro coke memorabilia and large selection of spiders and thick shakes to choose from (how good are spiders?!). But we were here to sample the burger so we promptly ordered the burger with the lot with extra cheese and got ready to nosh.

The burger came out in a flash and was piping hot - in a Burger Friday first, we actually had to let this burger cool a bit before tucking into it. But I am happy to cop the second degree burns to my mouth, lips and feet (I was wearing thongs and some of the juice squirted down onto my feet when I took the first bite - I was a tad unlucky to burn myself there I thought) to know that the burger was not sitting on a bench for 15 minutes getting cold and wilted prior to delivery.

Let's break the burger down into its parts. 

The patty was thinner than a lot of the burgers we have tried in the past but it was tender, juicy and cooked well. Kermond's employ a technique used by fish and chip shop owners for generations which is to fry some brown onion into the patty during the cooking process. The sweetness of the caramelised onion shards complemented the bitterness of the charred burger patty for an opening partnership which would rival Davey Warner and Bucky Rogers - despite being on opposite ends of the flavour spectrum, somehow it just works.  

The toppings were plentiful and all played their part. The bacon was crisp, the egg was creamy and cooked to a point where the yolk still maintained its glorious ooze, and the Aussie slice of beetroot provided a hint of acidity and tang which cut through the richness of the other ingredients. I have never understood what is so quintessentially Australian about putting beetroot on a burger. The only people that harp on about beetroot on a burger being Australian seems to be the McDonald's advertising team when they reintroduce the McOz burger every six months despite it still being on the menu the entire time. Anyways. 

To be honest I imagine that not all burger enthusiasts would enjoy this burger for what it is - which is the holy grail of late night pissed food - as there were a couple of minor drawbacks that are not everyone's cup of tea. The first being the structural integrity. As the patty and the toppings were so plentiful, the bun was not big enough to contain everything meaning that the paper bag that the burger was served in was required to do the heavy lifting from a structural integrity stand point. The second gripe is the aftertaste associated with the chips. I am not sure if it is the type of oil that the chips were fried in but they had an unusual after taste (which was not dissimilar to the flavour of the animal fat on a steak or chop that has not been properly rendered). A good squeeze of Heinz Big Red was required to mask this after taste. 

Overall, the Kermond's burger is a glorious mess of comfort food made from quality country ingredients and ripping value at $18.50 with chips (I am convinced that inflation is a principle that has only been applied to Metropolitan areas). As such, we are naming this burger after another South-Western Victorian icon in Jonathan Brown. A brut of a man that is made from all the right stuff (JB's old man Brian played league footy for Fitzroy) who all 17 other AFL clubs would love to have on their list. Not to mention Jonathan Brown's known love of a beer - a Kermond's and tinny would be a match made in heaven.

If you are in the area and are looking for a good burger, look no further than Kermond's. But if you are looking for more of a foodies getaway, head down the coast to Timboon for some of the finest produce in the district. 

Score - 40/50

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Burger Bistro

Burger reviewed: The beef big smoke

Venue: Burger Bistro (Perth)

Date: 7/3/2014

The Burger Friday fellows begun their 2014 campaign by venturing to Shafto Lane in Perth's CBD to try out Burger Bistro - another one of Perth's pseudo burger chains. We promptly ordered the beef big smoke burger and hoped that the big smoke would be as flamboyant as the "big show" Glenn Maxwell, but without the annoying persona. The burger arrived in quicker than a Mitchell Johnson short ball and had the overall performance to match. But to explain the big smoke, we need to break it down into its parts. 

The patty was made from quality Western Australian ground beef and was cooked to a perfect medium. What was most pleasing was that the grill plate in the kitchen was clearly set at the appropriate temperature as the outside of the patty was charred to perfection which provided a nice bitter undertone to the burger. 

The bun was made of San Franciscan sourdough and was of high quality. Much like former San Francisco Giants Pitcher Brian Wilson, this bun had a somewhat hardened exterior but was softer on the inside. Structural integrity and burger management was a non-issue as this bun provided a structurally sound base while also adding the extra flare of that lightly sour flavour of a quality sourdough.  

The highlight of the toppings came from the perfectly crispy slice of pancetta. It provided a different texture and was a tad saltier than your traditional bacon rasher but not so much that it left you feeling thirsty. My only gripe was that there was only one slice of pancetta on the burger meaning that the gloriousness it provided was not in every bite. Some would liken the pancetta to that of Scott Gumbleton - you saw enough of it to know that it has talent but it just hasn't stayed on the park for long enough.

The big smoke used a perfectly melted slice of emmental cheese. The downfall of using emmental cheese (a variety of Swiss cheese) is that it is known as a fairly savoury cheese with very little sharpness. This meant that the subtle flavours of the cheese were overpowered by the stronger flavours of the other elements of the burger.   

The sauce of choice was a fairly run-of-the-mill BBQ sauce. Whilst this sauce did not detract from the burger, it lacked the typical smokiness of a BBQ sauce which really would have complimented the  other flavours. I recommend changing to some Masterfoods Smokey BBQ sauce - I love that stuff. I would genuinely spread it on my Weet Bix in the morning if it was socially acceptable.

The chips were crispy and plentiful for only a couple of bucks extra. However, a choice of condiments was lacking and we were forced to resort to using the chips to soak up the burger juices to add moisture. 

All in all, this was a solid burger made of the right stuff. As such, an appropriate comparison would be to former South African cricket captain Graeme Smith. A man who despite his technical deficiencies and lack of flare, will go down of one of the better cricketers in his countries history due to his consistency and fighting qualities. Much like Smith, there is elements of this burger that you would change (the sauce, Smith's slightly closed bat face whilst playing straight or his inability to open his mouth without sounding like a complete jouster), this burger is one you would want on your side before a hard days slog.

We recommend this burger if you are after a safe option. But we here at Burger Friday believe that burgers are like Pokemon - gotta eat 'em all! So maybe venture out for some obscurity.

Score - 39/50

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Burger reviewed: The "12" burger

Venue: Flottes - Rue Cambon, Paris

Date: 08/09/2103

Today's burger adventure saw the Fellows sample our first burger treat in the "City of Love". Our venue of choice, Flottes (do not ask me how to pronounce it), is a surprisingly large venue with a much larger English influence than many other restaurants about town (this was evidenced by the menu being written in English only). Located next to Pierre Herme's world famous macaron store, Flottes specialises in traditional French cuisine with a slightly modern twist.

The first thing to note is that the service was top notch. When we walked in we were immediately greeted by a waiter. Let that be a lesson to all restaurant staff - all you have to do is simply acknowledge me with a "I'll be with you in a moment" and I will happily wait for 10 minutes to be shown a table. Without acknowledgement I would be lucky to wait 3 minutes. To make things even better we were sat in a private room complete with nice paintings and French books on the walls. It was a truly lovely setting to enjoy our first ever Parisian burger. 

Upon glancing over the menu we noticed several burgers but the one that caught our eye was the "12" burger. Unfortunately, after I read the menu and ordered the burger I was expecting a 12 inch burger. Instead of a Man vs Food style giant, what arrived was a modest sized burger put together with high quality ingredients. 

The beef patty was exceptional. It was clearly handmade and I think the patty mixture was simply a porterhouse run through a mincer a few times. Due to the quality of the meat used in the mince this beef patty was delicious, covering all parts of the palette like Zizou covering all parts of the soccer field. The inside of the patty was cooked to more of a medium rare (which seems to be the style of French chefs) but the outside of the party was not charred as much as we would have liked. If the chef turned up the temperature of the grill plate a few notches this would have given the best quality patties we have tried a run for their money.

The bun was a real let down. It seemed like your stock standard burger bun that you would pull off the shelf at Coles. I really expected better of a country known for their bread. 

The toppings on the burger were unlike any that we have ever had here at Burger Friday - an interesting combination of sauteed mushrooms and foie gras. Foie gras is a French delicacy and is the liver of specially fattened ducks or geese. Foie gras has come under the fire of animal rights enthusiasts who have claimed that using tubes to force-feed the animals in order to fatten them up is inhumane. This initially put me off. But upon consulting our friendly waiter, we were informed that the foei gras used at Flottes was not sourced from farms who employ this tube force-feeding technique. Rather, a different type of feed that is used to fatten up the animals. Knowing this settled my stomach enough to tuck into the burger without feeling like a terrible human being. And what a result! In our opinion, foie gras is in a league of its own in terms of decadence (and not the kind of decadence like on the Inbetweeners movie) - velvety, rich and creamy. It was a pure delight to eat. However, teaming foei gras with sauteed mushrooms was not a good idea. The two had a similar texture which gave the burger a slippery feel/texture. I was kind of hoping that the foie gras would essentially melt and ooze down the burger creating a quasi-sauce. But as you can tell from the picture, the foie gras was quite substantial and basically acted like a second patty rather than fulfilling my saucing needs.

The burger did have some top quality bacon which was cooked crisply enough to partially cut through this slippery texture but the race was run.

This is the part of the blog where I usually talk about the sauce and how adequately it meshed the ingredients of the burger together. Unfortunately, this burger had no sauce to speak of. Meaning that the burger was very rich and left you feeling greasy. Even a cheeky French Hollandaise would have lightened the mood a bit. With the lack of sauce this burger was bit on the dry side meaning that you needed to choke it down (don't get me started on French athletes choking). 

All in all, this burger had a number of the highest of quality ingredients, including the ultimate X-factor in foie gras, but lacked a sauce to bring the burger together which ultimately resulted in a burger which underperformed. Seeing something with the X-factor only to underperform reminds me of so many French sportspeople but the one I am choosing today is former French tennis player turned Channel 7 special commentator Henri Leconte. Leconte burst onto the French tennis scene by winning the 1981 French junior championship and spent a number of years at the pointy end of grand slams thanks to his sizzling play. The pinnacle of Leconte's career came in 1998 when he made the final of the French Open, only to be smashed in straight ones by Mats Wilander. Ultimately, Leconte found most of his success playing doubles and actually nabbed a grand slam. My advice to Flottes would be to follow in the footsteps of our dear Henri - team up with a quality sidekick (a tangy sauce for the purposes of this analogy) who can make up for your deficiencies. If that happens, you are onto a real winner.

I would definitely recommend this burger if you find yourself strolling down Rue Cambon. In order to counteract the richness of the burger, I recommend the macarons next door. Or if you would like a more traditional French dessert try the in-house creme brulee - I caused a bit of a disturbance in the restaurant when I cracked the caramelised sugar on top of the creme brulee with my spoon. Seriously, it sounded like glass shattering.

Score: 37.5/50 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Shack

Burger reviewed: The Western King

Venue: The Shack (Perth)

Date: 26/07/2013

Today's burger adventure saw Burger Friday tackle the first of Perth's many pseudo burger chain restaurants. The venue of choice - The Shack (previously known as The Local Shack. And before that, The Burger Shack). What is particularly perplexing about the name changes of this venue is that The Shack does not give off the feeling of a shack at all. With its high ceilings, big doors and rustic paint work you could be forgiven for thinking you are chowing down in a cafe in inner-city Melbourne. But who cares about the venue? We are here for a burger.

The Shack boasts 18 different burgers ranging from the stock standard beef burger to a chicken burger called the "Thai Cockfight" (whenever I hear the word cockfight I can't help but think of Seinfeld episode where Kramer and Little Jerry Seinfeld take on Marcellino's "dog with glove on its head"). This presents an obvious selection dilemma in that we are spoilt for choice. However, as we have a selection policy of choosing a burger that our rating scale is not prejudicial towards, we ordered the Western King with cheese and bacon and got ready to nosh.    
The patty was well put together and had that fibrous texture indicative of a handmade patty. What became obvious from the start was the adventurous use of dried herbs and spices in the patty mixture which created a flavoursome first bite. My only gripe with the patty was that it was cooked to more of a well done than a medium which meant that some of juice from the meat had been cooked out of it. I would recommend that the chef at The Local Shack turn the temperature of the grill plate up slightly - this will allow a slight charring of the outside whilst keeping the inside juicy and medium rather than cooking the patty completely through (we should write a book on grilling burger patties - "A time to grill" or "To grill a mockingbird").

My main gripe with this burger is around the quality of the bun. It didn't seem fresh, was a bit on the crusty side and was quite heavy. And to make things even worse, this was one of the hardest burgers to eat from a structural integrity standpoint. This burger resisted all burger management techniques. Even the universally accepted "cut the burger in half" burger management technique (pictured above) - a technique so proven it has taken its rightful place along side the other game changing techniques such as the famed "bite and suck the filling" pie eating technique and the hair dressing methodology of putting the hair between two fingers and cutting above them. If it wasn't for Clause 7 of our sacred Constitution, I would have reached for the knife and fork.  

The salads were fresh and played their part. Salads on a burger is like Snicko in the Decision Review System - while it can add value, it is left out of the decision making process for good reason.

The sauce was the real winner. An eclectic mix of guacamole and seeded mustard which created a tangy and refreshing salsa that cleansed the palette with every bite. Full marks for the sauce. 

The chips were a quality side dish. Similar to the burger, they were sprinkled with dried herbs and spices and were accompanied by a quality sauce. Plentiful in supply (a large serving was enough for two people) and cooked to a level that saw them crunchy on the outside but remain fluffy on the inside.  

Overall, the herbs and spices used in the patty and chips teamed well with the extravagant sauce combination. However, the cooking of the patty and the poorness of the bun let the team down. This display of flare and extravagance only to be ultimately let down reminded me of Dean Wallis in the 1999 Preliminary Final against Carlton. A rugged defender without an attacking bone in his body, Wallis decided to take the game on in the final minute only to be caught by a Fraser Brown tackle, ultimately costing the Dons a chance of overrunning the Blues and a spot in the Granny.  

If you find yourself in the CBD and need a beef injection, check out The Local Shack and the vast array of burger treats it offers.

Score: 33/50