When did burgers get so popular?
Suddenly, it seems, Sydney can't get enough of them. These aren't the greasy takeaway shop kind, with pre-made patties cooked on the grill by a sad and resigned owner who sighs with each order.
I remember those hamburgers of youth with fondness, a behemoth of beauty piled high with the greasy fried egg, rasher of bacon, juilenne of wilted lettuce, discs of soggy tomato, square of cheese, deep purple beetroot, sweet ring of pineapple, and the patty of beef, globules of fat soaking into the buttered and toasted hamburger bun, the overflow dripping onto the greaseproof paper and slowly running down your wrist.
Oh they were good times indeed.
Today the local takeaways in the suburbs are fast disappearing. In their place are new, bright, shiny, clean, happy, chirpy burger bars, which is how we've come to Grill'd, the latest burger chain to hit town following its success in Melbourne, across Queensland, Newcastle and now the bright lights of Sydney.
We find wooden countertops, mirrored walls and chairs painted in fire engine red at the outlet in Crows Nest. Help yourself serviette dispensers and plastic sauce bottles in the shape of tomatoes keep a relaxed family feel.
Tomato sauce bottles
There's a quirky sense of humour in the line drawings on the walls too, although I'm not sure if adding personalities to the food I'm about to eat is meant to make me feel better or worse...
"My last favourite body part? I'd have to say my saggy udder"
"C'mon ladies - and stretch..."
"I should've stuck to pilates"
The emphasis on fitness is meant to underline the Grill'd philosophy of "Healthy burgers, healthy mind", with burgers "cooked to order using super lean patties that are full of flavour".
Prepping a burger
Suze and I have prime viewing over the kitchen, and I'm impressed to see the patties really are made by hand from a huge tub of mince. The staff, all young and bouncing around to the in-store music, attend to the burger production process with surprising cheerfulness, although I can't help wincing each time the chicken breasts are mercilessly squashed, prodded and poked with regulation tongs to make sure they're thoroughly cooked.
Hot chips $4.30
Thick chips with Grill'd herb mix
Our hot chips arrive in a paper bag, a plastic container of tomato salsa sealed with the lid even though we're eating in. Sprinkled liberally with dried rosemary, thyme and salt, there's quite a strong herby flavour to them, and whilst the chips are dark gold in colour, they're not quite as soft and fluffy on the inside as you'd expect.
'Baa Baa' Grill'd lamb burger $11.90
Grilled lean lamb pattie with avocado, tasty cheese,
salad, relish and herbed mayo
with extra pineapple and egg and brie $1.30 each
Our burgers arrive spiked together with a full-size skewer, an upside-down Grill'd sticker taped to the top like a golf course flag. The option of three different burger buns is a nice touch, particularly the gluten free option ($1.50 extra), the other two being traditional sesame seed or panini with no sesame seeds.
Suze's lofty gustatory ambitions is evidenced by her addition of pineapple and egg and brie to her 'baa baa' lamb burger. The lamb patty has plenty of flavour, juicy without being overly fatty.
Almighty Grill'd beef burger $12.50
Grilled 100% lean beef, tasty cheese, crispy trim bacon,
free range egg, a couple of slices of beetroot
with salad, relish and herbed mayo
My Almighty beef burger is not for the faint-hearted either. It's a struggle to finish, the toasted bun dwarfed by its filling of beef patty, tomato, egg, bacon, lettuce, cheese and beetroot. The lettuce is a particular highlight, crisp bright green leaves of baby cos, even if Suze doesn't like her salad (I eat hers too).
Oh and a special note of thanks for the drinks cabinet - Cascade ginger beer is a welcome sight, alongside bottles of sparkling apple juice, sarsparilla and fancy fresh juices (why are other drinks cabinets always depressingly mundane?). To my surprise, they're also licensed, selling bottles of Corona, Asahi, Stella Artois, Carlton Draught, Pure Blonde, Cascade Light and Skyy Vodka ($6-$7.50).
Staff are vigilant with checking ID. To her horror Suze gets carded. She must like getting grilled.
Grab Your Fork dined courtesy of Grill'd with thanks to Amanda from Undertow Media.
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7/03/2009 02:10:00 am