A burger with pork crackling?!? Now we're talking. You can expect this kind of madness every Wednesday at Pub Life Kitchen, a guaranteed kooky addition to the regular menu that head chef Jovan Curic calls the Burger Experiment.
Pub Life Kitchen
After a pop-up stint above The Flinders in 2012, Pub Life Kitchen looks to have found a permanent home at the Lord Wolseley Hotel in Ultimo. Although they only opened two weeks ago, the dining room gets full quickly on a weeknight. Most of the crowd look like locals stopping in for a drink and dinner on their way home from work.
Fries with bone marrow gravy $8
The menu is heavy on the burgers (called Brgrs) and deep-fried snacks, although you can order salads (purple cabbage slaw; pearl barley with seasonal vegetables; and a wedge salad with crispy bacon) if you're keen. The pub grub theme continues with steaks, wagyu schnitties, grilled chicken parmas and a fish of the day too.
We're all about the deep-fried stuff though. The fries with bone marrow gravy are a celebration of crunchiness dipped in fatty gravy. It's hard to detect much bone marrow in the gravy but the chips are a winner regardless.
Cheesy polenta chips with jalapeno mayo $8
The cheesy polenta chips are set up like Jenga blocks, best dunked in the tub of spicy jalapeno mayo for an added kick.
Grilled corn cob with salty lime malt vinaigrette $6
We fulfil our vegetable quota with grilled corn, charred and smoky from the grill and basted with a zingy lime and malt vinaigrette.
Sticky hot wangs $9
Sure there were a few chortles over the naming of the sticky hot wangs but everyone fell into an appreciative silence as we demolished the deep-fried chicken wings smothered in a sweet and spicy syrup.
Pub Life Brgrs
It's all about the burgers tonight and we're all over them like a swarm of locusts. The standard menu burgers range in price from $16-$18 and all come with a pile of fries on the side.
The O.G. $18
House ground beef patty, Jack cheese, onion jam, tomato, iceberg, roast garlic and lime aioli
The O.G. (that means Original Gangster if you were born before 1980. Heh) is a hefty package of beef, salad and a bright yellow square of Monterey Jack cheese. The generous slather of onion jam is what you'll notice most, a little too sweet for some people but just right for others. There's a softness to the house ground beef patty sauced up with drizzles of roast garlic and lime aioli.
House ground beef, Jack cheese x 2, red onion, pickles, tomato sauce and mustard
Cheese fiends will appreciate the double dose of Monterey Jack cheese in the cheeseburger. Pickles give a sweet acidity and the oozing puddles of tomato sauce and mustard are so precise they look like they've been styled (they weren't!).
The Bird $17
Dorito fried chicken, slaw, Jack cheese, mayo
The Bird is all about fried chicken, the fillet crusted in a crinkly batter made from crushed up Dorito chips. The corn chip batter does get a little gluggy in parts but the chicken itself is impressively juicy. The red cabbage and carrot slaw is wholesome enough to counter any concerns about excessive indulgence.
Fish fingers with roast garlic and lime aioli $12
We turn up a week later for the Burger Experiment, where a special one-night-only burger is added to the Wednesday dinner menu. Fish fingers are the perfect appetiser, encased in a golden panko crumb batter that's made for dipping in the roast garlic and lime aioli.
Vego delight $16
Fried cheese patty, cranberry jam, slaw and jalapeno mayo
The idea of a fried cheese patty convinces us to try the vego delight burger. Bite through the deep-fried batter and you'll hit a core of molten cheese. It's backed up with more cheese: a slice of Monterey Jack plus all the burger fixings of red cabbage and carrot slaw, jalapeno mayo and even a slick of cranberry jam.
Burger Experiment: The Swiney Chook $19
Sriracha gravy glazed fried chicken, grilled pineapple and corn, maple salsa, Jack cheese and pork crackle
But it's the Burger Experiment we're champing to get our teeth into. Tonight it's the Swiney Chook, a pig meets poultry cross of fried chicken with pork crackling. They've jammed everything in here, a chaos of corn kernels, grilled pineapple chunks, maple salsa and Monterey Jack cheese. A lot of it falls out upon the first bite but it's all so good you'll end up picking the remnants off the tray anyway.
The glazed fried chicken is meant to come with a sriracha gravy but none of us can detect much heat. We have no trouble finding the pork crackling though - the shards of porky crunch are the one thing that's been missing from burgers all my life.
There's nothing too serious here and I reckon that's what locals love about it. And I can't wait for this Wednesday's Burger Experiment either. You can follow Jovan on Instagram for clues.
Pub Life Kitchen at the Lord Wolseley Hotel
265 Bulwara Road, Ultimo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9660 1736
Tuesday to Saturday 12pm-3pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm
Tuesday to Saturday 6pm-10pm
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10/05/2014 04:39:00 am