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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Charlie & Co Burgers, Westfield Sydney


After two years of construction, the $1.2 billion Westfield Sydney redevelopment is finally open. I joined the throng of crowds on its opening day last Thursday, but found most of the food court besieged by curious, hungry and patient office workers. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to see the new development in much more relaxed style, hosted by Westfield on a special tour for media. 

Charlie & Co Burgers (closed) 
The kitchen at Charlie & Co  

One of the hottest tenants on the level five food court is Charlie & Co, the latest venture by Justin North of Restaurant Becasse, Plan B, Etch and Le Grande Cafe. The concept, Justin explains, has been long in the making. He often noticed businessmen sitting in the gutter eating Plan B's specialty wagyu burger - it was evident that good burgers were in demand and supply was long overdue.  
Justin North 

Justin was right. Sydney can't get enough of his hamburgers. They estimated sales of about 200 burgers per day. In its opening weekend, they sold 500-600 burgers each day. The biggest sellers by far, are the wagyu burger ($16 takeaway/$18 eat-in) with beetroot relish, pickled gherkin and aged cheddar on a toasted bricohe bun; and the federation burger ($14/$16) comprised of a seasoned Angus beef pattie, aged cheddar, fried egg, bacon, sauteed onions, iceberg lettuce and tomato on a sesame sourdough bun. 

Trailing in third spot is their hand-crafted chilli crab burger ($15/$17) - a Thai crab cake with Asian salad, lime mayonnaise and sweet chilli jam on a sesame bun.
Hamburger patties on the grill 

There seems to be a deliberate international theme with the burger menu, with offerings including the laden Malaysian chicken burger, the maiden Marrakesh lamb burger, macho Mexican spiced minced beef with chilli beans and a sole vegetarian producers' burger of marinated local mushrooms, haloumi and sun-dried tomatoes.  
Burger assembly 

 All the burger buns are baked fresh at the Becasse bakery housed within the Westfield complex, still in commercial mode but due to open for retail business shortly. The sales of fries have also exceeded their projections, with Justin confessing they had to top up their supplies twice over the weekend. The fries are available plain ($6), with herbs ($7) or dressed with parmesan and truffle oil ($8). They sold 90-100kg of fries on Saturday and 120kg on Sunday.
Charlie & Co takeaway box with restaurant newsletter 

And who is Charlie? He's Hamburger Charlie, one of the pioneers of the original hamburger. Facing flagging sales of his meatballs at the Seymour Fair in Wisconsin, Charlie decided to squash the meatball and onions between two pieces of bread, creating an instant hit with his portable snack for fair patrons. The "& Co" refers to the entire team, a nod by Justin to his family of staff.

Wagyu burger sample 

A few bites of the wagyu burger sampler are enough to reassure us that this is a burger worth coming back for. The wagyu patty is soft, succulent and juicy, sweetened by beetroot relish and the piquancy of pickled gherkin. The brioche bun is light and fluffy. 

Eat Deli Kitchen (closed) 
Eat Deli Kitchen 

We move next door to Eat Deli Kitchen, the deli sandwich bar headed by Michael Moore that looks like it's straight out of New York.
Michael Moore carving the wagyu salt beef 

Here, too, Michael was overwhelmed by demand for his wagyu salt beef reuben. He expected to sell about 30kg each day - he went through 80kg on day one and is now churning through 100kg daily.

Making Reuben sandwiches

Michael uses silverside from the outside flank of Blackmore wagyu beef. The wet brining process takes 4 1/2 hours, and he emphasises that the salt beef is always cut to order.

Wagyu salt beef "Reuben"

We're provided with half-sandwich samples and quite simply, it's glorious. The salt beef is tender and soft, served with sauerkraut, swiss cheese, mustard and homemade pickles between hand-carved slices of rye bread. It's sustaining and comforting, in a hazy memory of Mum's corned beef.

The French-style rotisserie

The deli also offers sandwiches with pepper-crusted beef rump picana, slow-roasted pork leg, smoked petuna ocean trout, smoked pepper pastrami, shaved smoked turkey, lemon brined and roasted chicken, poached fresh salmon and rare roasted black pepper beef.

Campos coffee

Michael Moore

Salt beef carving station

Cloudy Bay Fish Co 

Cloudy Bay Fish Co

We make a brief stop at Cloudy Bay Fish Co by John Susman. A committed advocate for sustainability, John's company has been supplying restaurants with Australian and New Zealand seafood for the past twenty years. This is his first retail outlet, offering customers simply prepared locally sourced seafood.

King salmon from Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand in lemon, pepper and olive oil, roasted on New Zealand beechwood

Albacore (white tuna) from Mooloolaba, Queensland braised in extra virgin olive oil, lemon and pepper

Wild king prawns from Spencer Gulf, South Australia in a classic cocktail sauce with avocado, peppers and parsley
Hiramasa kingfish from Spencer Gulf, South Australia poached in verjuice, thyme and lemon

Crust Pizza

Pizza making station at Crust 

Crust Pizza
is also premiering its first retail outlet here. Ready-prepped pizzas are cooked to order, a process that takes 2.5 minutes in the oven.

Peri Peri chicken pizza

Patrons are provided with buzzers so they can be notified when their pizzas are ready. We liked the little boxes of crayons provided on dining trays so kids can complete the join-the-dots puzzle printed on the place mat. A range of gluten-free pizzas is set to be launched early next year.
Cooked peri peri chicken pizza

Top Fruit

Fruit salad at Top Fruit  

It's refreshing to see a fruit shop in amongst the food court offerings, especially when the colourful displays of fruit salad at Top Fruit contain exotics like dragon fruit, pomegranate and fig.



Yellow dragonfruit

Some more unusual tropical fruits are on offer here, and Simon Marnie was particularly intrigued by the yellow dragonfruit.

Yellow dragonfruit

We're told that this variety offers much more flavour than the red-skinned ones, and he's right - the flesh has a marked sweetness that I can only liken to lychee.

Chocolate fruit

Chocolate fruit (black sapote)

We also try the chocolate fruit, or black sapote. Native to Mexico and Guatemala, this fruit is said to taste like chocolate if blended with milk, cream or ice cream. Many people spread it on bread but we try it straight from the spoon. It tastes like a soft custard apple, not quite as sweet, but nutty and gently spiced.

Chocolate-dipped strawberries, bananas, cherries and figs

Via Del Corso

Mango gelato

If sweet iced confection is more your thing, you may find it hard to resist the four window display counters of gelato at Via Del Corso. The rainbow of flavours is mesmerising, with a range that includes black sesame, death by chocolate, green apple, lychee, azuki, coconut and kaffir lime, peanut butter, dark chocolate chilli and fig honey pistachio. I recommend the fior di latte which I'm told is a popular flavour in Italy but not so well known in Australia. Its strong milky flavour is simple but reassuring.

Green tea and black sesame ice cream

At the moment the company sources much of its gelato from nine different companies, but once their manufacturing equipment is complete, they hope to make all their own gelato themselves.

Sky Phoenix

Yum cha trolley at Sky Phoenix  

We retire to the new Sky Phoenix for yum cha. The only tenant open on level six, the refurbished Sky Phoenix can now accommodate 400 diners desperate for dumplings. Still to come in the second quarter of 2011: Sassy's Red offering Malaysian comfort food by Chinta Ria's Simon Goh, as well as another Chat Thai outlet that will include a new emphasis on desserts.

Steamed dumplings

Prawn, vegetable and seafood dumplings

Pork ribs in black bean and chilli

Chinese broccoli

View Larger Map

Westfield Sydney

Corner of Pitt Street Mall and Market Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8236 9200

Opening hours:

Monday to Wednesday 9.30am-6.30pm
Thursday 9.30am-9.00pm
Friday to Saturday 9.30am-6.30pm
Sunday 10.00am-6.00pm 
27 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/02/2010 02:21:00 am


  • At 11/02/2010 3:10 am, Anonymous Dinetonite said…

    hmm! nice pics

  • At 11/02/2010 7:35 am, Anonymous Chris said…

    ah I'm envious...I'm waiting for the cues to die down before I venture in...or maybe I'll go really early one morning if my craving for that wagyu burger gets too much. Still, pomegranate for $6 is a bit much =\

  • At 11/02/2010 7:38 am, Anonymous Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said…

    What no Maccas?

    I had a brief sticky beak at the new westfield this weekend but I was just too overwhelmed and defeated by the crowds! I couldn't even find where charlie and co was -
    looks like its set to be a hungry shoppers paradise!
    Now i wish I worked near there..imagine lunch hour!

  • At 11/02/2010 8:01 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Went to the food court Friday and saw the huge burgers; they looked great! Unfortunately I didn't have time to try them out, but I'll have to! Looks like anything Justin North touches at the moment turns to gold. ;-)

  • At 11/02/2010 8:44 am, Blogger K said…

    I originally had no desire to visit another giant shopping mall filled with the same old clothing labels, but you've just given me several good reasons to visit the new Westfield. It's great to see so many new food ventures there.

  • At 11/02/2010 9:00 am, Anonymous Matthew (Masterchef) said…

    Looks like there are a few good places to check out during lunch! It also looks like you had quite some day touring the Westfield food court :)

  • At 11/02/2010 9:29 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    i want. a reuben. NEED. NOW

  • At 11/02/2010 10:31 am, Blogger KayB said…

    Is it wrong that I only want to visit the new Westfield for the food on offer? Namely Charlie and Co. Probably best if I stuff myself silly AFTER trying on all the designer clothes..

  • At 11/02/2010 10:37 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    One part of me is clamouring for the reuben (salty, salty goodness) but you know me - I'm really after the black sesame ice cream. :D $1.2 billion dollars worth of black sesame ice cream, even...

  • At 11/02/2010 10:42 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Excited to see a preview of the highly anticipated Charlie & Co. but even more excited to hear of a Reuben sandwich!

  • At 11/02/2010 10:59 am, Anonymous Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    I feel like I've already been on the tour now! Can't wait to check it out tomorrow!

  • At 11/02/2010 11:00 am, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    Thanks so much for the behind-the-scenes look - it's been so crowded there the past week. I tried a Crust pizza on the weekend as the Charlie and Co line was pretty long. Can't wait to go back and try again :)

  • At 11/02/2010 11:42 am, Anonymous Sandra @TheFrenchWench said…

    Went last Thursday and the crowds and gigantism drove me insane! I swore myself to only go back once Zara is open, but your post makes me think again... the food looks just awesome!

  • At 11/02/2010 1:28 pm, Blogger nomnomnomphile said…

    I will definitely try those half sandwiches! They look absolutely divine!

  • At 11/02/2010 4:03 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Is your tummy a nuclear furnace? Is that how you manage to fit everything in there?? And omg, yellow dragonfruit exists!?

    Thanks so much for the round-up of eatings on offer at Westfields - those burgers look nommy!

  • At 11/02/2010 8:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh wooowww!! Must make my way tehre soon! Yay for burgers and deli (omg finally, too much MvF ahha) and oohh chocolate fruit!

  • At 11/02/2010 8:57 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    Wow - there's so many more cafe's open than I thought! Good post...I'm going to go and check this place out once the crowds die down a bit. I like the sound of Charlie & Co, though their burgers seems a tad on the pricey side. I want to try a Ruben sandwich though...yum.

  • At 11/02/2010 9:23 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    Helen! Thanks for this post - I mean it! My husband was forcing me to go to Westfield mass last weekend - he said "there is a GAP store" - I didn't care... after reading your post - now there is something to look forward to in this mall. I CAN"T WAIT TO GO!

  • At 11/02/2010 9:44 pm, Blogger Sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    Helen, thanks for this excellent review. This really looks like an exciting development for the city lunch time crowd.

  • At 11/02/2010 9:50 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    Thanks so much for this, I'm going there on Thursday for a birthday lunch, now I know exactly what to eat!

  • At 11/03/2010 4:01 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    I'd come here for the food alone! But knowing how crowded it is... hmm day off in a couple of weeks, maybe might have to venture in and perhaps have lunch early to avoid the crowds. Envious that you got to try everything! =D

  • At 11/05/2010 12:07 pm, Blogger susan said…

    wow, how good would it be to work near there, although it might not be good for the wallet...

  • At 11/05/2010 10:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Charlie & Co - the burgers do sound delish...but just can't get past the "we'll serve 1 person every 20mins to create false hype" buzz. The takeaway queue just does not move. The funny thing is they have all the burgers ready to go - you can see them through the glass windows! Guess charging $16 a burger...you want to make people wait for it, even if they don't have to.

  • At 11/10/2010 10:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    great pics, haven't had a chance to go there yet...
    food looks good, bit expensive but westfield is now snazzy

    Chris - i totally agree.. i nearly fainted when i saw the $6 for pomegranante!
    I hate how Australia doesn't import fruits that are plentiful around the world, and when they do... they charge ridiculous prices. Only suckers would buy fruits at Westfield

  • At 11/17/2010 5:20 pm, Blogger Nic said…

    Wow wow wow... I knew there were some great restaurants going into the new Westfields but you've just given me an excuse to take a very long lunch at some point this week. I'll be coming from the North Shore at lunch but I'm sure it's going to be worth it. Finally - a real ruben in Sydney!

  • At 11/24/2010 2:44 pm, Anonymous Jackie-Lee said…

    When I went to the food court for lunch I was totally overwhelmed by the busyness of it all so I went with the first thing I saw, which was sadly Guzman y Gomez. Thanks for putting it all together so I know what to look out for next time :) I'd love to try a sapote but for $8 I think I'll wait til my Mexico trip next year. It all looks delish.

  • At 1/17/2011 8:05 pm, Blogger Miss Feathers said…

    The dumplings and fries with truffle oil sound great! And that dragonfruit looks fresh and amazing. I love dragonfruit!


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