The gourmet burger is now mainstream. Even Hungry Jacks has its own salt and fat packed version dragging down the reputation of Angus beef.
It’s the latest trend in food, knowing the provenance of your ingredients – with Maccas being the first mainstream brand to name Angus beef as a selling point back in August.
The recently launched Hungry Jacks version, the Angry Angus, is masked with controversy particularly tawdry, mine delivered with the word “ANUS” hand written on the wrapping. The angry, in what now shall be known as the Angry Anus, refers to the chilli. And thankfully it masks the flavour of some meat like matter doing a poor impression of bacon, luminous cheese and a beef pattie which is almost incidental to the whole cynical $4.95 construction.
Not all these fast food burgers are bad. McDonald’s is an altogether classy affair and was launched to bloggers with style. The $6.45 Grand Angus and $6.75 Mighty Angus received a pretty warm reception (with the exception of me).
And what these fast food joints know best, over and above countless cafes and celebrity chefs, is that you need to get the dynamics right. It’s all about burger engineering – both physically and in flavour. You’ve got to build it right.
On flavour Hungry Jacks brought out the angry chilli and salt card. McDonalds uses raw onion and pickle. High-end chefs, who don’t have to analyse the composition of their food to the nth degree, fat and salt.
Given the choice I prefer the latter and it delivers – although at price. Some two years ago when Neil Perry’s Melbourne Rockpool Bar & Grill opened with its $15 Wagyu (literally Japanese beef) burger I declared in print that it was the best in Australia. It was still pretty good at $17. But now with the burger, made with breeder David Blackmore’s bull blood Wagyu, at $22 is way over the top.
But a large portion of the public don’t think so. Since January 1 this year 9333 Wagyu burgers and 542 Mishima (beef even rarer and more prized than wagyu) burgers were sold in Melbourne alone. SinceRockpool Bar & Grill’s opening mid March 4,031 Wagyu’s have been sold.
For my money, anyone who takes this everyman knockabout food and charges more than $15 for it is taking the mick.
Plus I made an important discovery at Neil Perry’s Sydney temple of meat, the construction side of burger dynamics. When this hunking great gobshite met for burger love there with Lorraine from the blog Not Quite Nigella, the wagyu burger was too big for her perfectly normal sized feminine hands.
The lid was flipped and the knife and fork manipulated. It was wrong. Next visit toSin City she took me to Justin North’s Plan B for a $10 Wagyu burger. Small and delicious, it’s my choice in the Sydney CBD now (although its damn near blinkin’ impossible to get a seat). In Melbourne, I like chef Shannon Bennett’s $12 Wagyu burger with chips at his Café Vue.
So much for Heart Foundation ticks.
It’s all come a long way from when, hung over, I first slopped pineapple, beetroot and fried egg down my trousers wolfing an overdeveloped Aussie Burger from the surf lifesaving club on some mid Queensland beach.
Since then I’ve searched high and low for burger bliss, the correct dynamics in the hand as well as the mouth.
I can tell you that I admire the ethos of Grill’d but the burgers are too healthy an affair – they need more fat. And I’m pretty sure the real winners are those local greasy cafs, such as the cult Andrew’s in Melbourne’s Albert Park, that specialises in, well, burgers.
My top prize goes to the 53 year old Caravan Café in Seymour. It doesn’t look like much with its primitive toilet block architecture. But the $7 burgers, with their secret ingredient, are better. So much better than an Angry Anus.
What’s your top burger?
This post is also featured in The Punch “Building the ultimate burger”.