Freshly Stacked for Breakfast

While on the topic of burgers for breakfast, Freshly Stacked at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast serves up the aptly named Morning Glory Burger. It’s basically a big breakfast on a burger, squashing bacon, fried egg, sausage, hash brown, mushrooms and tomato between two buns. The whole thing is drizzled in BBQ sauce and relish. It’s a tall order, but they have thoughtfully engineered it into an edible package.

It’s not bad either but it does raise a question that has been bothering me for a while on this blog. Is this really a burger? Merriam-Webster defines a hamburger or burger as ‘…a sandwich consisting of a cooked patty of ground meat.’ So I guess we’re looking for a meat patty, the closest thing resembling a patty in this stack is a hash brown but that’s not meat. Coming in second would be the sausage, which, even though it’s cut open, it’s still a sausage. Now I don’t intend to get bogged down in a discussion of burger semantics but I think this is something that has to be made clear. Some would say that a burger includes anything wedged between a burger bun. But I say that’s a bread roll or a bun. Should this be called a breakfast bun? I guess a morning glory bun, or worse morning glory in a bun has the wrong connotations.

Americans call anything without a beef patty a sandwich, regardless of the bun. Here in Australia, we seem to have side stepped this issue by dropping the ‘ham’ on anything that’s not beef – lamb burger, chicken burger, veggie burger to name but a few. This seems a bit of a stretch given that the ham in hamburger doesn’t come from meat at all but from Hamburg where the patty finds its origins. Is this one of the many examples of Aussies shortening everything? Probs!

For the purposes of clarity, I’ll be sticking with the Australian nomenclature from here on in. Even though it seems to be completely lacking in clarity. On this blog at least, a hamburger contains minced beef, a burger contains whatever it is prefixed by and a sandwich is made with sliced bread.

But back to the burger, whether or not it’s a burger, it’s good. If you’re after all of the flavours of a big fried up breakfast on a bun then this is hard to beat. The sausage was pretty average though. It was a squishy tube of who knows what with very little discernible meat inside. Freshly Stacked would do better to trash the sausage and come up with their own spiced meat patty.

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Hungry Hippo

I know, it’s been a bit quiet on the burger blog lately. That’s not to say I’ve not been eating burgers, I’ve just been on a bit of a road trip. I picked up a campervan on a relocation deal in Cairns, in Queensland’s tropical North and drove it to Sydney. For those not up to scratch on Australian geography, the distance from Cairns to Sydney is about 2500km. Or about three times the length of the UK. I had six days to do it and three good mates to help out. Only thing was two of them can’t drive and the other refused to drive the campervan, it was a little large for her liking. But that wasn’t such a bad thing, if I was driving, I was choosing where to stop and that either involved a beach or a burger.

Anyway given that the majority of this distance is prime cattle country I figured there’d be a lot of good burger eating along the way, and there was. So for my next few posts I’ll give a quick rundown on some of the notable mentions. It was a pretty quick trip and this list is by no means exhaustive, so if you’ve got a good recommendation, add it as a comment.

Hungry Hippo Cafe in Childers, Queensland has over ten burgers to choose from. Their menu includes such gems as the chip burger and the potato scallop burger. Yes, I know they’re not strictly speaking, burgers but more on that later. The thing is, these guys really know how to treat a patty right. It was pretty much breakfast for me so I kept it simple and went for the cheeseburger.

At first glance this burger looks like nothing special. They use the stock standard sesame buns that you find everywhere and the cheese is even that grated packaged stuff that you find in supermarket fridges. But looks can be deceiving, the taste? Spot on. Childers is within spitting distance to Australia’s beef capital, they’ve got a cattle population there that would rival human populations in most large Asian countries. So you’d expect the quality of the meat to be good. It was. While the patty wasn’t medium rare it was melt in the mouth perfect. There wasn’t much evidence of seasoning apart from salt, pepper and some sort of dried herb mix. They sauce both buns and while I initially scoffed at the grated cheese, it did allow for more cheese than a single slice would.

Given that it was first thing in the morning I had offered to share this burger with my travel companions. After one bite I told them to bugger off and get their own. But don’t expect coffee with your burger, my mate Chris tried to order a long black coffee. He was quickly directed to the chalkboard menu and told bluntly, ‘If it’s not on that we don’t do it.’ They had two coffee choices, a flat white or a cappuccino. I think it was too early in the morning for Chris, he didn’t have the energy to say ‘hold the milk,’ so he just shrugged his shoulders and went with the flat white.

Other burger options include a hamburger, chicken burger, fish burger, mexican or vegetarian burger all with the works and a bacon and egg burger.

While I wouldn’t send people to Childers just for the burgers, (it’s a bloody long way from anywhere) I would say that if you happen to be passing through, Hungry Hippo is a must, even for breakfast.

The Veal and Pate Burger

You wouldn’t think that breaking your finger would support your burger eating habit. But for me, it has. Ever since I sat in the waiting room of RPA Hospital’s hand clinic to have my finger set, I knew I’d be spending plenty of time just down the road at Deus Cafe gorging on their awesome veal burger. Through some clerical error in my first visit I ended up waiting for 3 hours to see a doctor. While the staff there were so apologetic, I was struggling to keep the smile from my face. I knew that as soon as I was out of the waiting room I’d be heading down to Deus for a burger. Now most of my trips to RPA for physio have been punctuated by a Deus burger. I was surprised to find out that their dinner burger is different, it’s beef, not veal and while it’s execution is similar to the lunch time veal version, beef mince is just not quite as tender as veal. This, combined with a shop at Glenmore Meats inspired me to give a home made veal burger a red hot run.

Most burger recipes will have you season the mince before you form it into patties but Gordon Ramsay says that salt causes the meat to sweat which in turn leaves you with tough patties. Instead he seasons with Worcestershire sauce. I figured that Gordon knows a lot more about cooking than I do so I decided to give his recipe a go:

For the patty:

  • Mix 300g of veal mince with a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • To turn it up a notch he suggests a good chunk of foie gras. I couldn’t manage to get my hands on foie gras so I used Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Farm Pate instead.

Cook up a relish of

  • a sliced red onion with
  • a sprig of thyme,
  • about a teaspoon of brown sugar and
  • some salt and pepper. When it’s soft cook in
  • a tablespoon of balsamic and let it reduce

Serve it on:

  • toasted buns
  • cos lettuce
  • pickles
  • Parmesan cheese

The beer:

I’ve always loved Rogers’ Ale by Little Creatures. It’s a smooth but complex beer that goes perfectly with this burger. At first there’s a floral, almost citrus flavour but it’s followed a proper malty aftertaste.

The verdict:

Pate in a burger ? Some would say that’s taking it too far but I loved it. The veal mince was perfectly tender and the onion relish and pate gave it a full flavour without overpowering the meat. Nice one Gordon Ramsay.

Petersham for Portuguese

So I’ve done my fair share of moaning about the demise of Oporto. The thing is though, in Sydney there are plenty of fresher and tastier alternatives for those who’ve just gotta go for a Portuguese chicken fix. Petersham is Sydney’s little Portugal but with so many options there the question is, which one is the best?

If you can judge a place by the number of its customers, then Frango Petersham Charcoal Chicken wins hands down. I originally tried this place out with my friend James, he swears by their burgers and after one taste so do I. But be warned, Frango is no place for the uninitiated. If you’re going there for the first time, it’s best if you are introduced to the intricacies of the ordering process by  a regular. If you don’t know a regular, tread carefullly. I’ve seen a few fussy customers shown the door after a mouthful of abuse from one particular lady behind the counter on a number of occasions. Eatability is riddled with tales of disgruntled customers, which, when put together can be quite entertaining. These posts all complain about rude service but the fact is, Frango is a busy place, it’s cheap and nobody, staff or customers have the time for patrons with silly requirements. Go there, order your food, pay for it, get out. And as the lady behind the counter says, “If you don’t like it, go down the road!” She knows all too well that the place down the road isn’t anywhere near as good.

The procedure is pretty simple. If you just want burgers line up near the counter. After a short time one of the ladies will ask if anybody is ordering burgers. Raise your hand politely and order. Don’t waste their time with special requirements or orders for chips or drinks, just tell them if you do or don’t want cheese. Take your number and get out of the way. When they call your number, then you can tell them what you want on it. Make sure you get chilli sauce, it’s the best and they generally smear a small mountain of mayo over the bun too. You order chips, drinks and sides at this point, pay and get out of there. Under no circumstances should you make eye contact with the boss lady behind the counter. She’ll send you packing before you can say “I’ll have a Bondi Burger meal thanks.”

If you want to eat in, be prepared to wait. I once waited about 20 minutes for a table. Then I was told to head upstairs where I waited another 5 minutes. It’s quite nice upstairs but just as I was wondering where the burgers were hidden on the menu, I spotted the fine print , “No burgers served in the upstairs restaurant.” Needless to say the chicken was amazing.

The burgers? For the take away price of $5.50, you won’t find a better chicken burger in Sydney. Forget about the rest of the burger, I think I got at least $5.50 worth of mayonnaise alone on mine. Their chilli sauce is outstanding and the chicken fillet is huge. For dessert head two doors up to Honeymoon Patisserie, their custard tarts are almost as good as the burgers.

The Tonkatsu Burger

Tonkatsu, or the Japanese version of pork schnitzel, is believed to have been introduced to Japan from Europe during the Meiji Restoration but over the years it has been perfected to such an extent that it’s now more Japanese than European. Served with cabbage and tonkatsu or ponzu sauce, in Japan you can get it anywhere from on sandwiches in the cheapest convenience stores to some of the most expensive restaurants. My inspiration for this burger came from Lotteria‘s Millefeuille Tonkatsu burger.

While Lotteria’s burger menu is close to amazing, I usually find the execution of their burgers disappointing. Believe it or not, most fast food chains in Japan can actually produce meals that closely imitate the pictures that they advertise. Unfortunately, Lotteria falls short.

So there was only one thing for it, make my own. I used the Cooking With Dog recipe for my tonkatsu fillet.

The tonkatsu:

  • Give the pork fillets a bit of a bash with a rolling pin or meat tenderiser if you’ve got one and season with salt and pepper
  • Dip in plain flour followed by a beaten egg and panko breadcrumbs then whack it in some hot oil and cook, rotating it to ensure you get an even cook.

Serve it on:

  • toasted burger buns
  • Kewpie mayo
  • a bed of shaved cabbage, soak it in water first to soften it up a little
  • melted cheddar cheese
  • tonkatsu sauce, you can get it from most Asian supermarkets. Failing that you could use bulldog sauce or ponzu.

With:

  • Thick cut deep fried sweet potato chips

The beer:

Cascade‘s First Harvest Pure Green Hop Brew. They say that they hand select new hop varieties at the first harvest of hops in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley to brew a single batch of premium beer. I can believe that. It’s got a great, fresh taste. It’s good.

The verdict?

While my photos are close to terrible, the burger was fantastic. The tonkatsu was crispy on the outside and the meat tender and juicy on the inside. The cheese and sauce are the perfect compliment to the pork flavour. It wouldn’t hurt to add some fresh slices of tomato too. My sweet potato chips were pretty average. They needed more frying time, but I had to be at footy. Turns out I broke my finger that night at footy, but that’s another story. Maybe I should’ve stayed at home and had deeper fried chips instead.

The Deus Burger

I thought that my mate Tim’s recommendation for burgers at the Australian Youth Hotel was gold, but he has come up with another cracker. Veal burgers at Deus Ex Machina. We headed there less than 24 hours after stuffing ourselves with the Aussie Youth’s Bacon Double Cheeseburger so I made sure that I hadn’t had breakfast. I also rode my bike to this place just to feel like I was doing something with the burger sitting in my stomach from the night before.

Deus Ex Machina is a motorcycle garage/shop/cafe located in an old factory in Camperdown and it’s full of seriously expensive mod motorbikes, fixies, surfboards and other bloke paraphernalia. But it’s a great place, the huge space is covered with artworks, anime is on constant rotation on a plasma and motorbikes are scattered throughout the building propped up casually on display. Actually to me, Deus brings back a lot of the sentimentally masculine ideals that used to go through my head when I shopped at Gowings as a kid.

But enough talk, let’s do this. I was there for one thing, the Deus Burger. It’s a veal patty served on a brioche bun with melted cheese, tomato, mixed fresh lettuce and mayo. Generally it comes with sweet potato chips, but we opted out of those and asked for fries instead. The burger is simple but executed well, the patty was medium rare, well seasoned with spices, the buns lightly toasted, the cheese melted, so much it nearly enveloped the meat. This burger is ridiculously close to perfect, which is no surprise given that the name of this burger literally translates as ‘the God burger.’ I plan on heading back there really soon. I’m pleased to say they do breakfast, lunch and dinner and I seriously hope that the burger features on all of those menus. Nice one Tim.

The London Burgers & Beer

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with Canberra. Take roundabouts for a start, I prefer a stomach-churning spin around a huge roundabout over of a long wait at a traffic light any day. But since they’ve stopped selling firecrackers out of warehouses in the ACT, I just haven’t felt the need to stop off in the Nation’s capital for a long while now. That was until I spied The London Burgers & Beer on my way through Canberra on a recent trip to the snow.

The London is located on London Circuit in Civic so I guess they didn’t need to travel too far to find a name like that. It’s a bit of a nightclub area and they say they serve burgers until 12am. I couldn’t see too many kebab shops around so I’d assume they’d do a reasonable late night business with smashed ravers.

They’ve got a pretty extensive menu split into beef, lamb, chicken and steak sections with a couple of options for vegetarians. I went for the London Lot which is a huge concoction of beef, bacon, cheese, caramelised onion, egg, bbq sauce, lettuce and tomato served with chips and a pint of Boag’s at the lunch time special price of 18 bucks. Without the beer it’s $14. Their beer list includes Boag’s Draught, XXXX GOLD, Super Dry, Extra Dry, 5 Seeds, Squire’s Golden Ale, Beck’s and Peroni all on tap. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me and for a lot of them they do $10 jugs. It’d be great if they’d also stock a local beer on one of their many taps.

The London Lot lived up to it’s name, it’s big. And when you serve a burger this big, you really need to do more than just stick a skewer into it in order to make it manageable. The bacon is quite thick with a good chunk of rind on it. This makes the burger hard to bite through and it just ends up falling apart. I’m embarrassed to say it but I had to finish the remains of my burger off with a knife and fork. Thinner, crispier bacon and firmer buns would make it much more manageable. That said the patty was juicy and the caramelised onions were a nice touch. While the smoky bbq sauce was good, there was far too much of it and it overpowered all of the other flavours. The chips are also the pre-processed frozen variety. I guess I’d enjoy the burger a lot more if I was smashed at 12am.

I don’t mean to be gross but it has to be said, remnants of this burger kept coming back on me for the rest of the day. But I don’t know whether I should be blaming the burgers or the roundabouts for this.

While I won’t be racing back to The London for a burger any time soon, I’ve since found out that most Canberrans swear by Brodburger, a burger van in Bowen Park, Barton. Next time Canberra, next time.