Ume Burger- Barangaroo

Japanese meets American fast-food, a marriage made in heaven?

After attending a wedding in this part of town, we made best use of this opportunity to finally try Ume (pronounced U-me) Burger, our first ever meal in the Barangaroo precinct!

There’s something special about the whole Barangaroo area, we’ve checked it out when it first opened to the public like 2 years ago. And at that time, it felt semi-incomplete. However, now that most residents and businesses have been calling this place home for a couple of years, everything feels nice and established, while still having that nice and fresh feel about it! Lining Wulugul Walk, set back far enough from the path not to hear the foot traffic, while still close enough to the action to get the hub-bub, are all the restaurants facing out to the water. The Ume Burger counters were nearly empty by this time (2.15pm) so we simply studied their menu, and stepped up to the polite Japanese waitress and made our orders.

For me, I ordered the Menchi Katsu burger ($14.80); my wife ordered the Fish Katsu burger ($15.00); a regular serving of the Hot chips ($3.20); and a house made Strawberry vanilla soda ($6.00) to share.

And after taking our table number, we found ourselves some seats in their dining area and took in the Ume/Barangaroo atmosphere for the first time. The dining area is all under cover, but with high ceilings and the angle of the sunlight, it felt like we were sitting in the open air. Just like King Street Wharf or Darling Quarter, but everything was just that little bit newer and less run down?

The house made Strawberry vanilla (with strawberry puree and vanilla bean) was bottled and it was nice – a cross between a natural fruit juice and a soda. Not too sweet, with subtle flavours, and thirst-quenching. A little pricey at $6, but still worth it! (Even if it only inspires us for a future ‘Drink of the Month’ creation).

And in less than 10 minutes our burgers and fries were delivered to our table.

My Menchi Katsu burger consisted of handmade pork katsu, mild mustard, tonkatsu sauce, mayo, Spanish onion and shredded cabbage. Me-thinks it’s all in the wording of the menu that makes food sound a little bit classy! Although stripping it down, it was basically a twist on the humble McDonalds McChicken burger. The burger itself wasn’t all that large but it was tall. To fit it in between top and bottom teeth, a bit of compression of the fluffy brioche bun was required, and once you got your teeth wrapped around it, it was very easy to get a bite with all the fillings! As mentioned before, it’s all about the use of words in the description, “hand made pork katsu” sounds a lot classier than “minced pork”, which is basically what the protein was. But it was covered in a thin katsu crumb, seasoned perfectly with pepper – reminded me of the flavour profile of a McChicken burger. And all of the onions and cabbage were fresh, although I didn’t taste much of the mustard sauce.

When my wife and I swapped bites, her Fish Katsu burger (hand-crumbed fish fillet, Japanese tartare sauce, iceberg lettuce and cheese) was quite flat in comparison.  Like a Macca’s fish burger, and the actual crumbed fried fish fillet was particularly thin. The strongest flavour was from the cheese, and again it felt like taking a Fillet-O-fish, and making small modifications by replacing the usual ingredients with something Japanese-y.

Mean while, the fries were your standard affair, not shoe-stringed nor thick cut, but it had a dusting of umami seasoning …..Sorry, I forgot to add its full menu description, with “natural umami seasoning”. Again, the only Japanese twist on the standard hot chips were the seasoning – hard to describe, but it was nice, a little earthy tasting?

And when we were done with our meals, we took a leisurely stroll back to our end of da city, and that was a nice way to while away the late afternoon.

Our end verdict, 3.5 Stars from 5. (2 from 3 for Food (the burgers were good enough, they weren’t amazing, but good enough. While the Japanese twists on basically the McDonalds’ menu was unique, I can see it falling out of favour quite quickly); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were both polite and efficient); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (although their musical playlist was only loud enough to be heard by the staff situated behind the service counter, who really needs music if you’ve got harbour views right in front of you!); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for Money (we’re pretty used to paying $15 for burgers, but for the fish burger at least, it was a little small and unsatisfying for that price point)).

In conclusion, Japanese and American are common bedfellows, however as cuisines….. Maybe not a marriage made in heaven, but a marriage of convenience? Everything was tasty, and the pairings felt normal, none of the combos felt too weird. But perhaps what we were looking for, was something weirder? As in the end, the burgers were a little bit forgettable. But at least arriving long after the lunch rush, we didn’t have to wait (thus avoiding what irked many Foodies before us). To be honest, I don’t think we’ll be back; been there, done that. It’ll be interesting to see how they stack-up against our other popular Sydney burger joints, when we put Ume Burger through the burger scorecard!

Ume Burger- Saturday 3 August (3.5 Stars)

PH: 8195 1920

Wulugul Walk, Barangaroo

Sun-Wed 11.45am – 9.30pm

Thurs 11.45am – 10pm

Fri 11.45am – 10.30pm

Sat 11.45am – 10pm

Food Vs Food- Burger Vs Burger

In Food Vs Food, we pitch similar foods/cuisines against each other, in an attempt to identify the restaurant who is best in category! In this Chapter of Food Vs Food, we have pitched the best Burger joints against each other – which trending Burger joint will be top of the stack?

Our approach: When eating at each Burger restaurant, we evaluated the Burger on a 10 point scale, and then evaluated the other restaurant elements on another 10 point scale, thus all scores are out of 20. Here are the criteria’s we evaluated them against:

The Burger criteria:

Bun- 2

Protein- 2

Sauce- 2

Other fillings- 2

Bite-a-bility- 2

Restaurant criteria:

Sides- 2

Burger selection- 2

Accompanying beverages- 2

Extras- 2

Concept/gimmick- 2

Bar Luca: 17.5/20

In a happening bar, serving up modern takes on the humble bread stack! Blame Canada! Or simply Blame Yourself if you don’t end up ordering their signature burger. But if you’ve tried the Beef patty and Maple glazed crispy bacon before, there are still many many other burger options to tantalise your tastebuds! There are many sides to share and extras which you can shove into your stack, but be restrained as the burger will already satisfy both your need for tastiness and the need to be filled. A real nice venue to bring a date or just with mates, and it’s a pub afterall so there is a full bar on offer! Happy Days!

Stax On Burgers: 17/20

The new entrant to the city burger seen, welcome aboard to the Stax On Burger truck! An unique concept, backed up with a good variety of burgers, tasty sides and they’re actually known for their desserts! So plenty more to try out after you’ve consumed your bun stack at Stax on!

Marys: 16/20

The perennial favourite to take out the Burger Vs Burger crown, however with a limited menu and a hole-in-the-wall shopfront, Marys’ overall score puts it behind its competitors. But when it comes to a straight-up burger-to-burger bout, Marys’ burgers hold their own! Bring it on!    

Z-Pickle: 16/20

A real thumping venue, with loads and loads of character. A vast selection of burgers, all with a twist on what you’re used to from a bun stack. Burgers tasted just as good as they read from the menu, and the large selection of beverages and sides will round-out any meal. Prices (if paying full price) were on the high side though.

DOWN N’ OUT: 15/20

Where the cool cats come n’ hang, the venue’s narrow staircase might already impede some diners. The menu is limiting, but the weekly special will bring the fans back time and time again. The burgers lacked a bit of creativity in its default guise, however throw a few more bucks at it and you can customise it into a towering bun monstrosity! Many craft beers to choose from (although they can cost as much as a burger), while sides are solid but essentially only 4 options. A meal was quite affordable, but if you start to option out your burger like a luxury Euro car, it will start to hurt the hip pocket.

Burger Project- World Square

A tired venture for the Rockpool Dining Group- the ‘gourmet’ burgers were ground-breaking in 2013, but pedestrian for ’19; burgers, chips, and shakes all missing the mark. And with most burgers around the $14 mark, priced too high for a burger joint targeted at families. Save your cash and feed the fam at the Golden arches.

8bit: 13.5/20

Soulless and hard to link the video game concept to the burgers. The burgers and hot dogs were alright, if you were at MacDonald’s or Hungry Jacks; but for a more premium place, it sadly missed the mark. 3 choices of milkshakes, but a little pricy. The only stand out was the packaging, a bit sad hey?

Burger Scorecard:

Bar Luca: 17.5/20

Bun: 1.5; Protein: 2; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 2; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 2; Burger selection: 2; Beverages: 2; Extras: 2; Concept: 0.

Stax On Burgers: 17/20

Bun: 0.5; Protein: 2; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 2; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 2; Burger selection: 2; Beverages: 1.5; Extras: 1.5; Concept: 1.5.

Marys: 16/20

Bun: 2; Protein: 2; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 2; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 1.5; Burger selection: 1; Beverages: 1.5; Extras: 1; Concept: 1.

Z-Pickle: 16/20

Bun: 2; Protein: 1.5; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 1.5; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 2; Burger selection: 2; Beverages: 2; Extras: 0; Concept: 1.

DOWN N’ OUT: 15/20

Bun: 1; Protein: 1; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 1; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 2; Burger selection: 1; Beverages: 2; Extras: 2; Concept: 1.

Burger Project- World Square: 14/20

Bun: 2; Protein: 1.5; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 1.5; Bite-a-bility: 2

Sides: 1.5; Burger selection: 1.5; Beverages: 1; Extras: 0; Concept: 1

8bit: 13.5/20

Bun: 1; Protein: 1; Sauce: 2; Other fillings: 2; Bite-a-bility: 2.

Sides: 1.5; Burger selection: 1.5; Beverages: 1.5; Extras: 1; Concept: 1.

Stax On Burgers- Sydney CBD

No crushed kidz here, just tasty burgers at Stax On!

Today we were approaching lunch and life a bit unstructured, the only plan we had was to check-out what’s on offer within the Regents Place mall to see if anything caught our eye. We ferreted around both upper and lower levels and went down each nook and dead end, and literally at the very last dining joint before exiting at the Kent street exit, we came across Stax On Burgers!

As we approached lunch with an open mind, we hadn’t planned on having burgers today (if anything I thought we’d probably end up having something Asian), but oddly the concept of burgers piqued our interest.

Fitted out to resemble a food truck, your orders are made outside on tablets fixed to the side of ‘the truck’. What starts off as a simple perusal of their menu, quickly becomes placing items onto your virtual dining tray.

The menu was categorised into Burgers, Sides/Snacks, Drinks and Desserts. Under the parent category of burgers, were further sub-categories of Cheese burgers, Beef burgers, Chicken burgers, and Other burgers. Poking around the Cheese burger sub menu, I elected the Cheese burger with wasabi mayo ($10.00), while my wife elected The Blue Bird (chicken burger with blue cheese sauce- $14.00).

Under Drinks, we ordered a Pine Pash Soda (Pineapple and Passionfruit fizzy drink- $4.00) and under Sides, we ordered Tater Tots with Parmesan and Truffle mayo, with Ghost pepper salt ($6.50). And to complete your orders, just enter your name, elect dine in or take-away and then just tap your credit card for payment. A receipt spews out of a slot and you’re done!

We elected to dine in and we just moseyed on in, took our seats under the music speakers, and in less than 2 minutes one of the staff came out calling my wife’s name and we had our drink while we waited for the rest of our meal to arrive.

The Pineapple and Passionfruit concoction was a house blend, methinks it was tinned pineapple and perhaps a scoop of fresh passionfruit blitzed together with carbonated water? But it was nice and sweet and refreshing, with pineapple pulp to prove its authenticity (be that tinned authenticity).  

The actual inside of the shop is pretty narrow, I’ve heard of restaurateurs spending months or even years trying to find the perfect location for their concept! And for Stax On to want their shop to look and feel like a dining truck? This store was perfect for their concept (it’s the former Miss Chu’s Vietnamese restaurant). The shop was only wide enough for tables of 2, pushed up against the wall with a narrow corridor down the middle.  Larger groups will need to settle for the bench seating on the other side of the corridor towards the front face of the restaurant….I mean truck.

Then the next time my wife’s name was called out, it was the Potato totties.

It was a large serving of potato gems, fried to a crisp, smothered with a thick layer of truffle mayo, shreds of parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and a generous dusting of Ghost pepper! Mmmmmm. These mini hash browns were so crunchy, the toppings all worked perfectly together, and the ghost pepper gave it a nice kick – a bit salty at times, but nothing a sip of fizzy drink couldn’t remedy.

And the third and final time my wife’s name was called (considering it was the same staffer, I’m surprised that he didn’t just bring it directly to us) he held in each hand plastic baskets with our burgers.

When wrapped in paper, they both looked similar. But just breathing in its aroma, you can tell which the Cheese burger was. The burger bun was a milk bun (which was a bit unforgettable), but the beef patty was nice and juicy (clear that real meat had been ground up to create these patties). The cheese was all melted, there were slices of pickles, and the Wasabi mayo wasn’t as strong flavoured as I’d like it to be, but the wasabi flavour was definitely there.

My wife’s Blue Bird, was a piece of chicken crumbed and fried (like a schnitzel) although she had to wonder ‘do you think it’s faux meat?’ and the blue cheese sauce flavour wasn’t strong enough either. But when I asked her at the end of the meal for her verdict, she happily gave it a 2.5 Stars from 3 for food!

Our end verdict, it was a pleasant surprise to luck upon Stax On Burgers (afterwards we found out that they had only recently opened this city store – still no reviews on Zomato), the first and original Stax On located in Canterbury. And on the whole, we were pleased with the burgers and on the big bite test it scored full marks! Super easy to wrap your top and bottom teeth around the bun stack, and with the paper wrapped firmly around it, there were no risk of it falling apart or the sauce getting all over the hands (although I had rolled up my sleeves in anticipation for the worst). Our scores? 4.5 Stars from 5! (2.5 from 3 for Food (there were a wide variety of things to choose  from, and you could customise or even make your own bun stack using the touch screens); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (although the process was largely self-service, but from the minimal interaction with the staffer, he was polite and efficient); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere, it felt like a food truck i.e. it was simple and functional, but they had a good playlist and sitting right under the speakers, it felt like being in my own music video); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (these days if you can have a main, some starters and a drink for 2 for under $35? That’s pretty good in my language!)).

I’ll have to put Stax On Burgers through the Burger scorecard to see how they stack-up? But at this moment, I think they’ll do pretty well. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare against the larger branded burger joints!

Before this day, the only association I had with the term ‘Stacks on!’ Was from my schooling days. The mental image which comes to mind is some kid hits the deck (usually on grass), then one of their mates cries out ‘Stacks on!’ And then a pile-on pursues, and it usually ends in tears, the kid at the bottom of the stack crying out for air. But today, no crushed kids here, just tasty food & drink!

Stax On Burgers- Saturday 13 July (4.5 Stars)

Level 9, Regent Place, 501 George Street, Sydney

Mon-Sun 12 noon – 10pm

**Requires sight and fingers to operate touch screens   

Mary’s- Sydney CBD

No mother of Jesus here!

Taking a city stay-cation, we leisurely strolled Hyde Park, dropping in on the winter playground out front of St Mary’s cathedral.

And when our tummies started to rumble, we headed across the park over to Mary’s – home of the best burgers in Sydney?

I’d been putting off trying Mary’s burgers for as long as I could, as I’d been hyping it and myself up, stating that it’s the best Sydney can offer! So the expectation was set so high, to tell you the truth I was semi-fearful that it might not live up to expectations.

Walking down Castlereagh St, it’s nearly impossible to miss it on a Sunday, as with the pumping metal  music blazing out from their hole-in-the-wall of a store (whilst everything else was shut), you’re almost physically made to look at the source of all the noise and if you’re looking for it, look no more as you’ve found it!

It’s dark, it’s small, it has graffiti and it has a menu which oozes attitude! If words could punch you in the face? This menu surely could!

“Can you use swear words in a menu?” my wife asked. My response, “I guess so”, inclining my head over to the menu. The actual burger selections were few (Mary’s burger, Cheeseburger, Chicken burger and a Veg burger), there were fries, a hash brown, fried cauliflower and soft drinks and that was basically the extent of the menu.

With very limited seating (6 or so wooden high stools set-up against benches which lined the walls), we decided to just grab burgers to go, with a last minute addition (a hash brown). And we perched on the stools while we waited for our number to be called.

“Hey do you just want to eat here?” I shouted into my wife’s ear over the Van Halen sounding metal, but my wife responded “I can’t stand this music!” And fair enough, it was a bit unsettling, considering to this point we were having a really chilled Sunday.

So after enduring 3.5 songs, our number was called and we took our takeaway bag and headed back to Hyde Park.

Spreading out our lunch on the bag in which it was served, we only had to dissuade a ‘Bin chicken’ (ID079) from coming too near (it seems that you can just reason with them). And after taking their glamour pics (the food, not the ibises) we tucked into our long awaited Mary’s burgers.

OMG! There’s something about Mary’s…….burgers! Jake Smyth has indeed designed a killer burger! I’ve listened to an interview with Jake, where he explains why the burger is the way that it is. Jake wanted to create a burger where dudes could fist the burger in one hand, while leaving the other hand free to knock down a tinny. And although I didn’t have a tinny close to hand, but my word, the burger was so easy to smash! The bread bun was thin, but just substantial enough to hold everything in within its bun-ny embrace! The meat patty was thick (at least a centimetre thick), and so soft (almost melting in the mouth). But the cheese was actually melty, the pickles gave it the sourness to cut through the saltiness, and the application of the tomato and mustard sauces……just at the perfect amounts! This is a critical point, as my pet hate with burgers is a soggy bun due to over-saucing, and my second hate is when a burger falls apart when you bite into it due to packing in too many fillings. And on that point, biting into it, there was never any risk of the filling being pushed out the back-side. Everything just held in place (5/5 on the big bite test), and everything was just so fresh and soft, that your teeth just cut through the burger like a hot knife through butter- I can see myself eating this long into my 80s when my dentures can no longer tear through meat.

No surprise, in a matter of minutes I had inhaled my burger, and the crunchy and perfectly seasoned hash brown which we had shared before our burgers was a distant memory.

My wife was also pleased with her Mary’s burger, where I had pickles in my Cheeseburger she instead had lettuce, instead of tomato and mustard sauce she had a creamy mayo/aioli (Mary’s special sauce), and instead of double slices of cheese she had one. But she was still eyeing off my burger in envy. Haaha.

Our end verdict? 4.5 Stars from 5! (3 from 3 for Food (although we only ordered a very limited selection from the Mary’s menu, everything was PERFECT!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (although the interaction with staff was very limited, they were all friendly and efficient); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (although seating was limited, and we ended up taking away, the Mary’s city hole-in-the-wall had heaps of character); and 0.5 from 1.0 for Value for Money (although the food was perfect, the only deduction from the entire experience was the cost. Although $13 isn’t all that expensive, but their burgers were pretty small….. but $1.50 Hash browns? That’s a steal!)).

In conclusion, Mary’s burgers is an example of keeping things simple, and doing all the basic things well! The Cheeseburger was literally just a simple Cheeseburger, no gimmicks, no twists, but it might just be the best darn Cheeseburger I’ve ever had! I’ll have to crunch some numbers, and I’ll have to get back to you on an updated version of my Burger Vs Burger scorecard, but at this point in time we might have just found our best burger in Sydney! We have now narrowed down Sydney’s burger joints to the top 3 (Mary’s, Bar Luca, and Ze Pickle). You know what that means! One final loop of the three best joints, back-to-back, to see who has the best burger in Sydney! I’ll have to find a panel of judges, but it will be happening real soon! They’re no saints, but they do make a flaming good burger though!

Mary’s- Sunday 30 June (4.5 Stars)

154 Castlereagh Street, Sydney

Mon-Thurs 11am – 10pm

Fri-Sat 11am – 10.30pm

Sun 11am – 9pm

Ribs & Burgers- Chippendale

After the difficult decision of Ribs or Burgers? It’s a matter of just choosing between beef, pork or lamb!

This was our very first time at a Ribs & Burgers store, and after making the difficult decision of either ribs or burgers? Like choosing between keeping your left hand or right? We both chose ribs over burgers, as it’s much easier to score a burger elsewhere, but how often do you have ribs? …Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question…

So once the decision was made to consume the thoracic cage, the next choice was either beef, pork or lamb? And I had been told that pork ribs was the choice for many, so I chose the Pork ribs with chips and slaw (the “Rib Rack Pack”, $20), while my wife also had the $20 deal but chose the more premium meat of lamb.

And kudos to the point-of-sale chick, we usually don’t fall for the super-size me question, but this time we did agree. “Would you like a slider for an extra $5?” “Um, why not.” So in the end we did manage to get both Ribs & Burgers! A mini cheese burger slider for an extra $5.

Lamb Rib Rack Pack with Beef Slider

And when our food arrived on their serving boards, it was hard to resist tucking in! The couple of minutes to take our customary food pics was torturous, smelling the aroma of BBQ slathered ribs! In the end we just took the pics, not bothering to wait for the 2 bowls of slaw which were yet to arrive (served up a couple of mins later).

Pork Rib Rack Pack

Mmmmmm, the meat literally fell off the bone! No need for cutlery or the steak knife- your fingers & thumbs was all you need to tear the ribs apart. And after you had a rib clutched in between your fingers, all you had to do next was to tear the meat away from the bone – #Primitive man! The pork was so tender, slightly burnt and crispy on the outside but almost melt-in-your-mouth on the inside! It was already slathered in BBQ sauce, so there was no need to uncap the two bottles of sauce provided at each table. And with your fingers greasy with sauce and drippings, then you tuck into a few hot chippies before tucking back into the ribs! For the serving of pork, I received 6 ribs – each rib was at least 15-20 cms in length?

And oh yeah…..Somewhere along the way we managed to share the burger slider. The beef patty was cooked medium rare, so it also melted in the mouth! Mmmmm.  

And for my wife’s lamb ribs, she received a rack of 8 shorter ribs (around 10cms each), they were tasty as well! The Lamb ribs were a little chewier, by no means was it not good, but it wasn’t melt in your mouth and you had to work on them a bit. But flavourwise, it tasted so good, if you like the gamier taste of lamb of course. We swapped ribs towards the end, and it seems the going rate was 1 Pork rib buys you 2 Lamb ribs, unless your wife is starting to get full and the exchange rate becomes 1 Pork buys you 3 Lamb ribs! #Bargain!

Our end verdict, 4.5 from 5 Stars! (2.5 from 3 for Food (I could’ve easily given it the full 3 stars as the food was faultless, but we rarely give out 5 star ratings, so we had to deduct it from somewhere. But in my eyes the food was literally perfect!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were efficient and friendly); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the clientele were mostly young, and everyone were having a great time, even the music playlist was boppier); and 1 from 1 for Value for money (In the end to have a rack of ribs, heaps of chippies, a decent sized serving of slaw, and a mini burger for $25? That’s really good value in this day and age!)).

In conclusion, Ribs & Burgers is a chain store, and usually chain stores attract a type of negative connotation- but for Ribs & Burgers they’re serving up proven winners, at a repeatable quality! And for the first time, a restaurant were able to serve up an offering which lived up to the lofty marketing slogans as seen on their corporate web-site! Good on ya! I def know where I’ll be going next time when we’re craving Ribs! And we have to come back another day to properly put Ribs & Burgers through the Burger Vs Burger challenge! From the taste test of the slider alone, I think they’re in a good position to knock-off a couple of the trending burger joints in our current top 5!

Ribs & Burgers- Saturday 22 June (4.5 Stars).

PH: (02) 9280 0488

Shop RB09, Lower Ground Level, Central Park Shopping Centre, 28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW

Sun – Thurs 11am – 9.30pm

Fri-Sat 11am – 10pm

Burger Project- World Square

Australia’s Best Burgers, Chips & Shakes?……. Hardly!

Wow! I can’t believe it! After our less-than-favourable experience at Grille’d, we had put our “Burger Vs Burger” project of eating at all the trending burger joints in Sydney on-hold for more than 2 months! I didn’t realise that I was that badly traumatised by the messy experience. Haaha. But this Sunday arvo, we put our Burger pants back on and headed out to Burger Project-World Square, to put another burger joint through their burger-paces.

Long gone are the days when there were lines out-the-door, at the first Burger Project – eager patrons waiting for their turn to hand Neil Perry cash to try his first venture into fast food. Today, it was pretty quiet except for a bunch of primary schoolers playing fussball, an attempt to get at parent’s wallets through the youthful desires of their kids. *Rolls eyes*.

At the fast-food style counter, you make your selections. The burger options were either beef (various takes on a cheese burger); chicken burgers (various configurations involving a crumbed chicken fillet); and veg burgers (various recipes using mushrooms).  We ordered a Chilli Cheese Burger for me ($13.50); a Peking Chicken Burger for my wife ($14.90) (this was a limited edition special); and a small chips & shake combo (fries with chipotle chilli salt and coffee milkshake) for an additional $10.50)- for a total of $38.90. Ouch! And if you paid with card, there was an additional surcharge. Hmmmmm……. Feels like the Rockpool Dining Group is trying to milk every last cent from their patrons?

Armed with a buzzer, we had the entire empty restaurant to elect our seating from. Probs 6 years ago the grey and white decor was chic, but a number of years on it was just drab.

The wait for our food was considerably long (perhaps 15 mins), considering the kitchen were literally cooking for the two of us and another dude. But when our food arrived, we were pretty ready to tuck in (wifey had skipped breakfast).

Burger Project claims “Fast Food, Slow Food Values”- hey, it’s slogans like this which makes me evaluate them more critically. Ahem, let us be the judge of that.

Yes, BP has values/aspirations to be sustainable, i.e. minimal packaging and everything is recyclable/compostable. But a nearly $15 burger in an oversized paper bag (needed to be folded in on itself as the burger is too small to fill it out) in my opinion that doesn’t spell out ‘slow food values’ though.

The big bite test……. At least it was very easy to wrap both top and bottom teeth around the buns, as the burger was pretty flat. As harsh as I’ve been thus far, I can admit that the burger was good! The milk bun had a really nice chewy texture to it, although it was quite thin. The burger lived up to its chilly namesake, the jalapeño gave it a nice chilli kick and the sauce was applied perfectly! Just enough, without being messy. The veg was fresh, the beef patty was cooked perfectly- although it lacked a beef taste. I could only feel the texture of the meat when chewing, but it lacked any flavour. And same again for the cheese, there wasn’t any cheesiness, but you just felt its melty chewy qualities on your teeth.

My wife’s limited edition Chinese New Year burger – Peking Chicken, consisted of the same milk bun as mine; fresh veg (lettuce, pickles, shallots); a thin crumbed chicken schnitzel; and two sauces, one was a sweet chilli paste, while the other was the hoisin sauce (hoisin + sprinkling of shallots= Peking burger?). Her conclusion was that it was good, but if anything it was too sweet, and she preferred the standard BP chicken burger if she had to ‘do-over’.

The $10 chips and milkshake? The chipotle salt was non-descript, I’d describe it as just being salty – the complementary self-service tomato sauce was probs the most memorable element to the chips. Oops. And the coffee flavour in the milkshake was weak.

Our end verdict? 3.0 Stars from 5.0. Burger Project’s claims of “Fast Food with Slow Food Values”? More like fast food quality food, at overpriced slow food prices! When compared head to head with the other burger joints we’ve eaten at, it’s probably better than 8bit but not as good as Down N’ Out, meaning that it’s below average. To tell you the truth, it’s not much better than McDonalds; being half-the-price of Burger Project, I’m thinking 99% of families would rather go to the Golden arches for their fast food burgers, than to the Rockpool Dining groups version of a value meal for every-day Australians. Can you believe it, if you were a family of 4, it could easily add up to $80!? Eighty bucks for fast food! Has this world gone MAD!?

Score break-down: 2 from 3 for Food (it was good, but not a stand-out); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the service staff were professional enough); 0 from 0 for atmosphere (the restaurant was empty, the interior was ‘blah’ and they were playing music off Mtv or something); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for money (we understand that the cost needs to cover staffing, rent, overheads etc etc, but $38.90 for 2 burgers, small fries and small milkshake- that’s not affordable for most families)).

Our end comments, are that we understand that you need to position yourself in the marketplace and the marketing team has a job to do – stir up interest in a product! But outright lies of being Australia’s “best” burgers, chips, and shakes is just too much! And stating that you’re fast food with slow food values, maybe social responsibility values, but definitely not value for money though. No look-in for Burger Project in our Burger Vs Burger competition, we can and have easily struck BP off our list of potential contenders for the title of ‘Sydney’s Best Burger Joint!’

Burger Project- World Square- Sunday 31 March

PH: (02) 9259 5600

Shop 6, Level 1, World Square Shopping Centre, 644 George Street, Sydney

Mon – Sun 11am – 9pm

**Surcharge for use of Credit cards