57 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest, New South Wales
Here at Snot Block & Roll we are, of course, proudly Australian, and aim to bring you the best in true Aussie cuisine. So we were somewhat taken aback when the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Good Food site posted a reference to an article written by American chef David Chang about what he thinks makes the ideal hamburger. Chang writes:
You know who fucks up burgers more than anyone else in the world? Australians. Australia has no idea what a burger is. They put a fried egg on their burger. They put canned beetroot on it, like a wedge of it. I am not joking you. This is how they eat their burger.
Uh… okay. But wait, he doesn’t stop insulting people who happen to have different tastes to him there:
My ideal burger is bun, cheese, burger. Sometimes bacon. … And the cheese thing has to be very clear: American cheese only.
Wait, whoa! If this guy had any credibility left at all, it’s all gone by now. American cheese??? This stuff?? But wait, there’s even more:
Honestly, what does the lettuce do? It adds texture, Dave. Texture? Really? Is it really going to hold up, crushed between the bun and the hot patty that steams it? I don’t think so. … And onions and tomatoes — what do they do? … The whole idea of half-steamed veg on top of your burger is the dumbest fucking thing I could ever think of. And I will say this: if you enjoy it, you’re an idiot.
Well. We could not let this go unanswered. So this very day we went to a local burger place: Grill’d at Crows Nest. They have a menu with several different types of burgers, including a good selection of chicken burgers, vegetarian options, and a trio of lamb burgers to showcase that great Australian meat as well as the beef. The ambience is casual and friendly, with bare brick walls and solid wooden furniture and slightly dimmed lighting. This couldn’t be further from your plastic primary coloured American fast food burger chain decor. For which we can be grateful.
I choose the Almighty Burger, which comes with all six ingredients that David Chang singled out as marking the consumer as an imbecile: lettuce, tomato, onion, a fried egg, beetroot, and (non-American) tasty cheddar cheese. Oh wait, Chang also said:
Another thing that’s a no-no on a hamburger is mustard. It’s too strong of a condiment. Ketchup is genius because it adds salty-sweetness that is perfect for it. Anything that’s bright and acidic, you want. Mustard is too spicy. Get that shit out of there.
My burger doesn’t come with mustard, but I ask a woman behind the counter and she cheerfully hands me a small plastic tub with a generous dollop of sharp mustard in it.
The burger is delivered to my table by a friendly server. It forms a glorious tower of burgery goodness. You can see the layers in the photo: lettuce, tomato, beetroot, beef, cheese, egg, and a slice of bacon. You know what the salad adds, David Chang? It adds flavour. Oh, and the beetroot slices? Insulates the lettuce and tomato from the beef, so the lettuce stays crisp and the tomato firm and juicy. Besides, you know, tasting good.
I take the top off and liberally spread a thick layer of the mustard onto the beef patty. You know what this feels like? It feels like someone who knows how to enjoy a burger, doing what they want to make it taste great.
The first bite is delicious. The range of flavours and textures explodes in the mouth, held together by the hot juiciness of the beef patty. The sharp tang of the mustard offsets the sweetness of the beetroot, which complements the salty smoothness of the cheddar cheese, which contrasts with the crisp salad elements. It’s umami and saltiness, and sweetness, and sour, and crispy and juicy and hot and cool all at once. Honestly, it’s perfect.
Food is a blending of ingredients with the aim of making something greater than its parts. Compare to David Chang’s idea of the ideal burger:
My ideal burger is bun, cheese, burger. … American cheese only.
(Emphasis as in the original.) Well, sorry David Chang, that you don’t have the palate to appreciate the Australian hamburger.
Almighty Burger: I would give 9/10, but today I’m giving it 10/10.