The first thing that struck me when I surveyed the restaurant after sitting down on one of its canteen-like benches was the sheer irony of its name.
See, I’d expected patrons to be eating with their hands, regardless of this being a gourmet burger joint or not because in my opinion, by integrity of the act of eating burgers alone, one is expected to exercise the use of hands at some point. So the pun in its name really has no more of a purpose other than to draw out the bizarre incongruity between it and the actual dining experience.
Because no one was using their hands at all. Not a person in sight.
But your initial bewilderment will soon dissolve into a sort of amused enlightenment, an ‘Aha!’ moment, as Oprah would say, because the burgers bear as little resemblance to actual burgers as opposed to mini replicas of leaning towers of Pisas…which I found absolutely adorable.
I find paradoxes, oxymorons and juxtapositions adorable. They tickle me.
The Works: 150g 100% N.Z beef ribeye patty, battered onion rings, bacon, sunny side up egg, sautéed basil pesto mushroom, sweet onion jam, cheddar cheese, barbeque and aioli sauce, coral lettuce and toasted caramelised onion bun.
Now here’s what’s appropriate (and wise) : Not using your hands for this.
I don’t usually eat burgers, my last one being more than a year ago at Burger King in Genting, so when I do, I feel the need to order the biggest, meanest of them all – The Works ($11.80). This was so mean that it started tipping the moment it was plonked on the table about 5 minutes after we placed our orders, and a second after this picture was taken, it toppled, which suited me just fine since eating it upright would be a Guinness feat of jaw unhingement. The Works managed to look classy with its sculpted height yet retained a Bad-ass Burger Boy vibe with its combination of ingredients, so I wasn’t feeling very feminine though I tucked into it with a fork and knife.
Remember what I said in my Ricciotti post about bacon? Well I should make it a point to emphasize that smoky, crisp, sizzling bacon will save any dish, because the two strips that sat contentedly atop the pile made me feel like an early 90s American gangster chewing a hunk of tobacco – they were leathery and dry. The aioli sauce tasted more like tartar sauce, and since I’m not a fan of rich, creamy sauces, I left most of it untouched, and it unfortunately drowned out whatever basil pesto there may have been with the mushrooms. I’ll have to admit that the flavours worked well together, but it’s neigh impossible to have a little bit of everything on the same fork. I pretty much ate from top down, and here’s where things started getting odd. I doubt that the burger buns were toasted as the menu described it to be because they looked and tasted like they’d been charred atop the teppanyaki, the browned surface looking oiled and gummy, and the texture of the buns horribly dry and dense. Macdonald’s burger buns have them beat. I didn’t finish them. The beef patty was…something else entirely. Till now I don’t know what to make of it. I appreciated it’s girth, it’s thick, beefy appearance and punchy taste and gorgeous charred marks. I wasn’t so sure, however, about the gristly bits within a ribeye patty, because for all the ribeye steaks that I’ve had (trust me, I know my steaks), I’ve never once encountered bone cartilage. Think the texture of the chewy ends of a drumstick, except within a burger patty. The interior was medium-rare pink, and I like medium rare (hell, I love rare), but a chewy burger patty tinged pink? Now that’s new. Reviews raged about how patties shouldn’t be medium rare, or how it actually is supposed to be medium rare. I think I’ll maintain a neutral stand. Thumbs up for the lack of grease though, I was pleased with that.
Onion Rings: $4 top up from a burger, inclusive of a drink.
“Hey these taste different,” Oli frowned, chewing on an onion ring.
“It tastes like there’s onion. And there’s a ring of onion inside!”
I sweatdropped. “Maybe that’s because they’re onion rings…you know, onion rings?”
“But this one has onion!” he exclaimed, looking troubled.
My head met the table in aggravation. “Just what kind of onion rings have you been eating?!”
He scratched his head. “I don’t know! But they didn’t have onions…”
*Headdesk* moments aside, these onion rings were good. Crisp, flavourful batter encasing an actual onion ring. My only gripe is that there were only 4 rings that came in the bowl. Oli wanted to top up his drink to a rootbeer float for $2.80, so ideally, and logically, each onion ring costs about a dollar each. What?! Oh, and don’t expect exceptional vanilla ice cream with the float.
Battered Dory Burger: Battered Pacific dory, spicy tartare, lotus root crisps, coral lettuce, tomato on toasted honey whole wheat multigrain bun.
The Battered Dory Burger ($9.80) that Oli ordered was thankfully devoid of greasiness as well, the batter light and airy though I thought it rather pricey since the twin slabs (admittedly generous) of fish were the main stars of the burger. The renkon slices (lotus stem) were an interesting addition I thought, tasting pleasantly like tapioca chips. And the burger buns were surprisingly good, better than mine, and its mostly due to by preference for well-rounded, nutty grains and seeds in buns, which of course became the running joke of the night when I very aptly voiced my exact thoughts: “Hey, I like your buns!”.
Overall, I appreciated the bright, fresh lighting and old school canteen-like seating. It admirably balanced casual eating with a novel dining experience though I did find it odd that we had to go to the front to pay for our food. It’s a great place for group meals though, so consider it the next time you can’t decide where to go that’ll comfortably seat a group of rowdy people.
One last thought, though:
My burger owned, yo.