It might be the chipotle-flavoured salt on my chips, or lashings of that “secret sauce” seeping through the handmade beef patty, but as I finish my meal at the newly opened Burger Project outlet in Sydney’s Martin Place, one thing is clear in my mind: this fast food is no slapdash affair.
Of the 11 burgers on the menu, I opt for the Aussie. It’s made of grass-fed beef from Tasmania’s Cape Grim; roasted, sliced and pickled beetroot that’s bursting with flavour; and that secret sauce – a finger-licking tomato relish that’s halfway between a ketchup and a barbecue sauce. Even the onion has gone through a journey – soaked in water then dried to give it the texture of apple without any pungent flavours.
“This is fast food with slow-food values,” says Qantas’s creative director of food, beverage and service Neil Perry, the man behind Burger Project as well as the Rockpool Group of restaurants. “Just because we want food that’s quick and convenient, doesn’t mean we have to compromise its quality.”
There are two Burger Project outlets in Sydney: World Square and the MLC Centre in Martin Place. But 2016 will see the launch of three more: two in Melbourne (on St Collins Lane in March and in Chadstone Shopping Centre in September) and one in Sydney’s Circular Quay in October. If you happen to be anywhere near these locations, make sure you drop in to see what’s cooking. Here are the top picks.
My favourite is the Aussie burger but Perry’s is the Cheese and Bacon burger. “I really love the smokiness of the bacon, and the cheese and the meat together,” he says. Perry’s second pick is the Chilli Cheese burger, featuring a hot and spicy house-made jalapeño relish.
The humble potato chip is elevated to fine food at Burger Project. You can opt for those sprinkled with plain salt but for a seriously flavoursome side, go with the chipotle option. Large red jalapeños are smoked and crushed then mixed with salt to “give your chips that beautiful, rich, sun-dried roasted flavour”, says Perry.
Those with a sweet tooth need not be disappointed as there are plenty of ice-creams and shakes on the menu. Take, for example, the Bounty Hunter – scoops of vanilla-bean-flavoured ice-cream with crushed meringue, toasted coconut and lashings of Valrhona chocolate sauce. Heaven!