Wednesday, 17 September 2014
It may have been because Neil Perry himself was working the kitchen. Or it could’ve been because Matt Moran showed up (looking like a homeless thug, I might add) at about 2.30pm for a meal. Whatever it is, the half-baked fast food outlet I experienced last week has made way for an establishment that lives up to its promise. Welcome to the party at long last, Burger Project.
- The burgers didn’t arrive at room temperature – this time they were piping hot.
- The chips weren’t flat and soggy – this time they were substantial to bite into (though I still can’t distinguish the different flavours available).
- The milkshakes didn’t taste watered down – the Valrhona chocolate is now quite unmistakable and the salted dulce de leche made me forget that I’m lactose intolerant.
On this occasion, I had:
- The Spicy Dog – more than just boiled mystery-meat in a bun, this is an immense pork sausage that comes with the works (crispy-fried onions, raw onions, pickles, lettuce, mustard), putting places like Snag Stand to shame.
- Magic Mushrooms – the menu describes the main ingredient as a confit of mushrooms, but what I got was a giant portobello mushroom that I could carve through like a fine steak. It’s not a bad vegetarian dish, but as the most expensive item on the menu (it’s 51 per cent more expensive than the Classic and 34 per cent more expensive than most of the others), I was hoping for something more… exotic.
- Spicy Pork Belly – as predicted, as nice as the Spicy Chicken. Except with pig. And, importantly, crackling.
I’ve had to keep my expectations in check as Perry has always said from the outset that he’s just trying to recreate the old corner store burgers of old (or, more specifically, of the pre-McDonalds’ era) – so it’s not exactly going to be a gourmet experience with a capital “G”. The food is about half the price of what you’ll get at Jazz City Diner (which has a superior menu and remains my gold standard for milkbar-style dining), but I’d still happily rate this a close second. That said, why is the cheese he uses of the nuclear-orange, American-style Monterey Jack variety?
In any case, I won’t have any problems coming back to polish off the rest of the burger and hotdog menu. There are other places nearby that deliver better conventional burgers for cheaper (Crisp Burgers on Pitt Street under the Telstra building, for one), but they don’t offer the suite of divine milkshakes and desserts that The Burger Project has on its menu.
Nicely played, Mister Perry.