*Edit – Josh Arthurs has left Danno’s. His burger creations can be sampled at pop up events, like his page on Facebook to find out all the latest ‘Burgers by Josh’.
Bianca: I’ve realised as we’ve now recently passed our one year For Food’s Sake anniversary that we rarely talk about burgers, like EVER!! I mean what is the appeal? Fluffy buns, melted cheese, beef…bacon…disgusting! They’re really like the poor man’s sandwich. Man that hurt me to write more than you’ll ever know. So yes, I like my burgers. It’s bordering on an obsession now, with clothing and gadgets.
Thanks to the Facebook ‘Fatties Burger Appreciation Society’ I know I’m in good company, with over 7000 members. One place that has garnered a bit of attention the last 2 months is ‘Danno’s Café’, an unassuming café a block away from busy Pittwater road and a few good blocks away from Dee Why’s main beach. In all honesty forget the beach, sand is gross – get yourself to Danno’s and get yourself one of the many burgers on offer. Josh Arthurs, the head burger artist and chef at Danno’s has curated a rather beautiful list of top-notch standard burgers as well as his burger ‘experiments’. When you have a chef working at a relatively standard café in the burbs making his own burger buns and sauces you know you’re onto a complete game-changer.
Driving over 45 minutes away, in some pretty heavy rain for a burger isn’t too much of a big deal for me, especially if the end result is akin to my experience last Friday. And joining me on my excursion was ‘Benita’, a fellow burger lover and all around top bloke.
Danno the owner really went above and beyond for us during our visit, even advising me to drop the 3rd burger I was intending on ordering. How often does that happen?
And now we’ve come to the meaty portion of this little tale. There were two specials (not listed on the menu, so ask) that appealed to both myself and Benita. So it was settled, the standard cheeseburger will have to wait till another time. They kindly pre-cut the burgers to save ourselves the mess and embarrassment. So here we have first up, the ‘Chief Wiggum’ – Pulled pork, house made BBQ sauce, Jalapeno slaw, Coriander, beer battered pineapple fritter, jalapeño mayo and crispy bacon w/pork scratching’s $15.95 ($13.95 for FBAS members). Honestly, where to start? .
I am ordinarily sceptical of pulled pork on burgers, it’s either tasteless with the consistency of tuna, dry or dripping all over the place. I have never had a pulled pork burger, quite like this. The pork gloriously juicy, slow-cooked and coated with the rich in-house made BBQ sauce. When Danno first described the burger to me alarm bells went off in my head when I heard “pineapple”, that, beetroot and egg are burger no-no’s for me. But the fritter angle is a game changer, in what could be a rather heavy and rich ensemble, the fritter adds a touch of freshness and sweetness. Genius.
For those concerned with the heat aspect the jalapeno mayo is mild and it’s all livened up by the salad(y) aspect. Of which I only later realised was coriander, totally didn’t click for me. I was also pleasantly surprised by the crispy caramelised bacon, I initially thought it was candied. I can’t say whether I’m a pulled pork burger convert but I’m definitely a Danno’s pulled pork devotee. For my FBAS a very strong 4.2/5 pickles. The Chief Wiggum is available from Thursday 28th May.
The spuds $3, for a side. Get their own little paragraph because they’re ridiculously good, with paprika seasoning. Super crispy on the outside and gorgeously fluffy on the inside. Sadly we didn’t make much of a dent in our baskets but Danno did offer to box em up. Frankly, no-one needs to see or hear about me eating cold chips, crying in front of Mad Men.
And the meanest of mean burgers the ‘Primo Exhibition’ – 2 beef patties, lettuce, bacon, onion rings, jalapenos and sauce $15. I’ve seen a few photos of this towering inferno but in the flesh it’s actually rather manageable and not so intimidating. I naturally favour beef patties but believe me it was a close tie between the two.
Let’s start from the ground up, the buns are a hybrid milk/brioche bun and are easily becoming my favourite burger vessel. These were slightly oiled/buttered then topped with a thin layer of sliced lettuce. Because there were so many rich elements this was probably the one time salad should be allowed, not to mention it was used rather sparingly so big thumbs up.
One thing Benita and I both agreed on was the initial lack of ‘beef’ flavour, it didn’t punch you in the face like some beef patties can. It was seasoned well and cooked medium with a slight pink tinge in the centre. The bacon was crispy but I preferred the cooking method on the bacon for the Chief Wiggum over this rendition, there was also a nice kick from the jalapenos. The star of the burger and the one element that tied everything together were the onion rings, crispy, salty…Big shout out to the jalapeno poppers as well, basing a burger around these babies would be a sure fired winner. Despite both burgers size they held up really one, no structural issues at all. Would bang again!! A 4.3/5 pickles.
Danno, in passing asked us if we wanted any drinks. Happy to stick to my water until the magical ‘Milkshake’ word was uttered. Benita opting for the ‘Vanilla Malt Milkshake’ $5.95. Which was similar to a classic milk bar style, with both dual hits of malt and vanilla notes. All I heard was “Peanut Butter” so I couldn’t look past the ‘Elvis’ – peanut butter, banana, caramel & chocolate ice-cream $6.95. This was RIIIIICH…A thick devishly wicked concoction, I’m pretty sure it led to my chippy fail. I also had it with skim milk because, well, I don’t want to get fat.
A few weeks ago Alex and I attended the Danno’s pop up at The Café Lounge in Surry Hills, organised by the crew at Hashtag Burgers. The burger experiment of the evening was the ‘New Yorker’ – wagyu patty, American cheese, pastrami, swiss cheese, house-made sauerkraut, onion rings, house made Russian dressing and a beer battered pickle. The basic premise is a take on a New York style Reuben sandwich. It divided a few of us on the night. There were sooo many elements going on, the first few bites were spent trying to work out what they each were. Pros – the patty (cooked and seasoned well, slightly pink), melted American cheese and that sneaky onion ring. The Cons – not a fan of pastrami and I LOATHE Swiss cheese so it was kind of doomed from the start. The Russian sauce was rather tart, again not a huge fan. Huge tick for the massive deep-fried pickle, this really got the juices flowing in anticipation of that first burger bite.
Despite its general size and girth it actually held up quite well which I was surprised by. Again, I’m not a fan of greenery on burgers but in this case it kind of acted like a seal protecting the delicate bottom bun from the invading Russian sauce. Alex, was taken with it a little more than me so we disagreed on the pickle score. We came to a compromise of 3.9/5 pickles.
No question that Danno’s are doing the BEST burgers on the Northern Beaches, I’d actually put them up there with my top burgers in Sydney at the moment. They’re certainly in good company with Mister Gee’s, Publife and Five-Points.
I’ve already promised a return visit with madre in tow.
Happy International Burger day folks!!!
Pop-up photos by Alex