Bianca: Neil, Neil, Neil… he had eluded me since he opened ‘The Burger Project’ late last year but I finally managed to swing a few visits the last few months, to try his ‘ode to the milk bar style burgers’. I had seen the back and forth chatter between bloggers and the like over the life of its incarnation. Problems with the buns, the chips… the pricing. I wanted to wait until they had ironed out the kinks and gotten into the groove. Word is they’re still rather inconsistent with their product, which are odds I do not like.
For anyone that has had Rockpool’s Full blood wagyu burger, you could see how I would have extremely high standards for Neil’s ‘Burger Project’ offerings.
So the food… My first visit I felt totally overwhelmed coming in and had major buyer’s remorse after I placed my order. I went with the ‘Cheese & Bacon’ – w/Grass fed beef, bacon, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and secret sauce $10.90. The bun was perfect, so whatever adjustments made here have definitely paid off, soft and squishy. Whilst the special sauce was ‘acceptable’ it was un-expected. I note that the ‘secret sauce’ is added to all burgers barring the chicken. In hindsight I wish I had ordered the ‘American cheese’ to experience more of the ‘cheeseburger’ type flavour with mayo and tomato sauce, which I prefer. I just found the chilli sauce odd. My patty was cooked to a medium well but was still juicy, I couldn’t help but feel I was left with a greasy after-taste. It’s not something I generally come across AND this had foliage which I would have thought would counteract this old age burger problem. I wish I had taken a photo of it but my pickle was oddly cucumber-ish, which = weird on a burger! It was particularly reminiscent of a Macca’s quarter pounder, like, eerily so. For my Facebook FBAS a 3.4/5 pickles.
Alex was on the verge of purge when lunchtime rolled around (after a day shooting for the Urban-list) so he wasn’t in fighting/eating spirit. That’s a nice way of saying he was being a moody princess. He sulkily ordered his ‘Classic’ – w/ Grass fed beef, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and secret sauce + bacon (extra) $8.90. Basically similar to mine without the cheese and let me tell you, it needs the cheese. Alex was unimpressed, with words echoing “Perry should be embarrassed to have his name attached”, while I don’t agree completely with those sentiments. I couldn’t help but feel a little cold after a bite or two of Alex’s burger, I couldn’t taste the love. A 2.5/5 pickles.
We needed something to round out the meal and opted for the ‘Chipotle Chilli Chips’ $2.90 (small). Really decent fries, I like mine crispy and they didn’t disappoint. The chilli was mild, with a slight lingering kick after each bite.
I couldn’t help myself and returned for a second visit the following week, I wanted to get a more rounded experience and sample more of the offerings on the menu. This time I had Madre in tow. She couldn’t go past the ‘Spicy Fried Chicken’ – Free range chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, jalapeños, cheese and rose mayonnaise $10.50. Mum thoroughly enjoyed her burger, the jalapeños packed quite the punch but we both like a bit of spice so enjoyed that immensely and let’s be honest it wouldn’t be weird for me to cry tears of joy after eating a burger…The ‘salad’ portion of the burger interplayed nicely with the fried chicken to cut through the fried/oily taste. The breaded chicken, akin to a chicken schnitzel was cooked well and retained much of its juiciness (so proud I didn’t use the word moist there <<). A strong option for chicken burger lovers, mum still preferred the Queens from Five Points. A 3.4/5 pickles.
For my second dip into the Burger Project pool, I had the ‘American Cheese’ – Grass fed beef, cheese, onion, pickles, secret sauce and rose mayonnaise $9.90. Boy, was it a sad state of affairs when I first laid eye’s on my burger. Lacklustre is probably most apt. Cheeseburgers are my go-to, so I was prepared for a slightly smaller offering but this equalled McDonalds cheeseburger in size and we all know how small that is. I still got major cucumber vibes from the pickles, don’t know what that’s about. One thing I’ll give them, the patty is pretty tasty, mine was exceptionally juicy – so much so, I could smoosh it down and literally watch the patty ooze. A relatively decent elevated cheeseburger but small small small. 3.3/5 pickles.
A few weeks later I returned because I won a ‘Feast for two’ through an Instagram competition. Clearly the universe is joining together to turn me into the size of a house. This feast for two was rather intense and it included 2 burgers, 2 sides, 2 drinks and 2 desserts, so I recruited both my mum and Alex. Alex always has a tanty these days whenever burgers are involved, he had the ‘Fried Chicken’ which was similar to mums during our second visit, minus the chilli. He enjoyed the chicken burger over his initial classic.
Mum, stepping away from her usual chicken burgers had the ‘Chilli Cheese’ – Grass fed beef, cheese (which she didn’t get), jalapeño, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and secret sauce $10.50. Mum found the patty particularly juicy and succulent but still preferred the chicken. a 3/5 pickles.
This time around I had ‘The Bacon Project’ – Grass fed beef, bar fridge smoked bacon, cheese, pickles and secret sauce (I swapped it out for the rose sauce) $13.90. Easily the best burger I’ve had at The Burger Project till now. The smoky bacon was obviously the prominent flavour, so it’s not for the weak hearted. My only gripe was that I wished the bacon was cooked till crispy as there’s nothing worse than stringy bacon fat. The rose sauce is definitely the way to go, I much prefer it to the chilli secret sauce. A 4/5 pickles.
For the sides, we got a large serving of the ‘Salt Chips’ $4.90 we preferred these over the chilli offering. As well as two ‘Classic Hot Sauce Crispy Wings’ $3.90 ea. Ordinarily I’m not a huge fan of chicken wings or drums, anything that involves too much effort. But these were really great, the chicken batter was crispy with an almost sweet honey style coating, the chicken flesh was juicy but we didn’t get any heat at all.
For the ‘liquid’ portion of our lunch, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the Burger Projects shakes. I asked the sales assistance which he would recommend, the real shakes or thick-shakes. He told us to go for the real shakes and I think we may have been led a bum steer. I wish we’d gone with thick-shake option. We tried the ‘Valrhona Chocolate’ and the ‘Salted Caramel’ $6.50 each. Both were delicious but I was surprised my favourite ended up being the salted caramel.
We were now being just utter gluttons at this point – we finished with the ‘Marsh-cara-mallow ice-cream’ – salted caramel ice-cream with hazelnut praline, burnt marshmallow and valrhona chocolate sauce $6.00. Collectively we all favoured this one with the hazelnut praline being a stand-out, those crunchy little morsels just added that somethin somethin. Our second dessert was the ‘Nuts about chocolate’ – w/ valrhona chocolate ice-cream, almond praline and valrhona white chocolate sauce $6.00. This just screams ‘BIANCA’ so I was surprised when it took the back-seat to the salted caramel. First up, the almond praline was M.I.A we didn’t come across any in our serve. The ice-cream was ‘chocolatey’ and it had a lovely texture, almost similar to a mousse, with visible air bubbles.
It’s hard to say whether I’d be back on a regular basis, I have my trusty reliable’s for a burger – PLK, Mister Gee’s and Bar Luca. I can’t see myself favouring BP over those, quite frankly because I’m never in the city and if I was it would be ‘Bar Luca’ all the way… Unless Neil would personally like to be my burger wench? Neil? Ya busy?
Photos by Bianca/ Alex