Bianca: It seems my mental brainwaves travelled successfully to Royal Stacks mastermind and all around legend Dani Zeini because they have now opened their first NSW store in Chatswood, Sydney. It’s not quite Concord…but it’ll do.
I’ve long admired Dani’s burgers at Grand Trailer Park and the Miss Elizabeth took out the number 1 spot on our burger crawl this year in Feb. 2016 Melbourne Burger Crawl So the burger credentials are well and truly backed up, at least by us.
The Chatswood fit-out is very reminiscent of their Melbourne stores, while not as big as their flagship Collins st store. There is ample indoor sitting with a small covered area just out the front on Anderson Street.
Royal Stacks is geared more towards a quick dine-in or takeaway meal. One thing they have nailed down pat is the branding and packaging. Something we made mention of during our visit in February. Serving Burgers, Sides, Milkshakes and concrete mixers (frozen custard) which is in the same vein as American chain Shake Shack.
And one of the biggest honours that was placed upon us, was helping out with the Bloggers launch night this past Monday, any excuse to be near the magic and the talent that is Dani and the lovely executive chef, Terri Tep. I’m all about supporting strong female chefs – especially when they’re churning out some of the best burgers in the country!
You’re wishing I’d move on to the food right? Wanting to get a good breadth of the entire menu we got nearly one of everything. For ‘research purposes’. This is based upon a few burgers from the launch night. And a subsequent visit a few nights later.
First off, the buns are a hybrid brioche and potato bun. Unless you’ve had one it’s a little difficult to explain. A few people mentioned it had the taste and consistency of a bao bun. No complaints here. They’re small and compact and hold up well to the meat and sauces.
All the beef is 100% Australian pasture fed and GMO free. Across the board it was seasoned well. Our second visit it was cooked slightly over what we’d normally prefer. But after only 4 days trading we’ll put this down to kinks that need ironing out.
The Miss Elizabeth $11.50 -/ beef patty, Swiss cheese and truffle mayo was the burger that started our Royal Stacks obsession. This was our highest rating burger for our burger crawl. And it’s success is ultimately in its simplicity. With each and every component weighed out to the ultimate measure to create a ‘super’ burger. If there was an introductory burger to be had here at the Stacks… it’s this one!
It’s pocket-sized but don’t be fooled. It’s rich, it’s meaty with the perfect ratio of meat/bread/sauce and cheese. The truffle flavour hits you straight in the kisser. Our second visit during the week was slightly peppier and the buns were toasted a little bit more, creating more of a crust. But I kinda liked that so no complaints there. This one gets 4.7/5 pickles. It’s score improving upon the burger crawl because it’s now in Sydney and I can haz it when I wantz…..
The Double Stack $13.20 -w/ Beef patties, tomato, butter lettuce, American cheddar, special burger sauce, pickles and fresh onion is your great entry-level beef burger. The addition of lettuce and tomato as you all know doesn’t do too much for me. But it’s a clean burger, with no sopping wet sauces. Truly letting you savour the tastes of the bun, meat and fresh ingredients. The fresh thick sliced onion might frighten people but it really does work. This gets a 3.7/5 pickles.
Another must try is the McDowell – w/ 2 beef patties, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, lettuce and horseradish, shallot and gherkin mayo. Don’t be alarmed if you go in-store and can’t see it on the menu… It’s not!
Siddle on up to the counter and whisper the code-words “For Food’s Sake loves Stacks” and you’ll be rewarded with one of these. Lols – they’ll probably look at you like your mad. A ‘secret’ menu item for a limited time and trust me, you’ll be shitting your pants if you miss this one.
Fans of the Eddie Murphy seminal classic and all around coming of age story (surely we were all rich African princes at some stage in our lives?) Coming to America will appreciate the name reference. It’s similar to a Maccas Big Mac but refined to the nines. It’s svelte and sexy with a prominent cheese melt. The bun in the middle wasn’t obtrusive or out-of-place whatsoever. Big points to solid lettuce selection. Those flimsy outer leaves are the bomb. Delivering the flavour without the white core! Yes I just praised crispy water. But the ultimate winner is the zingy McDowell sauce. This one’s a strong contender for a signature burger, a 4.4/5 pickles.
Vego’s avert your eyes. The Bacon Bacon $14.90 -w/ 2 beef patties, double bacon, American cheddar, caramelised onion, american mustard, tomato sauce and pickles is your basic cheeseburger on steroids. Plus half of Babe. First off, a double beef burg with bacon for under $15 is a steal.
I’m not a fan of double patties, I like more succinct even flavoured burgers and this is quite ‘meaty’. I took one patty out and enjoyed those ratios much more. I loved the slightly sweet caramelised onions which added a bit of a sweet twist. But this burgers downfall was unfortunately the title star. The bacon, whilst tasty was too stringy for my liking. If it’s going to be in a burger it has to be crispy. So it breaks away with each mouthful, not tugging at the rest of the burger after each bite. Slight misstep with the cooking but this can be easily rectified, I’d also just ask for crispy bacon next time. A 4.1/5 pickles.
You have the Miss Elizabeth, the Queen Bee and the ultimate poo-bah, The King $14.80-w/ a beef patty, tomato, butter lettuce, mac & cheese croquette, American mustard and special burger sauce. The Mac and cheese croquette is what initially made me fall in love with Dani’s food empire. The Francis Underwood at Grand Trailer Park in Melbourne was truly one of those burgers that spoke to my soul…MY SOUL!!
And this one was an adorable little baby brother. Similar in taste just a great deal more manageable. The star is ultimately that handmade mac n cheese croquette. Even the tomato and lettuce has its place in this burger. Balancing the rich croquette and allowing it to straddle that line bordering on heavy/ food coma territory. An ‘ugly cry to the gods’/’raise the roof’ 4.7/5 pickles.
Not closely pictured but here somewhere is the Queen Bee $12.50 -w/ Handmade chickpea patty, tomato, butter lettuce, American cheddar, special burger sauce and pickles. A few weeks back during Meat Free Week this would have been a strong contender but amongst all these meaty goodies it was never going to get top billing. The chickpea patty was a great meat alternative, similar in taste to a falafel with a hint of tahini in there. Great consistency and moisture within the veggie patty, as they can sometimes be a little dry. I’d totally slap a mac n cheese croquette in here tho. A 3.7/5 pickles.
As well as the Prince Harry $11.50 -w/ a beef patty, butter lettuce, American cheddar, Swiss cheese and a horseradish, shallot & gherkin mayo sauce. Which correct me if I’m wrong is just a single patty McDowell? Those that like the meaty hit will probably enjoy the McDowell more but I have to say the mayo shone a lot more in the Prince Harry. With the little bursts of shallots and gherkins giving off a slight twang of tanginess with each bite. A 4.6/5 pickles.
And clearly after 7 burgers between 4 we were still hungry? We shared a small French Fries $3.20 for a small. Which were crispy, salty and incredibly moreish. And perhaps not the Lamborghini of fries afforded to that of waffle fries but a very close second. The Cheese Gems $7.50 for a large. The cheese sauce is drinkable and the clumps down the bottom are liquid gold! They were a little tough to eat as they tended to bundle all together and then fall away into little potato fluffs. They could probably do with a bit more cooking to crispen up and they’d hold together much better.
Thought we were done right? There’s always room for dessert! Not pictured was the regular Strawberry Milkshake and the Salted Caramel Milkshake. I usually don’t enjoy Strawberry milkshakes as I find them way too sweet but this was thick with an intense strawberry flavour. But honestly it’s ALL about that salted caramel shake… It was the perfect embodiment of a Crunchie chocolate. I’ll be having dreams about that shake.
And then Dani did a bad thing and brought over a few Concrete Mixers. Again the strong stand-out was the Salted Caramel with Oreo Mixers. As I’m writing this I can still feel my stomach doing the knotty dance (sometimes known as the dance of love) or the curse of too much lactose. But two very simple words WORTH IT. This might very well beat Gelato Messina’s Salted Caramel ice-cream.
The Chocolate with Tim Tams was another favourite with generous chunks of Tim Tam biscuits. The vibrant blue colour of the Cookie Dough with M&M’s and a choc chip cookie was initially slightly terrifying as I thought it was bubblegum. Never fear, looks can be deceiving and this was delicious.
Dani, we’ll continue to bow down to your mastery and we’re glad that there’s now a little bit of Melbourne burger royalty in Sydney.
Photos by Alex
*For Food’s Sake helped organise the bloggers launch night and were sacrificial taste testers! All opinions however are our own and independent. Especially when it comes to ‘All the burgers!’.