There’s been much anticipation in the lead up to Neil Perry’s latest venture, Burger Project. Much of this anticipation is no doubt surrounding whether the burgers at this new causal eatery are going to be anywhere near as good as Perry’s famed burger the Rockpool Bar + Grill. I’ve never had the pleasure of indulging in that famous burger so I’ll leave the comparison making up others.
We visited Burger Project on their media preview night last night, two days before their scheduled opening on 31st October. Things are SUPER crazy and the kitchen is packed to the rafters with blue-shirted staff working the production line. Neil Perry is in there somewhere too, no doubt flipping his fair share of burgers. I think once the craziness dies down here, and the staff get in to the swing of serving a normal amount of people this place will be great.
Burgers aside, one of the most admirable things about Burger Project is the restaurants focus on the provenance of their produce. Only free range meat is used and their philosophy of using only animals that have led a happy life is plastered all over their website and the restaurant. For that very reason Burger Project will shoot to the top of my burger joints in Sydney.
You’d think will all that free range meet gracing the menu that prices would be high, but it’s quite the opposite. The price of a classic burger (grass-fed beef, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and a “secret sauce”) is just $7.90. For that price I thought the burgers would be tiny but rest assured these babies are monsters…definitely a two-hand burger if I ever saw one. Why are these great quality burgers so cheap? Who knows, but I’m thinking that perhaps with the size of Neil Perry’s restaurant empire he’s getting some good economies of scale which are feeding down into this venture. Dave and I do have a bit of a chuckle though that the most pricey burger on the menu is the mushroom burger which clocks in at $12.50. We think they must be “special” mushrooms?
To kick off our Burger Project adventure we decide to try the Crispy Hot Wings ($3.50 each or 3 for $9.00). The whole chicken wings are HUGE and come with your choice of Sichuan pepper and salt or a classic hot sauce which looks a bit like the salted duck egg sauce we had in Ashfield a while ago. We opt for the Sichuan pepper and salt (because I love salt, der) and it is delicious. The chicken wings are super moist and tender, though a smidge oily and the seasoning is spot on.
Although there are hot dogs on offer we both decide to order a burger. Because I had been thinking the burgers would be small, and because I am a guts, I order the Double ($11.90) which is a mistake as it’s HUGE! The monstrous burger holds two grass fed beef patties, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and the aforementioned secret sauce. It looks remarkably similar to the famous Shake Shack burger, coming wrapped in a grease proof paper bag. The burger is tasty but doesn’t blow my mind. Like I said less meat is probably a good thing for me on this one...and I think the burgers will be great once the place calms down a bit and the staff hit their groove.
Dave goes for a single patty option with a Cheese and Bacon burger ($9.50). His burger is basically the same as mine with minus one patty and plus some bacon. He really likes it...as evidenced by an empty tray at the end of our meal.
Housemade chips are on offer for $4.90 and as with the chicken wings you have a choice of seasoning. You can choose to dust your thrice cooked chips with either just salt, salt and vinegar or chipotle chilli. We both have no trouble in deciding on a salt and vinegar flavour…and it’s GOOD! The chips are crunchy and fluffy, and I love how the vinegar is just tart enough to make your eyes squint with each bite.
Dave obviously enjoyed his salted dulce de leche “real shake” ($6.50) as he goes back for a second pretty much as soon as the first one is done. I had a sip and can attest that this shake is THE BUSINESS PEOPLE! Alas milk is not my friend so I made do with a house soda ($4.50) – mandarin for me, though next time I’ll be trying the passion pop.
If the shake is not sweet enough for you there are some desserts on offer. Dave clearly hasn’t had enough dairy this evening and goes for a double scoop of ice cream ($6.50) that is topped with crumbled meringue (toppings are $1 extra). His ice-cream flavours are good old vanilla and again with the salted dulce de leche.
I think it's unfair to judge a restaurant within their first few weeks of opening, let alone solely on a pre-launch party where hundred of people came through door in a feeding frenzy. Given how crazy pants last night was I think every was pretty great for us. Staff were friendly, food came out in a reasonable time considering all of Sydney were there, and our food was hearty and tasty. I'm super keen to come back and try some more things in a few weeks.
The Burger Project is at Shop 11.06, World Square (next to Din Tai Fung, on Level 1); 644 George Street, Sydney. They are open 11am – 10pm every day.