But when I saw a picture on Instagram of the cheeseburger at Newtown's newly opened Mary's -- part pub + part greasy American diner -- I just could not resist the junk food lure. I'd had heard talk that the cheeseburger at Mary's was as close to my beloved Shake Shack burger that you could get here in Sydney.
Mary's is located on Mary Street (no guesses where the name came from). It's a street I've walked down a thousand times before yet I've never really noticed this building before. Apparently it's had a million previous lives but I'd go out on a limb and say that this is by far the tastiest.
The space is fairly large, made more so by the addition of a mezzanine level that offers table services. We decide to sit downstairs (where you order at the bar) as it's closer to the bar for my beer loving companions (and closer to the loos for me)! I love that the place is still a bit rough around the edges and hasn't been tarted up too much -- it gives it that slightly Melbourne edge that we all love so much. It reminds me of what Newtown "used to be like" before the Max Brenner's and Gloria Jeans moved in.
I'm proudly told by Mr Shawn and Miss Chicken that Mary's serves Young Henry Beer - a local brew. I feel pleased I can reply that Parramatta now has its own brew house and The Boy has given it his tick of approval. I have a sip of the Young Henry's - it tastes like...beer.
The menu is fairly small which makes ordering a breeze. I get heart palpitations just looking at all the fast-food (but done in a kinda slow way) goodness. I'll have one of everything please!
First order up is a plastic basket lined with greaseproof paper that somehow manages to contain the pool of creamy, oozy Mash + Gravy ($5.00). It looks a bit like something The Colonel would make but it's WAY beyond anything he could ever serve up. The mash is so creamy it's almost liquid and the gravy is nice and peppery. The thing with mash + gravy is that it's perfect for dipping things in to -- like Fried Chicken ($16.00 for half a bird). This chicken was great! The peppery note in the batter is what really made it for me along with the combination of moist meat and crunchy outer.
Our burgers arrive snugly wrapped in greaseproof paper. The basket is piled high with hot, crunchy chips that have the perfect amount of salt on them (FYI, chips dipped into mash + gravy = an OMG moment).
Now onto the cheeseburger. It's wrong of me to compare it to Shake Shack as it's really nothing like it (I'm told that honour goes more to the Mary's Burger which I'm going to try next time). If I had to make a comparison I'd say it's similar to a McDonald's cheeseburger - soft bun (though Mary's is a buttermilk bun) with a thin patty, tomato sauce, melty cheese, onion and my beloved gherkins. Unlike Macca's though the patty has real flavour to it -- it's quite smoky and peppery and the super soft bun is like biting into air. As soon I finished my last mouthful I was wondering if I could order "just one more"?
Mary's is at 6 Mary' Street, Newtown.