Purveyor: Hinano Cafe, Venice, CA USA
Menu Item: Turkey Burger
Price: $9 USD (w/ Cheese)
Squawk: First of all, don’t get your panties all in a wad over the fact that we’re reviewing a TURKEY burger on a chicken burger blog. Turkeys and chickens have a lot in common: both have two legs, one beak, lots of feathers, can’t fly very well and taste delicious. Secondly, it would take a very special turkey burger to earn a spot here on Holy-Gobble… errr… Cluck. Point is, Hinano claims their burgers are “world famous” and while the validity of such an overused claim is in part due to their iconic location right at Venice Pier, it’s also due to the fact that they make a kick-ass burger in a salty, old run down dive bar, that if you didn’t know better, looks like it would surely be home to a sneaky salmonella or two.
Thankfully it is not and more thankfully, they get it consistently right. We love the simplicity of serving in a cardboard tray, the random bag of chips that gets thrown in (You don’t get to choose – I got Cheetos, my friend got Sour Cream & Onion), and we especially love the accompanying pickled chilli peppers and dill pickle. It may not sound like it all makes sense, but trust us, it does. Simplicity is the key here. Other than choosing a cheese (Cheddar or Swiss) you don’t get a ton of options like some other places (See The Counter review coming soon), but you do get a perfectly grilled turkey patty on a nice bun with fresh lettuce, tomato and if you need to sauce it up there’s big ol’ squeeze bottles of yellow mustard and red ketchup within easy reach.
Buaawk: Did we mention this place is a dive bar? It’s seen better days, and so have most of the regular patrons who hold court there – and their relentless flow of nonsensical drunk talk sorta drives us bananas. But then again, maybe we just didn’t have enough to drink.
Bonus Points: Sawdust on the floors and a jukebox that just don’t give a fuck.
Purveyor: Beautiful Burgers, Chippendale NSW, Australia
Menu Item: Yankee Chicken Burger
Price: $13.50 AUD
Squawk: We’ve seen this somewhat inconveniently located place on our travels and it’s been on the “gotta try that place one day” list for ages. We finally did it and, generally speaking, the burgers are better than the place looks from the street. Beautiful Burgers isn’t in a beautiful part of town, and the quirky garage sale interior isn’t doing them any favours, but our beef burger friends love the joint, so we decided to see how their chicken burgers fare.
The first surprise is that the chicken is a patty made from minced chicken – more like a traditional hamburger patty. This meant flavour and texture were consistent and it was nicely charred. They call it the “Yankee” and we’re guessing that has a lot to do with the bacon, pickles, and American mustard in the middle. It really works (the mustard especially) on this one and all of us enjoyed our lunch. Even more so thanks to the friendly service, surprising beer list – beers are served in paper bags, we’re not sure why, but we liked it – and the rustic outdoor dining area.
Buaawk: The team at Beautiful could have scored a few more points by going the extra mile and making real slaw – shredded lettuce didn’t cut it for us. Chips have to be ordered separately and come in a cool metal bucket. We ordered two buckets after the first one came out only half full (we’re optimists here at Holy-Cluck) and way too salty. The second bucket was a little more full. And a little more salty. One of the HC team said they “hurt to eat.” Thank goodness for that beer list. Where this burger really falls down, however, is the bun. We universally hated the bun and were dismayed by whatever series of unfortunate events that led to its appearance around everything else that makes up this burger. We likened it to un-toasted “Turkish” style bread that seemed like it could have spent more time in the oven. And finally that sprig of whatever that is that makes up the “salad” is a waste of everyone’s time.
Bonus Points: Outdoor courtyard, friendly service
Purveyor: Rosie Campbell’s Surry Hills NSW, Australia
Menu Item: Jerk Chicken Burger
Price: $16 AUD
Squawk: Yah dred mon, this be the joint for the Jamaican vibes ya hear? This place has good energy, great music and a considered decor that makes it feel fun from the second you step inside. We especially liked the Studio 1 record label table tops and speaker box table legs. The fact that the staff are friendly and they happen to have a good beer selection with two of their own house beers on tap is a bonus. On top of all that, this burger is solid. Good bun, nice jerk spice, and juicy without compromising structural integrity. Pass the burger on dee left hand side! I say…
Buaawk: Sadly, not everything in Trenchtown rocks. The jerk spice is nice, but like some of the other “jerks” we’ve tried in Australia, its been dumbed down to cater to local (sweeter) palate. We say stay true to your roots – keep that spice nice. We loved that they let us swap regular fries for the Sweet Potato Fries, but they were too sweet. We’re pretty sure they put sugar on them, which is crossing a line nobody should cross when it comes to a chip. Any kind of chip. We missed the authentic chilli vinegar we’ve found at some other Jamaican/Caribbean restaurants and were disappointed to see the hot sauce served in a tiny ramekin when the beautiful bottles were so prominently displayed on the walls. That said, it was nice hot sauce, just don’t mix it with those sugary Sweet Potato Fries.
Bonus Points: Knowing which reggae songs to turn the volume up on, but not leaving it up when they ended.
Purveyor: The Lord Wolseley Hotel Pyrmont NSW, Australia
Menu Item: Fried Chicken Schnitzel Burger
Price: $17 AUD
Squawk: This quaint pub is well off the beaten path and when you’re not super easy to get to, you need to give people a reason to make the extra effort and the Lord Wolseley’s “Pub Life Kitchen” does. They attract people from far and wide with their now infamous “burger experiments” that appear on the menu most Wednesdays. These experiments get a lot of people talking which is how we heard about their Doritos encrusted chicken burger. Yep you read that right. Doritos. There was a bit of panic when we got there (on a Friday) because we didn’t see it on the menu, but a quick chat with the friendly Barmaid revealed that not only was this mystical burger real, it was available. You can imagine our relief.
So how was it? The meat was a nice combo of breast and thigh – very juicy surrounded with a very, very fried, very very crunchy crust of Doritos crumbs. All this frying and crumbing gives this chicken burger an extremely high crunch factor. In fact, it just might be the highest recorded crunch factor in a chicken burger to date. We felt the burger would have been improved with a little slaw, but the large pickle slices were more than adequate and added nice flavour, crunch (more!) and kept things soft. We also appreciated the fact that the American cheese slice was actually melted. This is a very nice, and often overlooked, touch that can bring any burger up a point. And finally, great chips – nice and salty with the skin on, and not greasy or gross.
Buaawk: It’s hard to fault this one, but we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t find at least one or two was to make it a perfect ten. Hot sauce is very important to the Holy-Cluck Reviewer Team and for this crunchy burger, Sriracha is the wrong choice. A vinegar based sauce like Franks or Texas Pete could have pushed this one over the edge. The pickles were great, but we’d love to see a couple more on there. The mayo was oddly sweet and was a major detractor overall. The burger is already sweet with the Doritos crust – after all what are Doritos but corn, salt and sugar? Finally, the batter was fried almost to blackness. We’re guessing this is a necessary consequence of making a Doritos encrusted chicken breast in the first place, and we can forgive it, but still, if they could get it to a nice golden brown, they’d be winning.
Bonus Points: For innovation and crunch factor.