Purveyor: Ze Pickle, Foveaux St. Surry Hills NSW, Australia
Menu Item: The Southern Hick
Price: $16.50 AUD
Squawk: First of all, the Worldwide Holy-Cluck Reviewer Team prides itself on knowing about all things chicken burger, so when our friend and famous actress, Kristin Sweeney, popped into Sydney for a visit and told us she thought she’d stumbled across a solid nine or ten at place we’d never heard of, we were all like, whaaaaaa? Turns out homegirl was right. Ze Pickle was literally entering its second week of business when she dragged us back for her second burger in a row. (On two consecutive days, not the same day. Don’t be gross). Before we even got inside, we liked it. The interior is wide open and welcoming, with great decor done by the owners themselves. It mainly consists of walls comprised of marijuana sacks and black drawers (possibly full of weed), and a lone PacMan neon light. They have a great beer list, that changes frequently so you can try new things each time you go back, and the service is attentive and on-point. Adam, the friendly Owner, told us he interviewed over 300 people for 20 positions and it’s clear he chose well. And not just in the front of the house, but in the back too, because the burger we had was off the chook. (Sorry. Hook.)
There are TWO chicken burgers on the menu, so we’ll be back to review the other one soon, but for now we settled on The Southern Hick. It comes with maple smoked bacon, jack cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and ZP’s own secret sauce but it was the smoked jalapeños that really put this one over the top. (Note: they come standard on the other burger, but we asked for them on the Southern Hick because SMOKED JALAPEÑOS! Even without those, the maple smoked bacon is the best we’ve had in Australia and it adds a unique sweetness that we haven’t enjoyed anywhere else. Speaking of sweetness, these knuckleheads have created a dessert called the “Oreogasm” – two Oreo cookies deep fried in doughnut batter with toffee caramel ice cream and topped with liquid Nutella and a cherry. Proceed at your own risk.
Overall we were very impressed with what Ze Pickle has to offer, they are onto a winning formula and we can’t wait to go back to try chicken burger number two. Factor in the usual teething pains most restaurants suffer through during their first few months of business, and the fact that these guys get so much right, right out of the gate is even more impressive. If they keep it up, they could well be on their way to a Best Burger Award this year.
Buaawk: There are a couple easy points to deduct from this nearly perfect burger. For starters, chips are extra. At $16.50 you’d expect at least a small portion to be included. Our general feeling at HC is that charging for chips with a burger is un-Australian, un-American, un-Everything. Unless they’re amazing chips. We didn’t order any, so we’ll report back when we review that second dirty bird burger on the menu. The bread roll isn’t anything special – normally we like a nice brioche or sometimes a toasted rye bread, but in this instance the rye would have looked out of place, and sweetness of the brioche along with the sweetness from the maple bacon would have made the whole thing too sugary. The fact that the Chef knew this gets them a 7, but the roll itself is a 5. If you’re a regular reader of Holy-Cluck then you know we love our sauces. Ze Pickle have a special ZP sauce, but we have no idea what it is and it wasn’t apparent on the burger. Asking for other sauces got us a small ramekin of Cholula, a great choice, but bring the bloody bottle so we can slather at will, and more options is more better.
UPDATE: We went back. Brought some friends. This burger stacks up. Solid nines and 9.5’s all around. And this time we ordered the beer cheese sauce and maple bacon fries. All we can say is they’re super tasty and we’re gonna need bigger pants. We still think chips should come with the burgers as opposed to being an add-on, but as far as add-on’s go, these are the goods.
Purveyor: Bar Luca, 52 Phillip St. Sydney Australia
Menu Item: Chicken Karage Burger w wasabi aioli, pickled vegetables, coriander and coral lettuce.
Price: $14 AUD.
Add Fries +$3
Add Fries and Chicken Wings +$6 (Squaaaaawk!)
Add Cheese +$2
Add Streaky Bacon +$2
Add Egg +$2 (No!)
Squawk: Three reviewers. Three identical burgers. We all went for the added cheese, pickles and the fries/chicken wings combo option because we are hard core Cluckers. Normally we would have added bacon too, but with the wings? It just all seemed a bit too risky. And by “risky” we mean anything from a heart attack to a head down, drooling nap session back at the office while our friendly colleagues draw dicks on our face with permanent pen.
In a sea of sameness these guys have a unique take on the chicken burger: Japanese. It starts of course with the crispy Karage style chicken – and lots of it – and extends to the Japanese style pickles and of course the wasabi aioli. All of which adds up to a winner. Mostly. We didn’t spot the Nippon influence right away and if we had we probably wouldn’t have added the extra “normal” pickles, not that they detracted one bit. More that we felt we’d accidentally strayed from the Chef’s vision. (sigh) Next time.
We also loved that even though we may have misfired with the pickles, they gave us the option to add them without any drama. In fact their Burger Add-Ons as listed in the “price” section above, made us very happy. It’s like having 4-Wheel Drive in your car. Even if you don’t use it 99% of the time, its nice to know it’s there just in case. And because those add-ons are there, there’s no barrier to your own particular flavour of goodness. It’s not quite The Counter, but it’s appreciated. Also we loved the wide sauce selection. We were happy to our friends at Diemen’s represented along with a new one from Changz we’d never seen before (it’s really nice.)
The venue is meh. Sort of a CBD vibe with people in suits and shorts – good mix, but it’s not a place you’d ever come for the vibe or decor. Thankfully their burger is a winner.
Buaawk: Normally when we’re out on the job we start by making a list of all the things we like and attribute point values. In this rare instance we started by trying to figure out what we could possibly take points away for. It’s that good. It may not be the Perfect 10 Unicorn, but it’s close. We knocked off points for the mayo overload. Wasabi or not, they need to ease up. Take a look at that massive glob oozing out between the cheese and the brioche in the photo above and you’ll get an idea of what we were dealing with. And the fries. A burger this good deserves better fries. Sure the parsley on top is a nice touch, but overall Bar Luca drops the ball with these shoestrings. And it’s a damn shame.
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.
Purveyor: The North Bondi Bowlo, Bondi NSW, Australia
Menu Item: Fried Schnitz Burger w/ Aioli, Sweet Chilli, American Cheese, Iceberg and Bacon
Price: $18 AUD
Squawk: Ladies and Gentlemen we have a real contender here. This one has all the things we love in the middle like bacon, tomato, lettuce, and a perfectly fried piece of delicious breast meat – not overly crispy, just nice and golden. Plus it it had one of those square American cheese slices that we love so well because they’re so perfectly white trash. And we especially enjoyed the Australian made Diemen’s “Stinger” hot sauce – that’s the hot one (there were two options).
Buaawk: The roll is fine, but they missed an opportunity here. The accompanying chick pea salad tasted like it came from a can. Not good, but maybe it was just for decoration anyway. The bacon was limp, not crispy, but at least it was there. OK chips. And the love of all that is holy, sweet chili has no business on this burger (or any other) and should be optional. We say stick with the Diemen’s. For our money Dijon mustard, a better roll and crispier bacon could have taken this one all the way.
Bonus Points: Great venue on a summer/sunny day. Highly recommended.
Menu Item: Chipotle Chicken Burger
Squawk: Man, this was tasty. Two generous hammer flattened, grilled chicken breast fillets cooked to perfection. Not dry at all. The brioche bun was fresh and squishy and the tomato and lettuce inside juicy and crisp. The pièce de résistance was the huge dollop of avocado and chipotle blended sauce. It was literally dripping out of the bun. Just the right level of spice for everyone.
Not a traditional fried burger but extremely fresh and juicy. An at $8.50 a filling bargain.
Buaawk: It’s cash only but the cashier just said “We will start making it while you go get cash”. Good sales tactics and really friendly. Some slaw would be a great addition to help hold in all the sauce. So underground they don’t have a website
Bonus Points: Despite this not being a sit down venue the Thai English misspellings on the menu and delightful staff makes this hole in the ground one not to be missed. Plus its cheep cheep.