Without really meaning to, I was pretty much ignoring Sydney’s burger phase, much like I did with the freak-shake phase that passed before it. Burgers have also been well covered by community groups like The Fatties Burger Appreciation Society (FBAS), where nearly 70,000 people madly award bones, pickles and spuds to burgers across this country (and beyond).
So I’m blaming Ompty for taking me to lunch at Bare Grill and making me eat burgers, because hot-damn those burgers were delicious!
With FBAS dominating the burger market, their namesake burger, The Fatties ($14), seemed like a good place to begin. With double beef patties, American cheddar, bacon and Bare sauce barely contained between two toasted, grill-stamped Brasserie Bread milk buns, it’s seriously the best burger I’ve put in my mouth. (Yep, I’m still utterly faithful to Chef Daniel Boulud’s burger boasting a foie gras and short rib stuffed patty at db Brasserie in Las Vegas, but man, that shit was expensive.)
Bare sauce, by the way, is pretty much like McDonalds' much-touted Big Mac sauce, except it’s something you might actually want to put in your mouth. So instead of scraping excess amounts of oozing condiment off onto the paper under your leaning tower of buns, cheese and meat, here you'll likely be eagerly licking it off your fingers. The beef patties are juicy and moist, and cooked so they're well charred with slightly pink centres - just the way I like them. The bacon is well chosen, with good porky-smoky balance, and don't even get me started about the melted, golden cheese!
After finishing every morsel of my share of The Fatties I moved onto something bigger. Yes I will freely admit, formerly I was a hater. I used to look at burgers bigger than my head and scoff: how would you even eat that? Let me now say quite definitively, when you are presented with a burger that looks and smells as good as The Cure ($17), you will find a way. This behemoth builds upon the ingredients contained in The Fatties, adding jalapenos, gherkins, a fried egg, and a hash brown - basically taking care of all your burger and spud needs in one ginormous mouthful. I'm a fan. To my eye it edges out The Trip ($17) which throws on onion rings and switches out the compelling Bare sauce for truffle mayo. Perhaps it’s just that there’s so much going on in this burger the truffle gets a bit lost; or maybe you just don’t need a hash brown and onion rings in the one burger?
By switching out the bacon for pulled pork, and the Bare sauce for Carolina barbeque, The Wild West ($16) somehow avoids both pulled pork rooky mistakes. It’s neither too dry, nor, even with the (often fraught) addition of coleslaw, too wet for the milk buns.
Now with burgers this good, I was tempted to completely ignore the other food this popular spot makes, which runs from seafood to steaks to ribs to gently spicy Buffalo Wings ($10).
Then I tried the Epic Fries ($15). Once more I must confess to having been a non-believer: one who thought loaded fries all too often presented as a sloppy mess. Not so with Bare Grill’s crisp waffle fries topped with juicy pulled pork, more of the epic cheese, spiced aioli, Carolina sticky barbeque sauce, bacon and shallots. They're great, and totally worth tacking on to your burger order, that is, if you’re smart enough to dine with two or three friends.
Do note that this busy spot, part of the restaurant row servicing La Perouse’s popular beaches – Congwong, Little Congwong and Frenchmans Beach – does a roaring lunchtime trade when the weekend sun is shining. So if the in-store seating is wall-to-wall, take up their clever picnic blanket honesty system, and borrow a rug for a burger picnic on the nearby greens.
For dessert, ignore the competitive ice cream vans dishing up the chemical soup that is soft-serve, and head back to Bare Grill for Pat & Stick’s gourmet ice cream sandwiches. They're made on high quality ingredients, including Australian milk, right nearby in Tempe.
Finally, if La Perouse is sounding a little too far away, keep your eyes peeled on Bourke Street, opposite the Beresford, because this family business - headed up by Irene Civadelic-Katakis and Manuel Katakis - is expanding! Word on the street is, at this new venue there will also be booze...
Shop 3/1599 Anzac Parade, La Perouse
Ph: (02) 9661 1414