What makes a good burger ? I suppose everybody has their own ideas, but for me it is a nice meat patty, not too skimpy but not so big that you can’t take a mouthful where you are tasting all of the layers. Nice crisp salad, tasty tomato, good sauce (tomato, mustard, mayo or other relish – I don’t mind so long as it goes with the burger), maybe a few pickles too. I like the bun to be fresh, soft on the inside and a little crispy on the outside.
The famous ‘Aussie’ burger has beetroot and egg in it – I quite like it – but I know that beetroot is not to everybody’s taste. Fast food is big big business over here – Joondalup drive has a Red Rooster, Chicken Treat, Hungry Jack’s (which is Australian Burger King), KFC and McDonalds all within about 500m, and the smell of grease as you drive past in the summer is all-pervading.
I don’t care much for the fast food chains – they tend to be fairly synthetic and they never look like the pictures in the ads. Hungry Jack’s and McDonalds buns taste very synthetic, and if I had to do a blind taste test I don’t think I would be sure that it was a bread product. The pleasure of eating a Big Mac or a Whoppa is very transient, and I don’t know if it affects anybody else the same way, but the satisfaction of fulfilling my junk craving is quickly replaced with a feeling of nausea from the after-taste. Needless to say – I don’t eat McDonalds very often – however the Sausage and Egg McMuffin is ok, and if I am craving a junk breakfast, I will sometimes have one.
Sorry if I sound like a terrible food snob, but this blog is all about my personal idea of deliciousness, and the fast food chains are ok for cheap quick fixes, but they are not my idea of food heaven.
When I first came to Perth the best burger I had was the gourmet beef burger at Burns Beach Cafe. It was a hand made steak patty with just the right amount of relish, onion and salad, served in a lovely crusty fresh bun. The char-grilled patty oozed a small amount of really tasty meat juices, and the whole meal with chips was very satisfying. I went back and had that burger a few times over the next few months but unfortunately the quality diminished with each visit.
The next good burger joint was FAB (or should it be AFB?) Australia’s Finest Burgers at Hillary’s boat harbour. Not only did they have a fabulous range of burgers, but they served good milkshakes too such as Tim Tam flavour. The patties were made with really good beef and favourite options were the Supreme with sauteed mushrooms and barbecue sauce, The Blue with blue cheese and salad, and the classic Aussie. They also serve Chicken Brie and Cranberry burgers, and they used to serve kangaroo, but this seems to have disappeared from the menu. FAB were the best burgers around, but unfortunately they could not serve consistently. The days that they were good they were very very good, but the off days just left me disappointed, and if I am paying $18 for a burger – it has to be amazing.
I decided to look around and research the best burgers in Perth and came up with a shortlist of 3: Grill’d, Alfred’s Kitchen and Jus Burgers.
I tried Jus Burgers in Subi, and the onion rings were amazingly good. I chose a classic cheese burger, which was nice, but very underseasoned – just a little salt and pepper would have made it taste so good.
I tried Grill’d next and found the range of burgers very appealing, healthy and well-made. I love the way that they spread the sauce over the whole bun rather than just a blob in the middle, and my only minor complaint is that the patties are a little on the small side. The chips are lovely, seasoned with herbs and served with dips. I like the philosophy of Grill’d and it is now my favourite place for a local burger.
The winner though is Alfred’s Kitchen. This place demonstrates what burgers are all about. It’s a classic burger shack which does every permutation of burger, egg, cheese and bacon. The burgers are pretty damn perfect – just the right ration of bun, burger and salad served with chips. No formal seating – just some walls to sit on and an open fire for chilly days. It is famous as a bikie (Hell’s Angels for my English friends) gathering place, and I have been advised to steer clear of it late at night – but lets be honest, I’m sure the bikies just want to feed their face, I can’t picture Alfred’s Kitchen as a den of iniquity.
When I researched ribs, I didn’t find too many places in Perth that specialised in them.
I went to Tony Roma’s in the city and the ribs were nice but didn’t have me rushing back. I had also tried ribs at the Hog’s Breath Cafe, but I find Hog’s Breath a little disappointing. Like TGIF’s it seems to be a place where people go to enjoy cocktails and the food is just a side issue – not cooked with much thought or love – they churn out steaks and fries which taste quite bland and are also not particularly cheap.
Then I tried ribs at Trigg Island Cafe and the search pretty much ended there. Why go anywhere else. The ribs are fabulous. Here’s a top tip – don’t bother with starters – you get 3 racks of ribs chilli or plain bbq – chilli is best. They melt in the mouth – truly sensational ribs.
Stop Press 18th Aug 2012 – Trigg Island Cafe has now changed hands and is owned by Kailis. They no longer serve ribs. How annoying.
Stop Press again 20th Oct 2012 – Found some fabulous ribs tonight at Squire’s Loft, Subiaco – will definitely be paying a return visit and will take pics for the blog – here’s the Urbanspoon link:
If you like Asian style ribs, the best ones I have found are at To-To, Albany Highway, Vic Park – this is a vietnamese restaurant, but also does chinese style dishes and these particular ribs are the Peking Style Ribs.
Also Lotus Court Chinese restaurant, Connolly does really nice ribs. Kulcha cafe in Joondalup makes quite acceptable but maybe a little sweet, ribs in plum sauce. Other than that I have found the ribs in asian restaurants to be a bit dry or tough. When making ribs from scratch it is really important to marinate and then thoroughly cook the meat so that it comes away from the bone really easily. Some recipes tell you to boil the marinated ribs, others say to oven roast, but either way it is really important to cook them slowly for some time.
So there you are – my recommendations for burgers and ribs in Perth. I am sure that there are many other places which I haven’t tried – feel free to share your recommendations with me.