I must admit: every single burger we have had since moving to Sydney has been hugely disappointing. Well, I am happy to report that tonight, this finally changed.
Of course, we had heard about Neil Perry’s famous Rockpool burger, but seeing as we have only been here over a year, we hadn’t gotten around to trying it…plus, Rockpool is on the pricey side, and let’s face it; we are…well…poor. No gentler way of putting it.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I heard that Neil Perry will be opening a new casual venture focused mainly on the burgers, which will come with exceptionally wallet-friendly price tags in October. Burger Project. My hopes of finding a decent burger fix in this city were quickly restored.
Anyone who follows Gourmet Traveller’s page on facebook will be familiar with their frequent online enter-to-win competitions. I have entered about a gazillion of them, ranging from free dinners to weekend getaways, to no avail. Still, I couldn’t resist entering their latest one, where 100 lucky winners would get exclusive access and dinner for two on the night prior to them opening to the public. I had nothing to lose.
I forgot about it.
Two weeks later, as I was lazily emptying my email’s junk folder, I noticed the words ‘Congratulations! The Burger Project…’. Could it be? Surely, it must be a scam. But it wasn’t. I had really won! Thursday the 30thof October. We have a date with Neil Perry.
We arrived tonight at the stated time of 6pm. Well, actually, we were so excited and hungry we were there 20 minutes early. The place was already buzzing with anticipation and fellow hungry lucky happy winners. When the clock struck 6, everyone formed a long queue and we were handed paper menus to browse as we waited.
I asked the hostess what exactly do we get to choose, and I was surprised at the generosity of the dinner. We each got to pick any burger/hot dog, one portion of thrice-cooked hot chips, one drink (shakes are considered a drink, not dessert!), and up to two scoops of the house made ice cream. Thank God we hadn’t eaten a thing all day!
After they checked our names of the list (I have never been on a list before. I felt so important), we ordered.
We got two double cheeseburgers (hey, don’t judge), one salt & vinegar chips, one chipotle chilli chips and two house-made ice teas.
Look at THAT. I mean, come on. How can that possibly be anything but divine? I was worried that I may have built up my expectation too high, but I now know that that isn’t even possible.
The patties were juicy and tender, almost melt in your mouth. They were thin and slightly pink in the middle, and just oozing with juices. The cheese was melty and almost saucy, and the onion, tomato and lettuce were crisp and fresh, and just the right amount. The pickles gave a lovely tang, and the ‘secret sauce’ tied it all together perfectly, without being achingly sweet like regular tomato sauce. The bun, which is often overlooked or overthought, was the ideal soft squishy burger-bun of my dreams.
Moving onto the chips. They were so violently crunchy and had all these wonderfully uneven edges and crevices which held onto the seasoning perfectly. We were both surprised at how vinegary the salt & vinegar chips were! Amazing flavour. The chipotle chips had a very mild hum of heat, and was our favourite.
The ice tea was lovely and not overly sweet or watered down as you too often find when eating out.
For dessert, I got a scoop of Salted Dulche de Leche in a cone, and hubby got a scoop of Valrhona Chocolate & a scoop of Passionfruit in a cup.
All three were excellent. The chocolate was smooth and mousy and so intense. I am not a chocolate ice cream fan, but this one is a game changer. We both agreed that the Salted Dulche de Leche was the winner.
As we were eating, I spotted an all-too-familiar bun.
Turns out that the man himself was right there, making the burgers with his own two hands.
I tried stalking him for a good shot, but it was just way too busy and he was right in the middle of the action, so I eventually gave up.
As things were quieting down and people were finishing up and just hanging out, he (Neil Perry) came walking out from behind the counter. We were sitting right next to it, so we got up, shook his hands and said hello. We thanked him for the amazing food, and congratulated him for this fantastic new project. Of course, I simply couldn’t resist asking him for a photo, and he so graciously complied. He was so wonderfully warm and humble (and utterly exhausted!) and thanked us for “being my guinea pigs for the night”.
No, thank YOU, Mr. Neil Perry, for achieving burger perfection. And we would happily be your guinea pigs ANY day of the year!
And special thanks to Australian Gourmet Traveller for the amazing opportunity 🙂 I will never ever stop entering your competitions now!
The Burger Project
World Square Shopping Centre
644 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000