REVIEW: Burger Project

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2014

Restaurant reviewing can be a dangerous game. Wait, not dangerous – stupid. Everyone rushes to the newest food spot, desperate to get their review up first, or at the very least, before Simon Food Favourites gets his review up, complete with an exhausting photo essay on what the men’s toilet looks like. By the end of a new restaurant’s first week of business some 20 reviews will pop up on blogs or food websites, either praising or slandering the food they ate, delivering an ultimatum to their readers and then never returning, instead slogging their way through the long list of restaurants that are making their grand opening the following week.

One of the main problems with this ME FIRST ME I DID IT FIRST ME attitude of reviewing is that for most restaurants, the first week is a complete and utter debacle, a festival of mistakes compared to the what the restaurant will grow into over the next few months. This applies to a young couple making their break into the food world with their first jaffle popup or for a seasoned veteran with more Good Food Guide hats than he probably has regular hats, opening his latest offering, a fast food spot called Burger Project.

Man, for the amount of hype surrounding Burger Project over the last few weeks, you would think that ebola was opening the restaurant. But as you know, the figure behind Burger Project is not a terrifying virus that originated in the African continent, rather it is the ponytailed Sydney super-chef Neil Perry, of Rockpool and Spice Temple fame. Burger Project was announced in June this year, with a website that boasted ‘Where the taste and the purity begins’, amidst pictures of cows and an admirable message about sustainability – the essential ingredient to a good burger.

Having eaten Neil’s $24 wagyu burger at Rockpool and being outraged that he would even attempt to make his own ketchup (possibly the whitest outrage I’ve ever experienced), I decided that maybe Burger Project would not be for me. But the months rolled on and it became evident that Burger Project would be aiming for a cheaper price point. Pics from the launch event made their way onto Instagram and by god, things were looking pretty good! The hype started taking ahold of Sydney and when Burger Project opened two weeks ago there was a line stretching out to the escalators of World Square, and waits of up to an hour for a burger. Can you even begin to put yourself in the minds of these poor bloggers, waiting an hour for food that they don’t even get paid to write about?

After four days of being open the reviews were coming in thick and angry. People weren’t happy about everything on the menu except the thrice cooked fries, posting reviews with the level of utter disdain that should only be reserved for Neil Perry’s Qantas in-flight menu. When I went in earlier this week, Burger Project had just 48% likes on its Urbanspoon page. The hate for Burger Project had overpowered the hype. I ordered my burger cautiously, worried that I was about to unwrap Neil Perry’s fist between two buns, smearing rancid cheese on my face as he delivered an uppercut. But instead I unwrapped a burger. I took a bite and it was a burger. Just a fucking burger.

Those thrice cooked chips are great, crunchy and covered in vinegar salt. My mandarin soda was refreshing and the ice cream is cold. It all seemed to be in order. The staff were friendly and helpful – I asked one worker what the pavlova dessert was like and she said “ice cream” – and it’s cute to see Neil working behind the counter in his sweet little uniform, glaring at my photographer as he stood on a stool to get that important aerial shot of his milkshake.

So my review for Burger Project is the same advice I’ll give anyone who was emotionally scarred by dining there: It’s just a fucking burger. It’s ten bucks and it’s not bad. They appear to be listening to diner feedback too so if you wait a few weeks before heading in the burgers will probably be even better. But no matter how much better they make it, it will always just be a fucking burger. Relax.

Shop 11.06, World Square, 644 George St, Sydney

Mon-Sun, 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm

How much
From $7.90

Related links
The taste and purity begins here

Al Kalyk


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