You guys. Shake Shack has dominated my Instagram feed, and it seems to be the holy grail of American burger icons. I finally found it! Having never been to the States, I was thrilled to find an outlet at Dubai’s International Airport on my way home from Germany. So, being the dedicated foodie I am, I ordered a Shack Burger (AED $35) with a side of crinkle cut fries (AED $20) at 8am – roughly AUD $20. I am a huge fan of soft, sloppy burgers (give me that over crispy burger buns anyday) and Shake Shack totally rocks this category. The patty was fresh and cooked just right, although on the downside, it did have a piece of gristle inside (not cool). The lettuce, tomato and cheese are all pretty standard, but the ShackSauce was so excellent that it lifted the burger up a notch. I couldn’t finish the fries (8am people, 8am) but I found them a little underdone (just a minute more and they would have been awesome). The crinkle cut certainly expands the fried surface, maximising flavour, and they were well-seasoned. Overall, this was an enjoyable burger, although not quite worth the fairly high price for what it was.
Shake Shack, Terminal 3 Airport Rd, Dubai United Arab Emirates, https://www.shakeshack.com/location/dubai-dxb-airport/
I’ve been a fan of Swedish meatballs for a long time now – I make them at home fairly often, but hadn’t tried them at the Canberra Ikea store. On a visit to pick up some bowls, I stopped by the restaurant and joined the queue for lunch. I must say, you need to be prepared to wait. The food here is great value, and you get your meal served canteen-style when you reach the front of the line, but it’s very popular, especially on weekends, and the queue can be very long! I was tempted by the cakes (smart product placement of cake first!) but stuck to my guns and ordered the Swedish meatballs (serve of 10 for $7.99) and a piece of garlic bread ($2). The portion is quite large – the meatballs come with cream sauce and a huge scoop of creamy mashed potato (lingonberry jam is self-serve). The plate doesn’t look that appealing, but the flavours are great – the meatballs are tender and filling, and come to life with the sauce and jam. The mashed potato was so rich and lovely – the only thing missing was a side of pickles. I really enjoyed the large garlic bread too – not to crusty, but not mushy either. Just right, and incredible value.
Ikea, 1030 Majura Road, Majura Park ACT, http://www.ikea.com/au/en/store/canberra/
I have to admit, I didn’t really get the reference of a giant portrait on the wall at Burgers Anonymous, but apparently this Sydney eatery takes its theme from Breaking Bad. I was focused on a quick feed, so ordered an Apollo Cheese ($9), with an angus beef patty, American cheese, pickles, onion, ketchup and mustard, and a serve of shoestring fries seasoned with salt ($4). The food came out really quickly and was obviously cooked to order, nice and fresh. The fries were great value, heaped generously in a plastic tray and lightly seasoned. They were well-cooked through, and had just the right amount of crispiness. The burger was jam-packed full of flavour, mostly from the quality beef and the smashing sauce combo. I would have liked the patty to be slightly pink, but I loved the gnarly charred bits so can’t really complain. The American cheese was a nice touch, and the pickles were sliced thinly throughout. Overall this meal was exactly what I was looking for – fast, fresh food with great flavour. Not to mention friendly service.
Burgers Anonymous, 80 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst NSW, no website
Hello, souva of my dreams. Greek food isn’t really a big thing in Canberra, so on this visit to Melbourne it was near the top of my list. I stood in queue at a busy lunchtime and ordered the Mr Papadopoulos ($12.5), a souva with lamb, mustard aioli, chips, onion and parsley, with a side of chips ($4.50) served with fetta and oregano (swoon). The food did take a while, but was clearly cooked fresh, and served nicely for dine-in enjoyment on an Emporium plate. I must confess, this souva had the nicest, softest pita wrap of any souva I’ve had (including the one at Gazi), and it wasn’t overly dense. That left me free to enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth, smoky pieces of lamb, which were plentiful and utterly divine. The parsley and onion added a tabouleh-esque touch, and the chips within were great, although not quite as great as the side of chips. Oh my, I was so full from the souva (which I couldn’t finish), but I kept shovelling those chips in. Yum. The fetta was lovely and salty, the chips crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside… A very filling and very tasty lunch. Greek food craving satisfied.
Jimmy Grants, Emporium Melbourne, Level Three, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC, http://jimmygrants.com.au/
I dined as a guest of Pepper Lunch; all opinions are my own. Pepper Lunch has brought its sizzling-plate Japanese food to Canberra! I was super excited to attend their launch event – if only we could find it! After wandering up and down Bunda Street, we finally spotted the store next to Oliver Brown, and it was on like Donkey Kong. I started out with a bowl of miso soup ($3.50), with a beautifully salty white miso and seaweed, plus silken and fried tofu inside (yum!). The staff were friendly and welcoming as they brought out our meals, explaining that the plate is served at 260 degrees (what?!), and that before eating the giant rib-eye steak ($24.90) I’d ordered, I needed to slather their specialty pepper butter over my meat. Ok, if I must! The rib-eye was sizzling hot, and pre-sliced for ease of enjoyment. The meat was beautifully tender (I could cut thinner pieces with chopsticks alone), with great marbling, and the beauty of the hot plate is being able to cook it to your liking without a long wait. I really loved the pepper flavour from the butter – it added so much to the beef – and the vegies broke up the meal nicely. Pepper Lunch opens today – check it out!
Pepper Lunch, 88-96 Bunda Street (next to Oliver Brown) Canberra, http://www.pepperlunch.com.au/
Sometimes you just need a burger. After a long day of sightseeing, we ended up at Tokyo Tower for dinner and treated ourselves to Mos Burger – Japan’s native burger chain. Playing on the novelty of a store at the Tower, Mos Burger only offers the ‘Tokyo Tower Burger’ at this location – a 14 layer beast that apparently is the chain’s tallest burger. Obviously we had to try it. I was quite impressed when the burger came out that it actually looks like the advertised picture, something that fast food rarely does in Australia. The layers included two buns, onion rings, lettuce, two beef patties, mayonnaise, tomato, two layers of chopped onion, ketchup, bacon and two layers of a hot sauce that added a really nice kick to the whole thing. The patties were thin by Australian standards, but had good flavour for a non-gourmet restaurant and the onion rings added some great texture. The toughest part was working out how to eat it – there was no way to squish it down and get a taste of all layers at once without some serious oozing. Not elegant, but tasty and very filling, plus the added novelty factor, of course.
Mos Burger, 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo Japan http://www.tokyotower.co.jp/eng/foottown/2f_food_07.html
Before heading out for drinks, my friend and I stopped in for a quick meal at Guzman y Gomez in town. I first tried Guzman’s in Newtown many years ago and was struck by how different the authentic Mexican flavours were to standard Mexican fare available at the time. The menu has all of the standard options – nachos, tacos, burriots, quesadillas, etc. – but somehow they always taste better here. On this visit I went for the burrito bowl, which is the equivalent of getting icecream in a cup not a cone (i.e. less messy). I chose the mild chicken filling and added guacamole. Our food came out very quickly, and the portion size was good value for money – there was a lot in that bowl! I particularly liked the fresh salsa mix (tomato, corriander, and onion), which complemented the black beans well. The chicken had a good flavour to it and there was a fair amount included in between the rice. It was mild, though, as promised. The guacamole lifted the whole meal – I would definitely recommend adding it, despite the extra charge. The service was friendly and we got the filling, tasty and affordable meal we’d gone in for.
Guzman y Gomez, Bunda Street, Canberra ACT https://www.guzmanygomez.com/