The Taxpayer – Al Capone

Its not often that our comments are openly acknowledged by someone who is reading them. We do try and keep things constructive and well meaning, as everyone (we hope) is aiming to keep their customers happy and give them the best experience they can. This will differ from place to place of course in terms of what they are aiming for, but essentially this is the case.

It is even more rare for one of the venues we review to contact us and thank us for the feedback. Sure, a positive review will be commented on and perhaps re-posted, but something less than perfect tends to just get deafening silence. To be specific, I could count on one hand with 3 digits missing how many venues have contacted us in these circumstances.
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This is a rather long winded and convoluted way of explaining that The Taxpayer was one of this very exclusive group (or duo if you prefer). To take that to the next step, they then made further contact once their new menu was released to say they had taken on board what we had offered last time and that we should come and check them out.

An invite to try a burger? Well…..ok then!

The Taxpayer is exactly where we found them last time, funnily enough, but things have certainly changed somewhat. The interior has been re-vamped, although to be honest it was such a lovely day we barely made it through the door. Outside there was some interesting vegetative type things (plants) growing around some….things. Yeah not strong on these details. But it did create a bit of an ‘enclosure’ to separate their area from the rest of the space, but without being at all claustrophobic.

The service was also excellent, being especially friendly, attentive and efficient.

The menu is completely different to last time, and you really need to read through it to get the whole effect, but there are options for beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, vegetarian and even crab. If you couldn’t find something on here to take your fancy, then you obviously aren’t really in the market for a burger.
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The beers on tab need a special mention too, being from Thunder Road, a Victorian boutique brewery. Now we could take issue with the fact that there are many fine SA craft brewers that you could choose from, but I also welcomed the opportunity to try something different. Excellent beers they were too!

So, the moment of truth though. How have our words been interpreted and transformed into an improved burger experience? Sure, we probably had very little to do with this at all, but the promise on the page was for something excellent. Could it live up to the expectations? Time to find out.

The Burger
From the Menu
Al Capone – Beef Patty, smoked mozzarella, pancetta, sticky balsamic onions, semi sundried tomatoes and pickled chilli $13  As a combo deal with a pint of Thunder Road (Hopstar) and chips $21
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Patty
The patty was promised to be delivered medium, as was described on the menu. This is an issue for some but most definitely not for us, so I was on the lookout for some nice pink centred beef to enjoy.

Sadly, it could have been a little more medium in colour. It wasn’t overdone at all, it was just a bit more than promised.

But you know what? I couldn’t care less.

The beef was amazing juicy and tender. It just melted in your mouth, was full of great fresh beef flavour and some good char from the grill to boot. It was expertly seasoned and just so damn tasty. So if this is how they come out, then that is fine with me. 20 seconds less on the grill and it might have been a bit more ‘medium’ – but I doubt it would have tasted any better. Fantastic.

Fillings
The fillings sounded great on reading but didn’t make for an amazing looking burger if I am honest. The Wesley Snipes (the other burger we ordered, comments to come) was easily the looker of the pair. However, someone said once that you shouldn’t judge a book by its beauty within or something like that, so I put the superficial judgements aside and jumped in.

Oh my.

You might think you know how this will all come together. You might get close. Your minds taste buds could be devouring the words on the page and forming an opinion close to the truth (as it was today) but I suspect it wont do it justice.

This was amazing.

The pancetta was brilliant, as it always is. Its like bacon but so much better. The smoked mozzarella was in good supply and added a great texture, as well as some subtle char flavours. Semi dried tomatoes gave some lifted tones and the picked jalapenos gave an element of heat as well as cutting through the richness.

But the onions really made it for me. Sticky balsamic is one of my favourite ingredients to use and I always add in sticky balsamic and fig reduction into my caramelised onions. They added sweetness, some acid, as well as the texture and just yumminess (yes its a word) that proper caramelised onions offer. It helped to balance the whole thing out and give a structure for it all to hang off.

But this is really trying to analyse something which I could sum up in two words: <expletive> delicious!!

Roll
Yep – seeded brioche roll similar to the majority of places. But these were about as good as we have had, with perhaps a bit more butter in there for good measure. Damn good is all I can say, and I wish I knew where they got them from!

Sides
Chips were part of the lunch combo offer and they were good chips. Somewhat over-shadowed by the burger, but they were tasty fried bits of potato. Not the best I have ever had, but fine all the same. We added in the hot mayo with this, which is basically a chilli and paprika mayo, and that was pretty good too.

Value
$13 for the burger alone is pretty good value, throw in a pint of excellent craft beer and some chips for $8 and this then elevates it to excellent. Good lunch size too.

Summary
Whether or not our previous review had anything to do with this transformation at all is debatable at best, but what isn’t up for negotiation is how good this is now. It is a significantly different venue, but still with the same charms as before. The quality of the burgers offered today was top notch, and I said at the time that I didn’t think I have ever had a better burger than this.

On reflection, I stand by that statement.

Sure, the beef wasn’t as pink as it might be but that was irrelevant in the end. It was just a riot of flavours and textures, all melding together and just forcing me to stop and wonder how this humble looking burger could possibly be tasting so good.

There is always a risk of us putting something up on a pedestal, then one of our readers heads along and comes back disappointed. Everyone’s palate is different, everyone has ideas on what is great and what is average. I mean, people genuinely enjoy TGIF for example.

All we can ever offer is our opinion and in this instance I think we may have a new king in town. We need to go back and some some further….ahem….research into their other items, but if they are up to this standard then we may have a new standard by which to judge all other venues.

Congratulations on the changes, and thank you for the hugely enjoyable lunch. We will be back very soon.

Score – 9.7

The Taxpayer on Urbanspoon

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Union Hotel – Terrarosa Burger

Steak and burger are not words that you really see around a lot. Sandwich, sure, and there are some really good examples around, most notably at The Wakefield. La Boca also claimed an open steak sandwich, however this was really just steak and other items on a plate that happened to have a thin sliver of bread tucked underneath. It was very tasty, but in no way a sandwich.

So is this a burger? More on that in due course.

The Union have been visited before, and you can read about it here. It obviously didn’t do very well and to be honest it remains such a huge disappointment as the food always used to be of a very high standard, but the last couple of experiences have been far less satisfying. It was therefore with some trepidation (and against my wishes) that we went back here once more.

The venue itself remains visually completely unchanged, with the quite nice and enjoyable front bar, and the fairly average and dated dining area. We were in the latter.

The staff also deserve special mention as we were greeted by someone who’s main task it seemed to be a grumpy and unhelpful as possible. He was doing this task exceptionally well. In terms of making us happy to be there and setting the mood for a good team lunch though….not so much. The wait staff were acceptable, they were definitely efficient, but the bar staff seriously didn’t seem interested at all.

So far so bad then.

The Burger
From the menu
Terrarosa Burger – Riverine (their spelling) scotch fillet, smokey bacon, brie, pickled pear, lettuce, NY onion sauce and fries – $21

Patty
The patty has been subbed out and a steak has been hustled in. So back to the question of “is this a burger”.

Personally I lean towards the “this isn’t really a burger just because you put in on a burger bun” side of the argument. If I put a…..slice of lasagne in a burger bun, it isn’t a “burger”. Thats like dressing a dog up as a cow and thereby telling everyone you can supply them with fresh milk. You of course may disagree. That is fine. I wouldn’t try milking the dog though – just a tip. Regardless of this though, as they are selling it as a burger we have decided to include it.

Brining it back to a more basic level, I am also personally sceptical of the whole steak sandwich thing anyhow, as steak is rarely in a form you can just easily bite through. It will usually end up in a fight at some point, as the steak doesn’t want to let any more go, and you are desperately trying to rip /grind it off resulting in mess, frustration and a destroyed bread receptacle.

The steak in question here was a scotch fillet, guessing about 150 grams, so quite small to minimise this risk and for the most part it was avoided. It was cooked well done though, didn’t have any great flavour too it and was very quickly cold due to its size and surrounding ingredients.

Fillings
This is where the real interest in the burger lay, with brie and pickled pear forming a very alluring duo. They didn’t disappoint. The pear was sensational and was easily the star of the whole thing.

Bacon was also along to do its thing, which is good as always, while the lettuce added some freshness. The sauce was nice if a little scant in quantity, but it did allow the brie and pear to stand out.

Roll/Bun
The roll use here was a simple white sesame seeded roll. It had been toasted. It was ok. I did really like the sesame seeds actually, so I should not sound too harsh here. It was decent enough, the seeds added a bit more flavour and it almost did its job to the end, which with a steak to compete with I thought was a good job really.

Sides
French fries were the order of the day and these were pretty decent. Crispy, well seasoned….not much more you can ask for really.

Value
On paper this sounded excellent value. Steak, some fancy ingredients and all for only $21. However, it fell a bit short to be honest. The brie and pear aside, this was nothing special at all and for north of a 20 you should be getting much better than this.

Summary
Putting aside the service and trying to just focus on the food, this was a little difficult to sum up. The meat part was edible but only average, but the balance of it was quite good.

As an aside, a colleague actually got a “normal” burger and it had changed quite a bit. The patty was also cooked to be a bit pink, and overall he was quite impressed.

I couldn’t help but think – take the normal patty and put that on this burger instead of the steak and you could have something which really makes a statement. Something to live up to their promise of being Adelaide’s original gasto pub.

Overall this was fairly average but saved by two ingredients. While they claim to be the original foody pub, I think the competition has moved on a bit. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either. The potential is there, and nice to see some thought going into it, but if you ask me leave steak to stand alone and just do “proper” burgers.

And for the bar staff, if you don’t like your job, get another one.

Score – 7.4

Union Hotel on Urbanspoon

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Burger Foundry – Staff Burger

Burger Foundry have been touted as the original ‘new wave’ burger bar, being at the cutting edge of the growth in popularity, quality and sophistication of the Adelaide Burger scene. At least that is what I have read on the internet, so it must be true, right?

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The Little Hunter – Wagyu Beef Burger

The Little Hunter is tucked away off Hindley street on Victoria Street, essentially behind the Woolshed. We are a little unclear if there is an association there – but that really doesn’t matter terribly much. Its a relatively new venue and markets itself as a steak and ale venue, which bodes well for the wagyu burger on offer.
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The Watermark – Moo Baa by Hendo

The Adelaide Hotels Association SA best burger awards is the most important part of the Adelaide Show, make no mistake. We waited on the result and once it was announced that the Watermark at Glenelg had picked up the gong we swiftly made plans to check it out.
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Grill’d – Field of Dreams

We have yet to visit the Adelaide Grill’d, however this is a review based on a recent trip to Sydney. Of course, being a chain this should, in theory, be representative of what they are going to be offering all over the country. That is largely the point of a chain of restaurants, after all.

Not sure who is really dreaming about this...

Not sure who is really dreaming about this…

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Mylk Bar – Chicken Schnitzel Burger

Mylk Bar on Flinders Street certainly started with a bang. There was apparently loads of advertising, the place was always packed and it created quite the buzz. It seems that things may have simmered down a bit now, at least judging by the somewhat less packed venue we had today, but there was still a healthy crowd on hand.
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Burger Republic – Sweet Thang

The slogan on their website says “Good burgers, Good beer, Good times”. I think this is probably entirely accurate.

They have been around for a little while now – not sure exactly how long but I have been aiming to get there for at least a few months now. Work commitments (and non-work commitments) kept getting in the way. However, clearly I managed to wipe the diary clean and get there today.

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The Office on Pirie – Office Burger (2014 edition)

Ahhhhh nostalgia. Taking a trip down memory lane can be great, as you get to re-live things from your past and details you had forgotten of past adventures can come flooding back.

The flip side is of course that sometimes the rose coloured glasses through which you had been looking at a prior time or event get removed, and you are left with the cold reality that you have now ruined a memory by trying to re-live it in some way. In some ways it is a similar proposition to the adage of “never meet your heroes”.
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A Hereford Beefstouw – Wagyu Burger

Wagyu.

The mention of this conjures up ideas of an almost mythical cow-like creature that brings with it expectations of the most succulent, flavoursome and amazing beef experience ever. It promises to be the best steak you can ever have. It is also guaranteed to leave your wallet significantly lighter than what it had been before you chose to indulge.

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