The Bull and Bear is a very unique kind of pub in the Adelaide surrounds, at least to the best of my knowledge. Being underground is definitely a point of differentiation from other venues – but can its chicken burger separate itself from the field? Read on for the low down.
The Venue and Service
On a miserable, cold, wet and windy Adelaide winters day where better to go and hide away than underground? This was certainly a big selling point for us as we set off to the King William Street venue. Having frequented it for after work beverages on Fridays past, we were familiar with the vibe of the place which is also somewhat unique. The clientel just seem a bit…different. Coming here on a Friday afternoon/evening makes you feel like you have stumbled into a secret, invites only venue. There is just an intangible quality – at least to me – which is very appealing.
The staff have always been very friendly and proficient, and this proved to be no exception. As fate would have it, we had picked – at random – the exact time and place that our work were holding a high performers function. To add some chilli powder to the salt and lemon being prepared for our wounds, we were to be seated directly next to them. Not wanting to be associated with this gathering (and obviously not invited) we informed the girl serving us of this and, following an aghast look of horror at the thought of subjecting us to this, she quickly arranged alternative seating. Thank you so much.
Not a pattie at all this time, the chicken of the burger was a breast fillet which had been cut down to a more manageable size. It was, according to the menu, marinaded. However unless the marinade was to cooking what invisible ink is to writing, this step seemed to have been somewhat missed.
The funny thing is though that I think it was actually to it’s benefit that it was this way. The chicken was perfectly cooked, being beautiful and tender and not dry in any way, and had some lovely char marks from the grill. It had been nicely seasoned but that was all – and this allowed it to shine as it was, but more importantly it gave the other ingredients an opportunity to play their hand in the whole experience.
So perhaps an accidental win here, like bowling a rank long-hop and taking a key wicket. But a win all the same.
A warm, lightly toasted damper roll was what we had containing the fillings. It had excellent flavour and was a good size in proportion to the chicken and fillings. It also held up nicely throughout.
To quote directly from the menu, this consisted of bacon, red onion, roma tomato, garlic mayonnaise and cheese.
The bacon was thick cut and really was almost the star of the show. Combining with the succulant chicken and the other fillings, it really did come together nicely. The mayo was also a good choice rather than an overly dominant sauce, which could have ruined the whole effect.
Chips are not complicated things, but they can be done a little better than what we had. They were also lacking salt, but this was something that was easily rectified at the table, and certainly preferable to having them arriving looking like they were impersonating the rim of a margherita. Passable.
$20 is a reasonable amount of coin to shell out for a burger and chips, although still puts it ballpark with most pubs, albeit at the upper end of the price bracket. The burger was of a good size indeed without being over the top, and the chips were in sufficient number despite their slight inadequacies on the day. To try and balance this off, it has to be acknowledged that the quality of the product was pretty decent, so this softens the view on the price level somewhat.
Chicken burgers (other than in a fast food sense) have never really been my thing. I have always thought that slapping a chicken breast on a roll and calling it a burger is like putting a wing and rims on your Lancer and pretending its an EVO. You have just ruined two perfectly good things and wasted money to boot.
However – you had to see that coming – in this instance I was very pleasantly surprised. Due largely to their apparent oversight of lacking marinade, this allowed the entire package to all work together perfectly. While it was all fairly basic, by using good quality ingredients and cooking everything just right, it was really more than the sum of it’s parts. Washed down with a (British) pint of dark ale from our friends at Coopers, it was all extremely enjoyable.
So the low down is this – if you want an above average burger in a unique venue and aren’t too worried about the price, then you really shouldn’t be disappointed.