In this review we are looking at the second monthly special burger from The Taxpayer, the Nicholas Cage. If you need reminding, the other special is the brilliant flathead burger, named Lauren Hill.
We won’t go on to describe The Taxpayer to you again. Suffice to say it’s an excellent burger and booze bar on Victoria Square, but if you want more then have a look at our review of the Al Capone.
Moving on then….
From the Menu
Nicholas Cage : Slow roasted porchetta with sweet potato puree, caramelised balsamic onions, poached spiced apple and rocket
No patty this time, instead it was replaced with a generous slice of porchetta (no surprise there!). If you are wondering exactly what porchetta is, then just have a look here for a recipe. This will give you an idea.
For this porchetta, the pork was cooked beautifully, being juicy and tender, with a crispy skin and a delicious filling of….things I can’t begin to identify or remember. It was restaurant quality though, and when it all came together it worked brilliantly.
The only slight down sides to this is that you can’t really control what you get. Sometimes you get a mix of pork, filling and a bit of crispy skin, and then it’s truly amazing. But then, you might just get a slightly fatty section, no skin, no stuffing, and then it’s not nearly as good. There is more of the former than the later, but it is a comment to be made.
The other thing is the skin itself. Being on a burger with all these moisture laden things, it did mean that it started to take some of this on and become a bit more chewy as a result. This could have been due to the fact we ordered both this and the Lauren Hill, but naturally tried the fish first, and so it sat for much longer than would otherwise be the case. We can’t be sure about this, so we won’t factor that in as such. It was a fairly minor thing anyhow.
Firstly the balsamic onions – they are, as always, simply fantastic. A bit sweet, salty, acidic – they are the perfect burger addition.
The sweet potato puree was exactly that, adding in more sweetness as well as a creamy texture. It did tend to dominate a little though, as you couldn’t portion out what you got with each bite.
Apple and pork is a classic of course, and it did what you might expect. It worked together really well but perhaps a little more to balance the sweetness might be good, and the peppery rocket contributed some much needed freshness.
All up, this was a classic combination of flavours to go with the pork. There was maybe a bit too much sweetness going on, and a bit more acid and freshness wouldn’t go astray. Again, a minor comment but noticeable the more you consumed.
We talked about this in the Lauren Hill and the Alan Bond, so we won’t labour the point again here, but while the bread bit is quite decent, it’s not the best burger roll getting around. Not a big issues, just something to improve.
Hand cut skin on fries. Crunchy potato goodness here – think hungry jacks….and then be thankful that these are SO much better. Just a whisker less salt might benefit things. And yes, whisker is an imperial measurement of salt.
$15 for this burger that has, as usual, premium ingredients like this is fine with us. Then consider the effort that goes into the porchetta – all the prep and hours of cooking time. Also consider what it would cost to order these things as a dish at a restaurant served on a plate. Yep – that price is quite acceptable!
Add in the $8 for the lunch combo – Thunder Road beer and fries – and $23 is really good value indeed.
So where does it leave us? Well, the love, care and attention that has gone into this is clear to see. This is something quite different and for the most part, really really tasty. Everything in its own right was delicious, and as a combination it’s really classic flavours here.
As you have seen though, there are just little things here and there that just niggle and detract ever so slightly.
The biggest of these slight issues is that it’s really rich! We split this, and after the half that was really about all I wanted. Sure, I could have easily eaten a whole one, but it would have been past….peak enjoyment time (to create completely convoluted terminology).
This could be because it really is recreating a porchetta plate served in a burger, which deserves supreme credit in itself. As a culinary idea and application, it’s outstanding. What this means though in practice is that you cant balance the flavours out like you night on a plate. Then you can have a bit more or less of this or that to create the perfect flavours, but in a burger the next bite is the next bite.
In the end, the porchetta burger is a really enjoyable experience, and one that we recommend a bit more than the score might indicate. It’s not perfect, there are some rough edges so to speak, but it’s an experience that you might not have around again.
At the moment it’s maybe a tiny bit less than the sum of its parts, but with refinement the potential is definitely there. This could make a great slider, as the punch of rich flavour wouldn’t be overbearing. Thats just an idea.
So the porchetta burger is highly recommended, but in terms of balancing the score side of things, it ends up with a…..
Score : 9.0