This is very much the tale of two burgers, because that is exactly what we sampled on our visit to this Rundle Street icon. The venue has stood the test of time and is guaranteed to have people spilling out the doors and onto the street – but is this due to their burgers or something else? We jumped in to find out.
Venue and Service
Slap bang in the midst of the city’s East End, The Austral is one of the most iconic establishments in Adelaide. Frequented by patrons of all ages and backgrounds, the Austral was originally known as ‘The Family Hotel’ and first opened its doors on December 8, 1879. The name changed to its current guise 28 years later to the day, in 1907.
Finding a seat in the outdoor area can prove a challenge on a nice sunny day like the one that greeted us. However, we walked up and snagged a table immediately much to our surprise and pleasure. Adding to our smiles at this point was a board on the street proclaiming today they had an $18 burger and pint deal – it was just meant to be.
There are three burger choices on the menu – namely a vege, beef and ‘Hawaiian’ chicken. To maximize our coverage, we decided that we should sample both the meat based options – not because we are against a vege burger, but that it just didn’t sounds especially interesting. Orders placed and beverages obtained, we set about the tasting.
Personally, I cannot really comment on the service as I didn’t actually order anything, but staff did bring our food out in a not inordinate timeframe (although it was tending towards the slower end of the spectrum) and collected our plates and glasses in due course. Acceptable.
The initial appearance was not especially inspiring, as it seemed that we had been somewhat short changed in the chicken department. It also looked somewhat basic – which can really go either way. As we have said many times less is often more, so long as everything there plays its part.
There was no patty as such, instead we were presented with chicken breast which had been sliced up and drizzled with sweet chilli sauce. As indicated above, it looked like there wasn’t much there, but the eating proved that there was a sufficient quantity. The chicken had been cooked very nicely indeed, nigh on perfectly, as it was supremely succulent and tender. The sweet chilli was nice, if not particularly chilli (if at all), but this is obviously down to personal taste.
Accompanying the chicken and the sauce on its journey to consumption were some lettuce leaves, cheese and pineapple. That is all. Simple and to the point – and also very much hitting the mark. All the ingredients worked beautifully together and it was an extremely enjoyable combination. Nice.
The roll was a bit of a contentious point, as the one for the beef that we sampled was significantly more toasted than the one for the chicken. They were of the damper variety, and were perhaps a touch on the dry side. It is unclear if they were perhaps not as fresh as they could possibly be, or if it was down to that particular ‘batch’ from the producer. Either way, they were not the high point. They weren’t obviously terrible either, but perhaps could be improved upon.
The obligatory chips made their appearance with the Hawaiian burger and they were good, solid (well fluffy and crispy in texture, but solid in execution – unnecessary clarification complete) golden cooked potato portions. Nicely seasoned, they were holding up their end of the bargain just fine without yelling ‘look at me’ and trying to overshadow the burger. Which would be hard given their relative size, but I am sure you take my meaning.
The value on the day was excellent. $18 for the burger and a pint of either cider or James Squire 50 Lashes Pale represented very decent value indeed. The size was reasonably generous without being over the top, the ingredients were fresh and tasty (noting the roll comments above) and the beer was cold. Cant complain at all.
Incidentally, the normal price was $18 for the burger alone, which would still hit the mark of acceptable.
Sitting on Rundle Street in mid December on a warm summers day, watching the world go by and quaffing what was effectively a free beer, it is obviously a good platform on which to start a review. Fold gently into the mix the zesty pineapple mingling with the juicy chicken, sweet chilli sauce and the crispy lettuce (with some cheese along for the ride) and it really was an extremely pleasant time indeed. There really was no down side here – perhaps some bacon might have been a welcome addition, but I also think that this can be overdone and it was nice to see the other ingredients standing up on their own.
Minor quibble with the roll aside, this was a very good burger indeed and perfectly suited to the summer months.
The beef though….well that is another story.
Score – 8.3
Date tasted – 20 December 2012