Eco City Burger at Lord of the Fries

Knox Lane, Melbourne Central shopping centre, Melbourne CBD

Disclaimer: I didn’t pay for this food. Lord of the Fries gave it to me for free. Or maybe I sold a little piece of my soul for it. You decide.

I’m a pretty rampant carnivore. Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows that I enjoy eating animals; probably more so than most people, and probably more than is healthy for me. So when Lord of the Fries (a vegetarian enterprise) sent me an email inviting me to test out their Eco City Burger, I was pretty skeptical, and instantly told twitter as much. To their credit, they responded in good humour, and well, that sort of won me over enough to agree to try the burger.

I remember the first time I had Lord of the Fries. I was drunk, it was well past midnight on Chapel St, and it seemed a better option than Pie Face. (I have an irrational hatred of the Pie Face chain, but that’s a story for another time.) I vaguely remember having fries and nuggets, and thinking to myself that the fries were underwhelming, because they’re a bit floppy – an opinion I stand by to this day – but the nuggets were surprisingly good, for nuggets which aren’t made (at least in part) from meat.

Cut forward to earlier this week, when my colleague Mr E and I wandered down to the Melbourne Central hole-in-the-wall Lord of the Fries in the midst of the stifling heat wave lured by the promise of free burgers. I, of course, had the Eco City Burger, and since I wasn’t paying and the PR lady told me I could, I ordered up a bit, adding some onion rings and one of the chilli cheese poppers to the order.

The Eco City Burger is the classic LotF vegie patty, with lettuce, beetroot relish, pickles and aioli. At first glance, I wasn’t particularly impressed. One little piece of advice i have for LotF is step up your bun game. Seriously, this was the sort of bun I’d expect to find in 12 packs on the bottom shelf of a supermarket bakery section. An unyielding plasticky exterior pretty much meant even though the actual bread was soft enough, you wouldn’t know it. Think about it: the bun is the first thing your mouth comes in contact with when you eat a burger. So come on guys, don’t fall down at the first hurdle!

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But let’s move on to the insides. All in all, it’s not bad. I’ll concede that for a vegie burger (though it’s more TVP than vegie?) this is pretty good. The texture of the patty is pretty meat-like; it falls apart like a meat burger would if it were just on the rare side of medium. My one issue with the patty is that it was too salty. It’s almost as if they were trying to compensate for the umami meat flavour by just adding more salt. Like a Christian apologist with something to hide. And it just doesn’t work that way, people.

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The beetroot relish was bright in colour and flavour, and a smart way to include it in the burger. I hate how I often have half a slice of beetroot hanging out the back end of the burger, clinging for dear life before it splats on the plate, spraying its life force all over my white t-shirt (of course it was white). The relish provided enough flavour without being so plentiful as to ooze ungraciously out the back end.

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Yep, that visual segue was intentional.

Onion rings! With the ‘Belgian’ mayonnaise – what I’m sure @thatjessho would call sperm sauce. These were pretty fantastic. If you’ve tried onion rings at Hungry Jack’s before, you haven’t tried real onion rings. The LotF ones are the real deal – actual rings of onion, crumbed and fried until golden and crispy. The sweetness of the onion and the crispiness of the crumb are tot- WAIT! THAT’S WHAT THE BURGER IS MISSING!

Time to mod the burger, to make it better. The sweetness of the onion balances out the massively salty patty, and the crumb makes the burger, well, not mushy.

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WINNING. The burger was actually great like this. So I recommend if you’re going to have a LotF burger, shell out the extra $5.95 (WHAT!?) for the onion rings.

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Burgers are kind of like gay sex: often messy afterwards. But worth it.

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Nothing says “I love you, #fatty” like a burger cake

It’s @eatnik‘s birthday today. Happy birthday #fatty!!

For a few weeks, @jeroxie and I had been scheming and planning a birthday cake for her, as she’d been the kind purveyor of awesome birthday cakes for us both (a crazily rich milo cake upon my request, and an impressive Words with Friends cake for Penny) as well as a team effort with @meatnik to make a croquembouche – that shat all over any masterchef contestant’s – for @th0i3‘s 30th.

So whatever we came up with, it was going to have to be plucked from the clouds of awesome. Initially, we’d toyed with the idea of a rainbow cake. They seem to be a little en vogue of late, and the flavour possibilities seemed exciting. Then we though something a little more personalised might be a better idea. I floated the idea of a ‘pork belly’ cake, with layers of strawberry sponge meat and white chocolate mousse fat, topped with a bruleed layer of ‘crackling’. I still think I’ll get around to that one day. But when @eatnik announce last week that her birthday celebrations were going to be “burgers and beers” at Thousand Pound Bend, it was time for a cake rethink.

With a little research, and some very helpful advice given by professional cake decorator @sweet_libertine, the burger cake seemed feasible, and actually easier than the pork belly monstrosity we’d been dreaming up.

Now I didn’t take photos of the cake making process, but in essence, this is what the cake was composed of:

  • an orange chiffon cake (for the top of the bun) – from Poh’s recipe, with extra orange essence for a super-charged zing)
  • a chocolate pound cake (for the patty) – from a recipe sourced from @essjayeff, with added cocoa and Hershey’s chocolate syrup – props to @th0i3 for co-baking this with me!
  • another variation on Poh’s chiffon cake, without the orange, but with hazelnut meal added (for the base of the bun).

This was also my first attempt at working with – and making my own – fondant icing. It’s kind of fun, but gets a little messy! I used this recipe, but found I needed to add a lot more icing sugar than they had suggested, partly because I was using liquid food colouring instead of gel colour.

Anyway, to assemble it, I created a skirt of fondant icing for the burger base. Given the amount of icing I was going to be using for everything else, I only wanted it around the edges, for presentation. There’s only so much sugar in a cake that even I can stand! That gooey stuff seeping out is a sour cream frosting that I was using as glue for the fondant.imageA thicker layer of the sour cream frosting went over that, to form the mayo, and then some ruffled green fondant for the lettuce.imageOnce the lettuce layer was done, I added some atomic red fondant tomato slices. See that chocolate pound cake waiting patiently in the background? It’s up next!imageI shaved the top and parts of the edges off, so it woud be more of a patty shape.imageThen, following @sweet_libertine’s advice, I covered it all with ganache – made with Lindt dark Chilli Intense chocolate and sour cream – and glued bits of crumbled pound cake on top, to give it that rough burger mince look.imageThe patty goes on, and I start getting excited about how well it’s all turning out.imageOf course, there’s a reason ‘I can haz cheezburger’ is a meme, and ‘I can haz burger’ is not. I made the fondant cheese Swiss because, well, it looked more obviously like cheese. There’s nothing subtle about a novelty burger cake OK, people?imageThe trickiest part with the fondant was probably laying a huge sheet of it over the top of the bun. To do this, I rolled it out on a sheet of baking paper, then flipped it over onto the cake. Ad thankfully, it came off without a hitch! I don’t think I could really have tried it a second time without making more icing, because once it hits the frosting, the icing can’t really be moved or re-used. And yes, for those continuity geeks playing at home, yes, I did this bit before assembling the rest of the cake. It just seemed more logical to show you the process from bottom to top.imageThen I shaped some novelty sesame seeds out of white fondant, and glued them on using the sour cream frosting.
imagePlace the top on, and voila! Novelty burger cake success!
imageHere’s a shot of how the cake looked on the inside. Try as I might, I couldn’t make it look like anything other than the mess you dread to clean up, with a hangover, the next morning after a big party.imageHappy birthday #fatty!

The Napier – a Bogan Burger misfire

210 Napier St, Fitzroy
Phone: 9419 4240

It was an event which had been months in the making. It started last year, even. There was talk of smashing and burger domination. It was scheduled, then re-scheduled, then re-scheduled again. @thatjessho and I were down for some major bogan bashing. Bogan burger bashing, that is. So somehow with the Christmas feasting season, and then the following #fatty adventures, it turned out to be March by the time we got around to hitting up the Napier for the Bogan Burger challenge.

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the bogan burger, it’s a burger comprised of a steak, a chicken schnitzel, a potato cake, bacon and egg, and then a bit of vegetable matter to round it out. Here’s a couple of photos. The reason I don’t have photos of my own is because of Jesus.

It was Lent. And while I’m no Christian, I like novelty activities, and giving up red meat for Lent seemed pretty novel at the time. Now, I had counted on the gaping hole in my soul caused by denying myself pho for the 40 days… wait, so Lent causes a gaping hole in my soul, ready for the Devil to enter??? What I hadn’t really counted on was the fact that the Napier has a strict No Substitutions policy when it comes to their Bogan Burger. Gotta hand it to them for protecting the integrity or their product.

So we spent the afternoon basking in the wan Autumnal sun, sinking pints of cider and shooting the breeze. The Napier’s beer garden is good for that. Eventually, we thought we should probably eat something, though with that much liquid in our bellies, I’m ashamed to say we both baulked at the thought of the Bogan Burger that day. My excuse was my Lenten abstinence from red meat. Jess? Well, let’s just say she abstained in solidarity. Sort of. She ordered the regular beef burger.

… with crinkle cut fries! How much do we love crinkle cut? Nothing bespeaks true pub louder. Well, except maybe beer on tap. But it’s a close call.

As you can see, it’s a sizeable hunk of a patty. Smothered in melted, nay grilled, cheese, tomato sauce, and all that vegetable matter again.

I went for the chicken burger. Now I liked this, it was tasty, the chicken was well cooked, and there was a hefty whack of Caesar sauce/mayo. And I love the fact that the Napier serves their burgers with chips and coleslaw, not that insipid green salad that is difficult to stab with your fork and shove in your mouth. But just once, I’d like a place to do a chicken burger that’s actually a burger. You know, minced, with spices and stuff. A patty. A BURGER.

So no, we didn’t manage to get to the Bogan Burger. Apparently as bogans, we fail.

But as burger smashers, we totally still win.

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