He’s Australia’s most awarded chef, creator of world famous fine diner Rockpool in Sydney, but today Neil Perry is having a crack at fast food, opening his first Burger Project at Sydney’s World Square.
It seems like a nostalgia kick for the son of a butcher – a childhood of burgers, hotdogs, shakes and sodas – given a little bit of posh, but kept affordable.
The 100-seat space, next to the dumpling house Din Tai Fung, has a little pizzaz amid the utilitarianism of lining up to order and collect your food. But then the burgers, starting at $7.90, are around a third of the price you’ll pay for the wagyu burger on brioche bun at Rockpool Bar and Grill in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth.
Perry says the idea is the result of wanting to “take one of the world’s great gourmet burgers from Rockpool Bar & Grill to the people”.
His team spent the last three months developing a menu featuring 10 different burgers, two hot dogs, fried chicken wings, triple-cooked fries, ice creams, shakes, house sodas and even a specially brewed Rockpool pilsner beer, made in Victoria.
The beef patty is made from 36-month Cape Grim grass-fed chuck and brisket steak ground on site. The ice creams are churned there and Perry has his own “secret sauce”.
“Provenance is of utmost importance to us at Burger Project and we care intensely about sustainability, where each ingredient comes from and the necessity to treat the Earth well in order for future generations,” the chef said.
He’s even donating a portion of the turnover to charity.
Business Insider was given a special preview tasting of the Burger Project, which Perry hopes to roll out both across Australia and then the world once he’s bedded this place down. He expects to serve around 1200 burgers a day in this first store – that’s one about every 30 seconds – and says he’s already had approaches to open elsewhere in the city.
We can vouch for the Korean burger with its spicy kim chi. And the hot dog made with chorizo is pretty good too, along with the chips coated in chipotle chilli powder, which make you want to grab another of those Rockpool pilsners.
Just make sure you can force down some of the dulce de leche ice cream too.
Burger Project is upstairs inside the World Square courtyard. It looks a little space-age from the outside.
It's like most burger joints - look at the menu above your head, go up to the counter and pay, then wait to collect to collect your order.
The team is dressed in blue and they're young. It feels like a typical burger joint like that. It's an open kitchen so you can see what's happening.
There are 10 burgers, mostly under $10. Surprisingly, the most expensive one is the vegetarian, made with big fat confit mushrooms that are like steaks.
For drinks they make shakes and sodas with house-made syrups, and more importantly, there's a short wine list and beers.
If you grew up drinking Passiona, you'll like the passionfruit soda. Thankfully, the Burger Joint version is nowhere near as sweet.
At $7.90, the classic beef burger is about $2 more than you'll find at the Scottish chain, has grassfed beef, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion and 'secret sauce'. We tried the $8.90 cheeseburger, which was pretty damned fine.
A good slab of thinly sliced onion inside the burger - no stuffing around here, but perhaps be careful who you kiss after a meal at Burger Project.
The spicy dog, $9.90, is made with a good, chewy chorizo. Don't freak out. It's not too spicy hot. There's a spicier Korean version too.
The battered chicken wings, $3.90 or 3 for $9, are pretty big and when covered in hot sauce, have you licking your fingers before reaching for the beer.
The triple-cooked chips, $4.90, are bloody good and covered in salt and vinegar made me feel nostalgic. Covered in chipotle chilli powder, that have an addictively hot kick.
The photo about the dining counter is Cape Grim in northwest Tasmania, where the cattle graze before ending up between the buns.
Two scoops of ice cream is $6.50 and you can put all sorts of toppings on it. The flavours include Valrhona chocolate, but I loved the salted dulce de leche even more.
The story behind the produce. Perry takes as much care here about what you eat as he does at his Rockpool restaurants.
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