Once upon a time in a land not really all that far away, there was a restaurant called Assiette. It was one of those rare fine dining restaurants that served great food with great service. I’m sure you would agree when I say that if you nail the combo of good food and good service, you’ll be around for awhile to come.
Alas, the story is never as simple as that. Plagued by cost issues, head chef Warren Turnbull made the call to shut down Assiette to pursue other opportunities in New Zealand, his country of birth. Australia’s quite the poster child for fair labour wages, which isn’t exactly great news for restaurateurs.
But Turnbull is made of tougher stuff than that. He remained in Australia to open up a second venture on the same grounds – Albion Street Kitchen. This was a low-cost, bistro-style venue which caters for a very different (and critically – much larger) market. I hear it was a decent place to go for a decent feed.
I didn’t have time to go myself though because ASK didn’t last very long either – a kitchen fire ripped through and glutted the building almost completely. Good grief, the man could just not take a break.
But no, Turnbull’s wired of stronger brass. Not long after the flames, he established what could quite possibly be his pièce de résistance, the magnum opus. It’s a burger joint.
Date Last Visited: 22/2/2014
Address: 48 Albion Street Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Recommended Dish(es): Just get a Chur Burger
Chur Burger. One may be thinking that a chef falls very low coming from the stratospheric heights of fine dining, to a venture as prosaic as a burger joint.
Tell that to newly-made-burgeman Turnbull, who turns over 3000 Chur Burgers a week. At $10 a burger not even counting drinks and sides, that’s a serious feat. Can you make a burger that sells that well?
Chur Burger’s premise is mouth-wateringly delicious burgers but not at exhorbitant prices. Some burgers in Sydney cost well north of $10 (such as the not-so-great Charlie & Co’s) and Rockpool even has a $25 offering. Admittedly, it’s the best burger I’ve had, but I digress.
Chur combines the aforementioned “fair pricing” of its “delicious” burgers, a great location and quick, no-nonsense service that really hits the spot with the locals. From the venue pictures, there’s plenty of room, though considering how busy it gets – there’s never enough of it.
But it’s still just a burger joint, right? Well then let’s explore!
Chur has six burger types on its menu, conveniently featuring one of each meat type – beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish & vegetarian. On my visits to Chur, I’ve managed to have each and every single one of these, with the exception of the vegetarian option.
Yeah, vego people really don’t find too much useful info on my blog….sorry!!
Let’s begin the roundup of deliciousness.
Simple stuff, executed well. The grilled beef burger was indeed finely crafted – the bun is fluffy but not too aerated, and construction with the filling and the bun was great. There’s very little sauce spillage and the burger holds up very well together. This statement applies to all Chur Burgers, so I won’t be repeating it again.
The taste? Bang bang it’s great. While it’s not the best burger, it’s easily the best $10 burger. Keep that thought in mind when you’re thinking of a meal at Chur – you won’t break the bank. You can even afford sides!
As you can see from the side shot, you can get them to cut up your burger in half if you want to share. No more messy DIY division. Leave that up to the pros.
The wagyu patty is medium-ish which is pretty good by burger standards already, though medium-rare would be where it’s at. It’s hard to do due to health concerns, but if you can pull it off (like at Rockpool) then you really get somewhere with burger mastery. Chuck in some pickles and mustard mayo and you’re already there.
Truth be told, the pulled pork burger is pretty objectionable. It’s easily the weakest of the five meat burgers in Chur’s lineup, at least at the time I tried it. The pulled pork was very dry, and it was cooked in a way that made it taste like tuna. That thought may actually resonate with some of you if you’ve tried and failed to make your own pulled pork. Without its constituent fat and braising methods, pulled pork really can just taste like tuna after awhile – especially if it’s dry.
The red slaw was pretty, both in looks and in taste, but the meat’s the…well…meat of the matter, and that game needs to be upped. While I did visit Chur again very recently, I decided to feast on other burgers rather than risk the pulled pork again. One has only so much of a caloric budget.
I imagine it must be better now, but no guarantees.
Before moving on, I’d like to introduce you to two of Chur Burger’s sides. You see, fries don’t come with burgers by default, which is partly why I imagine Chur can charge that lower price. If you do choose to get fries, perhaps go a bit off the beaten path and consider sweet potato fries. Thicker, heartier and fuller than normal chips, sweet potato chips are very fulfilling for the right kind of palate. I totally dig this stuff, as I ate sweet potatoes (or kumara if you’re fancy) growing up. Your mileage may vary.
Of course, you can always default back to thick cut chips, which themselves are quite hefty for additional potato goodness. What’s great about these is the chilli salt that comes with it.
Chur Burger is just a bit too hipster – the interior aside, water is poured from an impressive, but ultimately highly inconvenient jug which really puts a strain on the hand. Sure, it is meant for two-handed operation, but that’s really a bit much for an inherently one-handed task.
Chur presents a variety of sauces and condiments with their burgers or fries. So far, I’ve held the observation that the burgers are good enough that they’re not needed, unless you’re flavouring a burger to your own taste. Or giving some more oomph to that pulled pork burger.
BACK TO THE BURGERS.
I’m a BIG fan of the chicken burger. For me, the generous portion of chicken, with that delectable saucy mayo and incredible slaw…it’s just oh so darn great.
Plus, the chicken is juicy! Grilled chicken that isn’t dry? Well I never.
The lamb burger is The Lady’s favourite. I can understand why – succulent lamb is perfectly paired with feta & mint sauce which smells heavenly and tastes even more so. To throw additional levels of flavour, aioli kicks it up a notch more. Overall, you’re probably taking more calories from the sauces than the burger itself, but it’ll be calories well spent.
Last but not least, we have a surprisingly alluring crumbed fish fillet burger. Crumbed fish burgers are usually a risky gamble because you already have a dry bun, but you’re going to have a fair deal of inherently dry battered fish to go with it.
But as usual, keep it simple stupid – the easy way to tackle this one is to throw mayo at it. Seems glaring, but why not do it when it works, and to delicious effect? Further flavour is provided by pickles which for me, is a must in a fish burger. That tang is just irresistable.
Warren Turnbull, the man who gives credence to the saying “third time’s the charm”.
Ain’t that right, Chur Burger?
For more coverage of Chur Burger, why not feast your eyes on my post on Taste of Sydney? Chur made a special just for this event!
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀
- Mouthwatering burgers – simple and enough said
- Decent prices for what you get
Not so Awesome:
- Pulled pork burger drops the ball
- Won’t satisfy anyone looking beyond a burger