You’ve got to love a click bait headline – Good Food knows how to drive traffic when it outs an article called “Is this Sydney’s Best Burger?” Probably not, but ask the question anyway and the traffic will come. However, in burgerland, the words “Shake Shack” is legendary, and by no means is it click bait to say that Shake Shack is the inspirational fuel behind newly opened Jack’s Burgers.
But why is an American fast food burger joint so revered? It’s difficult to pin it down to just one aspect – but the sourcing of high quality beef & applewood smoked bacon, the variety of delicious milkshakes on offer, crinkle cut fries and a sense of just plain effective & cordial service are just some of the reasons offered by devotees.
So when Jack’s opened up in – you guessed it – Newtown, channeling the Shake Shack philosophy and raining it down on our very own Sydney, we parted with our collective rational minds. Read on to see if you also need to part with your money!
Date Last Visited: 29/10/15
Address: 170 Missenden Road, Newtown, Sydney
Recommended Dish(es): you should get a burger
Burgers have always been serious business in Sydney, but with the explosion of a serious group of burger aficionados discussing issues of such gravity, there has never been juicier time to be into these meat sandwiches.
In its first few days of operation, Jack’s Newtown was absolutely floored with FBAS members and burger-philes alike, to the point where they were selling out before the sun went down. Awesome news, right?
Not so fast – reviews were very mixed. Lukewarm at best, and at worst – cold as the buns they were supposedly serving to a statistically significant number of dissenters.
You know what I said about not hitting up a joint until its staff get used to the routine and iron out teething issues? Talk about not following my own advice – despite all the mixed feedback. All I can say is: can’t knock it till you try it.
Now I’ve never been to Shake Shack (gasp!) but given how much my homie iFat raves on and on about the joint, I had my fair share of expectations, albeit wearing “they’ve just opened” lenses. Even so, I was quite giddy at what would befall us. It already smells up to par.
The menu at Jack’s comprises of your traditional cheeseburger ($10), +$2 for bacon to be included, and +$1 for fried onion. Given that bacon, by definition, makes everything better (and onion never hurt me except when I was cutting them), we ordered burgers with the lot.
While I was fairly happy with the price on paper, the reality had me taken aback somewhat – these are not big on size. I’m not just saying this because I’m Still Hungry, but they are roughly the size of a Big Mac, which ironically despite its name, is not all that grand. The surprising thing? They don’t allow double patties! Of course, it ain’t a slider either, but just don’t expect a Bar Luca or a Mister Gee in comparison.
The group that were ahead of us wised up to this – upon seeing the size of the burgers being delivered, immediately ordered another. Smart move guys, smart move.
In any case, I would still be keen to pay this price, as long as the burger is up to scratch in the taste stakes.
Not bad, not bad at all. For a start, Jack’s uses beef mince sourced from Vic’s Meat, so the patties were going to be something special. Indeed, there’s a good mix of lean/fat ratio (80/20), and you can really taste that texture throughout – very satisfying and juicy, particularly when the cheese melts all the way through, oh my.
However, the patties never get sloppy, and that’s because – and this is my favourite part about them – the extra dose of charring that surrounds the beef’s exterior. It’s super crispy, a textural satisfaction much like gorging on chips. Easily the best part about the burger. If I had to improve it, I’d say that it needs more seasoning, I don’t want to taste only beef, even if it is Vic’s meat-level.
As for the buns, I’m informed that they’re based off Shake Shack’s famous potato rolls (using potato mash mixed into the buns). I can’t say I noticed too much of a difference between it and standard buns; they did their job of sandwiching the fillings, but weren’t exceptionally noteworthy, nor are they deserving critique. On the plus side, they weren’t cold!
Jacks’ bacon game is a bit mixed – on the one hand, it’s smoky and full of flavour, but on the other, it’s quite chewy and not as crispy as what I would prefer. As such, it made eating the burger just a little bit difficult. A minor gripe, and you can always save yourself $2 and opt out.
One last thing – the extra dollar for fried onion? This is an interesting one – it’s actually the same fried onion bits Asian restaurants provide for inclusion in noodle soups. Seeing it in a burger is definitely a novel experience for me, but hey, if it adds crunch, then I’ll munch! Purely optional though – not a must-have.
The burger as a whole is quite good – I’d happily have two, and while I wish they were a little bigger (and perhaps pickles as an option?), I’d say Jack’s Newtown has a solid foundation for goodness to come.
I’m just glad I didn’t encounter any teething issues with the burger!
Before I finish this post off, I absolutely have to talk about the fries. No, they’re not mindblowing, but they’re a far, far cry from terrible spuds and you could do a lot worse. What makes them a bit different? Yes – the crinkle cut. Not just a gimmick, the way it’s cut does change the way it tastes. Let’s just say that for a guy that values texture, these definitely float my boat.
Unfortunately, shakes were not on sale that day, so I can’t give you a rundown on that. I did manage to have a taste of a blueberry soda. Given how diluted it tasted, you can give that a skip. In their defence, it is reduced-sugar soda.
Overall, Jack’s Burgers has promise – the beef needs just a bit more seasoning, the bacon a little extra crispiness, and a functional shake machine. Then it can truly attempt to be Sydney’s answer to Shake Shack. While purists will never accept Jack’s being able to rival its spiritual inspiration, the burgers are pretty good at Jack’s. Whether they’re better or not? Well, that’s for you to decide.
NB: take the score with a grain of salt – it’s likely that two months down the track, Jack’s could have well improved from these initial baby days. So give them a break, and let them hopefully shine!
This post is based on an independently paid visit to Jack’s Newtown
Have you been Jacked on these burgers? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
- A burger with a solid foundation, and future, can be found here
- The bacon is not better at Jack’s
- I wanted a milkshake, I did not get a milkshake
- Teething issues are expected this early into the game, your luck will vary!
- They don’t do doubles!
I have a new scoring system! Read all about it here.
Most important takeaway – three separate scores for food, service and ambiance to give the final score. The new system is not compatible with any score given prior to 11/11/2014.
F6.5 | S4 | A3