Review: Burger Project, Sydney

Note: I’m still on my honeymoon! Here’s a review of the Burger Project though, from when I visited in early November. Point of interest – I had burgers and fries from the Burger Project for lunch as I was getting ready for my wedding last Saturday. Hair in curlers and semi-made up, chowing down on a fat juicy burger…what a sight!

When it was announced that multi-hatted celebrity chef Neil Perry would be opening up a fast food burger joint with a sub $20 menu, there was general rejoicing to be had. Those who couldn’t justify dropping $200 per head at Rockpool could finally enjoy of a taste of Perry magic at the Burger Project with a classic burger.

Within days of its opening, most of Sydney (and certainly 99% of food bloggers) had made their way to the Burger Project, with mixed reviews. Being as always somewhat behind the curve, it was nearly two weeks after the grand opening before I finally made it to the Burger Project for a quick bite before heading off to see Wicked!.

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Located up on the first level of World Square, Burger Project is right next to Din Tai Fung, everyone’s favourite dumpling restaurant. We arrived early-ish around 6pm when the queue was still manageable and only had to line up for about five minutes.

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The decor is stark, and you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting the lushness of the Rockpool interiors here at the Burger Project. Instead, bare concreted and tiled floors and walls create a large blank space in which are crammed a number of plastic tables and chairs. It’s not fancy, but for the price you’re paying, you wouldn’t expect it to be. It is always busy though, so be prepared to do the ‘casual hover’ around a group that looks like they’re ready to leave, to make sure you can grab their table!

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We order at the counter, and are given a buzzer that lets us know less than ten minutes later that our order is ready to picked up at the counter. So. Much. Dirty. Food. Goodness.

K-Dog (Hot pork sausage, kim chi, crispy onion, raw onion, lettuce and spicy korean dressing), $9.50

K-Dog (Hot pork sausage, kim chi, crispy onion, raw onion, lettuce and spicy korean dressing), $9.50

We start off with the K-Dog at K’s insistence, as his nickname within certain friendship circles is “K Dawwwwwg”. It’s a terrible nickname, but luckily this isn’t a terrible hot dog. On the contrary – it’s actually a really good hot dog, with the hot and spicy him chi going well with the German style sausage, especially with the crunchiness of crispy fried onions on top. A winner all around.

Cheese & Bacon Burger (Grass fed beef, bacon, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and secret sauce), $9.50

Cheese & Bacon Burger (Grass fed beef, bacon, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and secret sauce), $9.50

The Cheese and Bacon Burger was a step down from the K-dog though. It was a strange mix of mid-quality housemade ingredients (the pickles were excellent!) and low McDonalds-quality soft burger buns. I found the bacon a bit overpowering as well, so that you didn’t actually taste the flavours of the housemade grass fed beef patty. It just lacked the wow factor that one would expect from Neil Perry.

Crispy hot wings with sichuan pepper and salt, 3 for $9

Crispy hot wings with Sichuan pepper and salt, 3 for $9

The Crispy Hot Wings were well battered and fried, but the promised “Sichuan pepper and salt” came surprisingly in a minuscule container on the side, rather than included in the batter. This meant that you weren’t ever graced with a consistent spice mix over the hot wings, as you’re left to shake the mix over the wings yourself, which was a bit hit and miss. Quite disappointing!

House made chips with chipotle chilli, $4.90

House made chips with chipotle chilli, $4.90

The chips on the other hand, were out of this world amazing. Much has been said about these house special thrice-cooked chips, and all I can add is that all the praise has been absolutely spot-on. There’s a fieriness to the chipotle chilli that really adds to intense flavour of the super crunchy chips. I could easily have eaten another bucket of these chips by myself!

Salted dulce de leche milkshake with malt, $7, and Mandarin house soda, $4.50

Salted dulce de leche milkshake with malt, $7, and Mandarin house soda, $4.50

The house-made drinks were also a highlight. The mandarin flavoured house soda was equal parts fresh and fruity, and fizzy and fun. It was never too sweet, and offered just enough to help cleanse and refresh your palette after the heavier fried foods.

A lot of other bloggers haven’t liked the milkshake, but I actually really enjoyed it. I added malt to my salted dulce de leche which worked really well – the first flavour hit you get as you take a sip is the malt, but you’re then left with the lingering aftertaste of caramel. It is very subtle though, which isn’t to everyone’s taste.

Conclusion? It’s worth visiting the Burger Project just to satisfy your curiosity about the initial hype. It won’t be the best burger you’ve ever tasted, or the best fried chicken either. But for the price you pay, and the relatively central location, the Burger Project’s not a bad place to have a quick dirty meal.

Burger Project on Urbanspoon


Wedding Menu Tasting at The Ivy Ballroom

I can’t believe that it’s only been seven months since I announced my official engagement on this blog! It was a long time coming – K and I had actually started the process of designing the rings back in October last year at Arman’s Fine Jewellery, but it wasn’t until March this year that we officially got engaged.

How time has flown – our wedding is this coming Saturday, the 22nd of November. Needless to say, I will be too busy to blog over the next few days in the lead-up to the big day, and as we take a week off afterwards on a short honeymoon at Crystal Creek Rainforest Resort. In the meantime, why not follow our wedding on Instagram (@gourmanda_me)? We’ve even created a hashtag for our guests that you can follow – #chanoy.

Here’s a sneak peek of what our guests will be enjoying at our wedding reception at the Ivy Sunroom this Saturday – a quick recap of the menu tasting we did back in September!

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We had our menu tasting in the Ivy Ballroom rather than Sunroom. It was a strange experience – a single table set up for the two of us in this gigantic glamorous space. It was somewhat overwhelming!

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A quick snapshot of our wedding menu – the styling of it actually matches our wedding’s accent colour of red, so we didn’t have to make any changes here.

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The basket of bread rolls on each table will come straight from Iggy’s Bread of the World in Bronte – delicious wholemeal and sourdough rolls with a real bite. K’s elderly grandparents will get a softer bread roll that they can chew more easily though!

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Half the guests will have an entree of prosciutto with tomato – a simple, but delicious cold option for the entree.

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Other guests will get a creamy pumpkin and goats cheese ravioli, with the most delectable Parmesan on top.

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The first option for main is a roast chicken dish – simple, but made outstanding with a drizzle of thyme butter to match the succulent meat.

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The second option for main course is a gently seared salmon steak, with a citrus-y barley pilaf that really completes the dish.

Now’s the point that I hear you say – what, no dessert? K and I have chosen to move away from the traditional alternate drop dessert course, and have also chosen not to do the usual stodgy multi-tiered wedding cake.

Instead, we will have a cake table and a lolly table. The cake table will have six varieties of cakes available for guests to serve themselves, and will include options like Lindt’s chocolate hazelnut gateau and Black Star Pastry’s strawberry and watermelon cake. The lolly table will also double as wedding favours and rather than plain boiled lollies, will include some of our personal favourites like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Ferrero Rochers, and strawberry clouds.

Most importantly…in exactly three days time, we’ll be married! I look forward to sharing photos with everyone when I return!


Newtown Dessert Crawl: Cow & The Moon Artisan Gelato, Black Star Pastry, Brewtown Newtown, Cookies+Milk Bar, Pastizzi Cafe and Izba Russian Treats

Ah, crazy food jaunts. It takes a very special type of person to keep up with my insatiable appetite for NEW EXCITING EATING EXPERIENCES. Luckily, I have a few friends who are more than game enough…and of course, K doesn’t get a choice in the matter and gets dragged along to everything anyway!

This time, my plan was to explore the inner-city hipster suburb of Newtown and become acquainted with all its sweet offerings. Some I had had before, others would be brand new experiences.

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Our first stop was Cow & Moon Artisan Gelato on Enmore Road – a new crowd favourite ever since it won the World’s Best Gelato award with its affogato creation. I like to say that I used to go to Cow & Moon before everyone else did, even preferring it to Gelato Messina. Now of course, it’s always jam-packed with long queues of people wanting to sample the world’s best gelato. Luckily, the crowd hadn’t yet started to form when we got there at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon.

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We only had a five minute wait, and before long I was standing in front of the beautiful display of gelato, trying to decide what to have. Classic vanilla or chocolate? Something more unusual and exciting? Or should I be sticking to my dairy-free vow and trying one of their many sorbets instead?

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In the end, I opted for a small serve of two flavours combined in a cone – Strawberry, Pannacotta and Balsamic Vinegar, and Lime in the Coconut. K opted for the Cherry Mania and the award-winning Mandorla Affogato in a cup. As someone who doesn’t normally appreciate the flavour of coffee, the award-winning flavour was a bit lost on me. I can definitely appreciate the two I picked out though – the Lime in the Coconut was just like having a pina colada, and the generous globs of pureed strawberries and streaks of balsamic vinegar packed a powerful flavour punch.

I love Cow & Moon Artisan Gelato and it is most definitely in my top two of best gelato shops in Sydney. It’s hard to justify battling the long queues at peak gelato hour after dinner these days though, so I think I’ll keep my visits to mid-morning and mid-afternoon visits.

Cow & The Moon Artisan Gelato on Urbanspoon

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Our next stop was Black Star Pastry for a slice of their famous strawberry watermelon cake. I wanted their cake as one of our (many) wedding cakes, but K was dubious as he had never tried the cake before. What better way to settle the score than to force K to have the cake and eat it too?

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The line wasn’t too long, and we made it inside within ten minutes. My mouth was drooling by that point though, as I saw everyone walk out of the shop with their little takeaway boxes of Black Star cakes. Someone walked out with a slice of this orange and fig cake, which looked an absolute treat.

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But we weren’t to be deterred from our original goal, and we did get a slice of the strawberry watermelon cake to share, as well as a raspberry brulee with a hard caramelised top and creamy custard that gave a satisfying crack as we bit into it.

Taking our purchases to nearby Newtown Park, we sat with our friend (who got a carrot cake) eating our desserts and enjoying the sunshine. Needless to say, as soon as Kieran took a bite of the strawberry watermelon cake, I won the argument. It will most definitely feature on our list of cakes available at our wedding, and I can’t wait!

I’ll always be back to Black Star for their cakes…and come to think of it, K didn’t get me a birthday cake this year! Maybe I could drop a few hints to K about getting the orange and fig cake for a belated birthday cake?

Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon

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Our next stop was everyone’s favourite Inner West café – Brewtown Newtown. Is it incredibly embarrassing to admit that this was my first time to Brewtown? I’d seen a million and one photos of their menu items on Instagram, but I simply hadn’t gotten around to visiting as I hardly ever visit the Inner West from my North-side home!

It was late in the afternoon by the time we got to Newtown, and the kitchen had just closed. “Sorry, we only have desserts left,” the waitress said as she welcomed us and took us to our table. “That’s what we’re here for!” I replied chirpily. The Brewtown Newtown cronuts (Brewnuts?) were our reason for visiting!

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K ordered a simple cappuccino and found it somewhat lacklustre for a café that brands itself as being “Brewtown”. He found the brew slightly thin and weak, and it definitely didn’t hit that need for a 3pm caffeine pick-me-up.

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My palate-cleansing green tea arrived served in a traditional Japanese cast iron tea pot, with a slightly uneven porcelain tea cup in a wabi-sabi style. I’m amused by the little saucer of honey provided with the tea – I’m accustomed to having strong, bitter tea, and the idea of sweetening my tea is completely foreign to me!

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What of the Brewnuts? K and I ordered two – the chocolate crumble, and a glazed pineapple, and our friend ordered the plain glazed cronut. I was a big fan of the pineapple Brewnut which was filled with custard and topped with a glazed caramelised pineapple ring. The slight tartness and acidity of the pineapple helped to temper the sweetness of the cronut making it a much more interesting dessert choice.

This is blasphemy, but I don’t think I’ll be back to Brewtown Newtown anytime soon – at least, not for the cronuts. I’d prefer to go back to the Grumpy Barista in Petersham for their cronuts which were far superior. Maybe their savoury brunches will be more impressive?

Brewtown Newtown on Urbanspoon

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Our next stop was Cookies + Milk, and we had to rush there after our visit to Brewtown in order to get there before they closed. As it was, the guys were already starting to stack the stools on tables and package up all the leftover cookies by the time we arrived. We got there in just enough time to buy an end-of-day takeaway treat.

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We walked away with a brownie, and a cookie called a “Calamity Jane” that looked like a childhood classic, the Wagon Wheel. The brownie was particularly rich, and K who was reaching a sugar coma by this point took one bite and declared he couldn’t have any more. That didn’t stop me and our friend A from enjoying it though!

I was a big fan of the Calamity Jane – somewhat unwieldy to eat as the buttery choc-coated cookies slided and separated from the marshmallow filling, but it was just the perfect blend of chocolate, buttery cookie, berries, and sweet gooey marshmallow. Definitely better than a standard Wagon Wheel!

I’m keen to return to Cookies + Milk and try more of their offerings. Next time, I’ll even go before they close, and check out a larger variety of their baked goods!

Cookies+Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

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After our rush to Cookies + Milk, we needed to sit down and rest. Pastizzi Café, just a few doors up was the natural choice. I first visited Pastizzi Café years ago when I was still living in Melbourne. On a visit to Sydney, my friend M (who will be K’s best man for our wedding!) took me to Pastizzi Café, swearing it to be one of his favourite places in Sydney. I was convinced then, and it’s remained one of my favourite places to visit for a quick snack when in the Inner West.

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We got two pastizzi – one savoury chicken and chorizo, and one sweet apple cinnamon. K devoured the savoury chicken and chorizo, allowing me just a single bite to enjoy its slightly spicy tomato-based mix. “I’m in a sugar coma, I need something savoury instead!” he insisted.

I enjoyed the apple cinnamon pastizzi with its super crispy flaky pastry but I have to be honest – Pastizzi Café are best with savoury fillings, and the sweet pastizzi lack a certain oomph that you get with their savoury offerings. While I’ll be back, it’ll be for another chicken and chorizo or maybe a beef pot pie – not a sweet apple and cinnamon.

Pastizzi Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Our very last stop on the dessert crawl was Izba Russian Treats, located more towards the St Peters end of King Street. With pairs of older people sitting down enjoying a slice of Izba’s famous honey cake and a hot drink, you immediately get the feeling that the pace is a lot more relaxed down this end of town. Customers here are allowed the luxury of sitting and lingering over their cup of coffee, rather than being hustled out of the café to make room for the next paying customer.

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I deliberated at the cake counter for nearly ten minutes before finally settling on a slice of their apple pie – a super soft sponge cake with chunks of spiced apple throughout. It was particularly appealing lighter choice as I was feeling more than a little dizzy from the amount of sugar I had already ingested that day! While it was a tad on the dry side, I think that may be a result of us arriving late that evening, as opposed to having it earlier in the day when it was fresh out of the oven.

I was very tempted to order their signature honey cake, but I think I will have to save that for my next visit…and trust me, there will be a next visit! I think I’d also like to try some of their blinis next time as well.

IZBA Russian Treats on Urbanspoon

And there you have it – a particularly elaborate long afternoon/early evening of decadent sweet indulgence. If I learned anything that day, it’s that even I apparently have my limitations when it comes to eating desserts – apparently six desserts in six hours will leave me in an exhausted heap when I come down from the sugar high!

I guess it’s lucky that my next planned food crawl is a hot dog crawl…at least it’s savoury right?