So I picked up a taste for burgers while I was in the UK. Not something that was possible four years ago, but in the time I spent in London, offerings went from dire to delightful. My conversion started with Byron, which has dropped off a little, but can still be relied on for a quality sandwich. The arrival of Honestburger, The Meatliquor empire, Dirtyburger and Patty and Bun (I still regret only eating one of thse perfect patties) was my confirmation. I’m addicted to good burgers, and with my return to Wellington I’m currently suffering from crawling up the wall type withdrawals.
I was hesitant to return to Burger Fuel, because while I remember enjoying their food, that was before I discovered that burgers taste better when they’re cooked properly (juicy medium rare, lightly formed, no filler, decent fat percentage). In a moment of weakness and because I was feeling generous, I returned. The disinterested server, who seemed to have missed the memo about New Zealand’s friendly service ethos, served only to increase my trepidation.
And then the moment of truth. As I suspected, Burger Fuel burgers are awful. Their patties appear to have some crust, but it’s fairly weak in texture. The inside is even worse – grey and tightly packed, like a thicker version of MacDonalds or Burger King. The one redeeming feature of the 1/3 Pounder with Cheese was the bread and butter pickles, and even they could do with a little more tang. I fail to understand how something so mediocre can be so popular.
I remembered the Kumara fries being pretty good, and in this case, I wasn’t disappointed. Crispy and sweet, they provided some redemption, even if the garlic aioli could have turned away a horde of vamps.
As I headed back to the bathrooms, I think I stumbled on one glaring part of the problem. These guys don’t cook their burgers on a hotplate. They appear to “grill” them in a machine reminiscent of a rotating toaster. What’s worse, is that I suspect their patties are preformed by a machine, and most likely frozen before they’re shipped to the stores. New Zealand – this is not quality. Don’t be fooled by the marketing, the share float and the racing team. There has to be better out there.
So my search continues. As I suspected, finding a good burger is proving a difficult proposition. But I’ll not give up the search.