Ekim – Progress (with a pleasing aspect)

After the disappointment that was Burger Fuel, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. Ekim has been widely touted as the best burger in Wellington, but it doesn’t pay to set yourself up for hurt.

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Ekim consists of a Caravan and a smaller (vintage) van on the Lyall bay waterfront, just across the road from the airport. The crowds were a good sign, with all the (plentiful) carparks full and a solid throng awaiting delivery of their lunches. I’ve learned that crowds do not always equal quality, but I was developing a good feeling about this one.

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I have to admit, I had some trepidation about the menu. There seemed to be too much on offer. I’m a fan of focusing on the fundamentals, rather than covering up the fundamentals with every condiment and extra under the sun. I also have a weakness. I’m really bad at ordering the classic, because I don’t like missing out on said extras (especially bacon).

For that reason, I made the rookie mistake of ordering the biggest burger on their menu – the McFilla (why do I never learn?) I was fine with the “Double the beef, double the cheese… Bacon”, but somehow skipped over the part about “Hash Brown”. That’s not to say the hash was awful, it wasn’t, but I didn’t need it, and it detracted from the burger. So I removed it and ate it separately. I can hardly blame Ekim for my ordering failure (though it is on their menu). I also ordered some of their fries (because I’d been painting all day and felt like being a fatty).

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In stark comparison to Burger Fuel (don’t worry, Burger Fuel is about to cease its reign as my baseline), the service was fantastic – even with a 15 minute wait for food (the price of popularity methinks). To the woman taking the orders – take a bow. Your combination of efficiency and folksy humour lifted my spirits. I particularly enjoyed attempts to sort people into teams to save time and dockets (I, sadly, had no team and was therefore unable to be team captain). In more good news, 15 minutes wait isn’t such a bad thing when you’re sitting on a beach, soaking up the rays. Or, if you’re more a fan of mechanical pursuits, you can watch the planes take off (or land).

Having received my little bundle, I let myself down a little by driving ten minutes to Island Bay to watch some football with my lunch. The food was still in good shape, but I can’t help but feel that I gave it a minor handicap.

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So the moment of truth: Verdict – actually pretty good. We’re not talking super juicy, and there was no taste explosion (we may have to blame the hashbrown for that though), but it’s certainly the best burger I’ve eaten since I got back. The patties had a reasonable crust and fairly coarse ground, with lots of pockets of irregularity to spread that fresh-grilled taste. The meat could have done with being cooked a little rarer, though there were signs of pink throughout. I wonder whether the lack of moisture might have been the result of late squashing – I noticed the patties started out as balls (good sign), but sat on the hotplate for quite some time before they were flipped and squashed into shape. I also wonder whether a bit of cloche action might have melted the cheese melting with less time on the grill.

The chips were very good. From what I can tell, they’re hand peeled and cut and come with a delicious (homemade?) tomato chutney. These are a darn sight better than your standard takeaway chip.

Recommendation. Go there. Especially on a nice, sunny (standard Wellington) day.

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