Monday, March 29, 2010

Hamburger Hill.

What has multiple levels, lots of fat and comes at a price? Society? The Woodside building in the city?

For those of you playing at home, both of the above answers would have sufficed if the correct answer wasn't actually Hamburgers. That's right, Hamburgers. Lip-splitting, heart-stopping, artery-clogging hamburgers. The multi-layered cop-out meal for all those times you were in the kitchen thinking "why did i start making this homoerotic casserole when i could be making a hamburger instead" and then you realise you can make a hamburger anyway because hamburgers are everything and they are nothing, all at once. This one time, i was totally starving and on a first date with about twenty models and they were anxiously starving as well. There was literally no food around aside from a half a jar of pitted olives, a box of mouldy vita-crisps and a left over bowl of frosties from the morning prior. Where other men would have curled up into a helpless ball of sobbing and celebasy, i rolled my sleeves up, pulled out the chopping board, got in the car and went and got some burgers. I never saw the models again and it was the coolest afternoon in recent memory.

But where does one go to acquire a burger should they feel the need to satisfy that little voice in the back of their mind that requests the acquisition of a burger? Sure, you could make one, but that would entail manual labour and going against the very essence of the hamburger. Why slave over a hot stove, sweating and burning yourself constantly just so you can eat something that is readily available at least once every five kilometres between your house and the nearest burger joint? Did you know that the latin translation of Hamburger is actually, 'eat, i am ready'? Didn't think so.

As of about a year ago, the only burgers i knew of were Zingers, Whoppers, Big Macs and Gummi. If i felt like a burger, i'd god damn well go and get myself one, always being sure to maintain a strict rotation of the above varieties to avoid any overlapping or digestive clashes. I knew nothing of these 'gourmet' burgers that are so prevalent in our city nowadays and the closest i'd ever been to a 'rocket' or 'tomato' was this one time when i ate a meat pie and watched Apollo 11. Now, you've got seeded buns and aioli at 'Bilby's', grilled chicken with avocado at 'Jus Burgers', pear and parmesan at 'Flipside', angus beef at 'McDonalds' and most recently, tzatziki and harissa at 'Grill'd', all of which i have tested in chronological order.

Speaking of chronological order:

1800's - European immigrants place meat patties between bread. They name them 'Hamburgers' as a play on words attaining to 'Hamburg', their place of origin and 'ers' because there was probably more than one of them. All significant world wars come to an end and Jesus Christ himself regrets not creating them on the 7th day.

2010 - Perth catches on after 200 years. More than 10,000 separate gourmet burger franchises open for business to give the impression that we always knew about them.

With Grill'd being the most recent entry in the race for burger supremacy, i figured i'd go and check them out on account of being hungry and Grill'd being within a 50 metre radius of my being at that point in time. I'm not joking when i say that my friends and complete strangers alike wouldn't stop getting in my face and telling me how good their burgers are, the aromatic wafts of their garlic lamb breath assaulting my senses as they did so. "They've got these buns, man!". "Holy shit, the meat is so succulent and delicious! It's like biting into a newborn calf!" Having become accustomed to such claims whenever a new burger spot opens up, i politely rolled my eyes and refused to pass judgement until i had tasted it for myself.

Upon entry to Grill'd, you can see they take their aesthetic very seriously. They've got tables, walls, a counter and a menu. Having ticked the necessites off the list i approached the counter, dodging a sea of ninjas that i later found to be nothing more than staff members dressed in the unique Grill'd garb; and by unique i mean they wore headbands and by garb i mean a trendy word for uniform. I was greeted by the head ninja at the till and instead of receiving a bow staff to the grill (unavoidable pun), i was politely greeted and asked which burger took my fancy. This being my virgin, make or break visit to Grill'd i ordered their workhorse burger, the aptly titled 'Simply Grill'd'. Beef, salad, relish, mayo, cheese. I asked if the burgers came with tomato inclusive of the salad and the head ninja replied "Yes", to which i responded, "can i have it without tomato please?".

If there's anything i hate more than tomato, it's tomato. Slippery, sour, stale, cretinous weed, ruining everything it comes to rest upon.

I was told my burger would be ready in ten minutes and i immediately felt sorry for whoever it was that had to spend such an unnecessary amount of time on something of such hasty foundations. I walked out for a sneaky cigarette, but not without noticing the uni students and in-vogue eaters who seemed more intent on being seen at Grill'd then actually stuffing their faces full of meat and bread. Eating burgers is the new black, i suddenly felt contemporary.

The burger itself was good without trying to be. I chose the Panini bread because i didn't want to look like a rookie, the decision paying off later as i bit through the sturdy roof crust and gentle insides. Once i'd breached the soft entrance, tender beef greeted me as if i'd been there before, lightly seasoned with highly visible herbs that assured me what i was eating didn't come from a plastic bag. The relish was tangy and fresh, the tomato chunks large and recognisable enough for me to discard without causing a scene. The serving size was absolutely perfect as well, i didn't feel sick like i thought i was meant to after consuming a burger, but i was full to the point where the pre-burger jitters i had were but a distant memory. At $10.90, i didn't feel ripped off, but i couldn't help but wonder how i would've felt if i got the burger for free. All in all, i didn't hate it, which is great because i try and hate new things whenever possible.

Don't take my word for it though! Here's a testimonial from someone who may or may not be a representative of the Grill'd conglomerate.

: First of all, what do you think of this gourmet burger fad sweeping our quiet town?

I can't complain, it pays my bills.

: I understand you've been employed by one of these burger spots recently?

Anonymous: I have, although i find the workload given to me is far too heavy.

Me: You have to be happy while you work. Did you ever taste a Grill'd burger during your brief tenure?

Anonymous: I tasted many a burger. Every five hours worked is one free burger and after that they're only about four dollars each.

Me: Are you serious? That's like an Alf Barbagallo salesman getting a free hooker for every car sold. And of all the burgers tasted, what was your favourite and why?

Anonymous: Luckily I get to make my own burger so I can pick and choose what ever I want, but I'd say Baa Baa + bacon takes the cake.

Me: And what about the headbands? How do you feel about the headbands?

Anonymous: Personally I find it degrading of the other staff members.

Me: Do you think gourmet burgers have already gone mainstream? Or is it still underground?

Anonymous: I'd like to think it's underground but I feel the local burger joint is definitely going the wrong way.

Me: We'll leave it there.

So not only are Grill'd excelling in the realm of what they specialise in, but they also give their staff free burgers ALL THE TIME, which is pretty much the most important and vital piece of information gathered from my interview. The only thing better than a free burger is getting paid to eat one, which is essentially what all Grill'd staff are doing if they eat while they are working.

As far as marketing goes, Grill'd goes the extra mile. I've never heard of a burger joint with a twitter account, a facebook page, a regularly updated website and a flickr account, but in these tech-savvy times where life is lived online, Grill'd know exactly where their customers hang out and haven't spared a single drop of html letting them know just that. You know what would be totally sweet though? If a burger was running the twitter account and the facebook page.

At the end of the day, you really do have to imagine a little burger just sitting in front of a keyboard replying to messages and posting status updates like "wow, i'm a Grill'd burger and i'm so damn tasty", typing with some little capsicum arms.


jil said...

Capsicum arms! lulz

N. said...

Alfreds for grease, Jus for gourmet.

faceface said...

You should try V Burger in Vic Park