The man who ate Lincoln Rd wishes Burger Fuel all the very best. It's a New Zealand entrepreunial success story, a little burger bar which opened in Ponsonby Rd in 1995 and now has 22 franchises nationwide, as well as stores in Australia, Egypt, Dubai and UAE, with big plans to invade the US. There are 81 stores worldwide. People everywhere dig it. I can't stand it.
I went there last Friday night. Lincoln Rd after dark! The street was pumping, sort of. Certainly there were a lot of people about and they were all hungry. Burger King was quite full. Nando's Chicken was more full. There were couples in Hell, families at the strikingly misspelled BBQ Hut Nood les were eating nood les, and Indian curries were flying out the door at Saaj.
Burger Fuel was the fullest of them all. It was packed, it was a scene.
There were a lot of teenagers, also families with young children, and two pregnant women were carrying the next generation of Burger Fuel fans. I was there on date night. The man on Lincoln Rd knows how to treat a lady.
Actually, it was Emily's idea; she's a fan of the so-called Low Carborator, which ingeniously does away with the bun and replaces it with lettuce. So you get a burger with all the fillings but you're holding two lettuce leaves in your hands.
I wasn't having any of that. I ordered a Coke, fries, motobites (crumbed pumpkin, carrot, chickpea and ginger snacks), and a burger called a Bastard. The bill: $41.80. God almighty! That much? For a couple of lousy burgers and stuff? What's that about?
And what's the point of fast food when it's not fast? We ordered at 7.38pm. The food arrived at 8.01pm. It was Friday night, it was packed, the staff were run off their feet. But still. Twenty-three minutes for a couple of lousy burgers and stuff! What's that about?
To the food. The fries were alright, nothing special. The tomato sauce was special, because they had the gall to charge for it - 70 cents for a pathetic little punnet. Yo, Burger Fuel! STICK YOUR PUNNET BRO.
The motobites were dry. The motobites were boring. The motobites were pointless. What I'm getting at here is that I didn't like them.
But I wasn't there for the sides and the punnets. I was there for the burger, and I went straight to the top. The Bastard is the most expensive burger on the menu ($13.90), the biggest, the meatiest. The ingredients: grass-fed beef, melted cheddar, bacon, beetroot, mango, and avocado. It sounded sensational and let me say at once that it tasted sensational, too.
The beef and the bacon were like soulmates. That is to say the cow and the pig danced a merry tune inside the Bastard, and I applauded with each chomp. The cheddar played rhythm and I could hear faint notes of beetroot. Of mango and avocado, not a peep, which was the first of my disappointments. I was really looking forward to the mango in particular.
The hero was the beef. It gave good char. It was juicy, and delicious. As for the size of the burger, it was a big Bastard, and I liked that.
But I paused to take a break, and test the okay fries and the tedious motobites, and swig the Coke, and when I returned to the burger it had turned into an old soak. It had wet its pants. It was soggy and sloppy, and the bun was like a full sponge. Bits of lettuce slid out, and the cow and the pig had drowned. I needed a full cannister of serviettes to wipe my hands.
What's the point of Burger Fuel? It has so many pretensions, and chief among them is that it's somehow better than McDonalds or Burger King, that it's about natural ingredients and healthy options and BLAH BLAH BLAH. But neither McD or BK serve burgers which spring a leak.
Burger Fuel is a poseur. It talks a good talk and it's fun being there, almost cool, but the food sucks.
The hero of the meal was the Coke. That bottle of Coke was good. It added a point to the final score. Rating: 5 out of 10, and my worst experience on Lincoln Rd to date.
- NZ Herald
Debate on this article is now closed.
STEVE'S EARLIER ADVENTURES ON LINCOLN ROAD:
• Episode 1: Entering heart attack alley
• Episode 2: Moto sushi
• Episode 3: Sierra
• Episode 4: Sal's Pizza
• Episode 5: Langtons On Lincoln
• Episode 6: Nando's Chicken
•All views expressed are the author's.