Saturday, 20 April 2013

Cheap Eats - Burger Urge Fortitude Valley

Brisbane is fast becoming an amazing food destination, not only in the fine dining arena, but also for casual dining and cheap eats.  There are so many new and exciting places to check out it's sometimes easy to forget about the food joints that have been around for a while.  The places that you really enjoyed going to but for some reason just faded into the background, I'm sure you're thinking about just such a restaurant or cafe that fits into this category right now!  Burger Urge in the Valley is one of those joints for me, a place where I used to go so regularly we were part of the furniture.

One of the great things about being a food blogger is that it's just such places that you want to go back to.....  To check out if it still holds a place in your heart or if you've moved on for a reason.  I had been invited back by co-owners Sean and Colby Carthew to check our their new menu, so SC and I 'saddled up' during the week and went in for a return visit.

The Valley Burger Urge was the first and original burger joint of what has now become a successful chain of Burger Urges'.  The Carthew boys have expanded their original concept and there are now five Burger Urges' dotted around town, the other locations being West End, UQ St Lucia, Kelvin Grove and the newest addition at QUT Gardens Point.  This is no mean feat in a market that is dominated by Melbourne burger franchise Grill'd.

I was hit with a feeling of deja vu walking into Burger Urge and a million memories of great times came flooding back in a instant.  These memories quickly faded when I realised how different the Burger joint now looked!  Sure, it was the same space it had always been, but had been totally revamped with a much larger kitchen and a better use of the available space inside.  The changes looked great, with one exception.  There used to be an amazing piece of original art on one of the walls that had been removed to expose the brick wall.  Surprisingly, the loss of this 'tree of life' original piece left me feeling sad and nostalgic, quite unusual for me as I love change and modernisation.

But enough of the old, we were here to check out the new menu, which the Carthew boys are so proud of which was developed by four experienced Brisbane chefs over an eight month period.  The menu  now supports a 17 strong burger range that includes a premium selection of proteins and stacks of fresh produce from Australian farms and local producers.

I started off with the king of the Burger Urger burgers, the Primal Urge, which comes stacked with burgery goodness, including prime Aussie beef, beetroot, pineapple, free range egg and tasty cheddar, along with homemade tomato chutney and whole-egg-mayonnaise on a bed of cos lettuce, tomato and white onion.  In old school terms this would have been called a burger with the lot!  The first thing I noticed when the burger was placed in front of me was the runny egg!  It's really hard for burger joints to get the egg just right, where it's cooked but with runny yolk and for me, this is the sign of a great burger.  The burger was huge and looked perfect and when I dug into it was very tasty, with a very peppery flavour coming from the meat patty.

I also ordered a side of thick cut chips with the burger, which for me were a bit generic and almost identical to the chips you get at Grill'd.  I remember a time when I thought the Burger Urge chips were the best in town by a long way, but this was back when Colby and the crew made the chips themselves out the back in the kitchen.  Then came the 2011 floods, which caused an issue with the potatoes and this forever changed the humble chip at Burger Urge for me.

SC went for one of the most popular burger and fries combinations at Burger Urge and chose Zorba the Greek and a serve of the world famous (not quite, but should be) sweet potato chips.  The Zorba the Greek is packed with a combination of prime ground Aussie Lamb topped with fresh onion jam, haloumi cheese, whole-egg-mayonnaise and pesto on a bed of cos lettuce and tomato.  The combination of lamb and haloumi is a classic combination that works fabulously in a burger.  The flavours were intense and SC really enjoyed the burger (although the patty was a little too pink in the middle).

While SC thought the burger was good, the star of the show for her was the sweet potato chips.  Thick cut and cooked to perfection, the sweet potato chips had a wonderful earthy flavour, with just a little sweetness.  SC has always had a fondness for sweet potato chips, but thought these were from another world and polished off the whole lot, although she did comment she preferred the thinner cut sweet potato chips of old.

Going back to Burger Urge after a few years was certainly an interesting experience and definitely brought back some memories of days gone by.  The new space looks really modern and certainly uses the space of much better than it used to.  There is a greater focus on the alfresco dining out the front, which can be an interesting experience on a Friday and Saturday night.

The Carthew boys have done a fantastic job by taking their concept from a lonely little burger joint in a dodgy part of the Valley and building it into a growing chain spread out across the inner suburbs of Brisbane.  The boys have an interesting way of marketing Burger Urge, which has in the past courted controversy (anyone remember the blood filled syringes in 2011?) but they must be doing something right by growing their business in a market dominated by Grill'd.

While Burger Urge is going from strength to strength and creating a strong and loyal following, I can't help but feel that something has been lost.  In an effort to compete with Grill'd, has the feel of Burger Urge been homogenised?  Success would leave you thinking no, but I can't help but miss that old burger joint in the dodgy part of the Valley.


**I was an invited guest of the Carthew boys and the Publicity Depot

Exposed Brick and Cartoons on the wall give Burger Urge different feel.  
The Carthew boys have come a long way in a few years.  They have a Burger Urge branded fridge
Exposed brick near the entrance covered up one of the iconic pieces of art in the Valley by Anna Manolatos 
Art by Anna Manolatos that now appears gone forever!!
Burger Urge - Fortitude Valley on Urbanspoon

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