Saturday, 14 December 2013

Cheap Eats - DA'Burger

Ever since I came back from New York, I have had a new appreciation for the humble hamburger (see post here). Before I spent time in the US of A, I thought that we had it sorted out here in Brisbane with burgers.  What I came to realise is that we are 'babes in the woods' when it comes to producing great quality and tasty hamburgers.  The Americans really know how to do a good burger, and I don't mean the generic, production line type that has infiltrated our shores already.

Since returning from the States, I've had cravings for the type of wonderful and humble burger that I munched on through my Manhattan journeys, but have come short each time.  I was quite hopeful when walking down Mary Street one day I spied the big red shipping container that housed Miel Burgers.  I'd heard great things about these burgers and one Friday afternoon I went along to check it out, but alas it was not even close.  I was so disappointed with that burger I just walked away after a three or four bites.

While I have not had any luck in Brisbane trying to find that elusive US style burger, I did strike gold when I was in Perth for Eat Drink Blog, the food bloggers conference.  As part of the EDB dinner I came across the Butty's Food Truck (, which promises and delivers American style burgers.  When I ate my buttys burger and closed my eyes, I was transported back to Manhattan and I was in heaven.  Sigh....

I became quite excited recently when I was mucking around on the interweb and came across a promising site.  It was about a new burger joint that had recently opened up in New Farm.  The name was unusual and stuck in my mind and on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I decided it was time to check it out.  

DA'burger is the creation of James D'ath, who is a self proclaimed burger obsessive.  James has teamed up with his wife Wendy to scour the world "enjoying exotic treats and experiencing cultural delights", which has helped fuel his passion for gourmet burgers.  It seemed as if James was a man after my own heart, surely I would finally find the burger that would meet my craving.  James' approach to burgers is to hit the 'Burger Triangle', which is to hit the perfect balance between the bakery, the meat and the salad.  Included in the DA'burger philosophy is to hit local producers to have sustainable dining.

Pretty excited, we hopped in the car and drove over to New Farm to find DA'burger, which is right on the corner of Brunswick Street and Merthyr Road.  It's a pretty cool looking little joint and as we walked in we were warmly greeted by the team behind the counter (well, it was one girl).  We had looked at the menu at home before coming, so had a pretty good idea of what we wanted and placed our orders.  As I started to order a bottle of water, SC gave me a bit of a sarcastic look as she stood next to the water bubbler and poured herself a glass of Brisbane's finest.  Suitably chastised, I canceled the water order and did the same.  We both agreed that the water would have been really nice with a couple of lemons cut up and added for just a little flavour.

I'd gone straight for the bad boy of burgers, it was called 'The Cure....Big Night' and comprised of Aussie Black Angus beef, free range egg, grilled bacon, cheddar cheese, beetroot relish, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo and DA'Burgers tomato relish.  Phew, it was a mouthful to say, but when the burger was delivered it looked like it would be more than a mouthful to eat.  Straight up I could see that this was a monster, about two (or three) times the size of most of the burgers we were getting in the States.  It was wrapped in paper just like many of the US burger joints present their burgers but that was just about where the similarity ended.  It was not the burger I had been hoping for. 

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the burger, I really really did, it was great for Brisbane standards, it just didn't hit the mark I was hoping for.  There were a couple of things that separated it from the burger I was hoping for.  The main issues were the ratios, there was too much bun and not enough beef.  The thing that makes US burgers so special is the fat and juicy meat patties, which can come cooked to your liking (I got mine medium rare mostly).  The patty at DA'Burgers was actually medium rare, which was good, but it was so tight, compact and flat that it didn't feel right.  There was also way too much bun, it took me four bites before I got to the meat.  The flavours from the sauces and the combinations of ingredients were good, but shy of that magical burger I was looking for.

The burger that SC opted for was a little more sensible than mine.  The DA'Burger with cheese comprises of Black Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo and the DA'Burger tomato relish.  The DA'Burger seems to be the base for most other burgers and for SC suffered the same problem as the 'The Cure', there was too much bun.  For Brisbane standards, this was also a great burger, but we were not judging these burgers on local standards, we really wanted to capture those burgers we remember so fondly from our US trip.

I guess it's not really fair to judge a local Brisbane business against some of the best burgers in the world, so by local standards, these were really great burgers.  The fresh ingredients were lovely and the meat very tasty and well seasoned.  They're not too far off matching the those memorable burgers from New York, so we walked away pretty happy.

One of the mysteries for me is that the US of A has a reputation for being the most obese in the western world, largely on the back of their burger obsession.  What I noticed when we were in NYC is that the burgers are actually much smaller than the big style of 'healthy' burgers that you get in Brisbane.  I think that the size of the burgers here probably have more calories than many of the burgers in America (well, not some of those triple decker heart attacks waiting to happen).

What I really want to see in Brisbane is a smaller burger, with a much fatter patty that's not so compact that it feels like steak.  When I see that, I know that Brisbane will have arrived on the burger scene,  but until then DA'Burgers will be an acceptable substitute.

The fries were pretty much exactly the same as Grill'd fries.  I was not that excited by them
DA'Burgers is a little more understated than some other burger joints
Its not huge inside DA'Burgers 
There is a cool window to watch the kitchen in action though
The water cooler on the left that could benefit from a squeeze of lemon
Fresh produce that is super fresh and local
It was a great day to check out a new burger joint

Da Burger on UrbanspoonDa Burger

1 comment:

  1. Man I am super hungry after reading this. I have to get there on my trip! I have Monica DiNatale's book 365 Guide NYC, I haven't really looked at it much yet but there are places she lists that are "budget" worthy. is the site. I wonder if this place is in it? If it isn't I will still eat here!


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