Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Cheap Eats - Ben's Burgers

Who knew how polarising pickles could be?  I mean, I just assumed that everyone else hated pickles as much as I did and saw no place for them in hamburgers!  Apparently that's not the case and just as many people like pickles in their burgers as those that don't.  You might be asking why I'd kick off a post with a question like that, but I found out over the weekend just how many people shared my thoughts and how many people thought I was nuts.

But let's start at the beginning. I'd heard about a new burger joint in the Valley that everyone's been talking about.  I've got a few followers who know about my burger fixation and need to find the best burgers in Brisbane and thankfully they've been scouting new places out for me.  Ben's Burgers has taken over the old Flamingo Cafe spot in Winn Lane in Fortitude Valley.  It's a great little spot, just a little out of the way of the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Valley.

We'd actually walked past Ben's Burgers a couple of weeks ago when walking to James Street and even though it was well past 2pm, the place was packed full of hipsters, funksters and some down and outers just enjoying a burger.  At the time I'd decided to make a beeline for a burger the next opportunity, which as it turned out was the following week.

We'd had a busy day lined up, so after confirming that Ben's Burger was open and that they normally changed their breakfast burger menu to the lunchtime menu at 11am, made our way over at about 11:20.  Only to be told that they were still in change over mode, which I was cool with. SC was off parking the car and it gave me the opportunity to have a look over the menu and decide what I'd be ordering for lunch.  Now, there are only three burgers on offer at Ben's, so that didn't take me long, so instead I stood around, catching some winter sun and waited for the change over to be complete.

SC finally found her way to Winn Lane after having to park a squillion miles away (ok, slight exaggeration) but we made our way inside, only to be told that the changeover had still not finished (it was 11:30) but they'd be happy to take our order and get it out when ready.  Sweet, I was happy with that. 

I'd decided that I'd have the BB Classic, which came with beef, cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, mayo and an 'extra' of bacon, oh, and I'd asked for no pickles, 'cause I hate pickles. Thinking that this would be a simple request, I was met with a 'sorry dude, the boys don't like to make changes'.  I was a bit incredulous about that and asked again, only to be told that they wouldn't do it.  A little pissed by this time, I'd informed the counter guy that I'd just take them out and it would be a waste of everyones time......  The response this time was a 'that's your choice mate, but the boys don't wanna change their burgers'.

I was pretty grumpy by that stage but moved on and ordered the BB Special for SC, which came with beef, cheese, pickles, onion, jalapeƱos and a special sauce, as well as a vanilla bean milkshake for myself and a house made ginger ale.  The drinks arrived pretty quickly, delivered in blue cups that matched the predominantly blue on white colour theme of Ben's Burgers.  I'd been sitting around muttering to SC about how pissed off I was about the pickles and their refusal to take them out.  I'd commented about how can they say no alterations when they have an extras list and were happy to put stuff in, that was an alteration.  

I was positive that I was going to hate everything about Ben's Burgers, based purely on their refusal to take out my pickles.  I was about to rail on my shake but after my first sip of the vanilla bean milkshake, I couldn't, it was pretty damn tasty, in fact, it was getting on for the best milk shake I'd ever had.  SC complained that her house made ginger ale was a bit weak, but I had a sip and it was strong enough for me, but I'm not a big ginger ale lover.

Still fuming about the pickle episode when the burgers were presented, I immediately noted how good the burgers looked, with a good balance between bun, salad and meat.  I actually thought I'd topple the burger over by taking the pickles out, and I nearly did, but in the process made an absolute mess. Disappointing.  Knowing that I was going to hate the burger on first bite, I took a huge mouthful, ready to grumble away, but I couldn't, it was just too tasty, so instead of grumbling, I took another bite, then another and before too long it was gone.  

Watching SC eating her burger, I could see that she'd made an equally big mess pulling out her pickles but most of her burger had been devoured as well.  Apart from a few pickles and some excess jalapeƱos, SC had really enjoyed her burger too.

The best thing about my Ben's Burger was the meat patty, which was thick and cooked medium rare, just the way a good NYC burger should be.  I also really enjoyed the melted cheese and the mix of sauces, that gave the burger a wonderful flavour overall.  I didn't miss the pickles and for me, they would have added nothing to the overall burger experience.

I'm torn about Ben's Burgers, on one hand, I really loved my burger, minus pickles, and thought it was pretty close to my favourite burger in town, with Howzat's The Don still holding pride of place.  What I hated about the joint was the smug look from the counter staff and their flat out refusal to take out the pickles.  I thought it was pretty poor form and as a customer, I'm not likely to go back based purely on that service experience.

I know that Ben's Burger is the hottest burger spot in town at the moment and while it's super hot, they can get away with that crap.  My only advice is that if you piss off enough customers through inflexible practices, then the next 'hot' burger place that comes around will steal your customers.  

All over a pickle or two!

The burgers before I pulled the pickles out - it was a messy job
Extra condiments - but I thought the balance of sauces was perfect
There was extra seating out the back of the burger joint
Beers on tap
The menu is quite small at Ben's Burger, with just 3 options
The exposed kitchen
It was a nice day to sit outside

Ben’s Burgers on Urbanspoon


  1. Winn Lane is the hipster laneway I was telling you about on Instagram weeks and weeks ago! Hipster city right :D!

    1. Haha, yeah, it is - too hipster for my tastes

  2. hi anthony
    i am not a huge fan of burgers myself- just too hard to eat neatly! and as for sassy waiters- ptooey! that gets my goat every time and i would never go back even for a great milkshake:)

    1. LOL, thanks Sherry, the burger was pretty good, but that sassy and hipster service just didnt work for me!!

  3. That would rile me up too! I don't get it, its more effort for them to put pickles in and you take them out rather than leave them out in the first place! WTF?

  4. Martine, I know, right?!! How hard can it be, really?


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