Who does not like burgers????
No hands. Just what I thought!
I went around Cape Town looking for the baddest burger in town.
Now when I say bad, I mean a burger that showcased kitchen creativity, using locally sourced ingredients, affordability and popular appeal. I challenged 4 well known restaurants to see what they can come up with; ranking the best with 4 burger-smiles to 1 burger-smile.
This is what they produced:
**** DRUM ROLL ****
As I walked up to this dimly lit burger joint with whimsically hung pink feather bowers, I am greeted by owner Andrew Eglin standing at the door ready to welcome guests with a warm hug and kiss on both cheeks. I step inside and a fully stocked bar (by this I mean 3 ripped hunks with a full set of glistening white teeth in tight black and pink wife beaters) with the sounds of the Mamma, Mia soundtrack demands to quench my thirst!
The name BeefCakes is inspired by the classic American black and white pictures of male models in the daring 50’s. If your in need of comfort food then you need not look any further. Beefcakes burgers are prepared onsight after the timely beef delivery from Chris & Harry Butchery and fresh produce supplier Veg Shop Boys.
And ofcourse, it hasn’t clicked to me just yet that this is a gay-friendly restaurant that offers live performances by sexy barmen dressed in drag, singing sultry broadway musicals. This is where I was offered Buffy The Vampire Slayer on a platter. This bacon, caramalized onion, avocado and creamy mushroom sauce topped beef burger has no frilly bits about it.
“After the first bit, you die. Then you revive yourself – just to finish it!!” – The carnivore in me.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all – the sexy waiter hands you something that looks like a sweet balancing on a shot of vodka and says in a deep voice, “Don’t drink it. I’m warning you.”
I open the little packet that is written ‘Just Add Water’ and drop it into the shot glass. Tom my amazement the tablet evolves into a tightly wrapped napkin and voilá! I had a brand new wet wipe to clean my sauce stained hands.
A sweet death indeed – but NOT for the faint hearted!
Beef Cakes gets 4 Burger smiles because they kept the traditional taste and large but manageable size of a beef burger whilst adding all the frilly bits like avocado, bacon just for kicks to go with the killer ambiance of this overtly liberated joint.
Hudson’s on Kloof
Some may say Hudson’s is just another burger joint that caters for jocks that like to drink beer and talk dirty whilst watching sport but Ross Collins simply found a way to fuse his two favourite things – burgers and craft beer!!
Through the monthly burger specials, customers are able to create their own burgers by taking the classic Hudson’s burger and adding all their favourite toppings. Ross (owner) then goes back to the drawing board at the CBC brewery in arty Woodstock and together with his creative team; they create the perfect craft beer to go with the designer burger.
I got the opportunity to taste the, now infamous, Vegas Burger that is paired with the in-house craft beer – Pale Ale. The succulent 100% lean chuck beef patty that is moulded into balls and flattened right before it goes on the grill to prevent toughening provided a solid base for the sweet and light crispness of the dainty craft beer.
Hudson’s takes the saying, ”If I told you, I’d have to eat you” to another level. The loyalty this burger joint has shown to local butchery, Rich Meats (Belville), over the past 10 years has ensured that after burning the midnight oil to create their own beef identity – no other restaurant can get their hands on the signature Hudson’s patty. And because Hudson’s on Kloof does not do anything in half measures; not even the sweetest puppy-dog face could charm Knead Bakery into giving away the secret recipe to Hudson’s designer wheat free rolls.
Hudson’s gets 3 burger smiles because whilst it produced a solid, crumble free beef patty; the burger could use just a tad bit more personality to give that extra bite in it. The Pale Ale gave it a push in the right direction – but I would be left at a loss had I not fancied a beer that day.
“…the biggest burger in town.” This red-lit sign above the door frame was not warning enough for what was coming my way.
That’s all you could hear once the 1.2kg beef burger landed on our table!!!
Five 250g beef patties piled on top of each other is how Saul’s Grill has built its notorious reputation of being Cape Town’s biggest burger joint. “…we’re open 24/7. I don’t even know where the keys are!” says owner Saul Beder. It has used the same recipes for their burgers and sauces for the past 20years and with the help from local supplier, Dozen’s Bakery, this has kept the now 3rd generation regulars coming back for more. Now Saul’s Grill has expanded the belly by opening another five restaurants in Sea Point alone.
For a restaurant that has been operating for such a long time – when asked what he thought about the now trending POPUp culture; Mr Bender was very particular in saying, “I’ve been making burgers for 20 years. If your gonna buy a burger off the street; your gonna eat horse.”
Go Big Or Go Home?! I think I want to go home…a week later my body is still digesting the one half of the monstrous burger!! As much as I love meat; 1.2kg of just meat is MORE than I can chew – 2 burger smiles is enough.
Manager and my exclusive private chef for the day, Jenga (26 “…I’ll always be 24 though”), is the creative brain behind the scrumptious burgers that keep you coming back for more. She has been with stood the test of time with Royal Eatery – long enough have grown dreads, nurture a 9year relationship with local Bill Riley Meat butchery and ensure that the menu showcases new and innovative burgers every March.
I popped into this burger joint just in time to catch The Baxter (R66) just as it crawled its way onto the menu. This sweet and savoury explosion of soy, honey and ginger marinated grilled chicken breast with crunchy asian-dressed red cabbage and sesame seed provided a well rounded burger especially for those that aren’t exactly beef-crazy but still like the taste of dead poultry.
To score some brownie points – Jenga also prepared for us what Royale has dubbed as the notorious BopBop burger (R64). After I tasted the “Son of a b*tch” chilli chipostle sauce; I knew I was home.
When I order a burger, I want a burger. Comfort food – more so if Im a carnivore. Frilly bits like cabbage should compliment the patty and not form the bulk of it. The sweet and sour asian dressing was the cherry on top but, where’s the meat at?! 1 burger smile for effort.