13.5/20

Brodburger

11 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston, ACT

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The brodburger with chips.
The brodburger with chips. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Bryan Martin

Many people will know Brodburger from desperate attempts to stave off the effects of a long night with a burger before heading home.

The red van down by the Kingston foreshore was also a long-running scene in daylight hours as the queue formed at lunchtime with many a public servant waiting for their burger.

Famous for holding out against an unreasonable order to cease and desist your feeding of late-night revellers from a van and conform to whatever ordinance forbids such activities, Brodburger survived, and has re-emerged like some glorious meat-patty-tossing phoenix just down the road at the back of the Canberra Glassworks.

Joelle and Sascha Brodbeck, from Brodburger.
Joelle and Sascha Brodbeck, from Brodburger. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

I think this car park is where we used to test-drive cars during my stint with the department of territories - trucks, too, and even the odd bus. So it's weird for me that this late-night food van has set up here.

Notes on a burger: You can't really discuss this amazing food, the entire food pyramid in one hand - protein, fat, starch, dairy, vegetables, without a tilt of the hat at the US. We tend to diss the US's diet but don't think just because of Micky Ds that all burgers are the same. The likes of Shake Shack and Umami Burger have taken the hamburger to new heights, if that is possible, because as I say, this is almost a perfect meal.

So the new possie for Brodburger is pretty cool. Retro diner is how I would describe it, but then I have a thin grasp of design. It carries an urban Route 66 takeaway feel. The dining area is full of large, wooden shared tables, plus there's more outside looking out at our old race track. The burgers are served in red plastic baskets, again that American diner theme.

Brodburger in its permanent spot behind the Canberra Glassworks in Kingston.
Brodburger in its permanent spot behind the Canberra Glassworks in Kingston. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Drinks wise, there is a full soft-drink display for your parental approval. Grown-up drinks include the usual beer suspects being slowly crowded out by the ciders. My joy in drinking cider is inversely proportional to its popularity - now that you see fruit-flavoured cider, I'm out of here. The wine options are short and sweet. If you like Tempus Two, then you, my friend, are in luck, because that looks to be all they have to date. Bring your own is my recommendation. They have glasses, but you open and serve thyself, so grab a bottle with a screwcap or dust off your corkscrew.

The fire in the belly for a good burger has been stoked by the Super Bowl being played out around this time. Such a fantastic spectacle. I still can't work out exactly what Beyonce did, but it was mighty impressive, being a new mum and all.

So how is this burger I've spent half a page building up to? Pretty good. You can order a fish burger, or a grilled-vegetable burger with eggplants, capsicum and the like, plus fried haloumi. Or you can add bacon and eggs to your burger. But I think to really judge a burger you have to have the original ''brodburger'' just as it is. Which is quite large, that's the Aussie stamp. In the US they go for a higher, more compact burger, generally made out of brioche dough, so high in butter. The bun here is crispy on the outside, fresh and airy inside, and compacts down to envelop its contents.

The "brodburger" at Brodburger.
The "brodburger" at Brodburger. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

My guest goes for the chicken burger, the artfully named brodchicken, which I feel as he orders is a huge mistake. Chicken is great in a curry or scattered in so many caesar salads, but in a burger it has no friction, plus adding avocado just lubricates even more, so it will no doubt end up in your lap, which it does. No, the meat patty is more than just a way of delivering super-tender ground-up beef. It gives a burger traction, much like us sideways in an Action bus.

The patty in question is quite good, juicy, cooked medium well so there's a thin line of pink meat just visible (we weren't asked how we wanted it, but apparently you can specify). There's no information as to its provenance, so we don't know if it was grass or grain fed, what cut, or what the cow's names was, which I'd say is information we could use, given this is all they do (although the website says they use ''A-grade premium mince beef'').

On top is your choice of cheese - swiss, cheddar, blue or brie, and underneath is red onion, lettuce, tomato, aioli and relish.

However, having a burger isn't just about the burger, you'll need a least chips and onion rings to make it a meal. This is where disappointment creeps in. The chips are OK, just thin crispy French fries, little different from many takeaway chips, but I really was expecting a chip more worthy, something with more passion about it.

Grill'd is a burger place that appears in malls and makes pretty good burgers, too, but its chips are way superior, twice cooked, thick, something you can really dip into a mayo, but hey, I'm being picky.

The onion rings at Brodburger are ordinary, a thin ring of red onion cloaked in batter, still doughy on the inside, so there's some work to do here, maybe check with Neil Perry, there's a guy who knows an onion ring or two.

But the brodburger itself works a treat - really good, fresh, nicely flame grilled, worth the 50-kilometre trip to have one. And I love the way they transported themselves from the food van to here, a groovy urban diner that has found a niche doing burgers simply and well.

Bryan Martin is a winemaker at Ravensworth and Clonakilla, www.bryanmartin.com.au

Food 3/4 stars for the burger

Wine list 1/4 star

Service 2/4 stars

Style 3/4 stars

Value for money 3/4 stars

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11 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston, ACT

  • Cuisine - American (US), Modern Australian
  • Features - BYO, Family friendly, Licensed, Outdoor seating, Wheelchair access
  • Chef(s) - Sascha Brodbeck
  • Owners - Sascha and Joelle Brodbeck
  • Cards accepted - EFTPOS, Mastercard, Visa
  • Opening Hours - Tuesday to Saturday 11.30am-3pm, 5.30pm-10pm; Sunday noon-4pm, coffee and cakes from 10am
  • Seats - 54 inside, 70 outside
  • Author - Bryan Martin
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