Fast and furious: Chur Burger in Surry Hills. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
It's a sign of the times when a two-hat restaurant (Assiette) turns into a two-hundred-buns-a-service burger joint. Chef Warren Turnbull still can't quite believe it. He's about the only thing that looks familiar in this starkly lit, fast-and-furious fast-food diner since a fire earlier this year wrecked his plans to run it as a mid-range restaurant called Albion Street Kitchen.
Chur Burger had started life in ASK's back lane with the kind of cult following back-lane burger bars seem to attract.
When the fire damage was repaired, Turnbull figured it might just be simpler to forget fine dining and focus on burgers. It seems to have paid off.
Burger urger: Pulled pork is a popular option. Photo: Steven Siewert
The trick with burgers is the bun. The filling needs to combine meat (or the spicy chickpea patty, which gets a tick from the non-meat-eating twentysomething daughter) with some good, contrasting condiments and salad-y bits. But it can't go all squishy and collapse. So the bun is crucial in keeping things together. The Chur Burger bun is a good cross between soft and just slightly crusty-dry, with a shiny, sesame-seeded top and that yellowy brioche crumb that seems to be a mandatory feature of the humble hamburger circa 2013.
Pulled pork is everywhere in 2013, too, so you'll find it on a Chur Burger bun, with a red cabbage slaw and a gently aniseedy fennel mayo. No one's complaining, mind you. Pulled pork is a trend we're unlikely to tire of.
Miso brisket is the beef equivalent of pulled pork, served with lovely fresh chilli and pickles on a soft tortilla (when we went) - although apparently it has traded up to a soft taco shell. The spiced chickpea burger comes with grated beetroot and honey-sweetened labne (a yoghurt-y soured Lebanese curd).
There are snacks (such as the miso brisket tacos), burgers (as above) and ''Bigger'' - a Cajun-blackened wedge of salmon, say, with a green onion salsa. And there are beers and milkshakes and rather lethal sweet potato fries, not to mention the crisp-edged macadamia tart with whiskey-ish ice-cream.
The most fun about this place - apart from watching Turnbull and his crew slaving over the open grill and counting the burger baskets piling up - is its cross-cultural component. Turnbull, you see, is from New Zealand and he's quite happy to impart a few lessons in the lingo. (Or should that be lungo?). Practise ordering ''chups and drunks'' (it's on the website) and learn to say ''chur'' a lot. It's New Zilland for ''cool'' or ''sweet'' or even ''thanks''. So, chur, bro. And see you next time.
Do … come down early or late, it gets really full, really fast.
Don't … linger or expect Assiette-style dishes.
Dish … Pulled pork burger with red slaw and fennel mayo.
Vibe … Surry Hills families, teens, students and twentysomethings. And burger lovers from all over.
- 02 9212 3602
- Cuisine - American (US)
- Prices - Burgers $10, snacks $10, ''Bigger'' $20, desserts $10.
- Features - Cheap and cheerful
- Chef(s) - Warren Turnbull
- Owners - Warren Turnbull
- Author - Joanna Savill