Those who know a thing or two about burgers will tell you that Minetta Tavern is the be all and end all of burgers. Everyone who’s anyone in the NYC food scene has been there to try there $27 pride and joy. There’s good reason too. The guys behind Minetta Tavern are also responsible for New York institutes like Balthazar, Pastis and The Odeon, and, they only use the best of the best. In this case, it’s Pat La Frieda Meats. They’re world famous and still family owned since 1922. They worked closely with the Minetta team to get their Black Label Burger shining brightest amongst the galaxy of New York burger joints. Although they’ve only been around since 2009, the place will looks you into thinking it’s been there since the old days. What’ll trick you is all the old-style caricatures, checkered floors, portraits from decades past and the red leather booths. I sat down and triumphantly ordered their Black Label Burger that comes with a beef patty – a mix of dry aged, skirt steak and brisket – caramelised onions and a custom brioche bun.
Just like Australians, the Americans are super passionate about sport – in all shapes and sizes. The Anthem has dedicated itself to sports fans by providing belt loosening comfort food that will hold you whilst your team loses yet another thriller. Their extensive beer and cocktail list will then make you forget about all those woes and get you ready for the next game. They’ve got huge screens everywhere so you can soak in the glory or wallow in sorrow. So, it’s really easy to get a love/hate thing going with this 70s neon Sports Bar. When it comes to Chicago critics however, they can’t stop raving about the place opened ever since 2011. One of the reasons they’re so famous is their Jucy Lucy. Originally an invention out of Minneapolis the Chicago locals have made it their own. In between two three-ounce patties lies an ounce and a half of Velveeta cheese, there’s caramelised onions, sweet horseradish pickles and a buttery bun – that’s it. I sat in front of three big screens, watched the Baltimore Ravens throw a ball, then ordered the “local celebrity” that is the Jucy Lucy.
If you’re a Southsider, there’s a good chance you’ve never been to this end of Johnson St. That’s because there really hasn’t been much reason to go, unless you’re an old school Collingwood fan or a junkie (or both). Nowadays the “other side” of Johnston St is picking up and it’s mostly to do with Dr Morse. The renovations took about a year but they’ve worked their way from a little coffee dispensary to a full blown bar and eatery. Big glass windows greet you as you walk straight past the bar into their oversized beer garden (straight to another bar). They’re pretty proud of their food and drink so you’ll always see some little brewer taking over their taps for a weekend or a pig on the spit as a bit of a treat for the locals. What excited us was their Weekend Menu, which slightly differs and is made a little more straight up and down to their every day dinner haul, offering an all day breakky and stuff like Fried chicken & kimchi sandwiches. We managed to grab a beer and their Classic Beef Burger that came with a beef patty, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mustard and pickles on a brioche bun.
This Chicago institution dates back to 1934 when a young Greek immigrant named William “Billy Goat” Sianis bought the Lincoln Tavern for $205. Yes, there was a goat, and it (and its descendants) became the mascots. If you’re a classic SNL fan then you’re probably familiar with the Olympia Restaurant skit. If you don’t know it then check it out later because it’s features half the Ghostbusters and Cheezborgers! You see, Bill Murray and John Belushi (also in the skit) used to spend a whole lot of time in Chicago, so it was only right for them to eat at the most famous burger joint in town; Billy Goat Tavern. They loved the place so much they wrote a skit with Don Novello about the very-particular order method and the new to USA wait staff. Don’t try and order fries, only “cheeps”. There’s no coke, only pepsi. You can see these signs still around today the place. If you’re a burger geek then your choices are simple: Single Cheezborger, Double Cheezborger, Triple Cheezborger and then the Homerun (x4 patties). They do other kinds of sandwiches and dogs but you’re really not there for them. These world-famous burgers have allowed them to open over 9 locations in the city and led me to their Navy Pier location where basically, a boardwalk meets Luna Park style attractions. My Double Cheezborger came on a freshly baked Kaiser bun with two “designed to be stacked” patties and double cheez. No fries, only cheeps.
Brighton Baths have been around since 1881 and although originally just a recreation centre over the years they’ve turned into a multi trick pony. The Baths are a place for weddings, dinner with the family or a just coffee when your neck-deep in lycra. The venue is a great place for locals and tourists alike to see Melbourne’s beautiful, however mostly hazy, cityscape. The Baths are split into two with a more fancy restaurant upstairs and a cafe/bar downstairs. The cafe menu is a little simpler and cheaper but aims to please most people with things like a classic bowl of wedges to Spaghetti Marinara. Sitting across from Ricky Ponting one fine Sunday, we ordered the Baths Burger that came with a beef patty, traditional seeded bun, lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickled cucumber and chipotle mayo.
The Grosvenor is an establishment that runs all the way back to the late 1800s. It’s seen it’s fair share of locals, but it’s probably getting some attention from near and far these days ever since they remodelled in 2011, and since former owner of the famous Albert Park “The Point” took over. As much as owner Rabih Yanni may claim he wants a good simple pub, he’s doing things that go beyond the norm of a local watering hole. When you walk in you’re greeted with something that you’d be more used to seeing in a ritzy steakhouse like Rockpool – a display case of dry aged meats of different cuts. But then they go and offer a Parma night and Trivia night, which seem totally at home at a pub that’s connected to a Bottle Shop. It may be a little inconsistent but it’s a classy looking place that offers almost something for everyone. From their Steak nights to Trivia or a selection of burgers each going for $22. I strolled in one particular Sunday and ordered their namesake, The Grosvenor burger that came with a Dry Aged Angus beef patty, cheese, smokey bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles all on a soft and sweet seeded bun.