Burger Lab, Herne Bay's newest burgerie, has just opened its doors on the ever-popular stretch of Jervois Road. With only a few tables and a bar that runs along street-facing windows for ultimate people watching, it feels like it could have been a neighbourhood go-to for years already.
Sides-wise, the basics are covered with thick and skinny potato fries, a salad and a slaw, wings, sticky ribs and polenta chips. The polenta chips ($10) were heavily spiked with rosemary, but were good and crispy and came with a tasty truffle aioli. Speaking of aioli, we counted at least four different flavours on the menu (garlic, truffle, miso, smoked paprika), all made onsite. Actually, it appears that everything is made onsite; right down to the freshly made brioche buns that you can also buy singly to take home and experiment with burger creations of your own.
All burger fillings come tucked within said brioche buns, except for the slow cooked pork ($14.50) which comes enclosed in a pillowy steamed bao. If you're a pork bun fan, this is your kind of burger. The tender pork belly is slow cooked with Chinese spiced soy and comes partnered with picked cucumber, Asian slaw and hoisin mayo. Unfortunately the pork belly didn't look to be free-range and I thought the slaw and pickled cucumber could have been punchier, but it was a lighter meal than expected and didn't leave me feeling too full. The standard beef burger ($14.50) was a favourite amongst our group, with a reasonably plain but well charred medium-rare beef patty, aged cheddar, pickles, crispy bacon, caramelised onion, barbecue sauce and all the usual salad suspects — it's a burger that requires a good handful of napkins.
It was good to see some inventive burgers on the menu, such as the teriyaki chicken with miso aioli and slow cooked daikon and kombu, and the slow-cooked beef cheek burger with caramelised beetroot and chipotle rosemary aioli (there's the fifth aioli flavour).
Burger Lab accepts phone orders, takes reservations, offers free biscotti with coffee and their kid's burger comes on a potato sponge bun. I'm not sure what that is but they're all good reasons to check this place out.
Image: Burger Lab