Paddington is lined with high-end boutiques, designer fashion labels and fancy little chocolate stores. It's a glorious place to be, as long as you have a fat wad of cash in your pocket. But none of that applies to Cheekyburger, a new, tongue-in-cheek burger bar which serves seriously tasty cheeseburgers, Oreo shakes, banana splits and beer, without the Paddington price tag. Finally.
Cheekyburger's tiny shopfront leads to a sun-dappled courtyard, with a relaxed, suburban feel. The walls are lined with corrugated tin, a game of darts is in action and there's an esky of tinnies parked by the bar. Paddington? Is that you?
In recent years, burgers have risen from poor man's street food to pop culture triumph, and chefs are increasingly fastidious with the texture of the cheese, the coarseness of the mince — even choosing the pickle puts them in a pickle. Cheekyburger is no exception, and owner Sam Marsh from nearby Crate Bar & Pizza, spent months researching in the US to create what he deems to be an authentic New York experience.
The cheeseburger ($9.99) uses 40% chuck, 40% brisket and 20% fat to create a meltingly soft patty with perfectly charred edges. It's covered in sticky cheese, a length-way pickle and a squirt of ketchup and squished together on a fluffy, brioche bun. The Philly cheesesteak ($14.99) is voted the favourite at our table; our version is made with tender shreds of steak topped with grilled onions, green peppers and melted cheese, layered between the folds of a hotdog roll.
Another option is the sloppy Joe ($12.99), which sees a hefty scoop of bolognese haphazardly scooped into and around a bun to create one tasty mess. The burgers forgo lettuce and tomato in their quest for authenticity, which makes it a little bit harder to convince yourself of any nutritional worth. Keep trying though.
Beyond the burgers, there's a solid menu of all-American side dishes, including deep-fried pickles ($6.99), Buffalo wings ($12.99) and corn on the cob ($7.99), among other finger-licking eats. If it's dessert you're after, you can scoff a banana split ($9.99) or a Pat & Stick's ice cream sandwich ($6.99). The supreme sweet treat is the Oreo shake ($7.99) spiked with a shot of Baileys ($6.99). The cookies have been ground to dust, so the shake is thick, creamy and lump-free. I'm saving the salted caramel shake with a shot of bourbon for my next visit.
Cheekyburger is equally big on booze, serving a strong collection of American beers, wines, cocktails and spirits. Since you're here, you might as well have a cheeky one. Cheers Paddo.