Once considered only fit for food courts and greasy takeaways, the humble hamburger is now edging closer to being a fixture in fine diners, as an increasing number of top chefs add it to the repertoire. Warren Turnbull had great success trading fine dining for the much-loved Chur Burger, while everyone from Luke Moran to Neil Perry have included wagyu beef burgers on their menus.
It's a great trend — few things are more appetising (or more frustratingly hard to find) than a simple burger done really well. The Morrison's Sean Connolly, who has previously earned accolades such as SMH Good Food Guide's Chef of the Year, is the latest to throw his chef’s toque into the ring, revamping the old Parlour Bar site as Parlour Burger.
Adjacent to the Morrison, Parlour is a small room looking out onto the suits and tourist hordes of George Street. It pitches itself as a no-fuss, casual kind of place where you can swing by at lunch or after work, grab a couple of burgers and chips and wash them down with some beers. The decor has a few nods to the American sports bar style, with cheerful rusted signs ("We Love Having You Here!"), Coca-Cola paraphernalia, neon-lit knickknacks and cute touches like tomato-shaped sauce dispensers.
It’s a short and sweet menu centred round a selection of five burgers (all $10), including the standout fish butty, a nicely crispy beer-battered fish fillet on a baked bun with lettuce, tartare sauce and house made pickles. The Original Morrison Burger is elevated by the smokiness of chipotle mayo, and can be ordered well done or pink. A word of warning though: if you order it pink, it will be really pink.
There's also a respectable vegetarian option, an Indian bahji burger with a nicely tangy yoghurt sauce. Unlike some of the gloriously ugly creations going around, Parlour Burger’s fare is quite well-presented and tidy. The buns are good as well — lightly fluffy with a bit of crunch on top and no hint of watery sogginess or over-steamed blandness.
The most interesting option is the Black Widow, which features activated charcoal in the bun. The pitch black sheen of the bun is visually striking and a nice change-up in a menu that is mostly fairly traditional, though the flavor isn't radically different from the other brioche buns. It comes with a beef patty and is given a decent kick by hot sauce. While it's unusual, be assured that activated charcoal is a healthier than it sounds — there's even a mock military propaganda-style poster on one wall declaring "Charcoal is good for you!".
There's a range of sides, all traditional burger accompaniments, like duck fat chips ($8), beer-battered onion rings ($6) and guilt-inducing deep-fried pickles ($8), which feature a thick batter. The stars of the show, however, are the burgers, and whether you’re after some traditional fare or the Black Widow's twist on an old favourite, Parlour Burger is a solid addition to the scene.