The Bistrot, Seminyak, Bali

Welcome to the second in an occasional series of guest posts from travelling friends of ours, this one courtesy of none other than DJ Will MC Campbell….

One of the UK’s most beloved chefs once quirked “Food is for eating, and to be enjoyed… I think food is, actually, very beautiful in itself.” And what could be greater than the sight of a truly world-class burger arriving at your table, as others look on in envy?

Truth be told I tried to do my first burger review while in Japan – the home of Wagyu and Kobe beef, incredible cuts of meat from incredible cattle… but it wasn’t really served in true burger form, so couldn’t legitimately count it as one.

bali_burger_2

Which is why, having left the incredible but cold shores of Japan, on arriving in Bali I headed to The Bistrot for my first evening out. An impressive wooden yet high ceilinged open space, upon entering you immediately feel reminded of a New York loft/factory space with a distinct industrial feel.

And there it was, centre of the menu, I couldn’t look away, the Bistrot Burger – 180g of beef from Australia’s finest cattle.

Burger Source

There are variations of the same burger – but the house special came with the trimmings I was looking for, onion rings (always a challenge to get right), Red Cheddar (?), Cognac Sauce, Tomato, Lettuce served in a lightly toasted sesame seed bun.

The Meat of It

I’m an absolute stickler for having the meat cooked to the way I like it – and I opt for medium rare (controversial for some I know), as it actually requires more attention than any other form of cooking a burger IMHO. It needs to be perfectly brown on the outside but I want to see the colours and juices coming through the middle.

I wasn’t disappointed. The meat was cooked to perfection. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly presented. I was excited I’d hit a home run on my first night in Bali. The Cognac sauced seemed to work really well, yet bizarrely added a somewhat BBQ flavour to the burger. Could it be a term lost in translation? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt as the combo was immediately impressive.

Next up was the red cheese and the onion rings, where my initial doubts were realised. The onion rings were solid, but not great. A little too soft from the outside and not enough texture from the onion. I want to feel like I’m biting into an actual onion rather than just a lump of fried batter. The red cheese really let it down, as it felt processed and slabbed on – a little too perfectly square.

It’s always interesting trying bread from other countries, particularly when you walk into a supermarket and aren’t exposed to the 90+ variations we have in the UK. So it wasn’t a great surprise to find the bun good but not exceptional. It was toasted well, crispy when you bite into it, but soft through the middle.

All in all, I was impressed. The meat was ideally cooked, the sauce complimented the flavour really well… and did I really expect the onion rings and cheese to be of the same quality? Well let’s say I’d have been disappointed with the experience if it had been the other way round (or I’d be posting this on the wrong blog).

Would I go again? Probably. Would I recommend to others? Absolutely.

For a total of £8, it would be hard to find many places in the UK that would serve that level of quality food in such a place that makes you feel like you’ve been transported 12,000 miles across continents.

Monkey finger rating

Bun  – 3/5
Build – 4/5
Burger – 5/5
Taste – 4/5
Sides – N/A
Value – 4/5

I think our beloved chef might have been onto something when she made that remark about food – but I’d argue just adding the word good as a prefix would be about right. And this place was certainly good.

If you’re ever in Bali, I’d highly recommend popping in  – you can find them at Jl. Kayu Aya No.117, Seminyak, Badung, Kabupaten Badun. You can reserve a table, and if you’re there Friday or Saturday night I’d recommend doing so.

Guest post: Ferg Burger, Queenstown, NZ

This is a guest post from fellow Burger-Lover and world traveller Dan Bond.

This burger too fergilicious for you babe.

The decision was made. Six weeks into a five-month around-the-world trip, we’d reached the other side of the world (New Zealand) but also the need to budget.

It turns out that income is pretty limited when you’re unemployed and don’t have any (as far as I’m aware, I’m not getting financially rewarded for this guest post), but there were indulgences we could cut back on: dining out being #1. We could handle that. We had a campervan. We knew how to boil water and put pasta into the water and then take it out again. It’d be fun, being self-sufficient. Fine. We left the Queenstown café in complete agreement. And walked down the street. And turned a corner. And stumbled into a bustling, overflowing queue, outside what transpired to be the 15th birthday party of Fergburger.

We TRIED to just walk past and pay no attention. But the customers were so animated, so delighted with what they were unwrapping. One particularly polite-looking middle-aged lady grappled with a burger larger than her face, which turned an increasingly meaty shade of red with each bite taken until diner and dinner became almost indistinguishable. It was a betrayal of either complete culinary delight or her slipping into early, pattie-induced stages of cardiac arrest. This was serious meat, evidently. Fine…we’d start budgeting after one more meal out.

Burger Source

Fergburger is one of those places you Google almost immediately after visiting. It invites curiosity. Apparently, 15 years in business and solid word of mouth buzz have seen its operations transition from a hard-to-find garage off Cow Lane to central Queenstown, Shotover Street. It did so via an international reputation and an avoidance of becoming a chain restaurant. Yeah! Rock on Ferg. The burger joint is now joined next door by Mrs Ferg Gelateria.

The order

So here’s the menu:

Fergburger menu

I doubt I could even imagine this number of burger variations, let alone do so and then deliver on the promise with actual food. The Chief Wiggum (in my opinion one of The Simpsons’ most underrated characters) caused a smile. But I went traditional; a Double Ferg with Cheddar Cheese, costing $15.50. I’m no financial advisor but $3 more for a whole other pattie seemed to me a big green tick in the economics department (omg, hardcore budgeting already implemented).

My girlfriend opted for the $14.50 Tropical Swine: New Zealand beef, streaky bacon, cheddar, pineapple, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and tomato relish.

The meat of it

The food came in a paper bag heavy enough to lift respectably at the gym. My 2x patties were massive: one the size of a small frizbee, the other of a mildly disappointing pizza. All the expected ingredients (lettuce, tomato, red onion, relish) present and correct, and correctly proportioned.

This is the first burger I’ve had that brought to mind a perfectly balanced cocktail. I was expecting the much-touted meat to be the main event but while it was great, the ingredients lay in perfect symphony with each other to deliver one knockout overall taste. And all encased by the most glorious burger bap I’ve ever had. The bread! The hyperbole I could use to describe this bread…it’d be indecent. Crisp and a tad sweet at the first bite, with wholesome dough beneath the surface, the bap absorbs all the juices in the most satisfying way as you journey through the burger – like some NASA-designed food-supersponge developed exclusively for Heston Blumenthal’s signature range of edible appliances that somehow fills entirely with flavour yet never loses its form or becomes soggy.

It was miraculous. And I’ve no knowledge of Mr or Mrs Ferg or the inner workings of their personal security, but I wouldn’t not consider kidnap as a means of getting more of this bread of theirs.

We didn’t order fries because a.) we were clearly told we wouldn’t manage them b.) hellloooo, budgeting. But I did try the Tropical Swine, which was in its own realm of mind-bogglingly brilliant (the bacon thin, salty and very crispy, the pineapple fresh and not distractingly sweet). In the interest of delivering a balanced review, I should point out that I didn’t get two free gelatos in honour of Ferg’s 15th birthday (despite technically ordering a double burger) – just the one. But seeing as I, in my food coma state, couldn’t even consider approaching this single free dessert, I’ll let that slide.

And for the record, this isn’t the excitement of a guest blogger getting carried away with his first burger breakdown. We passed the place the following morning, at 8:20am, and there were people queuing for burgers. At 8:20am. And, if I’d hadn’t just recovered from the meat-sweats, I would have joined them once more.

Monkey finger rating

Bun – 5/5
Build – 5/5
Burger – 4.5/5
Taste – 5/5
Sides – N/a
Value – 5/5 – £7:50ish for all this?

Fergburger doesn’t do Twitter, but if it did, it’d probably be the best Twitter account in the world. Find them on your next world tour to New Zealand: 42 Shotover Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand.