Hi, there! Welcome aboard! I am a microbiologist having an affair with words and genetically conditioned for cooking and globetrotting. Embark with me on a journey of good food and gorgeous locales.
For more, follow me @thepixelplatter on Instagram.
It is a humid February day and after a long dry spell of shimmering heat, the skies have finally overshadowed. The crowd has spilled on to the beach and Manly city centre is buzzing with activity as there is a burger bar situated at its heart. In a bid to bring something new to burger lovers, the three partners of BunBar Burgers reinvented the whole concept of the burger and reformed the fast-food staple into a healthier version of itself. And the ripples this innovation has caused isn't going unnoticed as a fanbase has slowly been building up as evident on this sultry afternoon.
The display menu is straightforward and promotes a stack of "coming soon" indicating new additions and thus, leaving room for further experimentation and improvisations. We are recommended the Smoked Brisket Soft "AF" Bun, the Grilled Rice Bun with Grilled Chicken, the Lettuce Bun with Grilled Chicken and the Falafel'Burg. Order in place, we settle in a comfortable corner with our Aperol Spritz slushy and Pina Colada slushy. Both chilled cocktails are the perfect recipes for respite from the sweltering weather.
This big twist on traditional burgers is definitely a crowd puller. The constant influx of customers keeps Stephen Grant, one of the three partners and a former real estate man, perpetually on his toes. Managing the counter and waiting tables at times, he is an omnipresent amicable figure, striking light conversation with customers and making sure everyone was comfortable and content. The other two partners are Gary Linz, one of the founders of Oporto, and Deanna Bechara, who hails from project management.
Our chubby bun babies arrive bundled in brown paper. The first to undergo dissection and scrutiny is the Smoked Brisket Burger. Born in a moment of serendipity, this soft "AF" bun was, in fact, supposed to be a steamed bao bun which was baked by accident (a lucky one at that). Filled with slow-cooked smoked beef brisket, grilled onions, pickles, cheese, chilli drizzle and burger sauce, this one is a delicious improvisation on the classic burger. The moistness brought in by the sauce combo is fantastic and enhances the overall flavour but in its wake deprived us of the smokiness of the brisket, which is otherwise tender and juicy.
Accustomed to the cushion of buns? Well, well, well, gear up for some surprising crunch. Whoever imagined a crispy bun would outdo its softer counterparts? In fact, it is difficult to decide the winner. We love the falafel and the grilled rice and the lettuce, all three, brilliant in their own novelty.
The Falafel'Burg is an arrangement of cucumber, tomato, red cabbage, tabouli and pickle in hummus and tahini drizzle, sandwiched between two deep-fried falafel patties. This Middle Eastern take on the burger is an absolute delight and commendable in each of the categories: colour, texture and taste.
Similarly, the Grilled Rice Bun piled with grilled chicken, lettuce, spring onions, pickle, and cheese combined in chili drizzle and mayo, is a taste bomb. It is luscious in taste and light on the tummy.
But the biggest element of surprise is held wrapped in leafy greens. The seashell-shaped lettuce burger holds a saucy core of grilled chicken, cheese, pickles and spring onions. Here the bet is big on the sauce or as the BB team calls it "their legendary chilli drizzle and mayo." Its a treat for weight watchers salad enthusiasts. Fresh, light, moist, crunchy, the lettuce bun hits all the right chords.
Sitting there in that humid lunch hour under a canopy of pallets that have been interestingly defined into interior decor with patches of greens and teardrop lights, surrounded by burger lovers, and fans of delectable innovations, I felt like being whisked down the road less taken by seasoned team to a destination full of delights far from what I could fathom. Keep blazing the burger trail team BB. A big thumbs up to you!
P.S.: Unless in a rush and willing to drive around to find a parking spot, enjoy a ferry ride or take the bus here. It is worth it.