When S and I were approached by Tourism Australia to check out the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival this past May, we agreed, but also told our hosts that we’d want to check out some of the area’s top local restaurants as well. Because I like to do my own research, I spent an evening trawling through the Web in order to pick out a few places to check out. One place in particular was a no-brainer. The Burger Bar was, at the time, rated the #1 restaurant in Noosa on Tripadvisor. It had also been awarded Queensland’s favourite burger by lifestylefood.com.au in 2010, 2011 and 2012. As a burger lover, I knew that this would be a mandatory stop during our short trip down under.
Even before we left Singapore, just from having read reviews online and looking at pictures on The Burger Bar’s Facebook page, I was excited to taste the burgers–all reportedly handmade from locally sourced ingredients. I was also really looking forward to meeting The Burger Bar’s owner, whom I found out was originally from Singapore. Honestly, when I was first told that I’d be meeting a Mister Richard Tan, and “Oh, he’s Singaporean actually”, I was flabbergasted. I mean, I never expected the number one burger joint in Queensland to be helmed by a Singaporean. This bit of news, I have to admit, made me even more eager to check out The Burger Bar.
The Burger Bar is located in Noosaville, a really pretty, sleepy but chic Riverside town. It’s far less touristy than Noosa Heads, and the restaurants and cafes that dot Gympie Terrace, which runs along the river, and its side streets cater more for locals and serious foodies. The Burger Bar itself is tiny. Really just a small “shop” that has a counter inside and a few tables and chairs in a semi-al fresco area. Despite its diminutive size and modest decor, its menu is rather extensive and very exciting. Customers can choose from eight different beef burgers (all made from premium grade MSA Australian beef); four different chicken burgers; two different lamb burgers; and two different vegetarian burgers. There are also lunch specials available, a small children’s menu, and “extras”, which include chunky chips, a Mexican lime coleslaw, and a variety of homemade sauces. The Burger Bar also serves a really nice range of beers and wine, plus some premium soft drinks like Phoenix Organic Carbonates.
The recipes were designed by Michelin-starred chef Erik Van Alphen and owner Richard Tan. The variety is really fantastic. S and I had a hard time deciding which ones to order. We were torn between the Dutch Oven (beef burger with bacon, sauerkraut, dijonnaise, fried onion, lettuce and tomato); the JP Frenchy (Wagyu burger with blue cheese, cracked pepper, mushrooms, red wine onion relish, roasted red peppers, and lettuce); the House of the Rising Bun (Wagyu burger with Japanese teriyaki sauce, pickled ginger, Japanese mayo, wasabi, kimchi, roasted red peppers, and lettuce); Jamaican Me Crazy (spicy herbed chicken burger with jalapeno relish, chilli garlic mayonnaise, roasted red peppers, and lettuce); and the Top Bun (lamb burger with brie cheese, lime slaw, piccalilli sauce, and lettuce). In the end, we ordered a House of the Rising Bun (with a name like that, how can you resist?) and the Downunder, which features the quintessential Australian combination of bacon, beetroot, fried egg, slathered with barbecue sauce and topped with lettuce and tomato.
Both burgers were exceptional. It’s actually really impressive that Richard insists on making everything he serves (from sauces to buns) from scratch. That kind of devotion to the ingredients that make up what would normally be simple quick service staples has helped transform his burgers into really incredible dishes. I think I enjoyed each burger equally. And I know I’ll be stealing ideas from The House of the Rising Bun for my own burgers at home. In addition to the two burgers, we also tried the chips and the Mexican lime slaw. I particularly enjoyed the slaw, which was light and refreshing–perfect for balancing out the hefty burgers. In fact, I’ve begged Richard to let me share his slaw recipe with all of you; he’s very generously agreed. You’ll find it at the bottom of this post.
We ended our visit with me profusely thanking Richard for spending time with us and me enthusiastically trying to convince him to bring The Burger Bar to Singapore, the land of his birth. Richard, who left Singapore when he was six years old and grew up in Western Australia and New South Wales, said that he wouldn’t rule out the idea, so long as he could find the right backers and partners. Given the quality of his product–which is far better than 99% of the burgers served here at the moment–I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have too hard a time finding supporters. And I’m very sure he’d have no problem at all finding customers.
The Burger Bar’s Mexican Lime Slaw
¼ white cabbage
¼ red cabbage
2 sticks of celery
3 cups of corn kernels
500ml of mayonnaise
300ml of greek yoghurt
100ml of honey
2 tablespoons of dill
1 spoon of cumin
rind and juice of 8 limes
pinch of paprika (to taste)
pinch of salt (to taste; added at the end)
With a “V” slicer, shred thin slices of both cabbages, celery and capsicum. Julienne the carrots. Arrange portions of each to be visually attractive.
The dressing is the key in any coleslaw. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and salt to taste. Add to the slaw and mix together. Eat.
The Burger Bar
Shop 4 – Thomas Street
Noosaville, QLD 4566
Tel: +61 7 5474 4189