Lunch at The Brunswick (or, ‘Not Quite a Burger Challenge’) – Hobart, Tasmania
I’m conflicted!! I thought it would be easy…
When I was invited by the The Brunswick to drop by and try their burger I was absolutely chuffed!!
The blog’s been up and running for almost a year now, and over that time I’ve watched with pride as reader numbers have steadily risen, interaction has increased and I seem to get asked a lot more of the ‘where do you think I should grab a meal on the weekend’ type questions!
While I love stats and virtual popularity as much as the next engineer, the reason I blog isn’t to bring in hordes of ‘followers’, ‘likers’ or ‘comments’, but it’s to make a connection. If I can help just one person to expand their culinary horizons through a quality meal, then that’s enough for me!
With that in mind, the invite was totally unexpected, but absolutely made my day!
In case you’re wondering, I paid my way. The offer wasn’t made, and again, I didn’t expect it. In fact, even if the offer of a free meal WAS made I would politely decline. I can see so many ethical dilemmas and obligations arising from that sort of a deal that I couldn’t help but feel that the review would suffer. No ‘cash for comment’ here!
So there you go, it’s in writing and it’s in the public domain now! On the infinitesimal chance that Lebrina or The Source come knocking, I’m going to have to respectfully decline, on pain of public humiliation and self flagellation.
Back to the review…
The request from The Brunswick was specifically in relation to my ongoing Great Tasmanian Burger Challenge*, but on arriving and perusing the menu I was struck with a dilemma!
No beef burgers!
While every burger is obviously different, the whole premise of the Burger Challenge has been to compare and contrast the quality and flavours on the most level playing field possible. So when I saw that The Brunswick’s burger was in fact a lamb burger, I had a few choices; expand the challenge to include other types of meat, try something else, or find a middle ground.
Not reviewing the burger was not really an option, but I’ve always been taught to include three options in any Business Case, so there’s your ‘Do Nothing’ option . Expanding the challenge was a serious consideration, but I feel it would make it way too hard to provide a fair comparison. Instead, I’ve found the middle ground.
While not qualifying for inclusion in the challenge, I will still review, score, and make mention of other burger types I may come across in my travels, they just won’t get categorised under ‘Burger Challenge’ in the menu structure above, or in the ‘White Collar’ vs ‘Blue Collar’ scoring tables.
This was the first time I had ever set foot inside The Brunswick, yet I still have a little bit of history with this place. Some years ago these Two Clowns used to be members of The Sanctuary gym and in using the gym we walked down the alleyway alongside The Brunswick quite regularly. Let me just say that The Brunswick of 2013 is light years ahead of the The Brunswick of 2008!! Back then it was a dingy, dodgy-looking cheap home for backpackers, whereas one massive revamp later (in 2009?) The Brunswick has been transformed into a welcoming, well appointed hotel replete with comfy leather lounges, a fantastic range of tap beers and, most importantly, a very appealing menu!
As an aside, I do notice that they’ve also spruced up their accommodation options. Judging by the photos on their website, and numerous comments on Trip Advisor, the standard has risen (albeit still basic), yet the prices have been kept extremely competitive, particularly considering their central location.
If I hadn’t been so keen on trying their burger, I would have been extremely tempted by their extensive Parmi menu. Advertising it as Hobart’s largest range of Parmi’s, I have no doubt that they’re not telling porkies!! With 30 different options (60 if you include the ‘double banger’ option for a second piece of schnitzel!!), I’m sure even the fussiest schnitzel connoisseur would find something here to tickle their palate**!
For me though, under Bambi’s glassy, yet reproachful eyes, it was the Brunswick Lamb Burger ($22), with tomato, mesculin, blue cheese(!), beetroot pickle and fried onion rings.
Karen tried the Club Sandwich ($17.50) on beer bread(?), with cajun chicken, rocket, roast capsicum, pancetta, gruyere cheese, aioli and hand-cut chips.
On arrival, I was dubious that the burger was stuffable! But after cutting it into two halves I found that it compressed down quite nicely, without the patty or other ingredients squirting out the other side!
Overall I’d have to say that this burger was better than average, without being exceptional.
The lamb patty was cooked well, but after having recently tried the exquisitely cooked beef patty at Tasman Quartermasters, and the perfectly grilled patty at The Winston (review to come shortly!!), this one seemed a tad over cooked; slightly tender, but approaching that point where the mince starts to dry out on the edges. By no means bad though, it’s just that the bar keeps getting lifted by others!
Blue cheese is a polarising ingredient, with many despising its musky aroma and funky taste, but for me, I love it!! In this case the blue cheese had the potential to transform this burger into something awesome! Unfortunately, it was spread so thin on one half of the burger that I only remembered that it even had blue cheese when I was half way in. A real shame, because it complimented the sweetness of the beetroot pickle exceptionally well!
The other ingredients all meshed together adequately, but it did feel like it was missing a mayonnaise or some other condiment to tie it all together.
The score? In my best ‘My Kitchen Rules’ impersonation, I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
The Club Sandwich actually trumped the lamb burger in the end!
The bread (I really should find out what beer bread is!) was sensational! A hint of crunch but oh-so-soft in the centre. Together with the mountain of other ingredients it all pulled together wonderfully well, and seemed the more ‘complete’ meal in comparison to the burger.
One thing that can’t go without mention though is the quality of the side dishes. Deep dried food done right can be very good, and in this case it was sensational! The onion rings were delicious, with the batter being light, fluffy and slightly crunchy; almost like a tempura. Personally I’d probably prefer them a little crispier, but that’s just me. The dusting of chunky salt granules (check out the photo above!) topped it off magnificently!
And then there were the hand-cut chips.
Actually, my apologies, that should be capitalised, because these were some of the best chips I have ever had!! I don’t know whether they used a variant of Heston’s triple cooked chips recipe, but they certainly tasted like it! The perfectly crunchy exterior shell cocooning the pillow-soft and feather-light potato core, they don’t get any better than this! I could have eaten them forever!
We walked away very happy!
I’m really keen to go back and try some of their other menu items as both the quality, and in particular the ambience of the hotel, were fantastic. Sure, there are areas for improvement, but you’d have to be pretty picky to not enjoy your meal at The Brunswick!
The only other thing worth mentioning is their pricing. At $22 the burger is stratospherically high in comparison to other burgers I’ve tried already. It would seem to me that $15-20 would be closer to the mark for what you get, and for that reason I have to dock points on ‘value for money’ (despite the heavenly chips, which at $8 for a side serve by themselves are an absolute steal and worthy of a visit for them alone!).
Taste – 3.5/5
Menu – 4.5/5
Atmosphere – 5/5
Service – 4.5/5
Value – 2.5/5
Overall – 3.5/5
* yes, for those that pay attention to such things I’ve decided to expand the scope beyond Hobart!
** I can feel a Tasmanian Parmi Challenge coming on….!!