The Union Hotel – Big Wagyu Burger

The Union has been a long time favourite of our office and the writer has always been a big fan of their work. Either as a venue for a beverage or two or for a CBD lunch, the Union has never failed to deliver with aplomb. Now, unbeknown to the kitchen, it faces its biggest challenge. How will they fare under the scrutiny of of Burger Me?

The Burger

First impressions are always important, of that there is no question. While you can always overcome these with time, and I think we have all had some ugly food which tastes great, we do eat with all of our senses so the first view is significant. When the burger was delivered it was, in a word, underwhelming. That is quite a nice word really compared to what I first thought, but I have to save myself some room to move for later in the review. To put it another way – you wouldn’t turn up to a high paying job interview wearing jeans and a FCUK t-shirt would you? In a similar vein, neither should you send out your $22 ‘wagyu’ burger in a general, supermarket bought hamburger bun. Further to this, the bun was significantly larger than the contents – as you can see in the photo – as such it was hard to tell what was really in there.

Not a good start.

The Pattie

The meat part of this was probably the high point. It was of a reasonably good consistency although it had been well overdone. The meat had been minced to within an inch of it’s life so it was just a bit on the mushy side, but the overall impression wasn’t unpleasant. By the same token, it also wasn’t particularly impressive either, and given the alleged ‘wagyu’ contents, this is a little disappointing.

Fillings and Sauce

The fillings, from the menu, consisted of smoked Hahndorf ham, pickles, cheese, red onion, house relish & mayonnaise. On the face of it, I applaud them for taking a slightly different route. The ham was a nice change, the pickles seemed a nice addition and the mayo seemed like it might be a masterstroke.

Keen observes will note the tense in my above paragraph as being of the ‘pre’ variety. Hmmmm….

The ham had a mild smokiness to it, so that was a small tick. It would make a really nice ham and cheese toasted sandwich I would think, but not with the cheese that was on here. Without knowing for sure, I am thinking Coon sliced ‘tasty’ at best. The pickles tasted like they had been scraped off McDonalds burgers, and ditto the ‘house relish’. The red onion had been sliced with surgical precision to be about the width of a human hair, however this was actually quite annoying as it couldn’t really be bitten and you kept pulling tufts of it out of the burger with each progressively disappointed bite. The mayo I also suggested was added via a squeezy bottle, likely picked up from the supermarket with the rolls.

The Roll

I have already touched on this, and really if you haven’t got anything nice to say, sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all.

But it didn’t even seem that fresh, nor was it toasted. I mean…..ok I will just move on.

Chips! Yay there are chips! French fries no less, so these may have come with the pickles and the ‘relish’ from a certain chain. However they were particularly salty, something which was remarked upon by others around the table. Also, the thing with fries is that they are great about 7.4 seconds after they come out of the oil. Then they are cold. So in summary I had cold, over salted slivers of cooked potato on the side. Again – hmmmmm….

So I have already given away the price for all this mediocrity – $22. Which places it at the very top of the price stakes for everything tried to date. The size of the burger, overall, was sufficient and the cold potato slivers were plentiful, so in that sense you weren’t leaving hungry (unless you chose to not eat it all, naturally). But value? $22 buys nearly 4 Whoppers.

So while the Hungry Jacks reference is there – nice segway I know – the overall impression of this was that it was just like a slightly bigger whopper. The appearance, the chips, the pickles, the mayo – it all just screamed ‘fast food chain’. And I am not suggesting that those ingredients need be negatives at all, just it really didn’t work at all here.

I had been expecting so much. The Union has always delivered such wonderful food. Last time I was there I had some magnificent braised beef cheeks and for this to come from the same kitchen just astounds me.

To get back to the interview analogy, regardless of the resume, and irrespective of who the references might be, there is simply no way that The Union burgers will be getting a second interview.

Score – 4.3

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