Mr Porter Eats
The World’s Tastiest Burgers
From Tokyo Wagyu beef to New York prime rib – indulge in the perfect patty, wherever you are
The Burger Project, Sydney, yields its meaty harvest
Wherever you went in the world, burgers used to mean the US of A. And, like a Guinness in an Irish-themed pub, a decent hamburger used to be something you’d only find in a stars ’n’ stripes-bedecked expat hangout. However, with the rise of casual fine dining in the 2000s, the world’s star chefs (Mr Daniel Boulud, Ms April Bloomfield) began to show off with their own gourmet brisket and chuck blends, creating an appetite for premium patties that saw the humble burger elevated beyond guilty pleasure to CEO comfort food par excellence.
It’s since resulted in a full-on collective fantasy about finding the perfect example – an obsession triggered by the street food trend, and fuelled by online forums and an increasing focus on provenance. “A good burger probes every foodie pleasure point,” says Mr Chris Pople, food blogger and writer behind the Where to Eat London 2015 app. “Salty cheese, sweet sauce, the rich umami of ground beef, the crunch of pickles – all in one beautiful, complete package. The balance of the various elements needs to be just right, and there’s plenty of room for error, such that when the ‘perfect’ burger comes along, it feels like a rare and wonderful treat.”
And it’s definitely not just an American thing any more, with Asian capitals and Paris now competing hard with New York and Chicago for burger greatness. With an eye on the juiciest, most indulgent offerings, we take a tour of world-class burger joints, from Manhattan to Tokyo.
Cherche Midi, New York
Cherche Midi owner Mr Keith McNally tested burgers for five months before deciding on this prime rib number. It's a tough job… Photograph by Mr Nick Solares
Restaurateur Mr Keith McNally can already take credit for the luxury Black Label burger at Minetta Tavern, one of the most blogged about bites in New York. The blend for the current “It” burger, as served at Mr McNally’s cosy, civilised French bistro Cherche Midi, comes courtesy of Mr Mike Pastore from famed meat wholesalers Pat LaFrieda. This umami bomb based on beef rib, with a thick grind for utmost juiciness, comes with salty, skinny fries, which should leave you with room for dessert.
What to order
The prime rib burger features dry-aged beef rib blended with fresh short rib, topped with Gruyère, bacon marmalade and roasted mushrooms.
282 Bowery, New York, NY 10012
Patty & Bun, London
The Ari Gold cheeseburger at London's Patty & Bun is named after a character in Entourage. Could have been worse, we suppose. Turtle burger, anyone?
Leaping from a brilliant burger van into the embrace of financial backers and a West End site three years ago, Patty & Bun is a youthful crew with sky-high standards and a love of dancehall and reggae. It recently opened a development kitchen in an arch by the hipster hub of London Fields, bringing hungry Hackney-ites not only their killer combination of juicy aged beef and brioche buns, but also a brunch menu featuring ham collar and Mangalitsa sausage on toasted sourdough.
What to order
The Ari Gold cheeseburger has Red Leicester cheese, ketchup, pickled onion and smoky mayo.
54 James Street, London W1; 22–23 Liverpool Street, London EC2; 397 Mentmore Terrace, London E8
Le Camion Qui Fume, Paris
The Bleu at Le Camion Qui Fume is “très Brooklyn”, as appreciative Parisian hipster kids are saying
The fastidious French authorities aren’t sure about food trucks, and prevented them from operating in the capital up until July this year. Ms Kristin Frederick’s Le Camion Qui Fume, however, has won over thousands of Parisians with her jauntily branded mobile offering. She arrived from California in 2011, attended cookery school, did a stint at the elite Apicius restaurant, then parked up and kick-started the Paris burger craze. Designed to be consumed on the hop, CQF’s classic burgers come with Cheddar cheese and pickles in a lightly grilled brioche bun. Look out, too, for Le Bateau Qui Fume, bobbing on the Seine, and a permanent site, coming soon.
What to order
The Bleu is topped with Fourme d’Ambert cheese, port wine sauce and caramelised onion sauce, and comes with fries and a can of soda.
Various Paris locations, including Place de la Madeleine, 8ème arrondissement
Burger Project, Sydney
The Double, with the restaurant's signature “secret sauce”, at the Burger Project in Sydney. What's in the sauce? It's a secret
Fast food made with real ingredients is big in Sydney. Burger Project, launched in 2014 by Mr Neil Perry of Rockpool fame, not only does it brilliantly, it does so while remaining both affordable and sustainable, and supports local charities. The beef is grass-fed Cape Grim from Tasmania, while the chuck and brisket is minced in-house and seasoned with Murray River salt. Expect your patty to come served with onion, pickles, lettuce, tomato and “secret sauce” in a bun from Breadtop bakery.
What to order
The Double has two medium-grilled patties with cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and “secret sauce”.
1 World Square, 644 George Street, Sydney; MLC Centre, 19 Martin Place, Sydney
The Butchers Club, Singapore
The Wu Tang Style at The Butchers Club, Singapore, can be washed down with one of 12 bourbons. Cheers!
An offshoot of the Hong Kong steakhouse that opened in 2013, with a mission to bring dry-aged European and US beef to the island, The Butchers Club is a hot new addition to the nightlife scene of Singapore’s Clarke Quay, replete with guest DJs, and open until 4.00am at weekends. Grain-fed Black Angus, a mix of rump, brisket and chuck, which is minced to order as you watch, then reappears with Cheddar, maple-glazed bacon and caramelised onion sauce on a floury home-made bap. There’s a secret menu, too, and a dozen bourbons behind the bar should you need something a little stronger to wash it all down with.
What to order
The Wu Tang Style is a patty fried in sriracha hot sauce and tucked in with tempura sweet potato, Kewpie mayo and kimchee – everyone’s favourite Korean side.
3A River Valley Road, 01-01B Clarke Quay, Singapore
The bacon cheeseburger at Blacows, Tokyo. Let the burger Jenga begin! Photograph by That Food Cray !!!
A legend among burger fanciers, this modest-seeming Ebisu restaurant, which we highlighted in our Tokyo issue is owned by a butcher who deploys nothing but top-grade Japanese Wagyu beef from Kuroge or “black-haired” cattle to make coarsely ground, sensationally juicy patties. You can choose your own toppings – jalapeño peppers, avocado, mozzarella or fried egg – for your made-to-order burger, which comes in a neat bun from the Paris-headquartered bakery Maison Kayser.
What to order
The bacon cheeseburger with tomato sauce, tartare sauce, fried marinated onion, premium Nadeshiko bacon and Colby-Jack cheese.
2 Chome-119 Ebisunishi, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan