First look: Burger Burger
Mimi Gilmour is the woman who brought affordable, fun and brilliantly executed Mexican food to Auckland; now she wants to do the same with burgers. Just over two years ago she opened the first of her Mexico restaurants in Britomart; there’s now five of them, with a sixth, in New Plymouth, on its way. With Burger Burger, her brand new burger joint, she’s starting all over again.
While Gilmour and burgers have history – she and her ex-husband Warren Turnball founded the boutique Chur Burger chain in Sydney – Burger Burger is a fresh slate. “Coming up with a concept, designing the menu – this is the part of the process I love.”
Tucked into a narrow slice of Ponsonby Central’s laneway, Burger Burger is about simple stuff done really well. Six standard burgers – (free range) beef, pork, chicken, lamb, fish and vege – and one special, currently a venison, kale, mushroom and blue cheese heavy-hitter; five sides, including potato skins, fries, charred broccoli and mint coleslaw; and either a sundae or banana split to finish.
Gilmour and her partner Adrian Chilton, of Takapuna’s Jam Organic Café, spent months in development (“trying every burger I could find, basically”), attempting to come up with the perfect combination of patty and bun. She’s particularly proud of the bun, created in collaboration with local bakers Il Forno, which has a brioche consistency, but without the richness. The not-so-secret ingredient? Buttermilk.
The drinks list includes homemade sodas (manager Matt Pedley recommends you pair your burger with the ginger, juniper and lime: “It helps cut through the fattiness”); milkshakes with Lewis Road Creamery organic milk and ice cream by Little Paddock; a brief selection of wines by the glass or half-bottle; and tap beers and bottles, including the resurrection of that Kiwi classic, the Lion Red “swappa” bottle.
Like Mexico, Burger Burger is big on personality. As befits a former Ilam student and advertising creative, Gilmour has given the place a strong visual identity, filling it with old family photos and images of Auckland in the 40s, 50s and 60s: a classic diner, but one which celebrates our history, not America’s.
On a busy night, Burger Burger’s tight spaces will be the ideal setting for a little PG-rated flirting, an idea they’re encouraging with “diner-to-diner comment cards” featuring tongue in cheek pick-up lines (“Our grandchildren will visit this place one day”, “My credit card debt could become our credit card debt”), which the waitstaff will deliver on your behalf. Who needs internet dating?
The Lane, Ponsonby Central, Ponsonby. Open 7 days, 12pm til late. burgerburger.co.nz.
Words: Catherine McGregor. Photos: Ken Downie