The Australian burger with-the-lot. It doesn’t come much more Aussie than that. Unless of course you’re talking about Aussie journalist and all-round legend Sean Muir. You see, Sean’s attitude towards life embodies that of the burger with-the-lot; it’s all or nothing.
Which might explain why Sean, young, punch-drunk and armed with a hefty appetite, took it upon himself, for the good of the nation, to quit his job, buy a motorcycle and set off to find Australia’s best burger with-the-lot. On his search for happiness between buns, Sean spent one year roving the Australian coastline, consuming more than 100 burgers, gaining 13kg of fat and unsurprisingly a stomach ulcer to find the nation’s holy grail of burgers.
The burger with-the-lot is an Aussie tradition, an institution and a right of passage for any hungry bugger at a pub, servo or humble road-house on a dusty outback highway. It’s messy, but don’t let that fool you; this is serious business and you don’t want to mess around with it. Now, I’m all for whipping the pickle from a cheeseburger and gently planting it on the forehead of the closest child in the playground, but when it comes to the Aussie burger with-the-lot, it’s non negotiable; if you don’t honour the legend, you’re simply not true blue. So stack your burger right – grilled beef, bacon, a fried egg, grilled pineapple, beetroot, grilled onion, cheese and the good old trusty foundations of tomato and lettuce. And please; it’s not ketchup, it’s tomato sauce.
To separate the real deals from the wannabes, Sean followed recommendations from locals, spreading the news of the search and bringing the Aussie tradition to the forefront of a nation’s mind. There were definitely challenges along the way; and none more confronting than the 1.3kg, seven beef patty monstrosity that he faced in Perth’s northern suburbs. But Sean did his country proud and after 12 months of downing enough beef to fill a cattle station, a winner was announced. Central Queensland’s FJ Holden Cafe’s signature ‘Super Burger’ took out the title, with Sean announcing that the burger perfectly represented what the tour set out to promote; good, home-grown Aussie tucker and a sense of humour.
A small, family owned cafe, rightly decorated in Holden paraphernalia and situated in the middle of no-where, FJ Holden Cafe has built a cult-like following of burger enthusiasts for their commitment to quality produce and one helluva generous portion. Inspired by Sean’s devotion to burgers I decided to make my own expedition and drive the eight hours to FJ Holden Cafe in Hughenden, Queensland to see what all the fuss was about.
Meeting Jan and Frank Holden, the owners and masterminds behind ‘Australia’s Best Burger with-the-lot’ was a thrill in itself with their character and enthusiasm matching that of their 20-year collection of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Holden memorabilia. Although their passion for all things Aussie is evident, Frank and Jan have never actually tried the burger them self; “there’s no way in hell we’d be able to eat something so big!” And when Frank walked over to my table carrying in his hands what would be one of the greatest food challenges of my life, I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew. Taking the tradition of throwing as much food as possible between two pieces of bread up a level, the ‘Super Burger’ is an epic meat trilogy; why just have a beef patty when you can fit a piece of steak and some bacon in there too? But this was too much for one girl to handle, and I could barely man handle the beast to fit into my mouth let alone my stomach. Although feeling defeated there was no denying that this was undoubtedly one of the finest Aussie burgers to ever pass my lips and most definitely worth the eight our drive, or in Sean Muir’s case, 1 year, 13 kilos and 1 stomach ulcer. A bloody fair trade.
So, in Sean Muir’s own words, “Get a burger up ya!”
Australia’s best burger with-the-lot: Super Burger, FJ Holden Cafe, Hughenden, QLD
Runner-up: Andrew’s Hamburgers, Melbourne, VIC.
Burger with the best sense of humour: The Bogan Burger, the Napier, Fitzroy, Melbourne, VIC
The most challenging: The Fat Boy Challenge, Novembar’s Burgers, Dianella Perth, WA
Biggest for your buck: Mt Molloy, Café, Cairns, QLD
Tastiest: Burger Theory, Adelaide, SA
Sean’s sentimental favourite: The Flood It, Just Poppy’s, Riverhills, Brisbane, QLD
The ‘sauciest’: The f—k me burger, the Grosvenor on George, Brisbane, QLD
You can read about Sean’s adventure in his dark humour book, Hamburger Highways which you can purchase from Amazon.
Sean has recently traded in his meat-loving lifestyle and motorcycle for yoga and vege burgers. You can follow his current search for Australia’s best meat-free burger on his website www.lotburger.com.