I love hamburgers, not the tasteless junk you buy from a fast-food chain with golden arches or where “the burgers are better”. I mean good old-fashioned burgers that you used to get on long road trips as a kid. Grease mixed with egg yolk and beetroot juice dribbles down your arm and your taste buds celebrate with the fusion of meat, salad and sauce between a fresh hamburger bun. Yep, that is what I was in search of, and by Jove, I reckon I found a couple that fit exactly what I was looking for.
The Mount Isa Hotel is a popular food venue with the locals, so I was keen to see what the menu had to offer. A lunchtime item only, the Isa Beef Burger comes with a beef patty, bacon, egg, caramelised onion, tomato, lettuce and cheese with BBQ sauce, all on a seeded burger bun. It is matched with a side of chips and aioli sauce and the chicken salt on the chips was a joy.
The patty itself was almost an inch thick with carrot and onion in the mix and was cooked just right at medium, the smokiness from the grill left on the palate. The egg was cooked perfectly with a nice runny yolk, and the BBQ sauce added a smoky sweetness to the Isa Beef Burger. The toasting of the inside of the bun meant that the juices and sauce didn’t soak into the bread, leaving a perfectly dry hamburger bun.
Value for money: 8/10
The restaurant at Adels Grove includes a hamburger on its menu, that I had to try. Available for lunch or dinner, if a side of hot chips is wanted you need to pay an extra $2, the price of eating in a remote location.
The burger itself was served on a focaccia bun and contained beetroot, a cheese slice, pickled onion, tomato, iceberg lettuce and BBQ sauce. The prebought burger was salty and unexciting and the untoasted roll fell apart, so the burger was a bit messy. The surprise was the onion, the light pickling added a zest that was unexpected and lifted the rating a point.
Cost: $18.50 + $2.00 for the chips
Value for money: 5/10
The Bird Cage Hotel has an extensive burger menu and I ended up ordering the Steak Burger. Why didn't I have the works burger? Pineapple, it doesn't belong in a burger or on a pizza.
The Steak Burger was a tender rib fillet with cos lettuce, American cheese, tomato, red onion, thickly grated carrot and beetroot with a sauce of your choice on a toasted seeded brioche bun, sided with some thick-cut chips.
The steak was extremely tender, and the Aussie salad mix of beetroot, tomato and lettuce added another fresh dimension. The American style melted cheddar cheese isn't my favourite style of sliced cheese, but it didn't detract from this very tasty burger. I didn't taste the onion so I think it was missing, not a bad thing.
Value for money: 7/10
Puma Roadhouse, Barcaldine
Popular with the truckies, the Puma Roadhouse offered a Works Burger with a choice of either mince or steak, and I decided on mince as I was looking forward to a good old fashioned roadhouse burger. I wasn't disappointed.
The works included bacon, egg, beetroot, tomato, fried onion, cheddar cheese slice, iceberg lettuce, a premade burger with BBQ sauce and pineapple, although I'm not a fan of that ingredient and would have asked for it to be left out had I known.
This was a classic burger, juices flowing down my arm as I struggled to eat it without dropping anything, just like a truck stop burger should be. My mouth couldn't fit around it and on video, it would have been like one of those TV ads with the fake bite and chew. I enjoyed this burger and for the price, it was the best value for money so far.
Value for money: 9/10
Taste: 8/10 (even with the pineapple)
When I walk into an Outback Queensland pub and see "the Queenslander" as a burger, I'm returned to the 1992 State of Origin and Billy Moore screaming those words as the Maroons walked out to play NSW.
With a grilled Angus patty, crispy bacon, fried egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, tomato relish and BBQ sauce plus a side serve of beer battered chips, this sounded like a burger of the ages.
When it arrived, I was a little underwhelmed. It looked so neat, tidy nothing like how a Maroon would look after the toughest game of their lives. I was expecting messy, dripping grease from the patty but no, it stood tall.
It tasted great. The juicy patty was smoky, pairing well with the BBQ sauce, the bacon was crispy as promised, the bun was soft, and the egg yolk was only slightly overcooked. The tomato relish added another sweetness, the BBQ sauce the other. The tomato and lettuce were fresh, and the pickles were just perfect as I do like pickles in a burger.
In the end, the plate was empty except for a few smears of the sauces, and I was feeling good. Time to go and have a Sunday afternoon nap.
Value for money: 8/10
It was time to try another roadhouse burger as my time in Outback Queensland was coming to a close. The roadhouse was pumping with travellers and truckies enjoying a meal. I couldn't go past this and so chose the Bullooburger, my belly rumbling as I waited for my order to be cooked. It rumbled even more as the aroma reached my nostrils as I drove to Pelican Point to enjoy what was to come.
While the burger looked basic, with a meat paddy, beetroot, tomato, shredded iceberg lettuce, fried onions and a BBQ sauce inside a burger bun with sesame seeds, it was quite tasty. The homemade paddy was full of flavour, although a little small for the large bun and the freshly shredded lettuce provided the crunch. I later realised I could have added extras such as cheese, egg and bacon that would have raised this burger to another level.
Value for money: 6/10