The Fergburger experience, Queenstown, New Zealand


The Fergburger experience is a real thing.

Previously I had only heard stories about Fergburger and it’s backyard dealings of quality burger product and accompanying side dishes, and how the burger junkies would come from miles around to get their fix.

This story gets damn good when I tell you it was these rumors and an unearthly desire to try the Fergburger for my own self that had brought me to New Zealand from my home in Australia.

The story teeters back to average-at-best when I tell you that is a complete fabrication… but we went to Ferg Burger anyway…

The folks at Fergburger make good burgers – burgers that are good enough to have the fine people of Queenstown lining up out of the little shop front and into the street for their little piece of Fergy love.

Fergburger really does love us

On the day that we passed through that little city, with it’s “experience Queenstown” and “Snow New Zealand” shops literally outnumbering the people in the streets by 2-1, it was experiencing a little of the ol’ wet stuff from the sky coming down (which was a relatively new NZ experience for us as it was all white fluffy stuff from the skies until now). Was this enough to deter the locals and tourists alike from lining said footpath in search of said Fergy goodness? Fuck no it was not. They were there, we were there and there was also a heap of staff there too – some taking orders, some making the orders and one nice young lady was handing out umbrellas to those in the queue who wanted one. We thought that was pretty nice. “Ferg really does love us”, we comment to ourselves.
The menu looks like this

It was time to eat some burgers.

The “Ferg Deluxe” (14.90) was both of the things it said it would be – it was made by the peeps at Fergburger and it was indeed deluxe. A big bun made next door at Fergbaker, big beef pattie, streaky bacon, cheddar cheese, salady stuff, aioli and tomato relish.
The burgers here are not small by any standards (certainly no quarter pounder) and this one, I thought, was even not smaller still… but as everyone around me opened their very own joyous, plump little individually wrapped meaty gifts, I realized that bigger-than-average was just the burger size around here… and I liked it!

The Ferg Deluxe

The “Morning Glory” (10.00), in stark contrast to its aptly name friend the “Ferg Deluxe”, showed none of the characteristics of an actual morning glory, which was a welcome surprise. It did, however, show many of the characteristics of a quality bacon and egg burger and for only 10 bucks it certainly could not be quaffed at.

The “Chief Wiggum” (14.90) was another moniker in a menu full of quirky burger names which, I’ve gotta be honest, I am truly a sucker for. Pork belly, a hash brown, salady things, aioli and apricot seeded mustard all came together in one of those big ol’ Fergbaker buns for the journey to my stomach. To be honest I think it could’ve done without the hash brown, but it was never going to reach Chief Wiggum status with it now, was it…

The “Cockadoodle Oink” (14.90) – see above comment re quirky burger name, and then I will go on to tell you I think a pig and a chicken are damn beautiful bedfellows on any given occasion (except possibly a more biblical bed-sharing of the farmyard), and this liaison certainly didn’t disappoint. Joined with their other friends the avocado, salady stuff, aioli and tomato relish, they were dressed up to the nines and ready to hit the town… or my face at the very least. Another winner from the peeps at Fergburger.

Clockwise from left – the Ferg Deluxe, the Cockadoodle Oink, the Cheif Wiggum and the Morning Glory. Not pictured – the rest of the menu except for the squid which is in the top left corner

Washed down with fries, onion rings and crumbed squid – I’m not sure why we got the crumbed squid but we got the crumbed squid – our bellies were full as were our toothy grins of happiness.

As far as burger joints in NZ go, Fergburger lets you know fairly quickly why it’s at the top of its game and still attracting a queue that is long enough to impede businesses 3 or 4 shops up the street* rain, snow or shine, as it has been for the last 15 years.

I tip my hat to you, Fergburger. Very nice indeed.

*Luckily for anyone else who may be unfortunate enough to want to open up next door to Fergburger, the next 2 shops up the street are Fergbaker and Mrs Ferg Gelateria (Fergburger’s baking and gelato making arms respectively. Both also well worth a visit too, I might add)

The Black Sheep Espresso Baa, Cooly… not just a bunch of random words

black sheep espresso baa
The Black Sheep Espresso Baa…

This place is a little hole-in-the-wall type set up, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it little hobbit nook, sans Saruman, Lord of Isengard, which works for me as I am not eating breakfast in the company of that nasty prick, no thank you.

My kids in the shoe box
My kids in the shoe box

You walk into this little shoe box café expecting to see myriad of little elves working away, toiling over a hot grill to get you your meal, and some how negotiating their way around a coffee machine with some kind of little step ladder arrangement so they can reach the knobs and things so you may have some coffee, too. But then when you do actually wander up to the counter there are full sized, human type characters. There was actually 5 or 6 of them, all working away in a kitchen the size of a small garden shed, or possibly a large TV cabinet and I kid you not, they were all really happy about it too. Staff were singing and being nice and just showing many tell-tale signs of being really happy about their situation.

One of those happy people took our order and then another one of them made us some coffee and I’m pretty sure another one or two of them cooked our breakfast but I didn’t really notice, all the while I was sitting down and using every ounce of my energy trying not to obviously stare in absolute awe of how acceptable it seems to be to wear budgie smugglers into and around the Coolangattata café strip…

Tasty things
Tasty things

We ordered some more coffee. They were doing a good thing with their Toby’s Estate coffee so it seemed like the common sense thing to do.

The kids AKA the pack of ravenous lions, decided they would like to share the “Board for 2” ($39) which stated in its menu description that the staff cannot tell you what exactly is on it because they don’t have that sort of time to spare.

This is the menu pic
This is the menu pic

So the “Board for 2” came out carried only by one person which came as quite the surprise as I was expecting 4 large, scantily clad men in sandles… or a goat cart at the very least. Preconceptions can truly be a bitch, right? Anyway, this thing did have everything. It was like Christmas lunch at Gina Rinehart’s pad… minus the private doctors to keep an eye out for heart attack. It was off the fricking hook displayed in wooden board form; eggs, bacon, house made sausages, lamb bacon, spicy beefy beans, corn fritters, mushrooms, roast tomato, pumpkin and beetroot, condiments and toast. It was impressive… like, Andre the Giant impressive.
Sometimes when I look back on pics and try to think of a witty title my brain just reckons nom, nom, nom
Sometimes when I look back on pics and try to think of a witty title my brain just reckons nom, nom, nom

I had the “Sir-Tory” ($16.5) for myself. The quirky little name they had conjured up for this dish, as with most of the other quirky little monikers they had come up with for their menu items, meant absolutely nothing to me. But that was A-OK because I love it when peeps can have a bit of a chuckle at themselves and what they’re doing… AS LONG AS THEY CAN STILL COME THROUGH WITH THE PRODUCT… which these folks truly did. Slow cooked beef cheek in beer and tomato sauce mixed with grumble beans (once again, no idea what they were on about but I was more than happy to eat them) and then served with poached eggs and chilli jam.

“My kind of breakfast” should be enough information to some that one up. The addition of “very effing happy” should leave no doubt in the minds of the more simple folk amongst us.

By the time we were leaving the happy that was oozing from this place had well an truly infected us so off we went to skip with unicorns and smile at rainbows and shit.

You can find the Black Sheep Espresso Baa here.
black sheep espresso baa

Some places to eat tasty food between Tweed Heads and the Goldcoast

Breakfast at Paddock was awesome. Anywhere that put's a little thought into it (and these folks certainly have) gets my vote every time
Breakfast at Paddock was awesome. Anywhere that put’s a little thought into it (and these folks certainly have) gets my vote every time

Last trip I made to Tweed Heads I pulled into the hospital and left the following day sans tonsils, appetite and with not so much as a good-bye peck on the cheek…

Bitch hospital and it’s quackish, prudish medicine men.

This trip was reserved for venturing up and down the coast between the Goldy (Goldcoast) and Tweed Heads with the sole purpose of eating all of the food with my diary totally clear of visits to the witch doctor and nary a throat sawing quack in sight.

Although a very beautiful piece of coastline it is (getting my Yoda on here) someone back in the day made a pretty big fuck up when they decided that they would slap the NSW/Queensland boarder smack bang in the middle of the place. Like Tweed Heads is here (literally here) and Coolangatta is there (once again literally). That is how far the two cities are apart. Yes it is a city and state boarder.
“That shouldn’t be an issue Graz”, I hear you say. “You’re really starting to get a bit whingy as you get older, mate.”
“Yeah and a little smellier, too.”
“Yeah and I don’t think he’s got much of a grip anymore.”
“I’ll tell you what he does have a good grip on though, his fricking c… o…”

Back to that pretty big fuck up; NSW and Queensland are on two different time zones for the 6 months of the year that daylight savings is in effect. Starting to get my gist yet? Picking up what I’m putting down, homeboy? In Tweed it’s 4:19pm and two steps away in Coolangatta it’s 3:19pm… it’s a fricking head-fuck I call tell you… trying to work out which state you’re in… I have enough trouble just trying to stay sober.

Now, we do have a few favourites up this way but this trip we made a conscious effort to stay far from our comfort zone, remove ourselves from the warm bosom of our mothers and basically just get the fuck into someone else’s place for a change of scene. The Byron-esque nature of the come-and-go restaurant scene and the ever-ready construction teams of city expansion and glorification up here truly lend themselves to a fresh experience and the customer having the opportunity to sample something new on a regular basis.

Dick yes. This was our jam!

But, first up it was time for a haircut and a beard trim – my first for the year… or maybe a year. Normally my shaggy dog looking head is something I really care very little about (FYI, one doesn’t win three “best in show ribbons” in the shaggy dog division by trimming ones shaggy dog look) but all of the hair dressers in this place, I swear to god, and they were moving in on our hotel under the cover of darkness. It was a pincer movement and a damn fine pincer movement at that. I was starting to feel more than just a little self-conscious.

In scenes not dis-similar to the shaving of Brendan Frazer in “Encino Man” or Tom Hanks in “Castaway”, or any other wookie-gets-shaved type scene from an outdated movie, suddenly I was cleansed… I was one of them… I would be pulled close to the bare, lactating breast of society once again… and fuck me I would breast-feed in public!

*How is it that, through the wonder that is the interweb super highway, I could tell millions of people about how we could make the world a better place, or share a beautiful poem or send random messages of kindness and love but instead I’m here telling fourteen people and a small dachshund about the day I got a haircut. Dear good lord*

Our regular couple o’ favourites are (in no particular order except JRs Smokehouse Barbecue is at the top because it’s my favourite);
JRs Smokehouse Barbecue
Lester and Earl
The Blacksheep Esspresso Baa
And we’ll always try in vain for a decent meal a few of the cut -from-the-same-mould, predictably shit-can restaurants from the Shit Restaurant Co. (producers of many quality dodgy restaurant strips and concepts in many popular tourist destinations. I think you would have come across their work some where on your travels)

But, as I mentioned earlier, we were on the search for something new and more importantly, quality. Here’s what we found/were pointed in the direction of by local intel;

Getting my a.m. coffee on at Larder
Getting my a.m. coffee on at Larder
A damn tasty pulled beef sandwich and cracking coffee at Griffith Street Larder
A damn tasty pulled beef sandwich and cracking coffee at Griffith Street Larder

Griffith Street Larder
• Great coffee, check
• Perfectly poached eggs, check
• Kickass sandwiches and salad bowls available at breakfast, check

Shaggy watching over the hot sauces
Shaggy watching over the hot sauces
Jamin' a bit of everything from Jamroc into our faces
Jamin’ a bit of everything from Jamroc into our faces
Kick-ass goat curry with red bean rice... just like I imagined it would taste
Kick-ass goat curry with red bean rice… just like I imagined it would taste

Jamroc
• Boondocks shopping center car park setting, check
• Moist and delicious grilled chicken and goat curry, check
• Heaps of hot sauce for the table, check
• Feed the family for a 50 bag of the finest Jamaican “green backs”, check

Breakfast at Poboy Cajun and Creole. The farmers breakfast (right) with oven roasted chicken breast, tomatoes, bacon and mornay sauce had me looking for a suitable park bench to nap on
Breakfast at Poboy Cajun and Creole. The farmers breakfast (right) with oven roasted chicken breast, tomatoes, bacon and mornay sauce had me looking for a suitable park bench to nap on
Dinner at Poboy was gumbo, jambalaya, poboy and more of the generous serves and affordable prices
Dinner at Poboy was gumbo, jambalaya, poboy and more of the generous serves and affordable prices

Poboy Cajun and Creole
• Cheap Creole and Cajun cooking, check
• Massive serves, check
• And insight as to why America is on the obesity-diabetic radar, check

Good burgers, crisp onion rings and fries, tasty dipping sauces and quick service is a winning recipe at Betty's Burgers
Good burgers, crisp onion rings and fries, tasty dipping sauces and quick service is a winning recipe at Betty’s Burgers
Simple and delicious
Simple and delicious

Betty’s Burgers
• Tasty burgers and sides that don’t cost your left arm, check
• Fast service, check
• A recipe that many other gourmet burger bars could learn a thing or two from, check

A pretty little sign and shit
A pretty little sign and shit
The fricking Philly cheese steak roll with onions, capsicum, mushrooms and jalapeños was off the hook
The fricking Philly cheese steak roll with onions, capsicum, mushrooms and jalapeños was off the hook
This pork, pistachio and apple sausage rolls was one of the best
This pork, pistachio and apple sausage rolls was one of the best

Paddock Bakery
• Massive wood fired oven and baking area enclosed with glass so it kinda like Seaworld and you can watch all of the orcas err, bakers and chefs at play… or work, check
• Great breads, pastries and breakfast in general, check
• Awesome little mythical country setting that quite probably actually has a waterfall that flows sweet, sweet lemonade, one street back from Goldcoast Highway, check

Burgster
• Closed Monday, check
• Sad face, check
• I will be back, check (Burgster was very high on my list, so you can imagine if you dare my disappointment when I was sussing their Facey page only to realise it had those dreaded words “closed today’. I almost had a tear but held it back enough for me to put it down to a high pollen count and me being a weak breed in general. It’s Monday – I know heaps of places do it (heck, I own a restaurant and even that bad boy is closed Monday), I do not hold that against anyone I was just real keen to give it a bash… next time for sure.)

• Weird checking of ones self, check

Go to these places and let your face enjoy the good times!

Main Street Burger Bar and Mr Cook, my year 11 form room teacher

main street burger bar byron bay
The café roulette wheel that is Byron Bay has been spun once again – this time revealing another new burger bar oozing with all of the qualities that new age burger bars possess; an American milkbar-esque fit out, quality local produce, home made fricking soda and lastly a certain amount of hipsterism because as we all know, if there’s two things those mother fuckers can do it’s make a decent drink (weather it be coffee, soda or a cocktail, these guys can do it… DNA programming right there) and a damn fine burger.

The menu looks pretty damn tasty
The menu looks pretty damn tasty

The place looks nice. It’s fresh and sparkly and new, and it smells pretty. It also has plenty of different seating scenarios to make everyone happy; foot path dining section for people watching, a back car park dining section for car park dodgy deal watching, and booths if you wanna get a little romantic and act like love struck teenagers section.

Winning.

The beef burger sitting aside some very impressive hot chips
The beef burger sitting aside some very impressive hot chips

We sat our weary asses down in the car park dodgy deals section and waited oh-so-keenly for our burgers.

After an impressively short (or maybe “length of time impeded” to be more PC) wait the friendly happy people made their way to our table with our order.

The beef burger... I wasn't over exaggerating
The beef burger… I wasn’t over exaggerating

The beef burger ($10) hit the table, or should I say it slinked its way onto the table. It kinda looked a little ashamed of the fact that it was mostly a big sweet bun (more on that in a second) ready-for-a-shave-lathered with mayo, encompassing a cute little grilled beef patty. That bun was the well and the poor little beef patty just kept getting forced to put the lotion on it’s skin or it got the hose again. Although it was plenty tasty in it’s own right, that cute little beef patty didn’t really stand a chance. It was like watching the hoochy mummas ass devouring her panties… The beef patty was both out gunned and out classed by the big, stronger flavoured bun, which I might add (yeah, here we go) was also damn sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I like a sweet bun just as much as the next guy (but do not necessarily like the sweet buns of the next guy), but I also like a little tang to counter that sweetness… and at the end of the day this burger just didn’t have a tang. No tang from the pickles. No tang from the mayo. No tang from the ketchup. No damn tang. I was not a huge fan of this burger.

That pork shoulder burger
That pork shoulder burger

The pork shoulder burger ($14) was in a pretty similar state of affairs. It was labeled as being crispy pork shoulder but was closer to being a little dry pork shoulder and there wasn’t a whole heap in there for your time. After we all had a try the rest was left on the plate… “Feed it to the pigs, Errol”.

Our saviour, the Sloppy Joe
Our saviour, the Sloppy Joe

The one burger that we had that was really worthwhile was the “Sloppy Joe” ($18); beef patty, brisket, barbecue glaze and house ‘slaw. This thing was moist and delicious. The tang of the BBQ glaze and ‘slaw was easily enough to foil the sweetness of the bun, and the double meat easily spanned it’s circumference plus more. The brisket was moist and delicious. This thing should’ve been called the “Happy Joe” because it certainly made me a happy, happy Joe… or Graz… Nope, this burger needs to be called the “Happy Graz”!

While we were eating the drinks mixologists went off to their little drinks mixology lab where they did some science and mixed that with a little voodoo magic and flicked out some cracking soda ($6). Like, really really good soda. That burger and the home made soda… that shit was the goods… on point…FTW.

Those chips...
Those chips…

They also served up some damn tasty chips. Chips can often be over looked in such a busy operation but these guys had it sorted. Crisp and tasty and each completed with a nice little dipping sauce; chips with rosemary salt and aioli ($6) and sweet potato chips with chipotle mayo ($6) were once again both on point and FTW.

The competition in Old Byron Town is stiff, like a virile young Dirk Diggler stiff, and although this place gets a little leeway for being the new kid on the block, I feel that if they don’t iron out a few teething problems pretty quickly they may indeed find themselves being flung out of the other end of that café roulette wheel and onto the metaphorical and/or actual pavement. But if they can get it together this place will be a gem of the local scene with out a doubt…
main street burger bar byron bay
I’m just going to finish up sounding like Mr Cook, my year 11 form room teacher, and say this place has so much potential. Sooo much potential.

Main Street Burger Bar, Byron Bay.

Bavarian Bier Cafe, Eagle Street Pier – a wunderbar eating experience

*This is a shitty photo alert*
*This is a shitty photo alert*

The first thing I noticed was the heat. It was going to be a warm one today. It was already being a warm one today and I was kind of a little unhappy with the 24hr air conditioning at Queenies house (Jennee’s brother and our host for the weekend) that was fooling my brain into thinking the celsius was actually hovering somewhere at or under the 20C mark… Silly, silly brain. That brain o’ mine really needs to be a little more on point than that, I mean, if it’s going to make all of the important decisions around here.

So it was hot, I dealt with that.

Secondly, the whole of the Brisbane CBD 20-to-30-something-old male office crew seemed to be divided as to whether it was the light baby blue shirt or more of a pastel salmon pink shirt that was to be decreed office uniform for 2016.

I was rooting for the pastel salmon pink myself.

Thirdly, I was really, really hungry as I had skipped a proper and complete breakfast in favour of an extra coffee in preparation for the sausage fest that would be ensuing this midday (not that kind of sausage fest – I would have needed at least a complete and proper breakfast to get my energy levels and longevity up if I was going to be rocking that kind of sausage fest), so it came to pass that I should move away from the street corner and stop with my pointless observations so we may go and fill our bellies with a big fat pile of steamy German sausage (once again, not that type of sausage) and, to a lesser degree, some kind of soured cabbage product and a hopsy, malty type beverage or two.

I'm pretty sure this is compulsory for your first time on a pretzel
I’m pretty sure this is compulsory for your first time on a pretzel

We were keen. The waitress came to get our drinks order and we hit her with the lot.

NB It is also worthy of note right here that our waitress was quite a pretty young German lass, no piggy tails or ridiculously over-ample bossom, but German none-the-less, and if this is the type of effort these Bavarian Bier Café folks are willing to put in, searching the globe for the right candidate etc, then I was certainly going to allow myself to be very impressed and even compliment them on their attention to detail.

Really tasty home made preztels
Really tasty home made preztels

The pretzels ($4.5ea) hit the table, neck and neck with our first round beers. Pretzels are good, and so is beer. Fact.

Next up the waitress arrived with our meals – a pretty good idea on her behalf because the beer on an empty stomach thing was doing nothing to subdue my pangs of hunger.

Our table quickly filled up with pig and pig products, cabbage-y things, potatoes and more beer – everything would expect from a Bavarian Bier Café. I was certainly stereotyping the heck out of these people by now, but they are my people so I felt it was OK.

GIVE ME SAUSAGE!
GIVE ME SAUSAGE!

The Sausage Tasting ($28) was so full of sausages it looked like Ian “Huey” Hewitson, or possibly the fat German kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was still holding my plate. All the while I could not decide weather I was thinking more about the fat guy (I know it’s not PC but it certainly is the truth) sausage fingers or the scene from “Freddy got Fingered” when Tom Green makes the sausage mobile. “Daddy would you like some saus-sage. Daddy would you like some saus-sage-ges?”

Needless to say I gobbled the shit out of a heap of sausages this day and I loved every goddam second of it. All of that sausage gobbling did not even bring back one single bad memory of waking up on the wharf with a pocket full of fivers and hair gel all through my beard… There were a couple of sausages that were my favourites but at the end of the day I kinda got caught up in the heat of the moment and before I knew it there was a flurry not dissimilar to that of Cookie Monster on Sesame Street, some gnashing of teeth and the sausages and sauerkraut and mashed potato with beer sauce and mustard were all gone.

Definitely one of the tastiest knuckles I've been hit with in a long time
Definitely one of the tastiest knuckles I’ve been hit with in a long time

So then we moved onto the pork knuckle.

Along with the Volkswagon, this half pork knuckle ($27) was another true triumph of German ingenuity; crispy on the outside, moist and tender in the middle, and served with some more tasty potato and cabbage products, and apple compote. Tasty shit.

We had no space for dessert so we were out of there to wander a-little-bit-pissily through the streets of Brisbane.

All in all a great job by the Bavarian Bier Café. Wunderbar!

Hospital food – the struggle is real

I give the hospital my tonsils AND adenoids, and they give me this.
I give the hospital my tonsils AND adenoids, and they give me this.

Where as my normal circumstances would have left me truly keen to be going on a trip up the coast, the circumstances surrounding this trip left me feeling a little cold, and even more than a little ripped off. Ripped off like mum’s knickers on Father’s Day in fact!

I was not going to sample smoky barbecued delights, yum cha or even enjoy a cracking breakfast by the ocean. Nor was I to visit the local farmers market or food fair, or even a new coffee shop or bar. No, I was going to hospital to have my tonsils and adenoids removed.

Well that’s just effing awesome, isn’t it?

No it isn’t.

On the slight upside though, the waiting room did have a nice stash of those magazines that bring you up to speed on such topics as Leighton and Bec’s marriage, Pete Fucking Evans’ journey from pizza to paleo and Prince William being quoted as saying, and I quote him directly now, “soon little George will able to run faster than me”.

I’m pretty happy about all of that.

Another thing I’m happy about is the communal experience that is the public hospital system. All in, if you will. Not “all in” like Friday night at the Johnston’s house at number 56, but more like the “all in” of a royal wedding – every bastard with-in a 10 meter radius gets to see and hear everything;
• Gowns that are a little bit too one-size-fits-all for a 6’4″ red bearded old pirate, making it seem like you’re great friends with your neighbour already… childhood friends possibly.
• Phone calls to loved ones, that are screened by nothing but a thin curtain. I am not lying when I tell you I just heard Jeffery next to me telling his parents that if they were coming up to visit him they were more than welcome to take his bed at home, but they would need to bring their own clean sheets.
• And then the local Esme Watson of the nursing staff rumor milling and worst-case-scenario-ing until the guy next to me is shitting himself and visibly deteriorating by the second…

That’s just the simple view of a hospital first timer.

And what did I learn from this experience?

Well, next time I would certainly go in a little more prepared. If I had known for just one second that every single story I have heard about hospital food was 100% (yes, read it, 100%) true, I would have packed myself a little hobo pack or some decent condiments at the very least.

And I probably would’ve asked a few more questions, or in fact even one question, about the procedure.

As I didn’t do the research, and nobody brought it to my attention, it was only after the tonsillectomy that I realised that the procedure goes a little something like this; some sneaky bastard got an ordinary household food grater, pushed it back and fourth down my throat and then pulled it out again. We didn’t even date first…

I am now doped up to the eyeballs and couch bound for a day or two so I dare say there will be a bit of creative writing coming from this.