short order burgers

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Though I’ve been having doubts about food blogging, I can assure you the eating has not stopped. That pesky reluctance to blog, well it evaporated as soon as I ate my first Short Order burger. It was a burger so good, I had a moment. Drop those average burgers now, people, and get your butt to Short Order Burgers.

Before you get too excited, Short Order grills on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights only. Soft, brioche-y buns that are airy, almost like an Asian style bread with a shiny lick of glaze and sesame seeds sandwiches each burger. The bread is so soft, the moment you hold the burger it squashes down. The grass fed beef is thick, cooked pink and fresh to order, with little nubbly bits that catch on the grill. The pickles are sharp. There are two types of cheese melted on every patty – elastic American and smoked mozzarella. Then there are the onions that are caramelised and slathered in barbecue sauce. And – candied bacon. Yes, candied bacon. All of the above graces the BBQ bacon cheeseburger, which may or may not be my requested last-meal-on-earth. And if you’re wondering why the photos are of the same burger, yes I ordered it twice.

Topped off with French fries served with sriracha aioli and a can of root beer, this is a seriously good feed. The burgers are pricey, but they satisfy that junk food niche for a burger that juggles savoury, meaty and sweet. If there are vegos reading this, there’s a mushroom burger on the menu, so you’re good.

These guys are so popular that there’s always a risk of selling out, so get there early. Seating is in short supply, however everything is served in takeaway boxes for portability. Also, look out for donuts by The Banker in kooky flavours like double peanut butter.

 

Short Order Burgers | 1 James Street, Fremantle
Thu, Fri & Sat from 6pm

 

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milford sound

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I never thought I’d miss a landscape this much. It’s been 4 months since, yet the clouds, peaks and faraway glaciers still capture my imagination. We set out early from Queenstown for the four hour drive. We’d heard all sorts about it – the danger, the scenery – they’re all true. But what we could not prepare for was the magnificence. The photos do the drive – surely one of the best in the world – no justice at all. It’s difficult to portray scale in such gigantic and dramatic proportions. (For example, the tiny boat in the last photo is a two storey ferry…)

The drive after Te Anau is epic where the road whips between shallow, pebbly rivers and dense state forest. The golden Eglinton Valley stretches before us and for the first time we see our destination of purple hazed mountains, like a painting come to life. The road slowly ascends into the steep Hollyford Valley. Cloud cover hides most of the peaks but below we can hear a whisper of the raging Hollyford River. It’s an awesome sight, preparing us for the bleak contrast of the Homer Tunnel. Within a rising claw of grey rock, overhanging ice and waterfalls, the tunnel punches through the Darran mountains, exiting at the one of the best views I am convinced I will ever see in my life – the Cleddeau Valley. Wisps of clouds linger by the sheer cliff faces, coalescing into a ceiling of cotton candy. The air feels wet; the valley walls weep rivulets, the product of the previous night’s rainfall.

The drive from Queenstown is a long one so we chose to stay overnight on the sound. The Sound is spectacular with snow dusted mountains of over a thousand metres (they look small in the photos!) diving into the dark water. The Milford Mariner docks overnight in a bay shadowed by the Pembroke glacier and we watch the sun set over the sound. The way light plays here is unusual, you can literally see the sun retreat, replaced by dark shadows heralding the night.

Real Journey’s Milford Mariner
There are many day trips to Milford Sound but to make the most of the drive, I recommend doing the overnight cruise. (Simply put, you’ll want to do the opposite of the tour buses that reach a peak at around midday.) Watching the sunrise and sunset with no other boats on the water is a breathtaking experience. The boat is comfy – like all boats the cabins are small – but most of the time is spent on deck. Two activity options, a tender craft or kayaking means it’s a busy day until after dinner.

 

 
 

margaret river

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The drive down to Margs is for the most part boring, but man, is it worth it. By Cowtown, the land is lush and it’s all farmland and wineries. By the time we get to Margaret Rover, the cube farm feels very far away, and ahead is a weekend of wining and dining. And getting woken up by kookaburras.

A dinner at Miki’s Open Kitchen is now mandatory for any Margaret River trip. Miki and his crew of two execute dinner with grace and speed while we look on from around the sunken kitchen. The tempura, especially the seafood tempura, is top notch. Partly because it is always local and it’s literally seconds  from when it leaves the fryer to your mouth. The gozen set menu, encompassing three courses with amuse, small salad and dessert is good value. Esperance scallops, local water chestnuts and steamed wagyu wrapped around Jerusalem artichokes (so good!) were just the highlights of a fab dinner.

The 34 Degrees South farm gate (if you can call a safari-esque tented tasting room a farm gate) is a ten minute drive east. I’m still enamoured with the isolation of Rosa Brook. It is simply so green out here and so quiet. At the tent we’re greeted by two dogs, two alpacas and four shoe-pecking chooks. The grove produces three oils, each more peppery than the last and we leave with a supply to last us another year. (I immediately regret not buying more.)

Wills Domain, with its casual cafe appearance (which is pro or a con depending on your preference for dressing up) delivers: amazing food, great service and yes, that view. The food is thoroughly mod oz, with a penchant for edible flowers and textures. We started with an elegant entree of slippery jacks and scallops, are drowned in an umami laden dashi broth. The cured amberjack on first impression looked a bit like diet food, delicate even. The cucumber done three ways – pickled, charred and mousse – was smart, adding bite and unusual flavour. The wallaby with its ferric, beefy texture was an interesting and tasty combod with crunchy damper crumbs and acidic Illawarra plum paste. We didn’t leave enough room for dessert. D’oh.

 

Miki’s Open Kitchen | 131 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
The town’s best dinner option. Fresh local seafood, locally grown produce and wonderful tempura.

Wills Domain | Abbeys Farm Rd, Yallingup
Lots of texture and native ingredients make for an elegant winery lunch. Definitely one to consider among the big players like Vasse Felix, Aravina and the like.

Colonial Brewing | 56 Osmington Rd, Margaret River
Fans of Colonials Small Ale and #1 should take note, Colonial’s (more) niche beers are available here on tap. Friendly service and an idyllic setting and it’s suitable for families.  Bring your growler for refills.

34 Degrees South | 195 Crozier Road, Rosa Brook
Viscous, freshly pressed olive oil. Bring your empty wine bottles and fill them up! Love this stuff on salads and drizzled over pasta.

Gilgara Retreat | 3 Old Ellen Brook Road, Margaret River
The garden suites are clean with tonnes of natural light and a spa bath. Good for self caterers.

Margaret River Farmers Market | Margaret River Education Campus, Lot 272 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
A must do. Get your brekkie at Margaret River Bakery and coffee at either the Silver Bullet’s airstream or Combi Coffee. Pick up free range eggs, Yallingup wood fired bread and when in season, apples, avocados and freshly dug potatoes.

Settlers Tavern | 114 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
Get in early to avoid waiting for a table. Order the smoked American barbecue special.

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