A question. How many burgers do you think is too many on a pubs menu? 5? 8? Certainly double figures, for a pub, seems a bit silly. Even a burger bar pushing beyond the mid teens is maybe crossing into the ‘are you serious’ category.
You can imagine our jaw dropping when we got the invite to come and check out the Holdy and their new bar menu, exclusively burgers, and it tops out at over 30. Yep. More than thirty. Three-zero. If you include the 2 desert burgers, there are exactly 33.
Just….wow. But can you really make 33 unique and interesting burgers? Can you design 33 burgers that people are going to actually want to try? One peruse of the menu and the answer most clearly is yes. The menu is dominated by beef, which is not surprising, but there is a good selection of chicken burgers, some very interesting seafood options, and the cleverly titled ‘other paddock’ where you will find your lamb, sausage, and pork. Vegetarian choices number 3 (and no they are not just for vegetarians!) with the ‘Super Hip’ particularly catching my attention, sporting a quinoa, pumpkin and manchego patty with roasted tomato, capsicum and eggplant with aioli.
Others that are particularly noteworthy are the Holdy Heart Attack, with 3 patty’s, 6 rashes of bacon, 3 slices of cheese, pickles and burger sauce ($17); The King which has predictably beef, bacon, peanut butter and grilled banana ($15); the Tokyo Salmon ($15) which delivers teriyaki salmon, onions, pickled ginger, lettuce, tomato and sweet chilli mayo; and finally the Bahn Mi Style, tempting you with a Vietnamese pork patty, pickled veg, cucumber, chilli and coriander. But this really is just scratching the surface!
The Hotel itself we had never been to before, and it is always great to check these things out, as a good pub is one of our favourite places, period. The Holdy has a large dining/bar space immediately presented to you when you walk through the doors, but this spills over into the substantial beer garden area, as well as flowing around the corner to where you will find a few booths and more relaxed, sit and have a drink kind of seating. While it is ostensibly one big space, there is a flow to it, and each space has its own feel and atmosphere. Nice.
One disappointing element was the almost complete absence of South Australian beers on the menu. Coopers gets a small run, but none of the craft breweries appear on the list of bottles or taps. That isn’t to say there isn’t a good range, just some good SA options would be a welcome addition. The wine list was pleasant enough, no real surprises there but some good options on there across most bases.
Right. Back to the burgers.
Choosing from 31 options was without doubt the most difficult part of the night. It has a feeling of trying to choose your favourite child. What if I select the wrong one? We don’t want to be disappointed! I like all of them equally! You can’t make me choose!! Gah!!!
However, choose we must, and we could quickly whittle a few off fairly easily. The fantastically named ‘Chuckles’ was in the AHASA Best Pub Burger competition, so we have sampled that already in the semi-final judging, so didn’t need to go with that again. Seafood options looked interesting, but scratched for this time. Vege choices put to one side (sorry) and the other paddock, while all looking tasty, dropped off the radar.
“I floss with chilli. I then smash them up and rub them in my eye’s for good measure. Cause I love THE HEAT and its NEVER TOO HOT!”
So it was that after much deliberation we went with the Southern Fried Belle and Spanish Fireball. We wanted some heat, clearly, and something with some real unique personality. Sure, cheeseburgers are great, but let’s break the mould a bit here.
Southern Fried Belle
Buttermilk marinated chicken with cajun spices and fried, chipotle mayo and slaw. $16
The Belle seemed a great place to start, and it set the bar very high. The buttermilk marinade made the chicken super juicy and tender, as well as imparting a certain flavour to the background. Cajun spices added a great zing of spice, with the slaw there to balance that out, as well as add some textural crunch and freshness. The chipotle aioli brought creaminess, as well as some slight smokey/roasted flavours, and of course a little more heat.
It was all in such beautiful harmony through. Nothing dominating, but everything there to be identified and enjoyed. It was very moorish too – got through my half and straight away wanted to have the rest! That is always a good measure for us. Absolutely delicious.
Grilled patty, chorizo, chilli, cheese and roasted capsicum
Sheesh! Now I love chilli. A bit of heat adds so much to pretty much everything. Not doing the whole “I floss with chilli. I then smash them up and rub them in my eye’s for good measure. Cause I love THE HEAT and its NEVER TOO HOT!”
Thats just silly frankly. I think we have all spoken with someone like that though.
However, this burger does bring the chilli in spades. Yeah yeah, I know its got ‘Fireball’ in its title, so what do you expect, but with some spicy chorizo AND fresh chilli its definitely turning things up a bit.
Having chorizo on a burger generally concerns me a bit, as a dodgy sausage like that can just mess everything up. I shouldn’t have worried though, as this was a quality item and it was sliced just thinly enough to carry enough flavour and texture, but without messing things around. The beef component was cooked to be just well done, but the texture of the patty was excellent, with a fairly course grind, nicely seasoned and charred. The texture was great and it brought some great flavour with it of its own. The cheese and roasted capsicum brought bags of flavour of their own, and really pushed this further into the Mediterranean direction.
Did it work though? Oh yes, it most certainly did. The heat was really prevalent, but it still brought bags of flavour with it. The richness of it all was there too, but nothing over the top and the fresh chilli really cutting through quite well. If you wanted a burger bringing the heat, but nothing stupid and still a quality product, then this is a very good place to look.
Now one thing we must discuss – the chips. These were absolutely brilliant. It was so good to see proper, hand cut, skins still on some of them, tasty potato chips. The flavour and texture of the fluffy potato, along with perfect seasoning – just sensational. Honestly, I will trade absolute crispyness for amazing flavour any day. Some of the best chips we have had for a long time.
Overall then, how did this all come together?
Given the quality of these burgers, as well as the memories of The Chuckles from the Best Pub Burger Competition, then we have no hesitation at all of giving The Holdfast Hotel a very high recommendation. What we tried on this night was excellent, the prices are great, the venue itself is clean, modern and pleasant and the range is absolutely second to none.
Ticking all the boxes pretty nicely then.
Southern Fried Belle – 9.4
Mexican Fireball – 9.0
Please note – we were invited to come and sample the menu and as such the meals were paid for by the hotel. However, this did not influence our opinion in any way. We always simply call it as we see it!