We’re sitting in a small burger bar on a buzzy stretch in Randwick, just by the Ritz Cinema. We’re chowing down on a dirty, delicious burger, sauce dripping down one hand, a creamy chocolate milkshake in the other. It’s bucketing it down outside but the place is packed by 6.30pm, everyone smiling and laughing while tucking into their hamburgers.
But here's the thing – they’re not really hamburgers at all. This is a vegan burger joint, so no animals have been harmed in their production. No wonder everyone’s so happy.
It’s called Soul Burger, and is a venture set up by Amit Tewari, a medical doctor and member of New Harvest, an organisation developing alternatives to traditionally produced meat. He’s buying in the patties from American company Gardein, and they taste so meaty it’s actually a bit scary.
If you’ve got a hunger on, go for the Sumo burger. It’s a beast: the patty is paired with soft, buttery, chargrilled field mushrooms, a pepper-spiked (plant-based) sausage and silky swathe of roast red capsicum, lettuce, tomato and a fresh tasting tomato relish. It's so tall that it’s almost impossible to eat as a burger. Instead we Jenga that shit right up and nibble on bits and bobs as we go. And it’s excellent: smoky, textural, and full of contrasting – complementing – flavours.
We also love the falafel burger, which is super moist and humming with cinnamon. It's topped with pleasingly sour aioli, nutty tahini, tomato, salad and a little rubble of tabouli. Add a side of avocado for extra creaminess and you've got yourself a pretty delicious dinner right here, no meat required.
Kumara chips are crisp outside, sweet and fudgy within. As with the potato-based 'red fries', which are dusted in a tiny hit of chilli and paprika, they're served with more of that sour aioli. And they're good; they’re really good.
The milkshakes are made from soya milk and house-made coconut ice cream. They're thick, frothy and not too sweet. The 'just coconut' is bright, creamy and balanced. It’s perfectly sweetened for us, but go for the chocolate if you want something a little more sugary. Fancy a beer? Young Henry’s is available on tap.
It’s an order at the till, grab yourself a seat sort of joint, and service is warm and helpful, with staff happy to take time to explain what each burger offers.
Tewari doesn’t want to appeal only to veggos, but to “medium rare steak eaters” too. Well, you’ve got one right here bro, and consider me persuaded.