Winner: Bar Ume
The fine-dining world is a rough gig: the margins are terrible, so are the hours, and there’s that constant battle between businesses not charging enough and diners baulking at prices. No wonder so many chefs are turning off their heat lamps and fanging it down the burger highway to fast food city.
Kirby Craig showed he had cheffing mettle with his upmarket Japanese offering Ume, but now he’s devoted the grills at his Surry Hills digs to the pursuit of perfect burgers. Especially that katsu burger, which comes standard in a fish edition, but also comes as a juicy chicken thigh in a shell so crunchy it’s like an EMP for your ears. The struts of fresh cabbage, sweet Japanese barbecue sauce and a mayo with extra pep from a splash of yuzu make sure this burger rides high above all imitators that dare to step to the king.
The specials list lets Craig stretch his culinary muscles with Japanese wings and maybe a dessert mochi if you’re lucky. And it’s not a proper party until someone has cracked open a bottle of natural Australian wine from the bar list. Dinner at Bar Ume is a high-low rollercoaster that you’ll want to ride over and over again.