Walking up the laneway to Chur Burger in Surry Hills, it's easy to think you've misread Google Maps. This alley doesn't look like it has a place selling bargain buns-and-patties by a hatted chef. And, yet, just when you think the concept seems too good to be true, it comes into view: a graffiti-blitzed eatery serving a menu that maxes out at $10.
And the burgers are great – though it's no jawdropping shock that they are. The food comes out of Albion Street Kitchen; Chur Burger is located in its back yard – just a lo-fi eatery with milk crates for seats, herb planters for decoration and the odd table under the shade (if you're lucky!).
This new venture is the latest for acclaimed chef Warren Turnbull, who has regenerated all his fine-dining restaurants into more casual places – District Dining became Mexico, Assiette (which, at its height, boasted two hats) recently transformed into Albion Street Kitchen and now Chur Burger gives you a good reason to be lurking in laneways.
The menu's short and to-the-point: five pattie options (beef, chicken, pulled pork, crumbed fish or vege), which you can 'upsize' with a milkshake, hot chips or soda. The burgers come on pillowy soft brioche and are impressively sturdy, no-drip affairs. You needn't worry about a laundry disaster or an ingredient avalanche as you clasp the order in your hands.
Mark's grilled beef burger "took a sidetrack somewhere" interesting and was a mustard-mayo-friendly affair, with tomato jam for sweetness and gherkin for tartness. ("All up, I'd go there again in a flash," he says.) Cathy and I both had the vegie burger – a spiced chickpea mixture lashed into place with some honey labne and grated beetroot. We were all impressed by how wonderfully light these burgers were – you didn't get the mid-burger regret of feeling overloaded and unable to finish; in fact, you ended up gently full and satisfied.
Oh and, while Mark prefers his chips "fancy-free", I liked the thick, chilli-dusted fries. We also worked out the best chip-ordering ratio (two between three – one cup each is too much; one between three is regrettably low). We sipped ginger beers between bites, but I'd like to try the apricot shake if it gets back on the menu.
And if you can't make it to Chur Burger yet – because it's currently only open Tues to Friday, between 11am and 3pm (which is tricky for office workers outside the 2010 postcode) – don't worry, there are plans for the place to start operating on weekends. But make sure you detour there eventually. Hopefully you'll find it lives up to its name – which is Kiwi slang for "awesome".