The Prick is not saying that he and Mrs Prick may have been a little over-served and under-fed at their respective company drinks Friday night. No, no, no, not by any stretch of the imagination. But it can be reported that we did wake up on Saturday morning perhaps somewhat later than usual and, as we gazed at each other across the rumpled bedclothes, it was clear we were both craving the same thing.
A really good cheeseburger.
Thus Mrs Prick suggested a wander over to Norton Street to Bonarchè, the new burger joint we had been meaning to try since it appeared sometime in the middle of 2012 but somehow never managed to get around to. This was a good call.
Tucked into a small shopfront a pitching wedge up from the corner of Parramatta Road, Bonarchè is an early and welcome sign that as with Glebe Point Road and the Annandale village before it, Norton Street is on the cusp of undergoing some much-needed hipsto-gentrification. Leichhardt’s whole Little Italy routine ran its course ages ago. The “Italian Forum” is one of the most misconstrued developments the Prick has ever encountered, a cultural theme park in miniature surrounded by ‘90s-vintage apartment blocks. The suburb’s most famous restaurant is best known for its mention in corruption inquiries, while the new money coming into the neighbourhood wants more than processed pasta joints. Bonarchè is a hopeful sign more good stuff is on its way.
The name Bonarchè is a portmanteau of the names of foodie partners Roger Bond (billed as the “the Butcher”) and Tracey Archer (“the Chef”), though it was a bit of a role reversal on our visit. Ms Archer was nowhere to be seen, having given Bond his license to grill (sorry, couldn’t resist). Their respective pedigrees, including stints at Meat and Livestock Australia, mean the pair knows their meat, and a sign warning that customers who want their burgers cooked well done had better damn well ask for them that way earns them a place in the Prick’s Pantheon of Freedom.
We ordered a pair of “American” burgers – cheese, dill pickles, tomato relish & Coney Island mustard – and added some bacon for good measure. What we got was simply brilliant: beautiful meat with a nice char and a little bit of pink, a great balance between sweet and savoury and salty flavours (the pickles are a deft touch). Bonarchè eschews the whole leaning-tower-of-burger phenomenon whereby buns as thick as paving bricks sandwich teetering piles of condiments. One need not have a jaw that dislocates like some Discovery Channel predator to hook into a Bonarchè burger, nor does one need to de- and re-construct the thing with a knife and fork first. This is a good development, here’s hoping it’s a trend.
Bonarchè certainly beats out other inner-west burger joints the Pricks have tried (and isn’t it ironic that an area with the highest quotient of vegans and veggos you’ll find this side of a maharishi’s ashram takes its ground cow so seriously?). While we have had many good experiences there, a recent venture to Newtown’s famous Moo Burger was, frankly, disappointing, with patties that were dry, over-worked, and packed too tight, accompanied by flavourless “cheesy bacon chips” which, like the Holy Roman Empire, were none of the above.
Back to Bonarchè, it is almost impossible to be critical of the place. One or two more crafty, less corporate beers on the drinks list might not go astray. I wonder if they’d do a double-double? Maybe if one asks nicely. Otherwise, an overwhelmingly welcome addition to the area.