Surry Hills Review: Would You Like to Buy a Vowel at BRGRS?

Via the clever chaps at The Poke, the Prick has just run across this mildly diversionary gem:


What’s your name?

Expect to hear all about the opening of the Mr and Mrs Prick’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese Pisco Sour shop soon. It will be just the place to grab a bite to eat on Sydney’s newest “New Orleans-style” live-music strip, Parramatta Road. (And non-Sydney readers should feel free to skip down to the next paragraph, but really, isn’t this wholly daft idea – in which the government shows its supposed remorse for hounding out of business a single band-friendly pub by proposing the government all but mandate, with no sense of whether there’s a market for them or what anyone else may think about the matter, a mile’s worth of band-friendly pubs – utterly typical of this town? As Bart Simpson once put it in a different context, “No offense, Homer, but your half-assed underparenting was a lot more fun than your half-assed overparenting.”)

But while we’re on the subject of hipsters and eating, last Friday night the Pricks had a chance to drop in on BRGRS, the new Publife pop-up over the Flinders Hotel in Surry Hills (slogan: We don’t waste money on fancy vowels and pass the savings on to you!)

Like an urban Grounds of Alexandria, the room is a little bit of Brooklyn told by way of Sydney. Call it Brookney Style: Just as New Yorkers twenty years ago embraced the Paris bistro concept and today do it better than the Parisians, lately Sydney has taken on, cleaned up, and made a motza out of an aesthetic that grew up in New York’s outer boroughs by mixing one part ghetto and graffiti with two parts trailer park and marinating the lot with a whole heap of irony. BRGRS epitomises this Brookney vibe, from the Elvis iconography to the gangsta rap to the drinks served in plastic cups, frat house style. Mrs Prick may have been the only lady in the place not wearing glasses chunky enough to lead to back and neck problems. It really is amazing that no enterprising chap has thought to import Pabst Blue Ribbon to Australia and sell it to trilby-wearing Sydneysiders for $8 a can.


Tell me, are you goofing on Elvis?

So what of the burgers, or rather BRGRs? There were four on the menu when we visited: A couple of variations on the cheeseburger, a Doritos-flavoured fried chicken number, and something for the vegetarians. Which essentially meant we had two, two-and-a-half options. Which were good so far as they went: Fundamentally, they delivered what they promised. The Doritos-coated “bird” burger is an interesting concept, the chicken was nicely fried, and that promised powdered orange tang was right there on the finish. Perhaps if we’d opened the batting with jazz cigarettes rather than gin-and-tonics this would have seemed like a better idea. The cheeseburger was good too, but in a sort of McDonald’s-ey sort of way, like what a quarter-pounder might have tasted like in 1955, fast but not mass-produced nor loaded with God-knows-what chemicals.

But on another level, what was on offer wasn’t a lot to write home about. Perhaps our expectations had been set too high with our knowledge of what this team is actually capable of. We had expected burgers that weren’t really burgers per se as really clever cheffy creations. Knowing that this same operation can, among other delights, turn out (in the words of another reviewer) “a hot dog of sorts featuring sticky beef cheeks, pickle and radish mayo, truffle butter, sautéed radish leaves, french mustard and hiefwiesen [sic] beer air, wasabi cress, finished with flowers from the garden”, we were left a little disappointed when all that was on offer last Friday was this kitschy nod towards white-trash Americana. Why isn’t this on the menu? Or this?

The head of Publife is said to be a big fan of Americana, but the  US is a big place, as big as Europe and just as diverse with as many unique cuisines. There’s a lot more to it than velvet Elvis paintings and Honey Boo-Boo. Just as no cultured person would say that spaghetti is the apotheosis of European food, neither should “sketti” (or fried chicken or cheeseburgers, as wonderful as they are) be taken as the first and last word on America. And when it comes to burgers, the Pricks still say it’s worth the trip out to Leichhardt for Bonarchè, the current reigning champion in our very unscientific survey.

Pub Life Kitchen on Urbanspoon

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Surry Hills Review: Would You Like to Buy a Vowel at BRGRS?

  1. Hoddle Boulevard says:

    Good summary. In fact I often go out on Jazz cigarettes and would love to order a 1955 Mac Donalds cheeseburger. Funnily enough Ive often said someone should do the 50s or even 70s maccas menu but properly with quality produce at probably twice the price in twice the time. It would be a hit. Call it O’Donalds! The Prick should do it on his next cooking show, hot apple
    Pie included.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s