Gourmet Traveller ‘Best Burger’ in 2012??
Sounds like a very bold claim to me. Verification required!
Logistically, these city based burger joints are so difficult for me to get during a regular work day, but as I was in town anyway for a physio appointment I thought I’d stop by and give pOp Café a try.
Located at 178 Collins Street, pOp Café is one of a number of eateries clustered around the intersection of Collins and Harrington streets. Little India, Khaow Thai, Little Salama, Sush Sushi…there’s plenty of choice for the office workers and shop keepers in the area.
So what is it that makes pOp Café stand out?
The fresh frontage for starters! Bright red and yellow ‘pOp’ sign overhead, some tasteful greenery planted out front to soften the harsh lines of Hobart’s CBD architecture, sliding doors that open up the entire shop front, enticing walkers to stay a while and have a coffee or bite to eat.
Look a little closer though and you’ll see that they’ve proudly emblazoned their front door with their admirable 2012 ‘Best Burger’ effort. As with any food review, it’s all subjective (except mine), but to have this accolade under your belt is a great place to start from in my book!
I love the interior of pOp even more that than the exterior. A couple of tall benches located near the front for those that are ‘on the go’, with newspapers available for those that are interested.There are also a dozen or so ‘sit down’ tables scattered towards the rear of the café where you’ll find not only a viewing window through to the kitchen out the back, but also a play area where I noticed a few mothers enjoying a catch up over a cup of coffee while their children quietly played with the toys on offer.
A large sign over the kitchen screamed ‘pOp dOgs’, but that wasn’t what I had come here for (however tempting!).
It was one traditional beef burger for me. Coming in at $12.50 this included beef, tomato, Spanish onion, lettuce, cheddar cheese, relish and beetroot.
Made from scratch, and considering the kitchen had only just opened, it was surprising how quickly the burger arrived. As I had to return to work this suited me perfectly!
First impressions were ok I guess. The lettuce poking its head out the side was looking a little weary on one side, but the vibrant tomato, red onion and juicy patty looked pretty enticing.
A good size, this burger packed down easily in the hands, delivering all the flavours in one big hit.
Not quite, but pretty bloody good nonetheless! This is one of the better patties I’ve tried around Hobart. The mince was a great consistency; fine enough to ensure it held together without feeling over-worked, yet chunky enough to give good surface area on the edges for some crunch to emerge. Well seasoned, it married really well with the relish and other ingredients.
The onion in particular was surprisingly good. I’ve commented previously that I normally prefer my onion fried, but in this case I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Perhaps it’s the thickness of the onion that makes the difference, because both this burger and the one I recently tried at The Standard use fresh onion sliced quite thin, with the end result being fantastic.
No major criticisms with this burger, but at the end of the meal I asked myself, “If I had a choice, would I return to pOp, The Winston or The Standard?” The answer was pretty easy. It would be either The Standard or The Winston every time.
Perhaps changing the cheddar to one with a more smoky or nutty flavour could add that element of difference? Maybe consider a sharp mayonnaise or aioli to give some extra body? I’m not sure, but there is still some room for improvement.
Two years is a long time between drinks. Times change, expectations are raised, new players enter the arena, old foes retire.
Based not only on the Gourmet Traveller review, but also on a number of conversations I’ve had with friends that have eaten at pOp over the years, it sounds like the ‘Best Burger’ title was well deserved at the time. Yet in the last 18 months we’ve seen an incredible influx of quality burger joints to Hobart’s food scene, and a corresponding raising of the bar.
With only a little bit of effort I’m sure pOp can elevate itself back to the upper echelon of burgers in Hobart, and I wholeheartedly look forward to that day!
Taste – 4/5
Patty – 4/5
Bun – 3.5/5
Ingredients – 4/5
Condiments – 3.5/5
Presentation – 2.5/5
Stuffable* – Yes
Value – 3.5/5
Overall – 3.5/5
*Can you stuff it in your face without a knife and fork?