You wouldn't know it to walk past it, but inside an old pub in Ultimo, a pop-up restaurant is flipping some of the best pub food and burgers in Sydney. Sitting in the back of the Lord Wolseley Hotel, walk through the pub past the non-ironic memorabilia and you'll find yourself at Pub Life Kitchen's new home and in the hands of burger king, Jovan Curic.
Originally located upstairs at The Macquarie Hotel, our Pub Life Kitchen visits occurred almost religiously every Wednesday for The Burger Experiment. Fortunately, The Burger Experiment continues each Wednesday at its new home serving up the craziest burger concoction Jovan can conjure up that week. We're talking the likes of Nacho burgers, Double Downs, and the intriguing Stoned & Single (with mac and cheese and BACON).
Beyond the Wednesday night craziness, there are four burgers on the regular menu—The O.G, The Bird, Cheeseburger, and Vego Delight. For those who aren't up for burgers, Pub Life Kitchen also serves classic pub food like steak, grilled chicken parma, and Wagyu beef schnitzel. They also do their own house-cured meats and fish and you can find Jovan down at the fish markets every morning sourcing the best fish of the day.
On this particular occasion, we opted for two burgers—The O.G (with added pickle) and The Bird, both of which are served with a pile of shoestring fries. The O.G. is a house-ground beef patty, Jack cheese, caramelised onion, tomato, and iceberg lettuce, with roast garlic and lime aioli.
Jovan says, 'the meat is the key to the burger', which is why great care is taken with each patty. The patties are pasture-fed NSW beef, which are cured in salt for 1–2 weeks before being minced. While Jovan won't say what cuts of meat are used (top secret!), he says they are simply seasoned so you can taste the quality of the meat. The patties are cooked medium rare and are, in fact, simply delicious. With the perfectly squishy Breadtop bun (they were using them before they were cool) encasing the contents, it's like the burger is high fiving each and every one of your taste buds as you chew.
Next up comes The Bird, which is a Dorito (!!!) fried chicken with slaw, Jack cheese, mayo, and tomato. The chicken itself is a joy—crispy, juicy, and so very tasty. The slaw balances out the greasy bird wonderfully and we firmly believe that if you added bacon to this, it would be one of Sydney's best hangover cures.
Sure, we have fries on the side of all of our burgers, but the call of fries with bone marrow gravy is something else. We dip the crispy fries in the gravy and it's as good as we had hoped. Yes, it's salty but it's worth the litres of water you'll drink in the hours after consumption.
Finally we go for the hot and sticky chicken wangs, which are exactly that—hot, sticky, and damn delicious. Eat with your fingers and prepare to get a little messy. When we return (and we will), we'll be sure to sample the classic, but no doubt tasty, pub food offerings.
Ah Pub Life Kitchen, you complete us. With its amazing burgers, pub food, and chicken wings, we can't wait for the guys to find a permanent home for their BRGRS. Word on the street is it will happen in the 'burbs and will be pumping out burgers, fried chicken, and beer. That sounds like our kind of place.
Keep an eye out for Jovan Curic's upcoming TV series called "Foraged" which explores other side of food TV. In the meantime, Like them on Facebook to see what's going on.
Image credit: Pub Life Kitchen, Tanya Lee