The rise of the gourmet burger | Malta's eight best burgers

2013 has seen a rise of the lowly burger from 'grubby' being sold by grubby street vendors to having a place at many worthy restaurants.

Rachel Zammit Cutajar
27 December 2013, 12:00am
2013 has seen a response to diners' changing expectations when it comes to burgers with gourmet burgers listed on many menus
2013 has seen a response to diners' changing expectations when it comes to burgers with gourmet burgers listed on many menus

Gone are the days when a frozen patty slapped between two pieces of 'electric-oven' bread, with a smothering of watered down ketchup would do the trick to satisfy that fast-food craving. Today's fast food craving requires something more, something a little less... fast.

How has the burger changed and what has pushed it up our list of desirable meals and no time more so than 2013. The ultimate burger should be freshly ground - from the good bits, not the throw away parts you wouldn't consider feeding to your dog. The meat should be a little bit fatty to ensure a juicy burger - an ideal beef to fat ratio would be 4:1. Once the meat has been selected, freeze for 30 minutes to allow bring the temperature of the meat to -2°C before you grind it. This allows for a more even texture in the patty. Allow the ground beef to sit for 12 hours in the fridge before making into patties and serving.

Every burger should be served with chips. And, like the burger, a great chip is not 'fast food' at all. Favouring skinny over fat chips (or the other way around) is a matter of choice, however the perfect chip is always fried for approx 10 minutes before being twice fried in hot good quality oil. The variety of potato will deeply influence the quality of your chip, with the variety best suited for chips being the King Edward (Ghajn Hamra).

Malta's eight best burgers

1.     Juicy Lucy from New York Best

This delicious little number has a little surprise right at her very core. As you bite into the juicy beef patty, freshly ground by New York Besters themselves, you get to the juicy centre which is filled with melted cheese. Beef juices, cheese oils and New York Best's signature sauce combine in an explosion of flavours that is difficult to contain. Though you have to wait a little longer for your Juicy Lucy, it is well worth the wait.

New York Best, Esperanto Street, Msida

Qui-si-Sana, Sliema, Tel: 2728 2899


2.     The Daddy at Badass Burgers

Not for the faint of stomach, this is 'the daddy' of all burgers. Made from 100% Angus beef, with melted peppercorn cheese, grilled bacon and barbeque sauce, this monster burger comes topped with a delicate crunch of fried onions on a bed of lettuce, tomato and onion to cut through all that flavour with some delicious freshness. A great combination, however, whether you can carry your own weight to the car after one of these is completely debatable.

Badass Burgers

No. 1, St George's Road, St Julian's, Tel: 21384066

46, Old Theatre Street, Valletta, Tel: 21228347

3.     Fresco's signature beef burger

The secret to their burger is using the very best Angus beef. Caramelised onions give an added sweetness that makes extra sauces totally unnecessary, though you may want some to dip your chips into.

Fresco's Café, Bar and Restaurant, Tower Road, Sliema. Tel: 21344763

4.     The Hard Rock Legendary burger

10 oz of beefy goodness, this baby is topped with seasoned bacon, two slices of Cheddar cheese for extra gooeyness, a crispy fried onion ring, lettuce, tomatoes and love-them-or-hate-them pickles.

Hard Rock Café, Level 2, Bay Street, St George's Bay, St Julian's. Tel: 23722252

5.     Burger beast at Ryan's Pub

Though most people think of vodka shots and pints when they think of Ryan's, missing out on their burger is a mistake. Goes perfectly with a Sunday afternoon game, this double burger is topped with crispy bacon, cheddar cheese and onion jam.

Ryan's pub, Spinola Bay, St Julian's. Tel: 27312906

6.     El General at Cuba

This burger makes you see double! 250g of succulent beef with double cheese, double bacon and topped with a fried egg, with some lettuce and tomato thrown in for a bit of freshness, all sandwiched between a toasted sesame bun.

Cuba, Tigné Seafront, Sliema. Tel: 20101313

Spinola Bay, St Julian's. Tel: 20102323

7.     Beet 'n' bean burger at the Grassy Hopper

Who said burgers had to be unhealthy? The Grassy Hopper serve up a veggie burger made from beetroot, kidney beans and secret spices served on a seeded bun with plenty of fresh veggies and melted cheese to create a meal with all of the indulgences of your regular burger with none of the guilt.

The Grassy Hopper, Ta' Xbiex Seafront, Ta' Xbiex. Tel: 79490505

8.     The veggie burger at New York Best

Now that we're talking about veggie burgers, the one at New York Best deserves a mention. No patties in this burger, the 'meat' comes from the grilled aubergines and marrows, with sweetness coming from the spiced ketchup and Provolone dolce and crispiness from the fried onions. No need for meat in this burger. You simply won't miss it.
Rachel Zammit Cutajar graduated in economics from the University of Malta...