I avoided the stampede for over a month, and finally have my first chance to check out the newly redeveloped Westfield Sydney in Pitt Street Mall. The $1.2 billion makeover has turned Westfield into a glossy black high-fashion shopping paradise, even the dining arcade on top floor can hardly consider a “food court” where most of the bistros are actually run by award-winning chefs like Justin North from Becasse and Plan B, Michael Moore from Summit Restaurant and John Susman from Cloudy Bay Fish Co just to name a few.
Today, I unleash myself for a shopping spree and also a lunch date at Charlie & Co. Burgers with John (He Needs Food) since he only works close by. But unfortunately John is absolutely tied up with his work and has no chance of getting away for a quick break. Our initial 12.30pm lunch date is slowly slipping away and pushed forward to 3pm which I actually do not mind as I managed to have a quick look see of the food court during peak hour and it was jam packed with lunch goers and a long queue waiting to take orders.
Charlie & Co. Burgers is tucked right at the far left corner in the food court with its own alcohol-licensed dining area including bar stools seating at the front, banquette seating along the wall or the cosy reserved seating area tucked right behind the glass tank kitchen. Patrons can choose to dine in with table service for a couple of dollars more for each burger, or take the cheaper option and order takeaway, then try your luck to find a seat in the public food court area.
The food court is definitely more breathable two and a half hours later, the whole floor is almost deserted with only a few weary shoppers just finishing up their lunch and ready to leave for another round of bargain hunting. We opt for dining in since there are vacant seats aplenty, just nice and quiet for us to able to sit back and relax a little, even though it will be only a short one for John before heading back to work again.
Who is Charlie, you may ask? And little did you know that ‘Hamburger’ is actually a name. That’s right, Hamburger Charlie is the pioneer of the original hamburger, he came up with the idea by simply putting meatballs and some onions between two slices of bread, it became a popular portable snack instantly, hence the “hamburger” was born.
Justin named the new burger joint Charlie & Co. is also a homage to his son, Charlie, and the entire team including the local food producers.
We each order a burger and a couple of sides to share. Presentation wise, these burgers look as if they have been retouched and ready for a photoshoot for the burger menu, only if there is one that we can compare with. Both burgers are stacked up high with layers of mouthwatering ingredients sandwiched between perky sesame buns.
I’ve chosen the federation burger, a thick Angus beef pattie that is still pink and juicy in the centre but I find a little under seasoned, sits on a bed of crunchy iceberg lettuce, topped with fried egg which doesn’t have an oozy yolk I’d hoped for, then bacon and sauteed onions and all wrapped up in a layer of melted cheddar.
John’s rustic chorizo classic is a sight to behold. The edible tower of inferno (a mild one) is consists of beef pattie infused with smoked paprika, slices of spicy chorizo, topped with grilled red peppers and a fried egg. It says on the menu that there is fennel in the burger but John doesn’t recall to taste any.
Both side orders are very generous in portion. If not a little on the greasy side, the bowlful of onion rings are deep fried to a crunchy crispness whilst is still soft and piping hot on the inside, seasoned liberally with a sprinkle of sea salt. De-ree-cious!
Then there is the most talked about parmesan truffle fries. My first taste of truffled fries at Logan Brown in Wellington, NZ has left me craving for more. The fries here at Charlie & Co is not really shoestring fries per se, but more of a bowl of chunky chips, infused with truffle oil, with a very small mound of parmesan cheese on top. The chips are crunchy on the outside, soft and waxy on the inside.
As much as we would like to stay a little longer, catching up with gossips while devouring juicy meats on soft buns, sadly time’s up for this 30 minutes speed dating lunch break as John runs out of the restaurant and back to his work.
I am sorry, John, that it didn’t work out, I think is because of your truffled oil breath and you are overly tall. But we can stay friends and always up for more feasting adventures in the future. 😉
Charlie & Co. Burgers Shop 509, Level 5, Westfield Sydney Corner of Pitt Street Mall and Market Street, Sydney Tel: +61 (02) 8072 7777 Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday 9.30am-6.30pm Thursday 9.30am-9.00pm Friday and Saturday 9.30am-6.30pm Sunday 10am-6pm
[ATFT and John (He needs food) dined as guests of Charlie & Co. Burgers, thanks to John (the other John!) from Drysdale Communications]