Fergburger, 42 Shotover St, Queenstown.
Located in Queenstown, New Zealand, ‘Fergburger’ is a hamburger restaurant that started up as a ‘hole in the wall’ operation in 2001 that has caught the attention of burger lovers everywhere! Queenstown is New Zealand’s premier winter destination for thrill seekers, skiers and snowboarders located in the countries South Island. According to their website, Fergburger ‘create gourmet hamburgers for burger connoiseurs as well as provide a great selection of beers and premium roasted coffee’.
The overall look of the place is a little ‘alternative’ in appearance. The staff were young, friendly and capable (as were the clientele) and the overall feeling with the decor and music played was one that could be described as ‘hip’ or ‘cool’ and and provides an appealing alternative to globalized corporate fast food outlets.
According to their menu consists of ‘Prime New Zealand beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli & tomato relish’. Their burgers are hefty ¼lb in weight and were ‘char-grilled’ to order on a hot plate. Whilst there is no qualifier for the term ‘Prime New Zealand beef’, the beef was ok. Not something to write home about but better than your average fast food meat pattie. As a burger with salad, condiments and bread, the product is of considerably higher quality than the average burger from an average fast food restaurant. The condiments were generally sweet giving the taste of the meal a sweet and somewhat cloying mouthfeel that lingered awhile. Similarly, I found that the use of raw red onions whilst ok from a flavour perspective but perhaps a little overpowering in flavour. Finally the bread was both soft and doughy. Saying this however, I was not unhappy. A recent trip to a ‘big chain’ restaurant had me wondering where the bun ended and where the meat started. This product is far more advanced than that and for someone in ‘food critic’ mode perhaps I am being too harsh.
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In addition to the burgers, we also tried the Crumbed squid with Ferg’s wasabi mayonnaise and lemon. The squid was good and crumbed well with the wasabi mayo and lemon providing the perfect spicy and sour counterpoints to complement the dish.
We also tried the Fries which despite being well cooked but due to cooking in presumably same oil as squid, the chips had slightly fishy notes that were difficult to get rid of. I also personally prefer my chips a little more ‘crispy’.
It was the onion rings however that were the highlight of this place. Whilst the integrity of the crumbs did not hold up well after cooking and serving, this product had the best flavour and texture of everything tasted and was a good reminder for all the fake onion ring producers out there that this is what a ‘proper’ onion ring should taste like. The onion still had considerable crunch yet the acrid raw flavours were cooked out and replaced with sweeter and less harsh flavours.
Fergburger is a great little burger joint in an area well suited to the young, attractive ‘extreme sports’ clientele that Queenstown attracts. Whilst the food on offer is certainly a step above the products offered at the usual global fast food outlets, the product is still not necessarily of ‘gourmet’ standard. There was an overall predominance in the use of large amounts of sweet sauces to cover meat and pretty good quality salad in a doughy, soft sweet bun. That being said however, the overall impression of Fergburger in Queenstown is that it has been extremely successful and the place has a considerable ‘cult’ status amongst the inhabitants of Queenstown and incidentally too in the internet ‘blogosphere’. The great thing about the place is that it is open 22 hours a day and they also serve pretty good coffee. Fergburger is certainly worth visiting if you are in Queenstown although I would not recommend visiting Queenstown or NZ just in order to eat at Fergburger.