Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: Ribs & Burgers is not a particularly vegetarian-friendly franchise. The name, as the adage goes, says it all. When we went to check out their newest restaurant, which opens onto the courtyard of 140 in the CBD, we weren’t so much as offered a salad (the menu offers three – Butcher’s Salad, Cabbage Salad and Rocket Salad).
Not that we complained, mind you – what we got was impressive enough.
The burgers at Ribs & Burgers are the real deal – grass-fed Angus patties that are succulent and tender. The Old School Cheese ($10.50) is like something out of an old Archie comic – an American-style cheeseburger with a couple of outré flourishes in the form of aoli sauce and the addition of crunchy Smiths French Fries – yes, the snack that comes in a packet – to give it some texture. The flavours combine perfectly and if you’re the sort who normally skips the pickle, take a gamble this time; the slice of dill compliments rather than clashes with the rest of the burger.
The range of ribs is impressive, with beef, pork and lamb on offer. At the manager’s suggestion, we opted for Sticky Soy Chilli Peanut Pork Spare Ribs ($28.50 for a full rack), which were melt-off the bone tender and packed with flavour. Cutlery is a waste of time with these; it’s much easier and more satisfying to just dismember the rack with your fingers. The ribs are slow-cooked for eight hours, accounting for the fragile texture and deep, satisfying flavour.
The sides are what you might expect from an upscale burger joint, so we went for the classics: chips and onion rings ($4.00 and $6.00, respectively). The chips were perfectly serviceable – I’ve never been to a restaurant that could ruin chips yet, although I’m sure they’re out there – but the onion rings were something special: light, flaky fringes of onion rather than the thick, battered things we’re used to. If oyu can imagine something halfway between onion rings and tobacco onions, you’re on the right track.
The gourmet burger market is getting pretty crowded these days, with Jus, Grill’d and Flipside, among others, already competing for the discerning fast food fine’s dollar. Ribs & Burgers have definitely staked out some territory in the upper echelons of the burger game, though, and I’m looking forward to working my way through the rest of their menu – albeit one main course at a time from now on.