Stepping into Surry Hills’ newly opened Ze Pickle one cannot help but be impressed.
With its modern industrial style and Edison bulb lighting, the award-winning Queensland-based “burger joint” sets an expectation that, sadly, its food does not meet.
Upon arrival customers will find a menu packed full of artfully named burgers with descriptions to match, and service that would leave a Michelin star restaurant wanting. But the food falls flat; both the Chee-ze and 3am burgers leave much to be desired, especially at $15 and $18 respectively.
The Chee-ze − Ze Pickles’ take on the classic cheese burger − comes out looking exactly like it does in the promotional images, a feat rarely accomplished. Yet at $15 the burger falls well short of its price tag, and is much like any corner take-away shop’s cheese burger, except with Montery Jack cheese.
Next up on the card is the 3am. A burger coming highly recommended by the ever-accommodating staff, this cheese extravaganza is unexpectedly over cheesed. It consists of a hand-pressed Wagyu beef patty, maple smoked bacon, deep fried cheese sticks, Swiss cheese, guacamole, ZP sauce with a pickle on top. The $18 burger, standing at a height of 15cm, (and with a dismal lack of fries a problem all burgers seemingly share). Looks impressive but in practice the rich maple smoked bacon and the complex flavour of the Wagyu beef are lost in a storm of cheese, the guacamole seeming to add nothing except mess to the already chaotic affair.
But there is more on the menu than just food; a slew of beers from from some of the best craft breweries in Australia and a list of interesting named and unique cocktails, such as the Bacon Old Fashioned and the Gin Cummins − a cocktail consisting of West Wind Sabre Gin, Rosemary Sizzrup, basil, cucumber and lemon. And each beer to grace the menu is well chosen and all taste great. With beers like Stone and Wood Pacific Ale, a fruity refreshing masterpiece brewed by the Boys at the Byron Bay brewery, as well as a range of 4 Pines beers from Manly that has bottled art over the past few years. All sitting around $8-13, decently priced, unlike other drinks because at Ze Pickle you’ll pay $5 for a coke.
The redemption of Ze Pickle is the styling, the atmosphere and the experience of the place, each staff member seemingly wanting to be there to help and make the experience amazing. The tantalising beer and cocktail menus, while not the best in Sydney, do place it well in the dwindling city night scene. But in the end the crux of the matter is that they are a better bar than a restaurant, a better place to enjoy a beer than a burger.
Ze Pickle gets ze thumbs down. – Ben Atkinson-James
Photo by Ben Atkinson-James