I’m embarrassed to say that after living in Perth for 26 years, this was my first visit to Alfred’s Kitchen. Being a south-of-the-river boy it’s not exactly around the corner for me, but being honest with myself, that isn’t a good enough excuse. Alfred’s Kitchen has been serving up late-night burgers and pea soup since 1946 and has been described by Matt Preston as “one of Australia’s quintessential roadside stalls”. Seventy years of ongoing service is impressive and I’ve only heard good things about the place, so with the wife out of town on business, I decided a little road trip was in order. I buckled my two-year-old daughter into her child seat, started the engine and headed off to the outer eastern suburb of Guildford.
It was a cool Sunday evening when we arrived at Alfred’s Kitchen to find the place packed with a long line of people queuing up to order their dinner. In the air was a distinctive mingle of aromas which I could separate as open wood fire, cigarette smoke, greasy fast food and pea & ham soup. I was tempted by the soup and will almost certainly get some on my next visit, but this time I decided to stick to the formula. My order consisted of a Hamburger & Cheese ($8.70), Chips & Gravy ($6.80) and a 250mL bottle of Coke ($1.70), which came to a total of $17.20 – decent value considering the quantity of food. While I’d have loved to have eaten my meal al fresco or the train carriage, my dinner companion would have made doing the review impossible, so we returned to the car, paper bag in hand.
The new 250mL Coke bottle appears even smaller – it still looked so tiny when I held it that I just had to take a picture. The chips and gravy come in one size only and it’s huge – better suited to sharing than for one person, especially when that person is also having a burger. Luckily the toddler was only too happy to help. The chips were square cut with inconsistent texture – some were soggy, some were crunch and the rest were somewhere in between, though they were all hot, well-seasoned and tasted good. The beefy gravy was delicious and really make the chips a meal on their own.
The burger came in a well-toasted sesame seed bun, filled (top-to-bottom) with a thick spreading of margarine, shredded iceberg lettuce, two large tomato slices, a pale melted processed cheese slice, a moderately sized beef patty, caramelised onions and BBQ sauce. The flaky bun held the burger together well, though it dropped a lot of crumbs. The salad was nice and fresh, although the tomato was fairly tasteless. I’m not a big fan of BBQ sauce in burgers, but it worked well here – there was just enough to keep the burger moist without overwhelming the other flavours. The patty was crunchy and caramelised around the edges, cooked medium-well in the centre and had good beefy flavour and a pleasant greasiness, while the cheese was creamy and subtle.
Now for the most controversial part of this review: margarine in a burger? It was necessary to keep it from being too dry, but I would have much preferred a nice, savoury egg mayonnaise. In some bites, the margarine was spread on so thickly I could taste it and feel it coating my mouth with fattiness, which was a bit gross. There are a few things on the menu I’m keen to come back and try, so I’ll definitely be back at Alfred’s Kitchen at some point in the future. This burger was a close call – there’s a lot more right with it than there is wrong, but after subtracting points for the overuse of margarine, the Hamburger & Cheese is…
Have you had an Alfred’s Kitchen Hamburger & Cheese? What did you think? Comment below and let me know.