“What’s the best burger?” is a question I’m asked a few times a week. Here’s my definitive answer and the explanation of why I rarely regurgitate a Top 3! I can tell you when I personally like and “why”, however the problem is that “the best”, for anything is subjective and dependant on what you like and what’s important to you!
For example, I was recently asked “Who has the best burgers in the world?” My final answer was McDonalds… here’s why.
The person who asked is an MBA student management consultant. His criteria was “Turnover” (i.e. How much money goes through the tills). In this case, the answer is very clearly “McDonalds“. No matter how much you like Lucky Chip, I’m pretty sure they will not beat the USD$27.6 Billion dollars spent on Big Macs last year. However, that isn’t my personal criteria… I know where I’d rather visit for a burger.
Broadly speaking there are 3 types of people who ask me the “best burger” question.
- The Experimentalist (who likes their burger to be different with unusual toppings )
- The Purist (who likes their “burger to be a burger”)
- The Idiot (who doesn’t think, and needs a hard slap… with a brick…)
SO WHO HAS “THE BEST” BURGER?
Am I saying that there is “no such thing” as a favourite burger? Or “all burgers are equal”? No, of course not. What I’m saying is “All burgers are equal, but some are more equal than others” (Apologies to George Orwell).
Like the old adage about beauty, it is in the “eye of the beholder”. However, just as some people are ‘beheld’ to be beautiful MORE OFTEN than others. The same applies to burgers. Who makes your favourite burger is up to the INDIVIDUAL. However, who makes the ‘best burger’ is up to the ‘tasting public’ as a collective who decide as a crowd which burgers are ‘beheld’ to be ‘the best’ most often.
EXAMPLE 1: THE EXPERIMENTAL – Patty & Bun Joe vs Tommi’s Burger Joint
After publishing the feature on Tommi’s Burger Joint opening last year I was asked “Is it any good”. I said “Yep, go for the steak burger, the meat is excellent, the buns are from Miller’s Bakery, and it’s a really friendly place”. A week later I was told “It was terrible, it had a good patty and I liked the bun, but it ‘only’ came with lettuce, tomatoes and onions”.
So apparently she was expecting a more experimental style of burger! I sent her to Patty & Bun Joe to get a “Lambshank Redemption” (lamb patty, cumin aioli, braised red cabbage topped with a thick layer of feta cheese) and she returned extremely happy.
I’ve also have the identical scenario in reverse! I mistakenly sent a traditionalist to Patty & Bun Joe who didn’t like their use of feta cheese or smoked onions. But does that make one “better” than the other?
EXAMPLE 2: THE PURISTS – Roti Chai‘s Burger vs Bleecker Burger
Bleecker Burger served a great no-nonsense ‘traditional’ burger. However Roti Chai served their outlandish ‘Indian Themed’ burger. There were murmurs on the night and on twitter accusing it of being an “invalid entry”. On the night I heard phrases like “It’s not a burger” and “It’s not right, a burger should be a burger”.
Well according to Oxford Dictionary a burger is defined as “a flat round cake of minced beef that is fried or grilled and typically served in a bread roll”. In that case, I am 100% convinced that Roti Chai did serve a burger as it fits the definition precisely. Additionally, I have been told that Roti Chai‘s entry was pre-approved by the organiser.
Eventually Bleecker Burger won by a razor thin margin of 4 votes (97 votes to 93). I tried both and thought both were very good, but in very different styles. Bleecker Burger definitely appealed to the traditionalist while Roti Chai appealed more to the more experimental burgers fans.
EXAMPLE 3: The Idiot – Me verses someone who doesn’t think
As a student I sold mobile phones part time for Carphone Warehouse to make ends meet. I was once reprimanded by an extremely well-spoken woman who fits this category perfectly.
Posh Woman (PW): “What’s the best phone?”
ME: “That very much depends on what’s important to you… What are you looking for?”
PW: “The BEST phone, of course”
ME: “Well for example, are you looking for something with a long battery life? Or something which is small”
PW: [Loudly] “Are you deaf? Did you not hear me? T-H-E B-E-S-T”
[She is now quite loud and courting attention from the rest of the shop]
ME: (sigh) “Well that depends on what your needs… If I asked you “What is the best car” you would need to know what I am going to be doing with it”
PW:“Tish-tosh… EVERYONE knows that the best car is a Ferrari”
Me: “Well if I was a park ranger in a game reserve and wanted a car to drive off-road that wouldn’t be “the best” would it?”
[Customers nearby burst out laughing…]
PW: [red faced] “I’m fed up of talking to you…” [walks out]”
The moral of the story? Firstly, don’t mess with me on logic, I’m extremely good at picking out inconsistencies. Secondly I don’t think this woman was deliberately being a difficult customer, but I think she was probably so blinkered in her view of the world that she couldn’t see how anyone else could have requirements different from her own. So what happened when I presented her with logical argument? Her response is “I’m fed up of talking to you…”