It’s a battle out there in burger-land

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GONE are the days when burgers were a simple snack of a beef patty in a bun with a sauce or two.

These days you can choose from mini burgers to Moroccan and Mexican burgers and select fillings from fish to lamb or chicken and plenty more in-between.

The name hamburger is said to derive from the German city of Hamburg, from which many citizens migrated to the US, taking with them their food influences.

One such example is said to have been the Hamburg Steak – shredded spiced beef served raw or cooked, which was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries.

According to the US Library of Congress, the first hamburgers in America were served at a Connecticut sandwich shop in 1895.

The shop sold steak sandwiches and the leftover beef was ground up into patties which were served between two slices of bread.

Decades on, the burger has spread worldwide and absorbed influences from cuisine across the globe.

Murray’s Craft Brewing Co head chef Adam Ritchie told GT that burgers were popular menu items year-round at the Port Stephens brewery.

It helps that burgers make a great match with Murray’s Angry Man Pale Ale and a serve of Ritchie’s twice-cooked chips.

The current menu at The Brewery Restaurant, introduced about two months ago, includes a trio of mini cheese burgers with chips as well as two full-sized burgers.

Murray’s Smoked Cheese Burger comes with King Island Smoked Cheddar, onions, rocket, tomato and gherkins with Murray’s Hop Tomato Sauce.

If you’re game you can tackle the aptly-named Spartacus Burger, which includes two beef patties, blue cheese, caramelised onions, rocket, beetroot and Murray’s Beer barbecue sauce.

The trio of what Ritchie describes as ‘‘perfect’’ mini cheeseburgers includes a mini Spartacus Burger, mini Smoked Cheese Burger as well as a Beer Cheese Burger topped with Murray’s Beer Cheddar, tomato chutney and bacon.

Ritchie said the mini cheeseburger trio was inspired by the trend towards high-quality fast food dishes.

‘‘We’re trying to pick up on that because fast food goes well with beer,’’ the chef, who has been at Murray’s for 2 years, said.

‘‘We’re just trying to do the best burgers we can do to match our beer.’’

The chef achieves such tasty burgers by using wagyu beef patties, brioche bread and the brewery’s own condiments where possible.

Other tips include dressing the greens so the burger isn’t dry – Ritchie prefers using aioli.

He recommends cooking the burger patty so it is still pink in the middle and nice and juicy.

When the chips are down, eat the best burger in town

BEEF BURGERS

*An army of regulars swear by the burgers from Al Gators, Newcastle East, including the humble but ever tasty cheeseburger.

*Tackle the ‘‘Blokes Burger’’ at Swell Espresso Bar, Bar Beach, with two burger patties, a layer of cheese, a fried egg, strips of bacon, fried onion and barbecue or hot chilli sauce. Don’t forget the double-cooked, hand-cut chips.

*Also on the beach, grab a Surfhouse classic cheeseburger and chips from Surfhouse Merewether.

*A great spot for a CBD lunch in the sun on the terrace, Customs House Hotel, Newcastle, serves up a 200g wagyu beef burger with pickled onion, lettuce, Swiss cheese, aioli, home-made ketchup and a side of shoestring fries.

*Also popular with the lunchtime crowd hungry for a burger is Jessie’s On Bolton, Newcastle.

*Head up to the bay to tackle the Murray’s Craft Brewing Co’s Spartacus Burger which includes two beef patties, blue cheese, caramelised onions, rocket, beetroot and Murray’s Beer Barbecue Sauce.

*Check out the hamburger ‘Albion style’ at Wickham’s The Albion Hotel. It includes 200g wagyu beef, crisp pancetta, melted vintage cheddar, red onion and thyme jam, beetroot and roast tomato. Head down Thursday lunchtime to grab the burger for just $11.

*Merewether’s Burwood Inn’s Burwood burger comes with 100per cent Northern Tablelands wagyu beef, smoky bacon, caramelised onions, grilled cheese, tomato, mixed leaf lettuce and home-made aioli.

*For a late night fix, head to Newcastle’s Hamburger Haven for a selection of burgers. You can even design your own.

*Perhaps it’s an Aussie influence with the damper and beetroot at Longbench, Cooks Hill, which cooks up a beef burger on a damper roll with tomato, beetroot, caramelised onion, house-made tomato chutney and chips.

*There are several beef burgers on the menu at Grill’d, The Junction and Charlestown, starting with the Mustard and Pickled! with grilled grass-fed beef, Dijon mustard, dill pickle, tasty cheese, salad and relish.

*The menu at Harrigan’s Irish Pub, Pokolbin, includes a gourmet steak burger served on grilled Turkish bread, with lettuce, tomato, Kilkenny onion jam, cheese, garlic aioli and diamond-cut chips.

MINI BURGERS

*Share or keep them all for yourself when it comes to the cheeseburger trio and chips at Murray’s Craft Brewing Co.

*Soak up the view with a drink at the bar at Merewether Surfhouse and nibble on their mini cheeseburger sliders, which include three per serve.

LAMB BURGERS

*The Albion Hotel’s Moroccan spiced lamb burger comes with red onion, cucumber, lettuce and chilli jam for a spicy take on the burger.

*The Depot on Darby menu includes a lamb burger which includes salsa romesco, red onion, aioli and lettuce on toasted Turkish bread, with a side of fries.

*Grill’d has a few lamb burgers to choose from, including their own Moroccan lamb creation, the ‘‘Baa Baa’’ Burger, and a combination including lamb, goats cheese, chermoula humus and salad.

CHICKEN BURGERS

*Al Gators, Newcastle East, cooks up a mean Mexican chicken burger complete with sour cream, guacamole, plenty of salad and more.

*Check out the chicken schnitzel burger and chips at Swell Espresso Bar, Bar Beach, or The Junction’s Harry’s Schnitzel’s has a schnitzel burger on the menu with lettuce, tomato, beetroot and sauce which has a loyal following.

*Grill’d offers plenty of choice when it comes to chicken burgers such as the Perfect Pear with grilled chicken breast, poached pears, fig paste, avocado, Spanish onion, rocket and shaved parmesan.

*Longbench, Cooks Hill, serves a chicken burger on toasted damper with bacon, avocado lettuce and tomato with a basil aioli and chips.

FISH BURGERS

*Grab a fish burger from the takeaway window at Scottie’s, Newcastle East.

*The Burwood Inn, Merewether, serves up their Merewether burger with tempura-battered snapper, house-made tartare, mixed lettuce leaves and vine-ripened tomato.

VEGETARIAN BURGERS

*Swell Espresso Bar, Bar Beach, serves up a chickpea vego burger for those who prefer a meat-free option.

*Grill’d has a few vegetarian options using fillings including vegie patties, grilled field mushrooms and chickpea patties.

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