One of the latest escalations in Brisbane’s never ending burger free-for-all came about a month before Christmas. This was when Gold Coast favourite Ze Pickle opened in Fortitude Valley. Ze Pickle is known for offering hilariously over the top meals, several of which aren’t so much burgers as childlike combinations of indulgent foods with a meat patty in between them. One such mashup, the Doughnutfukwitdis, features Nutella smoked bacon, double cheese, the all-important patty, and a doughnut instead of a bun.
But what about Ze Pickle’s unsung heroes? The more typical, dependable burgers which show up on the menu every day, without receiving anything like that level of recognition. If you’re thinking of dining at Ze Pickle, but you’re not sure you want to participate in an eating challenge, read on.
The menu has more range than you might expect. Not only are there chicken and pork burgers on offer, there’s even a vegetarian option. Overall, there’s a strong Central American influence, with toppings like guacamole, jalapeños, and corn chips making an appearance on several burgers. There are unmistakably indulgent touches on the regular menu, too, including the Triple Loco: three patties served between grilled cheese sandwiches.
Looking past flourishes like that, the true test of any burger place is its most basic burger. At Ze Pickle, that’s the Chee-ze: beef, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and sauce in a crispy burger bun. It may not make any news bulletins, but this is a very satisfying burger. It sits squarely in the ‘upmarket fast food’ approach to burgers. In other words, the salad is fresh, but knows to stay out of the spotlight, the cheese is slightly too yellow and slightly too firm to seem real, and the meat and sauce run the show. Just to be clear, those are all good things.
The sauce on the Chee-ze is a combination of tomato sauce and a light-coloured house-made topping known as ZP sauce. The ingredients can only be guessed at – mayonnaise is in there somewhere – but its tangy flavour goes perfectly with pickles.
The mysterious ZP sauce also turns up on a side dish so good it should be mandatory. Ze Chips are topped with ZP sauce, diced maple bacon, and IPA beer cheese sauce. They’re practically a meal on their own, as well as a serious contender for Brisbane’s best exotically loaded fries.
If artificial-looking cheese is more your thing, then look no further than the 3AM. In addition to maple bacon and the now familiar sauce, it sports two of “Kanye’s fried cheesesticks”. Don’t let the name fool you – they’re more like slabs of battered, molten cheese. They’re also delicious and oddly sturdy. Who knows what Kanye likes to put in his cheese?
Like so many new burger bars, alcohol is available, and the focus is on Australian craft beer. There’s also a surprisingly wide selection of wines and food-flavoured cocktails. The most interesting included a bacon spiced Rum Old Fashioned, a drink with tom yum infused vodka, and a sweet concoction with vodka, Oreos, Nutella, and ice cream. Sadly, all this does seem to be at the expense of any milkshakes, which would have made an ideal partner for burgers designed to feed the inner child.
Ze Pickle is easy to tell stories about. In fact, it was set up that way. It has a series of menu items so crazy and indulgent that you can’t help but tell your friends. What gets lost in all the gossip is that Ze Pickle caters to everyone, not just Man vs. Food fans.