When we heard that our new favourite Central burger joint was endeavouring into the world of breakfast foods, we grabbed the kids and headed over, stat. We dived right in (as you do when towing small bellies that require near-constant nourishment) and were instantly rewarded with the creatively plated eggs and soldiers ($48) that were an obvious hit with the chiddlers, served in an egg carton with two crispy eggs and the marvel that is maple bacon.
Eggs and soldiers
A mac 'n' cheese sandwich ($68) made with elbow pasta, Isle of Mull Cheddar, chives, crème fraîche and a crispy Parmesan crust was a feat of nature, with its stodge on stodge wondrously united in sarnie form. This was served with a soul-singing tomato bacon jam with its striking combination of sweet-smoky tang. If this sounds a bit like a love letter to a sandwich, that's because it is.
Our jovial and fully knowledgable server recommended sampling the Beans & Liberty ($78), an innovative dish with a custom label on the tin of beans featuring the eating instructions (not complicated, so don't stress). A properly rotund poached egg, ready to burst, sat atop a scattering of homemade pork crackling, along with a tin of white beans and slow-roasted pulled pork shoulder with bacon jam, smoked paprika and barbecue sauce. Amusing and hearty, this was campfire eating that was satisfying, filling and fun.
After the successful launch of Chef Uwe Opocensky's Lambo lamb burger, we were excited to try the new Christmas burger, Holy Duck ($98), made with slow-cooked confit duck leg, braised red cabbage (which always has a place on our Christmas dinner table), cinnamon, orange and star anise – it's on the menu until 8 January. The cabbage was firm enough to provide a textural complement to the tender duck, and the juices from the two ingredients blended beautifully with every subtly spiced bite. This one's another winner if you're looking for a festive burger to get you through till St Nick's been.
The King ($78) came along to wow the table with its excessiveness – and excessive it was. The only thing we didn't fully enjoy on the brunch menu, this sandwich of sweetness was just too much for any of us (and that included the children, who were probably too full to enjoy anything further but still managed a few finger dips into the chocolate sauce). A cinnamon-sugar doughnut-style burger bun filled with sweet maple-glazed bacon, Nutella and caramelised bananas should probably be a trip to heaven – if not to the hospital for a coronary bypass – and I would not pass up another opportunity to sample it on an emptier stomach, but we unfortunately left the majority of this sweet sarnie behind.
You can add a heavy dose of free flow to your à la carte brunch for $178 for two hours of house wines, Prosecco, beers and Bloody Marys.
Also, their creative range of shandies are an easy way to shrug off a hangover as they are chock-full of vitamins and spice to get the body back to rights, with a very low alcohol percentage to keep you functioning rather than freefalling. Bar manager Pawel Mikusek created the Vitamin Shot ($80) for this very purpose, as well as the Hangover Banger ($80), a dangerous mixture of lemon juice, lager and hot sauce. We tried both: the gentle, vitamin-filled Vitamin Shot was pleasant, citrusy and revitalising while the Hangover Banger will twist your face into a disturbing expression with its hot sauce burn and lemony pucker that, combined, are like a wake-up in the form of a slap to the face. We enjoyed this; others may not.
In closing, we cannot stress enough the value of the food here. Have a quick scroll up and revisit the prices; good, right? It's incredibly refreshing to be pleased by prices, with all hitting below the $100 mark, and still bang in a central and coveted location like California Tower, maintaining the high quality with which they churn out delicious dishes. It's comfortable and child friendly yet still cool, and the service is excellent. This is pretty much dining paradise for anyone with an overstretched wallet, sporting a confused palate and despairing at the thematically complicated restaurants popping up around town – in other words, those seeking something comforting, delectable and reasonable in a dining scene gone mad.
If we were to find a restaurant at the end of a rainbow, it would look an awful lot like Beef & Liberty.
3/F, California Tower, 30–32 D'Aguilar Street, LKF, Central, 2450 5778