The burger. Once the staple of down-market takeaways and franchised fast food outlets, recent times have seen its transformation into the hippest, trendiest gourmet sensation of the teenies (is that what we’re calling this decade? I have no idea, and it makes it very difficult to make broad-stroke generalisations without a catchy handle for a particular time period, which in turn makes life hell for lazy writers such as myself, so if anyone out there can clarify this issue for me I’d be much obliged). You all know what I mean. These days it’s virtually impossible to walk down any fashionable street in town without tripping over any number of Grill’d, Flipped, Jus Burgers or other fashionably misspelled burger joints crammed with exposed brick, gourmet ingredients and bearded, tattooed staff members with bandanas on their heads. With the market surely hitting saturation point, one would be forgiven for questioning the wisdom of opening another gourmet burger restaurant, but that’s exactly what the brains behind the Angry Moose, a new BYO burger cafe on Beaufort St in the heart of Mt Lawley, have done.
Moose on the Loose: The Angry Moose in Mt Lawley
Having received a tip off from one of my Beaufort St spies (my aunt Jen) that it had finally opened its doors on Friday morning, I headed down there that afternoon to have a bit of a nosey around and scope the place out before heading in there for dinner later on. Thankfully for me the staff were friendly and the head chef nice enough to take time out his busy first day to indulge an inquisitive food blogger such as myself by having a chat and answering a few questions. One of the first things I found out was that the Angry Moose is owned by the same people as Lawleys Bakery, which makes their move down the road to a smaller building make a lot more sense as it frees up the larger floor space for their new burger based venture. This also means that Lawleys provides all of the bread, burger buns and brioche they use, which is good news as they’ve always produced quality stuff. He also told me that they were focusing on using only high quality, locally sourced ingredients; all their meat is supplied by Mondo Butchers, the beef from the Avon Valley, the chicken free range and from Mt Barker and the lamb locally sourced from Corrigin and Karragullen. This all sounded great, but I was curious as to how they planned to differentiate themselves from the numerous other gourmet burger places that offer similar fare. The answer: price and being more family friendly. While keeping a premium on quality, they’ve worked hard on keeping prices as low as possible. In terms of attracting the family crowd, they offer a selection of three different “Mini Moose Meals” that include, a burger or nuggets, chips, a drink and gelato for about $12-$13, which has got to please parents looking for a trendier place to take the kids out for a treat. All of this sounded great in theory, but the real test was yet to come.
Getting in early at 5:30, myself and a friend grabbed a six pack of Rodgers from the BWS at the Queens, made ourselves comfortable and ordered a small serve of the sweet potato chips while we waited for the others to arrive. They were, it has to be said, brilliant; crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and a great alternative to the regular, garden variety potato chip. Another thing that the Angry Moose has going for it to set it apart from other burger places is that it offers quite a few non-burger options, so once everyone had arrived (and we’d made another trip to the bottle shop) we ordered a tasting plate to nibble on while we imbibed a few beverages. The plate for the day included pulled pork, grilled salmon and asparagus and spiced flatbread. The pulled pork was delicious, perfectly spiced and tender, and the salmon was very nice too, but at $23 it was a little steeply priced, and they could do with throwing on a load more bread given what they’re charging (you only got 3 small slices). That being said, it was a good way to ease in to things while we perused the menu.
Minds made up, the five of us ended up going for, in no particular order, The Angry Moose (Beef Pattie, green Tomato Chutney and Emmental Cheese), The Figged Burger (Free Range Chicken Pattie, Fig Chutney and Locally Sourced Double Cream Brie), The Hot Moose (Lamb, Bacon, Chili Jam and Avocado), The Porked Moose (Pulled Pork, marinated and roasted for 12 hours served with its own special gravy and Guacamole) The Green Moose (Field Mushroom, Goats Cheese Feta from Gidgegannup, green Tomato Chutney, grilled Zucchini and Radish), the Angry Moose Slaw and a couple of serves of chips. I had the Figged Burger, and have to say that it met and exceeded my expectations, with the chutney and brie working fantastically together and the chicken patty making a nice change from the breast meat used in pretty much every other gourmet chicken burger. In the interest of being thorough, I of course had to try a bit of everyone else’s burger too, and they were all equally tasty, with the smoky bacon and chilli hit of the Hot Moose and the guacamole and pulled pork in the Porked Moose being two particular highlights. Earlier on the chef had told me that the aim was to find the perfect balance of quality and quantity; an adequate amount of great food rather than a huge monster-sized burger of poor quality muck. Overall, I have to say that they’ve nailed it on this front, with all of us achieving a state of elegant sufficiency without feeling overly stuffed. The chips and slaw were good sides too.
Burgers done and dusted, we all decided that we had enough room left to split another of the ‘Moose’s original creations: the dessert burger. Consisting of gelato sandwiched in a brioche bun, it is both an amusing and delicious way to finish off a meal. We went for two scoops of Ferrero gelato in ours, and while we could have easily polished off another one between us it’s probably for the best that we didn’t. All things considered, it was a good meal and they did well on what seemed to be a fairly busy opening night. I think that its location, non-chain store nature, focus on families as well as the trendy younger set, quality burgers and BYO appeal should just about see them shine through in an already crowded market place, and in that regard I wish them the best of luck.
However, dear readers, this review is not over yet (I know you all probably have better, more important things to be doing with your lives, but please bear with me for just a little while longer). Another unique selling point that should help it do well on the Beaufort St scene is that the Angry Moose does breakfast as well. Anyone who is familiar with the Mt Lawley scene will know how packed out places like the Merchant and Cantina can get of a weekend, so another quality breakfast venue is always a welcome addition. So, in the interests of thoroughness, I selflessly abandoned my bowl of soggy cornflakes on Saturday morning and returned to the ‘Moose to check out their brekky skills. Accompanied by Jen and my brother Tim, I had the Morning Burger (Free range Eggs, Preservative free Bacon, Emmental Cheese and Rocket Leaves in Brioche Roll) with added avocado, Tim went for the Trim & Terrific (Free range Eggs, baked roma Tomato, sautéed Rocket Leaves, green Tomato Chutney and Lawley’s Sour Dough Bread) with extra avo and Jen went for the standard Bacon and Eggs with some extra mushrooms. Overall things were pretty good, and given that we were their first breakfast customers ever I won’t be too harsh in my judgement. That said, I will offer some constructive criticism by saying that charging $3 for extras such as the avo and mushroom was a bit steep considering you didn’t get very much and we had to send some toast back a couple of times to get it done properly (but when it was finally toasted enough the Lawleys sourdough was brilliant covered in melting butter and strawberry jam). So, Angry Moose guys, if you’re reading this, adjust the pricing or size of your extras and crank up the toaster a few notches and I don’t see why we can’t continue to be breakfast buddies for a long time to come. Oh, they roast and blend their own coffee beans too and they brew we had there wasn’t half bad, so they gain points on that front.
P.S: For all of you that have been sniggering along reading this thinking “how hilarious, he doesn’t even know what an angry moose is slang for”, I’ll have you know that I am well aware of what it means and have, for once, chosen to take the high ground and ignore the smutty innuendo. For those of you that don’t know what it means, you have an internet connection and google, but it’s not exactly a pretty picture, so don’t say you weren’t warned…