Sydney. We have to talk. No, not about your sky-high rent or terrible public transport system. I want to talk about what you have done to the most delicious of culinary creations, the humble burger.
Every time I turn a corner, scroll through my newsfeed or open my eyes, I seem to be inundated with this week's brand spanking new, triple-stacked, "you-want-some-burger-with-your-bacon?", 20-dollar pile of heart-attack inducing deliciousness. And I am absolutely sick of it.
To the best of my knowledge, the burger craze really took Sydney by storm when this decade was just a couple of years old. Prior to this, you could get a burger quite easily at most pubs in Sydney, and we, as a city, have always had a soft spot for Maccas -- 3am cheeseburgers after a night out in The Cross? Yes please!
But the burger in the base form of its current interpretation wasn't really a thing until the legends over at Mary's (in Newtown) realised that they had created the tastiest thing ever put between two buns and unleashed it on the unsuspecting masses. One taste and we were hooked. It wasn't uncommon to be asked three times a week if you had "tried Mary's yet?", there were lines out the door, #foodporn entered our collective consciousness and the Sydney food scene would never be the same again.
Whenever somebody strikes gold on an idea, it is never too long before the imitators and pretenders come and ruin the party in a vain attempt to dethrone the king. This is where my problem with the burger comes from. I live in Darlinghurst, and by my estimates (based on no actual hard data or research) in the past two years about 7000 burger restaurants have sprung up within five kilometres of my house... all offering a similar product.
When the people who open these businesses sit down to discuss their plans for what they are going to do with their restaurants, this is what I imagine these meetings go like:
"Right, so we want to get into the hospitality/restaurant game, what product should we offer to make as much money as we possibly can?"
"How about burgers? They seem to be pretty hot at the moment?"
"Burgers? I like it. Let's make them bigger than they have ever been, so big that they fall apart almost as soon as you put them in your mouth and you end up with slime all over your face and hands. The more s**t we put on them directly equates to more people taking photos and posting them on Instagram. You can never have enough free publicity."
"But haven't dozens of other restaurants already done the same thing? How are we going to set ourselves apart?"
"Hmm. I've got it! Let's blast '90s hip-hop over the speakers! We can spray paint some murals on the wall as well! The kids like graffiti, don't they?"
And so on and so forth until Sydney caves in on itself under a mountain of cheese and maple-smoked bacon.
Being the cantankerous old man that I am, this soapbox is obviously going to be used more to complain about a problem that probably only exists in my head than offer up any real solutions. The only real way I can see the Sydney food scene changing is if people put down their phones when they're about to smash into their food.
Whatever photo you're about to take, we have seen before. We promise. Just enjoy your food, safe in the knowledge that getting seven likes on your picture does not make you a food blogger. When people stop posting these photos, maybe the people opening restaurants will move onto the next big thing (hopefully it is Indian Kebabs. Seriously, have you tried one yet?) and I can enjoy my city knowing that whenever I go to a new venue that opens my food options don't come down to a choice between 'double cheese' and 'triple cheese'.
Luckily Mary's delivers now because all this chat has me absolutely starving. In case you were wondering, I take the double cheeseburger with the trashcan bacon. Have you tried it yet? It is the best thing you will ever put in your mouth.
P.S. Don't even get me started on thickshakes.
This post first appeared on July 11, 2016.