There’s that word again. Gourmet. It always makes me think of The Galloping Gourmet – Graham Kerr. You’re all probably too young, but he was one of the first television chefs. Before the Galloping Gourmet, cooking shows were all hosted by earnest middle aged women in nicely starched, hygienic tunics, whose senses of humour had to be safely tucked out of harms way, before they could start explaining the intricacies of crumbed cutlets. After Kerr, there was Bernard King, all red face, mutton-chops and double-entendres.
Times have changed. Now everything is Gourmet.
Moo is part of a small Sydney based five-link chain. But even so there is something a bit NZ about the place, and one of the links in the chain is at Bondi, the Kiwi beach-head so… I’ll leave you to join the dots. After a bit of internet research, I have learned that Moo has very strong Oz and Kiwi milk bar heritage. So there you go. I was partly right, but mostly wrong.
I think it is the self-conscious quirk thing that made me think NZ. The walls are covered with kids drawings and there is a piano, and one of those old lounges, that you know if you sit in, you will never be able to get out again. Moo offers the punters a wide choice of dining options. You can sit at a normal table, a high table, a coffee table, or an enormous group table. But you can only order burgers. And beers. Or milkshakes. Some wine. And a few cocktails. And a dessert. But mainly burgers.
It is quite full when I arrive so I grab the only free table while I wait for Strop and Mark to arrive. It is one of the high tables, and the chairs are those stupid high stools that you have to climb down off to move, which means you are never quite close enough to the table.
The place seems to be full of teenage girls and large family groups indulging in pre-Christmas get togethers. It is the time of year when young men suddenly sprout antlers on their heads, and women who are old enough to know better, wear red and green flashing earrings. Oh well, it’ll all be over soon and we can get back to bushfires and sunburn.
The staff all seem to be teenaged girls too. Maybe I’m just feeling old. Mark and Strop arrive just when I have decided that I won’t be able to survive my own company any longer without a beer.
The menus are printed on big squares of transparent plastic. I imagine that this makes them very easy to clean, but it also makes them very hard to read. I find that I have to hold mine up to the light so that I can read the burger fine print. There is a lot of it.
We are all tempted by the Duck and Bacon Burger but Strop is the only one brave enough to carry the fantasy through to the plate. She adds beetroot to it as well. I opt for the signature Black and White Burger (cheese and egg), apparently named after the first milk bar in Sydney, and Mark eventually turns his back on the duck and goes for the Avocado and Bacon. The burgers don’t automatically come with a side of chips – that seems to be a pub thing – so Strop and I get a basket of chips to share. Given the size of our breakfast, this is probably a mistake.
It was about this time that the parents at the big family table decided that letting their bored kids loose on the piano would be a good way to distract them. It certainly drove me to distraction. Coincidentally Strop was telling Mark all about her hearing aids, as the children banged away on the keyboard, and all the adults spoke up to be heard over the noise. We were only saved by the arrival of their burgers. The children were enticed away from the piano with the promise of chips, and the adults had to stop talking because their mouths were suddenly full.
Then our burgers arrived, and I stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing as egg yolk ran down my wrist, and melted cheese formed a suspension bridge between my mouth and what was left of the Black and White.
We enjoyed the burgers and the chips, but I’ll leave the scorecard summary to my colleague.
“Not as good as Burger Fuel,” said Mark, smothering a little belch with his napkin.