It’s a #firstworldproblem. You love an active lifestyle and eating healthy. You waltz around the streets of New Farm donning Lorna Jane and Nikes. But sometimes you just crave a goddam’ burger.
Your saving grace? James Ellerslie DA’th, the enterprising, fitness and surfing obsessed creator and owner of aptly named DA’Burger in New Farm. Oh and he also invents stuff (from security fencing, swimming apparel – he was on first name basis with Thorpy – to starting up his own chutney and relish range inspired by recipes from his step mum Chrissie).
I arrived at DA’Burger on a chance passing mid morning one Sunday. Peering in I simply couldn’t resist the urge to go inside for a nosey. I had of course already heard about this place and it was on my ‘must try’ list but just hasn’t had the opportunity to go! James’ enthusiasm was immediately apparent as he greeted me warmly with a massive grin and a “hey mate!”. After explaining I was just dropping in to suss them out he kindly took his time to explain their philosophy, his background and how they make magic happen.
James’ story alone is incredible. Experiencing hardship earlier in his life he is now giving back through the Brisbane Youth Service by engaging in a pay it forward partnership (purchase a burger for someone less fortunate to enjoy later) and providing both mentorship opportunities and a work placement program with their first recruit to start this week! His wall of inspiration (postcards, quotes, photographs and stunning imagery) is a striking feature that runs the length of the sit-up bar and get’s him motivated daily – as does his TV screen that plays surfing videos on rotation.
After living the indulgent foodie lifestyle, with a stint eating rich and drinking with most meals in France and throughout Europe, he one day he woke up and decided things needed to change. Since then he has lost 30 kilos, learnt Spanish, is fit and active and has given up the grog. His only weakness was his burger obsession. So with hard work, entrepreneurship and help of the rest of the team (co-owner Jason and wife Wendy) he sought to quash the “unhealthy”, “fattening” stereotype of the humble burger. And he has gone and done just that, explaining that their burger philosophy – the Burger Triangle – focuses on providing the best burgers using all regional, fresh produce (the fact that he neighbours a butcher is no coincidence) and preservative free buns with both gluten free and bun-free options available.
Once I heard that everything is sourced, tried, tasted and tested locally as well as the complex list of ingredients and preparation that goes in to each delicious menu item, my mouth was watering. I just had to have one. Now.
“You know what, screw it, let’s do it. I haven’t had breakfast yet. What do you recommend? What’s your specialty?”
I looked up at the board and scanned the inventive and different burgers on offer – from BBQ Lambsie with red onion jam and DA’Burger’s own relish, to the 100% vego Garden Bliss with field mushrooms and pecorino Romano cheese. I was spoilt for choice.
Immediately James replied with –
“The Nelson Nasty, it’s actually a chicken burger but it’s hot and spicy and delicious”.
I was sold.
I took a seat and looked around me – cool decoupage covers the front wall, whilst an homage wall covered in fluorescent texta thank you messages includes signatures from customers, advocates and converts, ranging from the Channel 7 team and journalists to sports figures. Just as I had sat down a Brisbane Lions player had started to hoe into his freshly prepared Duke burger. I walked over to watch Jason and his burger flipping skills through the narrow window that reveals the open kitchen – that boy definitely knows his way around a hot plate.
No sooner had I sat back down James delivered my Nelson Nasty – the size of my head and filled with spice rubbed grilled chicken tenderloins, grilled streaky bacon, spicy jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo and finished with DA’Burger‘s in house chilli jam I couldn’t wait to tuck in…all I can say is HOLY MOTHER OF HEN. My first mouthful was a complete sensory overload with a direct hit on all taste regions of the tongue.
First there was the bun – so light, fluffy and airy it was like eating a cloud. James is clearly proud of what they offer – the DA’Licious bun was a collaborative effort with Artisan bakers Creative Crust that took months of perfecting – it’s a French inspired recipe that makes it unique to DA’Burger. Second I immediately got the smokey-salty-sweetness from the combination of bacon and 16-Morracan-style-spice rubbed succulent chicken breast with hints of cumin and tamarind.
But the real hero was the sweet and sour in the chilli jam with notes of star anise, orange, cinnamon, nutmeg and red wine vinegar. That combined with a bite of bitter from the spicy jalapeños and the fresh, juicy and voluminous fancy lettuce, thin slices of crisp red onion and a light almost yoghurt like mayo, you had burgercation at its best.
It’s no small surpise people are coming from as far as Redcliffe to eat at this place. Brisbane Lions players are regulars after training sessions and even fitness obsessed health nuts like me are eating a DA’Burger for breakfast! I think that says everything…
I left feeling elated I had found the solution to my #firstworldproblem, still savouring the complex array of flavours and not at all weighed down by that “heavy” burger feeling so often felt after eating one from you know where…I also felt doubly good after paying for a “suspended burger” as part of the BrisYouth program. Being regular can be extraordinary.
Do yourself a “flavour” and get over to DA’Burger for an epic feed with a side of burgercation. They’re soon to launch their beer and burger matched menus too, with 20 hand chosen boutique beers expertly paired to the burger for palatability. I know you’re already grabbing your keys and heading out the door, so enjoy! And while you’re at it look for my homage message on the wall. A hint…it features hashtags and the word epic.