In an age of crap take-away food, it's refreshing to find a couple of dudes who pride themselves on delivering a quality product. At above the R50 mark, BGR burgers are quite pricey for fast food fare - owners Jed and Josh don't make no bones about that - but this is a burger that comes with proper home-style cooking flavour, is made from real, fresh ingredients and, best of all... no heartburn afterwards!
The lads came over about five years ago from New York and Pennsylvania respectively, and soon after meeting up found that they shared a common frustration: the inability to find an American-style burger in South Africa.
"The US is undergoing a burger renaissance right now," says Jed. "The focus is on serving real, unprocessed food, with simple menus: you can often see into the open kitchens." He starts dropping names like Shake Shack, Five Guys and Smash Burger. These are the types of places that they wish to emulate.
"Some of the burgers here in SA are good, but they are 'bistro' burgers - you need a knife and fork to eat it - and the focus is on the topping."
At BGR, quality is everything: the meat is grass-fed (from Braeside Butchery, the carnivore's Mecca), the patty mince (never frozen) is made up of different cuts, the chips come all the way from Holland and the imported grill is made from special alloys: even at 400 degrees you can put your hand just above it, making for an even, brown crust.
Like any startup business, Josh and Jed have had a tough time finding the right suppliers, wares and premises. Because they are perfectionists, it's been even harder.
"It's been an incredibly frustrating time," says Josh.
Starting at a market in Marshalltown, the premises are now located in the back of the Caltex garage on Jan Smuts, corner Jellicoe Avenue; they will be moving upstairs soon to Archive, facing Keyes Street, which explains the current absence of décor.
They are still waiting for a special ice cream machine, which extrudes frozen custard and no, it's not your store-bought Ultramel variety. This machine beats very little air into the custard, which results in a wonderfully dense, creamy texture.
So, if you are looking for something midway between fast food and a sit-down meal, look no further: BGR is catering to the 'fast-casual' market, where you can get a killer meal in under 10 minutes.
Where? Caltex Garage, 172 Jan Smuts Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg
When? Mondays to Sundays: 11:00 - 20:30
Tel: 072 368 2695
by Derek Davey