Food: Mary's

Kara eats a burger at Mary's, the new bees' knees food depository located in Newtown in Sydney's Inner West.

Mary's is a new restaurant that opened up a few months ago on Mary street just near Camperdown Park, Newtown. It's owned by Jake Smyth of Bodega fame and Kenny Graham of Porteño. Ex-Tetsuya chef Darren Robertson (current judge on Recipe to Riches) said the kitchen was making the best burgers in Sydney, but he would say that because he’s undoubtedly major bros with Mary’s chef Luke Powell as they both worked together at Tetsuya’s.

The entrance was a heavy metal door surrounded by wheelie bins and pigeon feathers in a dark alley. Someone had written “MARYS” above the door in a permanent marker, but I couldn't be sure that Mary wasn't the name of an opportunistic sexual predator who preyed on hungry hipsters who had gotten lost looking for the next big thing.

My boyfriend and I gingerly walked in, and were immediately struck by the severe lack of lighting, interesting haircuts and prevalence of high waisted jeans. Everyone was chattering, and cute waiters made their way through the crowd with little baskets brimming with shoe-string fries and chicken. We waited on the stairs for a table. Everyone was too cool to tell us what to do or where to stand, so we just stood there rather awkwardly, kind of hoping someone would leave so we didn't have to look like dorks for much longer.

Eventually we got a table, and asked the waiter for a menu, but he said rather brashly,“we don't do menus” and told us that the food list was located on a blackboard, which happened to be located downstairs on the opposite side of the restaurant. As my view was obstructed by hungry stair queuers, I had to stand up and awkwardly lean over a neighbouring table to make out the blurry chalk words. Unfortunately, my boyfriend couldn't see anything because he had forgotten to bring his glasses, so I had to stand there, half-reading half-shouting the menu to him, as he decided on his future dinner. I should also mention here that the restaurant was practically pitch black. On the menu, there were four items: three burgers, two beef and one vegetarian and various sized baskets of fried chicken. Everything was served with chips. You could get mash with gravy if you liked for an extra $5. I felt kind of bad that a chef from Tetsuya’s had been demoted to a life in front of a deep fryer… but perhaps he wanted a change of scenery.

We ordered two burgers. The waiter stood there awkwardly for a moment, until we figured out he was waiting for money. For some reason at Mary's you pay before you eat the food, kind of like McDonalds. We waited for our food for maybe 20 minutes in the dark, until two plastic food baskets were dropped down in front of us. From what I could make out, there was a burger wrapped in grease-proof paper perched precariously atop a pile of fries. I eagerly unwrapped the burger, and opened it up to see what exactly comprised the best burger Darren Robertson had ever eaten.

Apparently a cheeseburger at Mary's is largely black with patches of maroon, according to the few photons my eyes were picking up. I could hardly tell where my hands ended and the burger began, it was so dark. I contemplated momentarily turning on the torch app on my iPhone to inspect the contents of said burger more closely, but decided that would make me look like some sort of diehard food instagrammer. I sheepishly took my first bite, and it near killed me. It really tasted like the best McDonalds I'd ever had. Crack is to cocaine as McDonalds is to this burger. I thoroughly enjoyed the melty fake cheese situation, and the brioche bun practically melted in my mouth. It tasted like what I imagine those burgers that kids from American movies eat while they sit on stoops taste like. My only issue is it was far too small: it should have been at least twice as big. If challenged, I could have eaten it in three bites. But that wouldn’t have been particularly becoming.

Was it the best burger in Sydney? I suppose it really depends on what you’re looking for. It’s definitely very good, but I’ve definitely had better. That said, I do eat a lot of burgers: maybe you should just try them for yourself.

You can find Mary's at:

6 Mary Street
Newtown, NSW 2042

Phone: 02 4995 9550

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