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ribs & burgers, rhodes

November 18, 2014

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We’d driven by the signage week after week on our frequent, despair-filled trips to (and from) Ikea.

“We’ve had those burgers before, haven’t we?” I asked, on the way to looking at (yet another) outdoor setting for our sparse balcony.

“What? You already had lunch” replied Koji, mind focused on the task at hand.

“We were at the Star and we needed food for the final State of Origin game. Last year. When we lost.” 

“I don’t remember. Didn’t we win this year?”

“No, last year. Don’t worry. Can you remind me to get more tea towels?”

“I’m pretty sure they have napkins there.”

“What?”

“The burger place. Why would you need to bring tea towels?”

And so our conversations went back and forth until one day, after receiving an invite* to try out the wares, we finally put our communicative issues aside and headed back down the road to Rhodes for a meal (and, finally, an outdoor setting).

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The restaurant is still cranking at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. A small fleet of strollers and prams surrounds a large table at the back. A gangly gaggle of skateboard toting teens scoff fries in the sunlight. Couples steal forkfuls of salad from each others’ plates. There’s three or four at the benches waiting for takeaway and an enticing smell coming from the grill plates.

And then there’s us.

Frazzled and distracted from battling the crowds. From forgetting where we’d parked our car. Oh, and hungry.

Excellent.

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We realise, as we sit at our prized corner booth, that we’ve probably ordered too much. That we won’t be able to finish it all. That the light in here is really, really good and that the decor has us feeling like we’ve stumbled into a local haven and not a large chain store.

That the tin teapot bearing our table number also contains all of the cutlery and napery we’d need for our feast and that something smells really good at the table behind us.

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First to land is an enameled plate of cabbage salad ($6) with a comforting mix of crisp shredded cabbage and sweet apple. The dressing is tart and fresh. The pine nuts, roasted and creamy.

“Save some to eat with the meat” chides Koji.

“There’s a mountain of it! I don’t need to save anything!” I reply, mouth full, fork hovering above the plate.

It sounds strange, this being a review of a meat-ery, but this salad was the one dish that I can’t stop thinking about recreating at home. It was so easy to eat and would make a fantastic summer lunch.

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And then suddenly, the table starts to fill up.

The R&B Combo ($26-28) contains half a rack of ribs, two mini burgers and a serve of either chips or the cabbage salad. It’s an ideal choice for someone like me who inevitably gets a case of food envy when looking around any eatery as you get a bit of almost everything.

There is a choice between the lamb, beef or pork ribs, each of which have been slow cooked for at least 8 hours in their own juices before being grilled and basted with a sticky, sweet sauce. The pork ribs are meaty and tender, needing only a pair of fingers and a sharp set of teeth for optimum enjoyment.

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The two burgers are just miniature versions of the Original and Chicken burgers from the burger menu. We’re told we can get two of the same if we’re particularly fond of one flavour but opt for variety and select one of each.

The chicken burger was tasty. The breast meat (not generally my favourite) was moist. The aioli was creamy. But the beef burger had me finishing every bite of my share. Maybe it was the shredded iceberg. The slice of tomato that threatened to escape with every erstwhile nibble. The just-pink pattie with its charred edge.

One delightful handful.

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Speaking of delights, I found myself utterly enamoured with the onion rings ($6). It’s a generous serve of tender, lightly spiced, battered onion. Not at all greasy, even when eaten cold, long after we’d finished the rest of our meal. They were thinly sliced, this tangle of light-as-air, faintly crisp vegetable.

I’d eat a handful of these over a basket of fried potato any day.

We tried (oh, how we tried!) to wash the onion rings down with our vanilla malt thickshake ($7), but it lived up to its name and resolutely refused to work its way up the straw. As it melted (a by-product of the streaming sunshine and our vigourous stirring efforts), it revealed its true colours. Or, should I say, flavours.

Low on the vanilla. Rich on the malt. Extra rich on the malt when you got one of the crunchy cookie bits scattered on the top and luxuriously creamy. Horlicks lovers will adore this – it has the same buttery, malty flavour.

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We were stumped when it came to ordering our second main meal. The grilled meats sounded good, but we already had ribs. And with two mini burgers on the platter, did we really need to sample a third?

As it turns out, yes we did. The Veggie Patch ($16) is a vegetarian burger option that has become one of the most popular items sold in store at Rhodes amongst both customers and the staff, and we can see why.

Two large field mushrooms, basted with a lemon & herb sauce and grilled until juicy replace the usual pucks of dry nothingness I’ve come to associate with vegie burgers. A slab of melted haloumi sits atop, with a tangle of those fantastic onion rings adding crunch. A dollop of aioli binds it together and a curl of iceberg makes valiant attempts to protect the bun from the drips and dribbles of sauce that leak onto the board.

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I’m gushing. I know. It’s unbecoming and reeks of advertorial.

But here’s the thing. I liked the food. I enjoyed the atmosphere. And I’d eat here again, on my own coin, and fairly frequently too.

(Or at least any time I’m in need of a feed pre / mid or post a harrowing Ikea trip.)

It’s the little things that made my afternoon.

The basin in the dining room for washing your rib-juicy hands – far more hygienic than a trip to the bathroom or a moist towel – and gushing with warm water no less. The sauces that came in bottles alongside your cutlery at no extra charge, and the wall of other sauces (including bottles of Tabasco) that meant you could dress your meal up whichever way your wanted. The space between the tables. The cleanliness of the floors.

The little things.

Like getting the very last table in the stack at Ikea, and finally having somewhere to sit in the mornings.

(Next job: re-configuring the second bedroom.)

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RIbs & Burgers

at locations across the Eastern States of Australia, including

Shop 53-54
1 Rider Boulevard
Rhodes NSW
(the shop is street side, so exit Rhodes Shopping Centre just past Oliver Brown and turn right)

open daily from 11am
ph: 02 9743 0880
website: http://ribsandburgers.com.au/

*Shez & co ate as a guest of Ribs & Burgers. The above review has been written in accordance with onebitemore’s editorial policy.


  • #1
    November 19th, 2014

    I looooooove Ribs & Burgers – one of my go-to places to eat when I’m craving meat or burgers and don’t feel like cooking. I usually get their awesome chips as a side, but recently tried the cabbage salad and it was a serious contender with the chips!

  • #2
    November 19th, 2014

    the ribs and cabbage salad looks really good!

  • #3
    Bigbite
    November 19th, 2014

    I’m sold!

  • #4
    December 10th, 2014

    I had the duo sliders the very first time I went and was kind of disappointed, my beef one was sooooo dry. I went back a month or so ago and got the regular sized cheeseburger and it made a world of difference. Oh and agree with you about the onion rings, especially smothered in that aioli.

Shez