So recently Mary’s opened up a store in the CBD on Castlereagh Street opposite the ANZ building. I actually had no idea this happened, I didn’t really see much about it on Urbanspoon or those Sydney food sites or anything, so imagine my excitement when I saw someone post a picture of the deep fried chicken burger on Instagram and tagged the CBD store! This was fairly exciting for a couple reasons 1. I can now have Mary’s without the hassle of heading all the way out to Newtown, and I know, I know, “Newtown’s not even that far mannnnn” (I had to hippie that up) but seriously, try living in Canberra for awhile; distance changes meaning 2. They didn’t have a deep fried chicken burger before!
So, while working in Sydney over the Christmas period, we headed out to Mary’s for lunch. By the time we got there, it was about 1.30PM and the crowd was massive! We kind of freaked out a bit because we weren’t expecting so many people considering it was pretty much Christmas and really late for lunch. Luckily it wasn’t a line to order, but just people waiting around to get their burgers. The relief washed over us like a cool wave, not a whole lot better, but we had to take whatever positives were around.
The menu at Mary’s comprised of four burgers, three thick shakes and fries. There’s no seating space at Mary’s CBD store, you just order and wait around outside until your number gets called, pure take away. The store isn’t much bigger than 3 meters wide. We ordered our food and after about 15 to 20 mins our number got called and we grabbed our goodies and headed back to the office to enjoy.
In case you can’t see, there are four burgers up there (plus a breakfast burger):
1. Classic Mary’s burger ($10): beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, Mary’s sauce and cheese
2. Cheeseburger ($10): beef, two slices of cheese, onion, pickles, mustard and ketchup
3. Chicken burger ($12): deep fried chicken, cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato and Mary’s sauce
4. Vegetarian burger ($10): field mushroom, cheese, onion, lettuce and Mary’s sauce
5. Breakfast burger ($12): pork sausage pattie, bacon, hash brown, onion, cheese, HP sauce, and maple syrup and vinegar reduction
On top of these four burgers, Mary’s has three thick shakes, I’m assuming these flavours change weekly or so, when we were there Mary’s was offering smokey maple, popcorn and coffee flavoured thick shakes. There is also a self serve soft drink machine. Outside of the drinks and burgers, you can add a side of fries to your burger and a couple of other modifications like adding bacon, extra cheese and etc. Finally, all burgers can be made into meals with fries and either a thickshake for $19 or a soft drink for $17 (chicken burger prices). Its a simple set up but I like it. It means I can come and quickly review the menu and pick something to eat within five minutes. Instead of staring at the menu and pondering over my choices.
Alrightie, food talk time.
We opted for the meal but you can also get a side of Fries ($3) by its self. The fries were simple, nothing amazing or blow your mind but tasty for what they are. Mary’s offers simple shoe string fries that are seasoned in salt. In hindsight for $3 it’s not an amazing deal or anything, they’re pretty indistinguishable from Mcdonalds fries (at least from what I can tell) and Mcdonalds will give you nearly this much for $1. Pretty serviceable fries all in all, and a nice convenience option if you’re not too concerned about price. The fries themselves were nice, crispy and crunchy on the outside with soft and airy potato on the inside. Even though the above sounded a bit negative, it was really purely a price thing, I absolutely love Mcdonalds fries, so I was perfectly happy with these!
Alrightie, on to the exciting stuff, first up the Mary’s burger ($10) with beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, Mary’s sauce and cheese. God these burgers were ugly! Normally I’ll just take a picture of whatever happens and it’ll come out, at least alright, average. For these though? Well that picture above, was pretty much two slices of bread before I got to fiddling around with it. I worked to make this look as presentable as possible and this is what I ended up with. You may not be able to see it but there’s actually a whole beef patty in there, its just hidden under all the cheese, sauce, lettuce and tomato. But don’t judge a burger by its bun, I guess.
The burgers at Mary’s are extremely soft, which is something I really enjoyed. This is a bit of a weird point, but this is probably the most “American” burger I’ve ever had, it has that same feel of the foil wrapped burgers you get from a place like Five Guys in NY (which I absolutely love). The smokey meat flavours come through really strongly, and the buns aren’t too bready, which means they go down your throat really easily, and the actual ingredients take centre stage. Giant sesame covered buns are what I dislike most about Australian burgers so I really did appreciate these.
Here is a cross section of our burger, I normally don’t do this but we were sharing our burgers, since I couldn’t pass on either the Mary’s or the chicken burger and couldn’t eat two, we decided on a sharing strategy. The burger definitely looks a bit better like this. Here you can clearly see the beef patty which covers the whole Mary’s burger as well as the good amount of lettuce and tomato. I know many of you probably don’t really care but I really appreciate it when the veggies cover the whole burger. Ingredient coverage is huge for me, there’s nothing worse then hitting a part that’s got 4 layers of lettuce, and then running into a bit that is just meat and bun, consistent burger experiences are big for me. Oh, there was also a very generous amount of Mary’s delicious and flavoursome sauce which kept the whole burger really moist. One thing I should mention is that it is really quite a small burger, probably 1.5 of a Mcdonalds cheeseburger. So if you’re starving, maybe go for 2 of these.
Our second burger, the Chicken burger ($12) with a deep fried chicken patty, cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato and Mary’s sauce. I’ve had Mary’s a couple of times in Newtown and something I absolutely loved was their fried chicken. For some reason, Mary’s CBD has made a decision not to serve its famous fried chicken in the CBD store, but as some sort of penance for this aberration (I know, I’m being too dramatic about this) they are serving fried chicken burgers! This didn’t exist in the Newtown store, so I was really excited to give it a try.
This is now my favourite burger at Mary’s. The chicken patty is a delicious slab of breast meat that is really quite thick. It makes the burger bigger (never a bad thing) and more full of meat (even less of a bad thing!). The flavours are par the course for your typical chicken burger, since it contains a lot of the same ingredients. However, the Mary’s fried chicken burger comes with a lot higher quality ingredients than any other chicken burger I’ve ever had before. The combination of the herbs and spices on the skin of the chicken and the generous slather of Mary’s sauce gives this burger that little something that most others lack. I really enjoyed this, and would get this over every other burger at Mary’s.
Again here is a cross section of our chicken burger, as you can see its a pretty good amount of tasty chicken along with the other goodies on the burger. One thing I touched on previously that I love about the burgers at Mary’s is the size and consistency of the bread. Normally, the bun makes up such a big part of the burger but here you barely even notice it. The bun is so soft that it gets completely dwarfed by all the ingredients that fill up the burger. If it were up to me, this is how all burgers should be.
Finally, our Veggie burger ($10) with field mushroom, cheese, onion, lettuce and Mary’s sauce. Again, sorry for how hideous this burger looks, I really did try to neaten it up but alas, it was just not possible. This burger was fine and all but I don’t know how I feel about mushroom burgers. I definitely think it’s more tasty than a chickpea patty but I’ve yet to find a place that does it well. This burger comes from Mary’s Newtown store. Having this burger in Newtown and having it here in the CBD, I’ve stumbled across the same issue both times. When you first start munching into this burger its delicious but after a while it just becomes waaay too salty and unbearable. Its not a Mary’s only issue either, I’ve had this problem at The Burger Project, Grill’d and other burger joints. In hindsight, maybe it’s me!
Outside of the saltiness, I enjoyed this burger, especially the first half of it. The bun was really soft and had this slight sweetness to it which worked really well with the other savoury flavours. There was plenty of Mary’s sauce and a generous amount of melted cheese on every single corner of this burger which made the burger really creamy, flavoursome and moist. Nothing worse than a dry burger. The lettuce and onions added some freshness, crunchiness and lightness to the heavy flavours of the sauce, cheese and mushroom patty. Finally, my favourite (kind of) part about this veggie burger from Mary’s was the fact that they used two massive field mushrooms in one burger! Every other place I’ve been to just gives you one. I liked how generous they were at Mary’s but the two mushrooms was probably this burgers downfall, making it just a little too salty and quite unmanageable. The two field mushrooms were really moist, which also made the whole burger slip and slide around which totally killed this burgers structural integrity. Tough to eat this one.
We originally had no plans to try out Mary’s Breakfast burger ($12 + $1 egg) with pork sausage pattie, bacon, a hash brown, onion, cheese, HP sauce, and maple syrup and vinegar reduction plus an egg but I’m so glad we did, it definitely gave the chicken burger a run for its money, and the chicken burger is honestly lucky that they’re not in direct competition! When we first went there for lunch we saw that Mary’s did a brekkie burger for $12 and we thought that it was a bit much, especially considering all the massive and delicious bacon and egg rolls (with a hash brown as well) that you can get from around Sydney for less than $10, so we kind of just put it aside and didn’t make any plans to check it out. But it was meant to be! On Christmas Eve we decided we ducked out to grab a quick coffee and a bacon and egg roll. We headed to our go to store, Big Bite on Pitt assuming that it would be open without a back up plan in mind. We arrived to a completely dark store and a sign that said ‘Closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day’. Well, so much for that. With Mary’s just a block away, we figured whatever, the stars have aligned, lets just try this burger.
Crossing the road we were actually quite nervous, Mary’s was pretty dark and there was no line outside, luckily when we got closer we noticed that they were open. We ordered a brekkie burger and decided to also add an egg for an extra $1. A few minutes later, we received our burger.
This burger was absolutely amazing! They opted for a sunny side egg which I think is honestly the only way to have an egg on a bacon and egg roll. Terribly messy, but, come on, you’re having a bacon and egg roll here, lets not kid ourselves. Generally, it’s really, really hard to get a super high quality bacon and egg roll, most nice places will use a nicer bread, or pile on the bacon, but it’s pretty rare to get something different from that. This breakfast burger is different to anything I’ve ever had before.
The pork sausage patty was fantastic, really smokey, peppery, and spicy. Considerably different to a standard beef patty, and good enough to make me wonder what a normal burger would taste like with this patty. The hash brown was soft, not too oily or crunchy, just a nice starchy flavour of deep fried potato, without any of the defining characteristics that might have overpowered the burger. The bacon was pretty standard, so I won’t go too deep into that, it was crispy.
There was also plenty of sweetness from the HP sauce and the maple syrup and vinegar reduction. The reduction, when I saw it on the menu, was just something I thought would be a bit of a novelty, something hipster for hipsters sake. But in the end of the day, the reduction made this burger. It had this acidic undertone to it, which really helped to cut through all the richness in this brekkie burger. There was also a good amount of creamy melted cheese and sauteed onions as well. I know this just sounds like a jumble of different flavours, textures and what not but together they just worked perfectly to bring joy with every single mouthful. I could not believe how well all the ingredients came together. For any breakfast roll lover out there, you have got to try this out!
Finally our drinks, a Smokey maple thickshake ($6) and a Popcorn thickshake ($6). This is no normal thickshake where you get some milk and mix it up with a couple of scoops of ice cream. These thickshakes come straight out of a soft serve machine. Texture wise, just imagine drinking a Maccas soft serve ice cream that you’ve mixed up and let melt for a bit. Both flavours came out completely white, you would have no idea which was which without the crew at Mary’s telling you or giving it a sip. The moment you taste these thickshakes though, you’ll know exactly which one they are, the flavours are that pronounced.
The flavours were extremely strong and really correct, which was a bit of a nervous point for me, because if someone said they were going to make you a drink that tasted like popcorn, you’d be a bit unsure if they could pull that off. These shakes taste just like you’re drinking the actual foods that they’re based off. The smokey maple thickshake was a really cool drink but they didn’t lie when they said smokey! This thickshake had smokey coming out the wazoo, you could just smell the smokiness pouring out with every sip of this one. There was also a really sticky sweetness to the drink. However, it didn’t quite taste just like maple to me, it had this meaty taste to it. For me, this drink tasted more like a smokey maple bacon thickshake. Maybe it’s because I’m terribly uncultured but I don’t think I was ready for a meat drink like this. Wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever had drink wise, but if you’re ever in the mood for a drink that tastes like bacon, then this is for you!
The popcorn thickshake was my favourite of the two. It wasn’t a salted caramel popcorn or a burnt butter popcorn. It was just a plain and delicious popcorn thickshake. There was this savoury popcorn flavour to the creaminess of the thickshake, I found that it really helped to keep the shake from getting too sweet or overwhelming. This popcorn flavour was so basic yet really delicious, the creaminess of the ice cream and the butter popcorn, contrasted the savouriness of the popcorn itself, making this really interesting and an enjoyable beverage. Just a perfect combination.
I really enjoyed our trip to Mary’s in the CBD, I’ve discovered some new favourites and will definitely be coming back regularly for at least the brekkie burger which is different to any brekkie burger I’ve ever had before (and I’ve had my fair share of bacon and egg rolls from across Australia and the USA). I’m very glad to see awesome places from around Sydney (outside of the CBD) opening up stores within the city and saving us CBD workers from the drag of the day. Good stuff!