I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to mention Queenstown without someone telling you that you have to go eat at Fergburger while you’re there. It is, in the best hole-in-the-wall foodie tradition, an institution. So visit we did, on our last night in town.
After much indecision on my part (bambi or lamby? which to choose??) I ended up going with the Sweet Bambi, while The Boy had the Mr. Big Stuff. (If you can’t read it, basically mine was a venison burger with plum chutney on it, and his was a half-pound beef pattie with cheddar, bacon and BBQ sauce.)
Let me preface my review by saying two things:
1 – Coming from the hometown of The Works, The Boy and I are no strangers to good burgers. Quite frankly, when it comes to a commercial burger, we’re hard to impress. If anyone is singing the praises of some restaurant’s burger, it had better be a damn good sandwich.
2 – New Zealand has an obsession with aioli that I do not understand. The number of times that a sandwich, burger, even salad came with some kind of flavourful sauce (ketchup, BBQ, pesto, etc.) and aioli, I can’t count, but I find the combination of the two inexplicable. I’m not a huge mayo fan to begin with, but having it in combination with another sauce, especially a sweet one? Yuck.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the good things.
Fergburger knows their stuff: they are organized and fast. There is very little seating (see also: hole in the wall) but the decor is still cheerful and relatively clean. Their staff are friendly and the burgers are big, without being intimidatingly huge. I especially like that the burgers do not automatically come with fries the way they do at The Works, because I probably couldn’t finish that. I felt that the burgers were definitely big, but manageable.
The venison in my burger was amazingly tender — if I’m being honest, it was much better than any elk burger I’ve ever had at The Works, possibly because it was thinner (maybe 4 or 5 oz?). Having said that, the plum chutney was a horrible disappointment. My first bite of this burger was blissful because it contained venison, some lettuce, some onion and bun. Every subsequent bite had both aioli (why??) and chutney, which completely overpowered the sandwich: all I could taste was Too Much Sweet. Fail.
The Boy’s burger wasn’t much better. He states that the bread for the bun was okay, and that the meat was cooked to an appropriate degree (not overcooked, not gross) but that otherwise, it was a completely forgettable burger. Mehn.
Moral of the story? If you’re drunk and have the money, Fergburger. If you’re in a state to notice what you’re eating, go elsewhere. Anywhere elsewhere. (Seriously. We tried a Nepalese food court vendor (don’t ask) and although I’m sure the authenticity is questionable, I had a really good four-bowl veggie chat for less than my burger cost.)
On an unrelated note, as a parting nod to the adventure capital of the world, I also turned the heels of my socks on our last night. From nearly 10 meters above ground! That’s right, folks, i kept it real in Queenstown with Extreme Knitting (two socks! one needle!) right there in the hostel. (After our lackluster performance at the trivia, and the questionable Fergburgers, The Boy and I decided to call it an early night before our 7:40 departure the next day.)