Have you heard of the Sydney restaurant that lets you add hot cheese to basically anything on their menu?
Bare Grill on Bourke has been doing a roaring (growling?) trade since the clever introduction of raclette cheese to its menu of burgers and sides.
The first time I had raclette was French-style, over potatoes and meat, served from a special raclette grill in a small apartment in Paris. Fast forward to now where thousands of Sydneysiders are experiencing similar joys of melted raclette cheese scraped straight from the wheel, right at their tables, at Surry Hills' Bare Grill on Bourke.
And they'll add it to pretty much anything you like. Extra cheese on your cheeseburger? Sure. On your chips? Waffle fries? Grilled vegetables? Go for it.
We try the latter option this time, a plate of Chargrilled Asparagus Spears, Chargrilled Eggplant and Chargrilled Zucchini served on rocket with melted raclette served on top in front of your eyes ($18). The vegetables are cooked well, tasty and tender, and the rocket is a helpful flavour contrast to offset the oil. And then there's the raclette, of course, which is dolloped divinely and generously on top and scraped up with cheesey grins.
Though it's not just about the cheese. Bare Grill on Bourke is arguably best known for its burgers, voted by many as the best in Sydney and popular with many of our local burger connoisseurs. We start with a classic "The Bare", Beef patty, American cheddar, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, bare sauce and milk bun ($14, we add beetroot relish for an extra $2). The beef is cooked perfectly, the salad serve isn't stingey like many places these days and despite the generous portions it's still able to be eaten with your hands without too much effort or mess.
The same is not as easily said of chicken burger staple "Son of a Cockfighter", Southern fried chicken filet, bacon, liquid cheese, guacamole, lettuce, coleslaw, big bare sauce and milk bun ($16, or $20 for the Big Bare Cockfighter with 2 chicken fillets and double bacon). This monster is an saucy concoction oozing with sauce and gooey cheese that will no doubt end up all over your face and hands. Finger-lickin' good indeed. The chicken is delicious - a huge portion, crispy fried on the outside, perfectly cooked on the inside. We might prefer a little more guacamole and a little less sauce or liquid cheese, though that may be a contentious suggestion...
For vegetarians there's "The Herbivore" with BBQ field mushroom, American cheddar, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, aioli mayo and milk bun ($15) - add that raclette for $7 if you dare.
Take your pick from side dishes that start with simple fries ($6+) and sweet potato wedges ($12) and extend to mac and cheese croquettes - that truly are filled with mac and cheese ($12) or the wild "Epic Fries" of Waffle Fries with liquid cheese, pulled pork, spiced aioli, Carolina BBQ sauce and bacon topped with shallots ($18). Bring a friend or two for that one.
Bare Grill also offers a range of steaks, ribs and lamb souvlaki, an assortment of salads and a "Little Cubs" menu for the kids.
The drinks list offers some signature milkshakes, a simple list of beers and wines by the glass, and a page of cocktails, including one of the better espresso martinis we've had in town for a while.
Bare Grill on Bourke is at 425 Bourke Street, Surry Hills.
Open for dinner Tuesday - Sunday and lunch Friday - Sunday.