2018 gifted Perth a string of new burger joints, but 2020 is hot on its heels, with a clutch of new players rising from the post-lockdown ashes. Last week, Bad Love Burger Co – arguably the most anticipated burger joint of the year – opened in West Leederville.
Bad Love is the rebranding of Smashburger BBQ, which has been turning out its popular burgers (sometimes as many as 100 an hour) from its pop-up at Bayswater Bowling and Recreation Club since mid-2019. Architect Tristan Chambers started Smashburger as a part-time creative outlet in collaboration with Big Don’s Smoked Meats. “It was a way to scratch an itch that didn’t require a full commitment”, he tells Broadsheet.
But as of this week he’s running it full-time, in a bricks-and-mortar space on Harrogate Street.
“The pop-ups were great because I learnt about marketing, branding and customer experience,” he says. “As great as it was serving so many people, you also think about how many we turned away and how many couldn’t come. In the end, that forced us into this venue.”
Bad Love specialises in the smashed patty, where mince is smashed on the hotplate with a spatula. The burgers have already proven themselves to be winners with the public, and Chambers promises his new venue will bring something different to the Perth burger table.
“We’re a technique-driven burger joint. Rather than focusing on what’s in your burger, we focus more on how we make it,” he explains. “That comes down to a few critical factors: temperature, proteins, fats, how different cheeses react with different proteins, the time it takes to cook, the time it takes to come off the grill. All those little things.”
To smash or not is often the subject of heated debate amongst burger-lovers. Chambers has spent 18 months developing his product and is sticking to his guns. All Bad Love beef burgers are doubles by default – don’t even think about asking for a single.
“For me, a double smashed patty with a lacy edge is the ultimate burger,” he says. “You’ve got juiciness, texture, twice the Maillard reaction, and you can stack it up for a meat-cheese-meat-cheese effect.”
Like many burger maestros, Chambers won’t give away his recipes or suppliers. He will say that the meat-to-fat ratio is roughly 70/30, and he uses two buns (one potato, one white).
The opening menu has five double-beef and two free-range fried-chicken-thigh burgers, adorned with various combinations of pickled cucumbers and jalapenos; bacon; tomato; lettuce; and condiments such as onion jam, bourbon mayo and raw cold-smoked honey. You can grab seasoned fries on the side, and Philly cheesesteaks are coming soon.
Bad Love’s stool-heavy fit-out is basic but practical, with a single neon sign on the interior wall the only identifying mark.
Bad Love Burger Co
4/39 Harrogate Street, West Leederville
Hours: Wed & Thu 11am–2.30pm, 5pm–8.30pm
Fri & Sat 11am–2.30pm, 5pm–9pm