It took Mitch Coleman three years to talk 4 Ounces co-founder and head chef Rory Donnelley into opening the restaurant. “He’s a great chef,” says Coleman, “And he seemed pretty stressed out working all these crazy hours.”
Donnelley (previously of Cafe Del Mar) left work and with Coleman and some close friends revamped the old Henley’s Wholefoods space in Alexandria. The hours are still long, though.
“We did the whole thing in about six weeks. It was quick! But this way it’s my own stress,” says Donnelley. “And I learned that you can take the fine-dining values that chefs hold onto and get rid of all the pretentious stuff. Then you can do fast food in a really interesting way.”
There's a local and sustainable focus to the venue. The beef is hand-raised on a farm in Orange, chicken is organic and free range, and it has sourced produce from within a 300-kilometre radius of Sydney (with a few exceptions). Biopac packaging will be introduced soon.
It’s a small space, so the interior design is kept simple with clean white tiles and pale timber benchtops. Artist James Jirat designed the burger packaging and did the large black and white mural lining one wall.
“Someone told me it looked like Shredder from Ninja Turtles,” Donnelley says. “But it’s actually MF Doom. And that’s fine. Shredder is cool too.”
The hip-hop theme continues throughout the menu. Try The Ol' Dirty is two four-ounce Hereford Red patties, American cheese, Westmont pickles and sauce in a glazed doughnut bun from Donut Papi. It’s high intensity, with salty, umami and sweet all vying for attention, but there are more traditional burgers, too. The Common is a classic cheeseburger with a milk bun from The Bread and Butter Project. There’s also free-range organic fried chicken from Feather and Bone, loaded fries and Diemen’s hot sauces.
“Mitch was a graffiti artist, and I used to rap,” explains Donnelley. “So hip-hop has just always been [around]. Sure, there are a lot of places doing it, but hip-hop isn’t a concept for us. We haven’t played on that angle. We’re concentrating on the food, and there’ll just be the music as well.”
The venue liquor licence is expected this week. There’ll be cherry cider from Pagan in Tasmania, a Yeastie Boys IPA, a small wine selection from Philip Shaw and Archie Rose gin and juice. In the meantime, there are soft drinks from NZ’s Karma Cola to tide customers over, and in the coming weeks, Bellingen gelato thick shakes and doughnut ice-cream burgers.
“There’s nothing healthy about it, obviously,” laughs Donnelley. “But it’s good produce and good ingredients. So, in a sense it’s not as unhealthy as it could be.”
4 Ounces Burger Co
38 Mitchell Road, Alexandria
(02) 8018 7206
Tue to Sat 12pm–12am