Three junior fine-dining chefs (Richard Borg, Timothy Rosenstrauss and Joshua DeLuca) opening a burger restaurant would be big news anywhere, but in Penrith, an area lacking exciting food options, it’s massive. Burger Head has been packed since opening.
The chefs aren’t just there to exploit a new market, though. “We grew up here, we know the area. We wanted to bring back what we learnt,” says DeLuca.
Between the three they have experience at Quay, Momofuku Seibo, Master, Ormeggio and Sweden’s Mathias Dahlgren. Based on this you might expect something experimental, but that’s far from the case. “We're not fans of those big things,” says Rosenstrauss, miming a stacked burger with his hands.
The classic cheeseburger is the perfect example: a simple stack of semi-molten American cheese, a surprisingly tart secret sauce, pickles and a patty (fatty, pink-centred and chunky) within a glazed milk bun.
If anything shows off the trio’s kitchen experience it’s the single vegetarian option, The Mike Tyson. Instead of a single mushroom patty or a cake of dry legumes, it has pulled-pork-like shreds of smoked enoki and king oyster mushrooms, deep-fried kale and cabbage slaw. It’s clever, balanced and increasingly sloppy the further you get into it. Like most new burger restaurants, there’s also a fried chicken number, this one with a heavily spiced batter and malt-pickled onions.
Otherwise there’s fries; mash and gravy; some mild chicken tenders; and a white-chocolate shake that’s earthy but syrupy sweet because the white chocolate is pan roasted. “We have a few things in the pipeline. There’ll be specials and cocktails when our liquor license comes through,” says DeLuca. There may also be some cosmetic changes, but for now the only decorations in the small industrial space (most seating is in the courtyard) are a few posters and a mural of Mona Lisa with a burger for a head.
Excitingly, this isn’t the only opening coming to far western Sydney. The ambitious trio has set up West Vision Hospitality and has plans to open several restaurants including, at some point, a fine diner. “People say western Sydney is three or four years behind. In some ways it is but it doesn’t have to be that way,” says DeLuca.
Burger Head 17/98 Henry Street, Penrith
Hours: Tue to Sun 11.30am–2.30pm, 6pm–10pm