When most people waltz into Belfield on Botany the first thing they’re going to questions is Vegemite mayo – what is it doing on a burger? It is used on Belfield’s signature burger with a cheese-topped beef patty and a bunch of rocket. While Vegemite itself divides people, we imagine this won’t. It’s a subtle iteration of the flavour in a burger which, despite an odd collection of ingredients, is surprisingly simple and easy to enjoy. “It's quite washed out with the mayonnaise. It's not a one-for-one Vegemite hit,” says Belfield’s co-owner, Robert Ko.
The other three owners, Edward Kaleb, Eric Halim and Michael Veran, all grew up with Ko at the same school in the inner west. Another schoolmate, Maurizio Giraldi, was brought in to design the menu. He’s the only one of the five with any professional kitchen experience, but luckily his pedigree, (Pendolino and Guillaume), more than makes up for it.
Ko says when he originally pitched the idea to Giraldi he wanted a classic cheeseburger, something to throw people off (that’s the Vegemite mayo) and something that touched on his Asian heritage. The latter inspired the pork burger, a pork-mince patty infused with peanut butter that’s topped with fresh slices of Granny Smith, kimchi and the house mayo. Like the Belfield Burger, it’s less radical than it sounds. The peanut butter is slight, the apple crisp and the kimchi tart, and together with a pork patty juicy enough to ooze at every bite it makes for a well-balanced burger that’s full of flavour.
The non-burger items on the menu, just a few succulent chicken wing varieties, deep-fried mushrooms and some fried-potato-based sides, include something we haven’t seen since the mid-’90s – tater tots. We saw them at almost every table at Belfield, which is no surprise because they’re incredible little things. The Belfield version is crunchy and dusted with a peppery spice mix. They’re probably the most addictive snack we’ve eaten since … well eating other tater tots on the couch while watching Captain Planet with dad.
It’s not the only ’90s throwback in the restaurant. Despite looking mostly like the half-built hull of a galley, the restaurant is covered in hip-hop insignia and what people used to call “urban graffiti”. Just beyond the entrance is a turntable with a seriously professional speaker set up that switches between Biggie Smalls, R. Kelly and more Biggie Smalls. They’re the sounds and the tastes that the four friends grew up with. That’s why they called it Belfield on Botany. “We grew up in Belfield. We wanted to bring our childhood here,” says Ko.
Belfield on Botany
1/797 Botany Road, Roseberry
(02) 8040 4349
Mon to Fri 11am–3pm and 6pm–9pm