Not that long ago we wrote about food trends versus food fads. One of the biggest trends both here and abroad is ‘fast-casual’. Not junk food but premium, high quality ingredients often sustainably grown and raised in a convenient (read cheaper) format.
It was New York’s most famous restaurateur Danny Meyer who revolutionised at first hot dogs and then burgers back in 2004 inside Madison Square Park with the first Shake Shack.
Aussie chefs Neil Perry and most recently Shannon Bennett have jumped on the bandwagon to expand their empires too with casual burger bars.
Noosa’s stylish Hastings Street strip has welcomed some different takes on a more relaxed dining style over the last couple of years: Betty’s Burgers & Concrete Co. and El Capitano Pizzeria & Bar to name just two.
Betty’s Burgers & Concrete Co.
This is the first outpost by Betty’s founder David Hales in his adopted home of Noosa. David hails (pun intended) from Tassie where he successfully ran restaurants and pubs before pulling up stumps to take it easy in Australia’s relaxation capital.
It seems the Shake Shack model impressed the Tasmanian entrepreneur. Similar menu items and the burgers do look quite like New York’s finest. Unlike impresario Meyer’s outlets where items vary due to location, all eight Betty’s Burgers locations share the same menu.
Named to honour David’s grandmother who it seems had a deft hand with burgers, the menu is pretty in pink and straightforward; seven burgers including the Kids for the small fry and the Bare Betty for the beautiful Noosa crowd. You can add bacon, an extra patty or opt for a gluten free bun.
There’s chips, onion rings & sauces or for the burger averse, Betty’s Garden Salad. Soft drinks are the usual suspects and there are seven beers, two ciders and six wines by the glass. There’s thick shakes and Concretes – frozen, creamy, custardy ice cream with seven variations or design your own with a decidedly diabolical list of mix ins. Krispy Kreme Doughnut or Tutti Frutti popcorn anyone?
More than a mere Instagram phenomenon, the burgers are damn fine. We went traditional with the Classic and also tried the Pork Belly. Both were super-fresh and decidedly yummy.
One third of the TML team swears the Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Concrete was the best ice cream he’s ever eaten. Big call, but the ice cream confection is sheer delight. Don’t let the queues down Hastings Street deter you – Betty’s is worth the effort.
El Capitano Pizzeria & Bar
From the same team who bought you Belmondos Organic Market, Tanglewood Organic Sourdough Bakery and next door neighbour Café Le Monde is one of Hastings’ Street’s newbies – El Capitano Pizzeria & Bar.
It doesn’t require a secret knock to enter El Capitano but the entrance is discreet for Hastings Street. Look for Betty’s or Café Le Monde and your almost there. Click your heels 3 times, up the sweeping stairs and hey presto! I don’t think we’re in Noosa anymore Toto.
El Capitano is more Key West than Hastings Street and it works: White stucco walls, nautical knots, maritime paraphernalia and a long, curved timber bar with a tropical vibe. Never known how to make a pirate hat? Instructions are on the kid’s menu. The crowd is a mix of families, couples and those up for a big night.
They take their beer and cider seriously at El Capitano with a wide selection of the latest, greatest and craft. Plenty of wine by the glass and this is the spot for a glamorous cocktail.
With the Tanglewood Sour Dough Bakery connection, the dough is fermented for 72 hours. We went for the warming rossa slow roasted lamb shoulder with fior di latte, black olives, a touch of gremolata and a finish of goat’s cheese. The rocket, pear and pecorino salad was a meal in itself.
Backing up for dessert was a struggle but the salted caramel, peanut brownie with vanilla bean was sweet, dense and seriously chocolatey. The lemon curd ice cream sandwich had the double whammy: meringue and Persian fairy floss. Definitely made to share. https://elcapitano.com.au/