Try Wellington’s best from the battle of the bun

Wellington’s annual bun fight is over, but there is still time to sample some of the winning burgers from Burger Wellington.

Wellington’s annual bun fight is over, but the good news is you can still sample some of the winning burgers from Burger Wellington.

Burger Wellington is an annual battle to determine what’s best between two buns, as part of culinary festival Visa Wellington On a Plate. Eateries are invited to put their patty prowess to the test across 17 days and compete for the coveted trophy that will cement their place in Wellington’s burger history.

Burger Wellington is part of Visa Wellington On a Plate (Visa WOAP) – New Zealand’s largest and most exciting food festival. Visa WOAP brings together 127 incredible events, 136 special menus, 116 mouth-watering burgers, 41 crafty cocktails, 14 local food trucks and one massive beer celebration to delight and surprise at every turn across 17 delicious days. Visa WOAP is an annual affair – this year’s festival ran from 12-28 August, and the 2017 season will take place on 11-27 August. 

There were 116 burgers in Burger Wellington 2016 – that’s up 43% on 2015, and up a massive 231% on the first year, 2010, when there were 35 burgers taking part. The festival takes place over 17 days, which means you’d need to try an average of 6.8 burgers every day to get through the full selection. 

It’s estimated that around 75,000 burgers were consumed across the festival in 2015, when 80 restaurants participated. In 2015, the award for best burger was won by newcomers Egmont Street Eatery, with a classic beef burger with beetroot relish and fried pickled onions. 

Cult Wellington brewery Garage Project produce three special beers to be matched with the burger entries – this year’s festival brews were Persephone (a balsamic and pomegranate saison), Hakituri (an organic New Zealand pilsner) and Lola (a cherry cola dunkel). The festival brews are still available for a limited time from Garage Project retailers.

Burger fans rated their burger experiences on and the five finalists for the best burger, and best burger beer match, went through to a cook-off where the supreme winners were crowned. In 2016, the winner of the best burger was Vietnamese-inspired eatery Apache with their Bang Bang Chicken burger, and best burger beer match was taken out for the second year in a row by Cuba Street bar Laundry, with their Sumatran Steak Burger matched to Garage Project’s Hakituri pilsner. 

Although Burger Wellington has come to an end for 2016, some restaurants are keeping their burgers on for a very limited time. Here are a few delicious finalists you can still try if you get in quickly:  

Apache – Bang Bang Burger 

Bang Bang grilled lemongrass free range PrimeStar chicken with mango, tomatoes, coriander, with a chilli, lime and coconut mayonnaise on a housemade cashew bun, with kumara bim bim. 

Apache’s Vietnamese-influenced Bang Bang Burger was awarded the coveted best burger trophy in Burger Wellington 2016, and will spend a few more weeks on the menu. The flavoursome chicken is paired with fresh and spicy flavours, including a slice of mango in lieu of cheese, all on a beautiful soft bun. Enjoy the winning burger with Garage Project’s Death from Above IPA, a zest brew infused with mango, Vietnamese mint and chili.

Apache - 122 Wakefield St, Te Aro, Wellington

Laundry – Sumatran Steak Burger

Pirinoa-raised, spiced and braised steak with pickled slaw and spicy sauce on an Arobake bun.

Tender, spicy braised steak plays beautifully against tangy pickled slaw and hot sauce in Laundry’s Sumatran Steak Burger. It’s best enjoyed with Garage Project Hakituri, a refreshing organic New Zealand pilsner – the pairing took out the coveted best burger and beer match prize in Burger Wellington 2016.

Laundry - 242 Cuba St, Wellington

Egmont St Eatery – Sichuan Two-Tooth

PrimeStar mutton blended patty with Sichuan sauce and pickled celery in a bao bun, with crispy fried tentacles.

Egmont St Eatery’s took the prize for best burger in last year’s Burger Wellington contest with a classic cheeseburger, so this year’s entry was a complete departure from those flavours. Combining mouth-numbing Sichuan peppers with pickled celery with an unconventional mutton patty on a soft bao bun, the Sichuan Two-Tooth is both surprising and delicious.  

Egmont St Eatery - 11 Egmont St, Te Aro, Wellington

Louis Sargeant – Le Canard du Roy

On Trays duck confit and duck liver parfait with Capital Produce zucchini, citrus and micro-herb salad, prune chutney and truffle mayonnaise in a truffle brioche bun. 

Although most renowned for its sweet offerings, Louis Sergeant have crafted a savoury burger fit for a king. Laden with indulgent duck confit and duck liver parfait, with a herb salad and chutney to balance the richness, this burger also comes with a little surprise of duck fat chips on the side.

Louis Sargeant - 146 Featherston St, Wellington

Hippopotamus – Sweet As Burger

Whittaker’s Dark Ghana parfait with Whittaker’s white chocolate and raspberry jelly, mint and kiwifruit gel and Kāpiti vanilla crème fraîche, with sweet polenta fries. 

Hippopotamus’s Sweet As Burger forces diners to rethink everything they know about burgers. This deceptive treat is a dessert in main’s clothing – it’s a jumbo macaron housing sweet and fruity layers, complete with very convincing white chocolate ‘cheese’, with sweet polenta chips on the side. 

Hippopotamus - Museum Hotel 90 Cable St, Te Aro