In what has seemed like an age, the bru’s of Burger Brews were back at it on a breezy but pleasant Thursday evening. Our choice of venue, for our latest review, was Van Hunks. Situated near the top end of Kloof Rd, Van Hunks enjoys a superb location with its large open deck in full view from the street. On this particular night, we were greeted by a fantastic atmosphere as we were seated on the deck. The awnings were pulled down and, coupled with some fairy lighting as part of its décor, helped to create a more intimate feel to this space.
We began by ordering our first round of beers. Pleasantly surprised by their very decent variety of craft beers available on tap, we decided to begin with Striped Horse Lagers all-round. These certainly hit the spot and didn’t last very long before we ordered another round of the same. Helped by the great vibe of the place, the conversation between us absolutely flowed – so much so that it took us a while to remember that we were there to eat!
Our waiter was soon summonsed so we could place our orders for starters. Again impressed by the great variety on offer, it took us a while before we eventually decided on a portion of Chilli Poppers (surprise, surprise) and a portion of Peppadew Poppers. With one of the bru’s away on holiday, these two starters were more than sufficient to get our taste buds going. The Chilli Poppers (trio of cheese-stuffed jalapeno poppers with homemade herb mayo) came four in a portion and, contrary to how they are normally prepared, seemed to have been baked, not fried. The crust on the outside was deliciously crispy and, as any good popper should, just oozed cheesy tastiness when bitten into. The heat given off by the jalapenos were also just right – not hellishly hot but with a definite kick that gets the tongue tingling. The Peppadew Poppers (served with a sundried tomato-yoghurt dipping sauce) were served six in a portion. These crispy fried balls of peppadew goodness provided the perfect blend of sweet and spicy that peppadews are known for. All-in-all, these were fabulous starters.
Onto another matter entirely, the layout of the toilets of the restaurant are rather unique in that men and women share the same space, effectively. One side of the toilet area are the cubicles for men, and directly opposite these are ones for women, with the wash basins being shared. I found this to be quite a cool layout, although I am sure I would have a different opinion if I was battling with gut issues. Thankfully, that was not the case on this night! A quick walk-through of the restaurant revealed a cosy, rather bohemian-type of feel, with a bar area which acts as their inside smoking area. Still, we were happy to have been seated in their outside area on this summer’s night.
Onto burgers! My eyes, upon opening up the menu, was instantly drawn to the Mexican Burger (spicy guacamole, tomato-onion salsa, melted mozzarella and jalapenos) which I ordered. These toppings represented my perfect burger, toppings wise – except for a key missing ingredient, crispy streaky bacon. This was added to my burger at an additional cost. Both the other bru’s went for the Van Hunks Burger (sliced cheddar cheese, grilled mushrooms, balsamic-caramelised onions and a secret red sauce). With this order, we placed what would turn out to be our final beer order for the night – another round of Striped Horse Lagers (you can’t have too much of a good thing…).
Soon enough our burgers arrived. The first thing that struck me was the fact that the plates seemed quite small. Don’t get me wrong, that’s most definitely NOT to say that the portion sizes were small (they were, in fact, rather generous) but literally the plates (the white ceramic ones on which the burgers sat on and on which our knives and forks would scratch against when we would cut through any portions of our meal). I also think the smaller size of the plates was a chief reason why the presentation of the burgers was not the best I have seen. That is where any slight criticism of the meal ended, because what was lacking in presentation was MORE than made up for in the flavours and textures of our burgers and their accompaniments. This was everything a burger should be! Tastiness, juiciness, deliciousness, perfection-ness (I know there is no such wordJ)…there was all of that and more.
On the service side of things, our waiter was pleasant enough, but there were a few times when it seemed that he misunderstood us. Also, both the other bru’s made mention, after we had paid the bill, that there was hardly a thank you to us when he took back the bill folder (and no, it wasn’t because we didn’t tip him enough).
Still, we came away from our experience having had both a great time and, more importantly, great meals!
Beginnings – Fantastic variety with great execution. 5
Burgers – Burgers the quality of which we haven’t had many times. Impressed, also, by their combinations of toppings. 5
Beers – A super selection. Although we only stuck with one type, there was far more besides. 4.5
Bringers – Our waiter didn’t seem to have the best command of English, nor did he seem very grateful when taking our payment. Was efficient enough, though 3
Background – Great vibe on the night. We loved the layout of the restaurant. Atmosphere will appeal to all! 5