The first time I ordered the burger at Sheep Station, an Australian-style pub in Brooklyn, New York, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. In addition to the usual toppings of lettuce and tomato, the sandwich was stacked high with pickled beets, grilled pineapple slices, and a perfectly fried egg whose yolk was already dripping down the burger’s sides by the time it arrived. I grabbed hold and gave it my biggest bite; heavenly. The earthy, tangy beets, the syrupy-sweet pineapple, the juicy beef—all of it was bound together by the decadent egg yolk. I was hooked.
“In Australia, this is what’s called a burger with ‘the lot’,” says Jason Crew, a co-owner and chef at Sheep Station. No one is sure when this particular combination of ingredients was first placed between hamburger buns, but Crew points out that beets stand in for pickles in nearly all sandwiches made Down Under and that pineapple is beloved in Australia. As for the egg, “maybe someone just wanted to eat a burger for breakfast”, he speculates. However it came about, this style of burger became popular at the lunch counters, known as milk bars, that were common across the country in the postwar years and is now served at pubs and on backyard patios everywhere.
Eating at Sheep Station, I realized that the hamburger, born and raised on American soil and sent out into the world as the USA’s culinary ambassador, was enjoying a third act of sorts: having been adapted to other cultures’ traditions and tastes, it has returned home from its travels a new and glorious thing.