Images by Kel McIntosh.
The Toxteth was a pretty grim place until a lazily designed union jack motif and rotisserie of Juxtapoz vagina art night one night a week took over. Out with the early nineties cornices and Indiana Jones pinball* and in with happy snaps of Glebe in it’s heyday and a big stupid buffalo head that has a name like Bruce or Toby or Chuck or something. There’s also a chalk board next to the pool table with all the colours of the chalk spectrum (i.e. three) to use at your leisure. After life drawing classes at the Sando it’s the best public forum to legally draw a dick in town.
I never had issue with the previous Toxteth menu. There was steak, schnitzel and sausage. What more do you want at a pub? A fucking laksa? Go to the AB **. John Singleton’s new menu nicks on-trend ideas from the Carrington, Abercrombie and Norfolk menus. Lots of “dude-food” (a terrible term, yes) like fried chicken wings, fried chicken burgers and fried chicken sliders. It’s all agreeable though and the pot of mussels that comes in a tomato and chorizo sauce for ten clams on Thursday is a humdinger.
But I digress. Let’s talk 1kg burger challenge.
The Tox doesn’t hold massive Twinkie eating contests that attract nerds from throughout America and Japan to compete for tens of thousands of dollars. It has a burger that weighs a kilo and cost $30 – much more your Man Vs. Food territory than your Kobayashi realm. Enthusiastic patrons have exactly thirty minutes to consume this roided up Rueben and if successful receive not only their $30 returned in the form of a bar tab but also a polaroid on the Toxteth Wall of Fame (aka the glass window next to the kitchen). The challenge had been running for about three weeks before my dining partners and I attempted it and there were about eight or nine pictures already plastered. Not sure how management’s affording to go through so much polaroid film – perhaps Terry Richardson of Marrickville left some lying around after one of Wednesday’s exhibitions.
There were a few of us eating but only three of us trying to kill ourselves. Morgan had consumed two litres of coffee flavoured milk and remained unabashedly confident. In a streak of Joey Chesnut strategy, Joel had a large breakfast and nothing else to eat all day. I had returned from a 48hour bender at friends buck’s party near Wisemans Ferry where very little had been consumed besides an occasional Le Snack and magical concentration dust.
The burgers arrived with a two waitresses and a timer. The week before I had witnessed old mate manager dude come out with a megaphone and command that everyone in the pub should glue their eyes to the hideous creature huddled over his burger and cheer the grinning patron on towards even lower levels of self esteem, no matter the result. This did not happen and I was disappointed. There was also a consensus between the three of us that the burger felt like it weighed considerably less 1kg – a point to never be mentioned again.
The timer started. Chips and salad also needed to be consumed and I decided to get these out of the way quickly. The salad was nothing more than some lettuce and a couple of sad tomato slices but the chips were the best pub fries I’ve had in recent memory – hand cut actual fish and chippery chips. If I hadn’t been eating myself to stupidity it might have been nice to ease into a reverie about the merits of chicken salt and school holidays past or whatever it is that food writers do.
Attacking the burger one layer at a time, I consumed the top bun with its welded slice of bacon and moved onto the first of the three meat pillars. Holy cow, was this thing dense. Firmly packed, flame grilled and tasting much better than anticipated. And the cheese. So much cheese. I soldiered on in a steady fashion for about ten minutes until my stomach told my brain I was being an idiot and things started to slow down. Not so for Joel “Kobayashi” Beerden though. The fastest time on the kitchen window was 26:40. After about ten minutes, he had only a handful of chips, a small amount of meat and some dry bread left. This was not unnoticed by the waitstaff who promptly called over the manager to witness the spectacle unfold. It was all over in 13:20.
There was disbelief by staff at first. Maybe other diners at the table were helping out? Maybe we were throwing meat over the fence? Who knows. This suspicion was only aided by Morgan coming home with a 23:30. Evidently coffee flavoured milk has its benefits. Although after my efforts I think all staff were convinced that there were no shenanigans going on as I was deadset done for. With only the bottom piece of bread left I could barely continue. Cutlery was promptly removed from its bucket in spectacular fashion to make way for a looming fountain of masticated bovine. It took ten minutes of pulling the bread apart and washing it down with liquid like some kind of fat disgusting duck to finish. But I finished and even had 20 seconds to spare. Huzzah.
Shirts were handed out (I forgot to mention – complete the challenge and you get a shirt to remind you that you’re an utter disgrace), polaroids were taken and bar tabs were spent. A month later our pictures are on the wall and Joel still has the fastest time.
Go down there and give it a go – try and beat the Kobayashi of Summer Hill. Yes, you will feel like death for the next three days and no, you will not sleep that night. But it’s an enjoyable one off event and if anything it stops you drinking for half an hour.
*The Indiana Jones pinball is the third greatest pinball ever made. The list, imo, is as follows:
1. Guns N’ Roses
2. Championship Pub
3. Indiana Jones (original)
4. Indiana Jones (Crystal Skull edition)
5. Medieval Madness
6. Twilight Zone
7. Attack from Mars
8. Creature from the Black Lagoon
9. Theatre of Magic
10. Jurassic Park