The Smash Burger with Bacon created by Head Chef Patrick Spriggs has been named SA’s Best Pub Burger 2021 in the annual competition organised by AHA SA and sponsored by Thomas Foods Australia.

Spriggs’ Smash Burger led the Eyre Hotel in Whyalla to triumph as 12 hotel finalists battled it out for the best burger title.

It’s the tenth year of the pub burger challenge and was an official Tasting Australia Winter Series event. It was held in Rundle Mall in front of an expert judging panel and live audience.

Burgers were judged against a list of criteria, including presentation of the chef, ingredients and burger, taste, meat content and value for money.

“The Eyre Hotel burger stood out because of the deliciousness of the patty” judge Christine Stephan said. “The patty was well seasoned, with beautiful melted cheese on it and a lovely charred finish, so there was a lot of lovely flavour there.

“The fresh ingredients that were added to the burger gave a really good balance to the richness of the patty.”

Spriggs told Australian Hotelier that he was thrilled with the win, given he was new to the pub arena and the pub burger challenge, having previously worked in high-end bistro and fine dining.

Eyre Hotel is owned by the South Australian pub group Matthews Hospitality, and according to Spriggs, they encouraged entries from all of their pubs.

Since the win, he says, which received much publicity in Whyalla, burgers have grown steeply in popularity among diners.

“We used to serve around 140 per week, and now it’s over 300 per week, it’s been crazy.”

AHA SA CEO Ian Horne said: “We know that our country hotels hold their own in terms of exceptional food, service and experience, so it is no surprise that a fantastic venue such as the Eyre Hotel has won this challenge.

“The Burger is often the signature menu item of the Hotel, with venues putting their own spin and style as a point of difference. Along with other traditional pub fare, a burger offers great value and is still incredibly popular.”

The other finalists in the competition were: Alma Tavern, Arkaba Hotel, Bellum Hotel, Christie’s Beach Hotel, Crown Inn, Golden Fleece Gawler, Halfway Hotel, Hilton Hotel, The Barker, The Grove and the Woodside Hotel.

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