Address: 4/1 Melton Rd, Mt Wellington Ph: (09) 579 0340 Online: bigjs.co.nz Cost: for four (two burgers, two chips, two hot dogs) $36.50
They told us the wait would be 15 minutes, but we got there in 10 and our order was ready for us. This is always a good sign, that a place knows the score, they're ahead of the game and they're ready and willing to over-deliver.
The place was busy, the place was heaving, unexpectedly really, given its location down a deep labyrinth of residential streets in suburban Mt Wellington. Our food was packed not at all ostentatiously and collected in a thin plastic bag.
Big J's has a rotating burger special, which it announces only on its Facebook page. It takes a little scrolling to get to, which is a bit of a pain, because a good part of the reason for getting takeaways is speed and efficiency. You want to find the specials, go "Yes" or "No", then pull the trigger. Sure, it only takes a few seconds, but they're precious seconds.
The night we went, the special turned out to be a steak burger, called "Steak a naise". The name didn't quite come off, but the adventurousness of it, and the creativity involved in devising and branding a regular special told of a place that cared. The burger included not just marinated steak but also seasoned wedges, bacon and sauteed onions with a massive amount of bearnaise sauce. It was drippy and excessive, huge, and not at all beautiful to look at -- a throwback really, to the old-school Kiwi burger bar.
My wife had a spicy chicken burger and my children ate the batter off their hot dogs. There were chips. The meal was solid, decent, not disappointing. In a city increasingly crammed with very good and sometimes excellent burger joints, Big J's is somewhere in the middle.