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Now that's tasty burger
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"Our burgers are sort of a cultural fusion, taking flavors and ideas from around the world and putting them in between two buns," he said.

With its red and white walls, waxed wooden tables, and custom-made white and orange sofas, the Gourmet Caf makes for a classy and relaxed environment in which to enjoy your lunch or dinner. According to Bray, the color orange helps stimulate the appetite, while the soft lighting and muted electro beats add a little sub-cultural sophistication.

The Gourmet Caf's hamburgers are freshly made each day from 100 percent Australian beef. They are then stored at 4 degrees Celsius for optimal texture and freshness.

My favorite was the Figaragras, a burger made from prime beef, homemade sweet-fig chutney, pan-seared foie gras and caramelized onion jam. (88yuan). It came with a side of freshly cut black pepper fries and delicious wasabi mayonnaise that I washed down with an unforgettably light and fruity, white-wheat Belgian beer (Vedett Draught, 35 yuan).

Those who like the beef removed from their burgers can choose from chicken, lamb, fish, king prawn or vegetarian burgers. If these fail to hit the spot, customers can always opt for the Osama Bun Laden made with falafel (burger prices range from 58 to 98 yuan).

Whatever you go for, it is sure to be served to perfection. One thing that leaps out at you as soon as you enter the restaurant is how clean and well-organized everything is, even down to the attentive waiting staff and mini-pitchers reserved for the sugar syrup.

"I'm obsessed with keeping the restaurant clean and orderly," said Bray, who stops by daily to keep tabs on things.

The Shaanxi location has become so popular that Bray opened a new flagship on Nanjing Road W. last weekend inside the Shanghai Center. Occupying 150 sq m of indoor floor space, the restaurant has an outdoor terrace, even more burgers and imported steak. Bray hopes to see it become a sophisticated after-work hangout for Shanghai's urbanites.

All in all, the Gourmet Caf could rank as the best place in the city to find delicious and innovative burgers, putting it high on my list of recommended eateries.

Gourmet Caf

455 Shaanxi Road N.

Tel: 5213-6885

1357 Nanjing Road W.

Tel: 6289-5733

(China Daily August 17, 2009)

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