BURGER BUDS: Inside & You're Out Burgers founder Jean Marc Lenferna and Jonah Lewis.
BURGER BUDS: Inside & You're Out Burgers founder Jean Marc Lenferna and Jonah Lewis.
FILLING: The Brie Street ostrich burger.
FILLING: The Brie Street ostrich burger.
HANDFUL: The Classic Whisky Braai-BQ.
HANDFUL: The Classic Whisky Braai-BQ.
POPULAR: Gluten-free pulled pork crumpets.
POPULAR: Gluten-free pulled pork crumpets.

Terri Dunbar-Curran

OPEN a burger joint, and you’ll quickly grab my attention. Make ethically sourced ingredients and decor a big part of your restaurant, and I’m impressed. Plant herbs and veggies in the centres of your tables and along the walls, and I’m sold.

Enviro-foodies Jonah Lewis and Jean Marc Lenferna are the brains (and hearts) behind Inside & You’re Out (IYO) Burgers which opened recently on Bree Street.

Everything about their eatery is centred on local community and ethical responsibility. From the wood used in their décor, which is FSC approved (a tree is planted for every one cut down) to the jars and cans used as drinking glasses and cutlery holders, it’s all been carefully thought-out.

Step through the bright doors, head upstairs and make yourself at home in the airy, wood-finished space brought to life with fresh greenery and orange highlights.

The build-your-own concept means that even though the menu isn’t overwhelming, there’s plenty of room for variety. Grab an order card and a pencil (made from recycled paper, of course) and circle your choices. The idea behind the ordering system is that at a lot of restaurants you feel like you’re ordering something set. “You don’t really feel involved,” says Jonah, adding that they were inspired by The Counter a custom-built burger bar in Los Angeles.

Small bites include tasty veggie croquettes, mini burgers and chicken wings. But the dishes that got the biggest accolades at our media table were the slow-roasted pork belly cubes, and the heavenly pulled pork pancakes served on gluten-free crumpets with a jar of whiskey-honey on the side.

There are currently nine burgers to choose from, from the simple Quick Dip with a smoked cheddar beef patty and sweet onions, to the Pickle Pulled Piggy with a smoked cheddar pulled pork patty, topped with pickled red onion and cucumber ribbons. IYO’s B-BLT (Better BLT) has proved quite popular, but at our table the Whiskey Braai-BQ burger, topped with organic bacon, avo, wild rocket and whiskey Braai-BQ sauce, was the most-ordered.

One of our number even plucked up the courage to choose the Health Nut – a vegan curried lentil, aubergine, flax seed and sweet potato patty filled with cashew nuts and topped with baby spinach, hummus, avo, sprouts, wild rocket and vegan-cashew mayo. His reasoning was that a good veggie burger is the perfect way to measure the quality of a burger joint. The verdict? Delicious.

Other burger options include the Umami BBQ, Balsamic Beet-It and Brie Street. And, to the delight of the gluten-intolerant foodie in our midst, all burgers can be ordered bunless, served on a bed of fresh greens. Once you’ve picked your burger, select a side from curly fries, sweet potato fries, kale chips and seasonal salad. The Sweeties section of the menu tempts with macaroons, cheesecake (there’s a gluten-free version a well) and ice cream. Flavours are fresh and pleasing, and knowing that the IYO team has done their utmost to make sure they’re using only the best ingredients from suppliers they trust, means you can tuck in with a clear conscience.

IYO’s ethos is proudly emblazoned on the walls. They focus on making delicious food, supporting the local community, being aware of their environmental impact, and ethical accessibility. “Environmental messages are often very pushy: ‘Everything sucks and it’s your fault’. We’re trying to show people that it doesn’t have to be that hard or overwhelming,” they say. Even their take-away containers are compostable, and if you’re not up to disposing of them yourself, just bring them back and IYO will compost or recycle them for you. Brilliant!

Jonah has always felt strongly about eco issues, conservation, and knowing where his food comes from. The idea was to offer an alternative to the unhealthy chains popping up at an alarming rate – to offer organic fast food. Jean Marc has a background in fine-dining and chefing, and his mission was to take fine dining skills and tastes and make them more accessible to more people. “We wanted to start something of our own and we wanted it to do some good,” says Jonah. The friends spent 2013 on the floor of Jonah’s bedroom designing and conceptualising what they wanted to do – with trips to the kitchen to test their ideas. Their goal in sight, IYO started out at the Oranjezicht Market, and this flagship store in Bree is hopefully just the first of many.

l 021 422 1313, www.iyoburgers.co.za

l NOTE: Jos Baker’s Baker’s Bites column will return soon.