Trunk Diner

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Trunk Diner – 275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Burger:
The Burger
Serviettes:
3
Dress Code:
Casual
Sleepiness:
8.5 minutes
Would we recommend:
Definitely
Price:
$13.50
Summary

As a baby brother to Trunk Restaurant & Bar, Trunk Diner caters for the more casual breakfast/lunchtime crowds. Their menu does its best to soak in the values from a traditional American diner (with some SoCal influences) offering everything from eggs, waffles, quesadillas and of course, apple pie. Stepping away from all that Americana nostalgia however, you’ll find yourself waiting for your order in what only can be described as.. a shed. But don’t worry about feeling claustrophobic in there, the walls are clear plastic cafe blinds that do their bit to keep nature out and your food on your plate. On a warm day the seat of the house is in their courtyard, allowing for excellent people watching whilst soaking in some warm rays. We took our places “inside”, looked over all the sauces lined up on the table (home-style ketchup, BBQ and El Yucateco), and proceeded to order The Burger that came with 175grams of fresh ground Wagyu beef (cooked medium-rare) on a grilled brioche bun, baby cos lettuce, Spanish onion, thick cut tomato and house-made pickles. There are plenty of extras you can throw into the mix (for a small price) with 3 different cheeses, jalapenos and guacamole to name a few. We kept with the all-American theme and went with the crispy bacon, Monterey Jack and a side of fries.

Comments
“This pint sized burger really packed a punch and it was quite surprising how filling it actually was. After adding the sides of fresh lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles, I also gave it a good dollop of the house-made tomato sauce. It was awesome and looking back I probably didn’t even need to add the tomato. The bacon was well cooked adding just that little bit more texture and the Monterey Jack cheese was melted perfectly into the thick and juicy pattie.”
“I got a little excited and ate the pickle by itself before giving it a chance in the burger. I’ve learnt my lesson and will add it next time; it would have suited the burger amazingly. A great little compact burger that for me was very neat and tidy. The bacon added a great crunch and the cheese melted well into the beef to add a touch of creaminess. The fries came with possibly the best home made tomato sauce ever – none of this fancy tomato salsa shit, just good old-fashioned home-style dead horse.”
“This burger is surprisingly filling; what looks like a small’ish burger really does fill you up. The pattie is fantastic – good amount of thickness, juicy and nicely pink in the middle topped with some nice melted cheese. The pattie was so tasty I could have had it on its own. On the side you’ve got a great tasting slither of pickle, a nice cut of lettuce, red onions cut into rings and a slice of tomato that was slightly too thick. I plan on going back again to try it with some caramelised onions. Chips were OK.”
“My ears pricked up as soon as I heard the sound of a cute American girl behind the grill – an excellent sign. After some anticipation and after all the recommendations we’ve had, it had arrived. In short , the bun was perfect. It soaked in the juices nicely, but then left enough to ooze out onto your chips below. The overall flavour throughout the burger was flame-grilled utter beefiness. As for the extras, I honestly even forgot I added bacon.. so I’d probably skip it next time. The Monterey Jack was good and tasted alot like a bold cheddar, but I think I would’ve preferred the gruyere to add even more creaminess. Like the others have noted, the homemade ketchup and pickles were both ridiculously good. It looks like I’ll have to go back again to try and find the perfect combo of additions (I’m thinking gruyere and caramelised onions), but frankly this is the kind of burger you could have as simple as: Bun, Beef and Sauce. Some fantastic work by the Trunk team. Do believe the hype.”
Trunk Diner on Urbanspoon


The Newmarket Hotel

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The Newmarket Hotel – 34 Inkerman St, St Kilda, Victoria, Australia
Burger:
Rare breed Warialda Belted Galloway dry aged Beef Burger
Serviettes:
3
Dress Code:
Smart Casual
Sleepiness:
11 minutes
Would we recommend:
Definitely
Price:
$25
Summary

The guys that brought you venues like the Royal Saxon and The Middle Park Hotel are at it again. In a collaborative effort with architects Six Degrees and consulting chef Paul Wilson, the New Market Hotel’s famous Shnitz & Tits has been replaced with an elegance and charm only found across the Baja California. As you step past the original red brick facade, the borders between inside and outside turn to shadows and tall Oscar Niemeyer-like arches will make you feel like you’ve stepped out of StKilda and into a contemporary artwork. Alot of time and money have gone into this project, and it didn’t just stop at the renovations. The menu is rich with SoCal-Hispanic influences. Dishes like Bone Marrow Tacos and Pork Carnitas with Pineapple Salsa are perfect for diners that think they’ve had it all. After a little bit of guacomale to start off with we delved straight into the Rare breed Warialda Belted Galloway dry aged Beef Burger that came on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, sides of pickled cucumber, corn, capsicum, and a bowl spicy of patatas bravas.

Comments
“This is what I’d say is a true non-traditional burger that actually works.. and works damn well! Everything about this burger was well thought out: from the pickled side of assorted veggies and the rustic potatoes chunks with a chipotle style mayo, everthing really had it’s own distinct flavor. The burger itself has one of the best buns out there, and the pattie, oh that pattie! This is something that your not going to try anywhere else. The pattie is laced with paprika and really tastes like chorizo. I’d say its best enjoyed biting from your burger to your side dish, as each portion complements one another perfectly.”
“A lot of credit should be given to the Chef. He’s confidently taken some huge risks with various flavours and sides which could easily have turned into a disaster. The bun (my favourite style), held it together and trapped in all the juice and spice from the beef. In comparison to the other dishes at the Newmarket that are too small and leave you either hungry or broke, this was a fullfilling meal. At places like this staff can sometimes be a little “too important” and snobby, but we had some really friendly service from a blonde with half of her head shaved.”
“Overall a pleasant experience. Interesting décor, big menu, good service, but most importantly a burger to be proud of. The pattie was by far the star of the show. It was well seasoned with a mixed variety of spices that gave it a good zing. It was thick and cooked well, but 1 more minute on the grill and it would’ve been over done. The bun was perfect and the miscellaneous pickles that accompanied the burger were great; each with its own distinct flavour. The abnormally yellow chips/potato wedges were ok.”
“My first impression was Wow. What the hell is this? This burger was more Mexican than any of the burgers I’d eaten in Mexico. Probably because the Mexicans were trying to emulate the Americans. Saying that I was hoping it would be a touch spicier. Your first bite is filled with juice that can only be recreated by chorizo. The lettuce and tomato were basic but you end up forgetting about them because you’re too focused on this unique flavour to the beef. We were told its seasoned with paprika, garlic, onion powder and cooked with bone marrow.. but I couldn’t get past chorizo; especially with all the red/orange juices dripping out of it. A rare dining experience that every burger (and Mexican) lover should sink their teeth into.”
Newmarket Hotel on Urbanspoon


Houston’s

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Houston’s – 10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Century City, California, USA
Burger:
Cheeseburger
Serviettes:
2
Dress Code:
Smart Casual
Sleepiness:
13 minutes
Would we recommend:
If you’re in the area
Price:
$15 USD
Summary

Houston’s originally opened it’s Los Angeles doors in 1977; their name paying homage to founder, owner and current CEO George Biel’s home state of Texas. But by the time you read this, they may have already converted. In the recent years Houston’s has been taken over by the Hillstone Restaurant Group where it sits alongside about 45 other restaurants and 11 different brands. Slowly but surely the Hillstone name is taking over, but according to them, for the better. For as long as some local Californians can remember Houston’s has been delivering some of the best burgers going around. Hillstone is doing its bit to try and keep it that way, really driving home that they’re still a family owned business, seemingly worried about causing cracks in their foundations.
The decor is classy but without being pretentious. You’ll notice dimmed lighting and dark woods whilst traditional American booths line the back wall of the restaurant; perfect for dates, business dinners or just a casual burger review. I grabbed myself the Cheeseburger that came with fresh-ground chuck, cheddar, tomato, lettuce and onion on a house-made bun. On the side you’ll get an enormous portion of thinly cut fries with a choice of three dipping sauces: mayo, mustard or ketchup.

Comments
“I’d been mooching off a friend living up in the Hollywood hills all week, and when it came to burger talk, she insisted Houston’s was one of the best. All I had been told so far was that it was a pretty old school steakhouse sort-of-joint, but I immediatley had fears that it wouldnt live up to the hype since earlier in the week I’d had the pleasure of dining at one of LA’s finest and notorious steakhouses, Mastro’s. (Amazing steaks and creamed corn to die for – do it if you have the chance).
We sat down in our booth and I already felt kind of horrible – not because of the restaurant or the usual hangover – but because my two lovely dining partners had just begun some ridiculous cleansing detox diet that day… Suckers! When my cheeseburger (and their salads and rice) came out I wasn’t overly impressed. It looked like any other hamburger going around. Once I had put in all the appropriate ingredients it took a step straight up. The first bite was so juicy, so saucy and really one of the best cooked patties I’d eaten in a while, with just the right shade of pink throughout. The cheddar was good and so was the bun, but like any good burger should, the pattie really stole the show making me regret adding in all that extra lettuce and tomato. There really wasn’t anything crazy unique about this, some may even call it boring, but it was just a Traditional American burger done right.”
Houston's on Urbanspoon


Jones the Grocer

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Jones The Grocer – 1341 DANDENONG RD, CHADSTONE
(CHADSTONE SHOPPING CENTRE), VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
Burger:
Jones Wagyu Burger
Serviettes:
1
Dress Code:
Casual
Sleepiness:
6 minutes
Would we recommend:
If you’re in the area
Price:
$16
Summary

In 1996, in the prominent Syndey suburb of Woollahra, Jones the Grocer opened their flagship store. Recognising a new growth in café culture they sought out to offer their customers fantastic service and produce (like a great café), but then also sold all their produce for use in everyday living (like deli). So when Chadstone Shopping Centre went through an epic makeover in 2009 they looked to Jones The Grocer for something new and different that many shoppers hadn’t yet experienced. The big glass structure that is Jones the Grocer Chadstone is hard to miss when trying to find a park. Feel free to browse their produce like fresh bread, cured meats, international jams and most notoriously, the cheeses in the their walk in cheese room. But, if you can’t wait to get home to try your purchases you can always dine in. Jones’ menu caters for both the early risers and the afternoon shoppers offering everything from traditional breakfasts, all the way to freshly prepared baguettes, pasta, risottos and salads for lunch. Most importantly of course is the Jones Wagyu burger. It comes with a Wagyu beef pattie, bacon, lettuce, gruyere, Jones bois boudran sauce and olive oil chips. Now all thats left to do is decide whether you prefer this or Capital Kitchen’s Cheeseburger just around the corner.

Comments
“I wasn’t sold on this burger. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, I think I was personally a little let down by the beef pattie. I thought the beef was a little pasty, somewhat like sausage mince. Not to say that it actually tasted like that (even though so many others do). In the end you could tell the beef was of good quality and taste, but it just wasn’t the kind of pattie I like. All other ingredients were fresh and well proportioned. I particularly enjoyed the bun and fries.”
“A small and well proportioned burger. The beef was a little charred for my liking but its still had a great crumble and flavour to it. On the top bun you had the ketchup and on the bottom there was possibly one of the best mayos I’ve ever tasted. To finish it off it had perfect presentation with a fancy dollop of sauce on the side for the chips. I’d advise not ordering if you are on your lunch break from work; this place is catered towards the ladies who stop by during/after shopping and are in no rush..”
“Overall a good lunch time burger. However, there is one condition: you have to wait 15-25min for your burger to arrive (service can be a bit slow, but that’s ok because the final product is worth it). I wasn’t a fan of the chips cooked in olive oil – some of them were too greasy and heavy. The positives included a light, small and very easy to manage bun, a light and well cooked pattie, perfect bacon, a very tasty and nicely melted gruyere and just the right amount of carefully selected lettuce leaves.”
“The sauce on the wood is undesirable and is different just for the sake of being different. The chips your meant to use to dip in it are cooked in olive oil – nothing but a gimmick because quite frankly they taste bad. It did take forever to get service/meals but in the end, you honestly get quite a simple and decent burger with a Wagyu beef pattie that’ll melt in your mouth. To add to this there was salty, crunchy bacon and really good ratios of cheese and lettuce. Its a good, perfectly proportioned lunchtime burger.. but only if you’ve got all the time in the world.”
Jones the Grocer on Urbanspoon


The Burger of the Year 2010

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Most days of the week its just a bit of parkland – not much happens there. People ride their bikes whilst others walk dogs. But if you’re walking your dog there on a Friday night be prepared for some traffic. At the corner of Park and Rathdowne Streets, North Carlton, you’ll find Raph and his Beatbox Kitchen. When you finally make you’re way to the front of the long line you’ve got a few simple questions to ask yourself: Raph Burger or Mushroom Burger? Chips? Drink? ..and did I just order food out of a huge stereo?

This retro boombox on wheels has been serving up “awesomness in a bun” since late 2009, kicking off its maiden tour at the Meredith Music Festival. But long before their first burgers were being served to their adoring public, Raph was voyaging back and forth to the USA researching different meat blends, finding the right cheeses, produce and ratios. Pretty much, he was learning from the original and the best. After some time, he had perfected his recipe and it was time to share it with the people.
The Winner

How did we come to this decision you may ask? Well, if you’ve tried the Raph Burger you won’t need any explanation. However, when we decided that someone had to be crowned for their efforts in 2010 we each voted. From the soft bun, salty pattie and creamy gouda, his burger is absolutley World Class. For our review in full click here.

So a BIG congratulations to Raph and his team; a well-deserved triumph. With a busy year ahead grilling at festivals, the Rooftop Shack and an all new Mexican inspired project, the “Taco Truck”, we asked Raph if he could offer one last piece of advice to those Melbourne burger joints that’ll be striving for the 2011 prize. Quite simply and honestly put, he said, “Less is more”… and we couldn’t agree more.


Grub

Friday, January 21, 2011
Grub – 911 Seward St, Hollywood, California, USA
Burger:
White Truffle Burger
Serviettes:
4
Dress Code:
Casual
Sleepiness:
14 minutes
Would we recommend:
If you’re in the area
Price:
$13.50 USD
Summary

In the backstreets of Hollywood, amidst a forest of Post-Production studios lies Grub. You probably wouldn’t guess it were a restaurant if it weren’t for the sign and people coming and going. Co-Owners Betty Fraser and Denise DeCarlo (who met whilst waitressing at a pizzeria), deliver their cheeky take on “California Comfort Food” in a converted 1920′s duplex that from first glance, just looks like someone’s house or a quaint Bed & Breakfast. This is all intentional; Fraser and DeCarlo wanted a place that people could come to unwind, relax or soak up some of that lovely California sunshine in their courtyard after a busy day. With a meal in there for everyone, from breakfast, dinner and dessert, their tantalising menu will probably leave you undecided for a little while. Lucky for me I had been recommended the White Truffle burger by a LA local. It came on a Cheddar Kaiser with roasted Mushrooms, melted Swiss Cheese, caramelised Onions, fresh Arugula & Roasted-Garlic Mayo. Then of course it was all drizzled with the not-so-secret ingredient, White Truffle Oil.

Comments
“I was coming to the end of my trip. Los Angeles had been fun but it had also beaten the shit out of me. Long days and late nights were becoming the norm and the burger recommendations were flying at me left, right and centre. It was Emmy time and parties were in full swing. At one particular gala, after being introduced as “the Australian burger guy” for the 100th time, I finally had a recommendation that I knew I just had to try.
One morning (ok it was noon) I got up and decided to make the trek to LA’s trendy Post-Production district. For some reason walking seemed like a bright idea but after a decent hour, and a bit of a hunt, I found it. Strolling down Seward Street you’d be forgiven for missing it or just thinking its some random haunt. From your first step in to your last step out you’ve got amazing service – I’ve never been to a chirpier café/restaurant. As well as the White Truffle Burger I grabbed a homemade ginger ale and boy was a happy when it came out. Ten seconds later and the drink was gone. I knew I was thirsty from the walk (and from the night before) but this was ridiculous. All of a sudden the waiter brought out a few sliced carrots, cucumbers and pretzels with a herb-mayo for dipping sauce as a complimentary entrée – a really nice touch. My next drink of choice was going to be the blueberry lemonade. It was unbelievable. Burger or no burger, I’d be back at Grub in a second just for that.
Soon enough they brought out the burger. It came laid out like a conquered beast; with a steak knife straight through its heart making it ooze swiss cheese all over the place. I sat there in awe for a little while wondering how I was meant to tackle this monstrosity. After taking a few snaps of the Swiss Cheese Niagara Falls, I cut this bad boy in half and went to town. My first impression wasn’t great; the bun was way too hard and crunchy and I started questioning the use of this Cheddar Kaiser. All it did was take away from the other ingredients. The Swiss cheese coupled with the White Truffle oil was a big winner though, coating my mouth like the creamiest of melted butters.
Just when I thought it was getting better with each bite, I started pulling out the overload of lettuce, caramelised onions and mushrooms as they were killing my Truffle experience! On their own they were ok but they together they were like uninvited guests at a party. Even more disappointing was the beef – it was overseasoned and overcooked, which was a real shame. I didn’t bother eating my side of potato chips because I was just too full. I sipped on my amazing blueberry lemonade and thought about how much potential this burger had to be great. They really do have the right recipe here for an amazing burger (minus the stupid bun) but the ratios of ingredients and cooking times that day were just off the mark.”


Honey Bar

Thursday, December 30, 2010
Honey Bar – 345 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Burger:
Beef Burger
Serviettes:
3
Dress Code:
Casual
Sleepiness:
20 minutes
Would we recommend:
Don’t expect much*
Price:
$16.50
Summary

Honey is a bar that prides itself on letting its guests really enjoy themselves. Open late everyday, Carlton Draught on tap, free Wifi, and an excellent food menu that any decent bar worth it’s salt should have. On top of all this there’s personable service, a relaxed and comfortable environment and decent tunes in the background. When all these things line up, what else would nail the occasion but their Beef burger with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelised onion and chips.

Comments
“This burger didn’t really do anything for me. I found that none of the flavours really had bite and it seemed a little bland. The beef pattie was well-cooked, but reminded me of a rissole. There was also a lot of bitter lettuce involved. I know the other guys will say it, but Turkish bread again? Really? Big props on the amazing chips.”
“I understand what Chris Farley was going through when scoffing down the chips on this SNL skit. I fell in love and would marry these chips if I could. By the way the beef was grey, the lettuce a touch bitter and the bun was Turkish.”
“This burger had some good things going for it. The pattie reminded me of rissole meat, a tad bit bland, but was OK. The bacon, cheese, and onion worked well. The stand out though wasn’t the burger, it was the chips. Not sure if they were beer battered or double cooked, but they were AWESOME. The most disappointing part though was the Turkish bread; it just doesn’t work in burgers guys. I would recommend it as a dinner or a hangover burger (a bit too heavy for lunch).”
“A trend amongst bars/pubs is the Turkish bread thing. . this has got to change. They’re better off spending more money on a simpler bread roll and putting extra cash into a more premium grass-fed beef. Saying that, the rustic homestyle pattie was still soft and pretty juicy, but flavour-wise it was more like a rissole. In terms of ratios, there was too much lettuce going on and not enough cheese for my liking. I’d say this goliath would be best suited as an excellent hangover cure or as something you could wolf down after just finishing a marathon. Massive bonus points for some killer chips.”
Honey Bar on Urbanspoon