Burgers

Posted: March 1, 2014 in Burger Hunt
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I like Burgers as much as the next guy, In fact probably more than the next guy to be honest. After all the blogs I’ve read lately that have talked about the “Top 10 Burgers in Melbourne”, I thought to myself, I need a burger… And then after that, I though, why not try some of these places and see for myself. And then after that, I though, hey, why not document the process. As you can see, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, and my thought process is clearly long and convoluted and inefficient. That being said, tonight I’m off to one of these vaunted Burger establishments and my plan is to visit a few of these places and share the experience.

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It’s been a while since I’ve managed to venture out for a Burger – work, study and illness have conspired recently to keep me from my beef and bun Friday nights. Thankfully, this past Friday, my good mate Paul was feeling a little lonely – his wife was overseas and he was keen for a catch up. Being the good mate that I am, I suggested we find somewhere for a Burger and then a place to watch the game, since our team was playing interstate. Research ensued and eventually we settled on a little burger joint my sister had suggested called Hello Sam. Hello Sam is located down the end of Chapel Street, not all that far from the Yarra river. It’s still walking distance from the South Yarra train station, which is how Paul and I got there. Hello Sam does seem to be somewhat removed from all the action on Chapel street, being more in a residential area than the busy shopping precinct – but I guess at the end of the day, good places are worth a little bit of effort to find. The café as it’s called has quite a bit of out door street side seating, and since it was reasonably warm, we elected to sit in the sun and enjoy our burgers. I ordered the Uncle Sam as a double, which comes with American cheese, tomato relish, red onion, American mustard, pickles, served on a brioche bun. The double pattie version I got is $18.5 and I also ordered a small chips. Paul got the Bonanza, which comes with Lettuce, tomato, red onion, bacon, 2 mustard mayo, tomato relish and BBQ sauce – $13.

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I love the fact that it comes with some onion rings on top, I don’t love the fact that I didn’t order a side of them. Note to self – order a side of these delicious onion rings next time… That’s not to say that the chips were no good, they were decent enough – reminded me of the schnitz chips if you’ve had those before. Anyway, who wants to talk about chips when there’s a burger to talk about right? Upon first inspection I was impressed, this looked like a pretty decent American style cheese burger – for some reason I assumed it came with lettuce etc… I didn’t read the menu closely obviously. The first thing that I liked about the burger was the bun to beef ratio, the bun is just the right thickness – the ratio is good, this is not one of those overly bready affairs. The second thing I really liked was the fact that they weren’t afraid of the sauce bottle. This is a saucy burger. First bite and it hits you on the cheeks. I like that. The patties are supposed to be cooked to a medium, although mine was probably a little over done, Paul’s however, was perfectly cooked. Regardless, it was still quite juicy, although just a little fatty for me, I think it would have benefited from some fresh lettuce and tomato, just to balance that slight greasiness. However, the pickle helped to cut through some of the fat (I really appreciated the long strips of pickley goodness – the more the better I say). The meat itself was slightly bland, not a very rich beef flavour, probably could have done with a fraction more seasoning – that’s possibly why it felt a little on the fatty side? I’m going to guess that the main cut is chuck, with a reasonable percentage of fat – you do get that traditional fast food burger flavour which I like.  Overall it’s quite a nice burger, the ingredients are all good quality, from the beef to the bun. I just think this version, the Uncle Sam, is probably not their best burger – it needed a few things to make it really top quality, and with these types of burger there’s no where to hide. The fact that the patties were a little off meant the whole burger suffered, because as a double, that’s really what it was all about. I’d give it a 7, but I really want to try some of their other burgers, because Paul quite enjoyed his.

Hello Sam Burger Cafe on Urbanspoon

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I’ve been to Whispering Vines Café a couple of times now, and on each occasion I’ve had a lovely meal – they often have really interesting specials – the beef wellington I had here as a special was outstanding. It’s also a really lovely spot, weather depending, outside is really nice, but I’ve been here when it was blowing a gale and the rain was pouring, inside it was nice and cosy and it was fun to watch the rain clouds roll over the countryside.

On the latest visit to Whispering Vines, we were lucky to actually get a table! Mum, for some unknown reason, had decided that there was no need to book… Well of course the place was packed on such a sunny spring day, and we were told there would be a 30min wait – there were a few of us, Mum, Katie, Jo and Sharron. Katie was not happy with the idea of having to wait for so long as she was not feeling well – thankfully we were only waiting for 15minutes before we were lead to a table out the back, in a nice shaded spot outside. Crisis averted!

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Once everyone was seated, Jo and I decided to go off and do a tasting of their wines to find one to match with out meal – I had decided to order the special – Eye filet with potato dauphinoise, I think from memory it was $38. Jo was not being very creative and ordered the Pork belly again – sure it’s really good, but why not try something different (Says the bloke that orders burgers all the time…). Anyway, Jo focused on the whites and I had a sample of the reds. I wouldn’t say I’m a regular wine drinker, but I do enjoy a well matched glass with a meal. Generally speaking, I’m a fan of Mornington Peninsular Pinots – I like their juicy, berry driven style, and the boldness of what they produce them down here.  They’re not soft and boring – the Mornington Pinot is different from other regions and I like that. It’s also probably because I like the fact that I grew up on the peninsular and I kind of feel that I should support the region… Anyway, I chose their 2012 Trofeo Estate Pinot Noir which I thought would hold up to the steak, and Jo went with their 2013 Trofeo Chardonnay to match with her pork belly.

The food by the way was lovely as usual, although my steak wasn’t the best cut of meat I’ve had – it just lacked for flavour – everything else was quite good. Mum enjoyed her duck and Sharron’s lamb looked good. Katie was being a little weird, which is fine, she’s pregnant so she can do what she likes – she decided to have an almond croissant and some chips… Interesting combo, but apparently very tasty. We also got an extra bowl of the fries with the smokey chilli mayo.

As far as a winery café goes, it’s a lovely spot, that’s got very good, reasonably priced food (Especially for the peninsular, for some reason it’s quite often exhorbantly expensive down here!). The winery’s own wine by the glass is also good value. However, I would point out that the cellar door prices for their wine is a bit much – $32 for a starting price? I can get better Mornington Pinots cheaper elsewhere. I guess the fact that you can really only get it at the cellar door makes it more expensive as it’s exclusive? Personally,  I’d stick to picking your favourite from the tasting and then enjoying a glass with a nice meal. A great spot of a long lunch on a warm spring weekend afternoon.

Note: I actually went to Trofeo’s a few weeks back, I just haven’t had to the time to write this lovely place up. I think their menu seems to change quite a bit so I’d check online first, but also keep in mine that their specials are usually pretty good.

Whispering Vines Cafe on Urbanspoon

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I’ve been to Tully’s a few times to pick up some fresh produce and visit the deli, and they always have a really good selection and great quality fresh food. When Katie suggested we try brunch at the cafe next door I figured that at the very least they’d have good ingredients to start with so brunch here must be half decent.

It was a very windy Sunday morning so Katie and I elected to sit inside – the seating was quite squashy and I would imagine it would be really cramped if the place was busy – thankfully we were there pretty early so it wasn’t full. Both Katie and I were pretty hungry so we wasted no time in ordering breakfast. Katie ordered the eggs (scrambled) and bacon option, which also comes with sautéed spinach & tomatoes on sourdough bread $14.95. I ordered the Farmhouse Breakfast which comes with poached eggs fagioli (borlotti beans), sautéed mushrooms, pure pork bambino sausage, sautéed spinach, tomatoes, and ciabatta toast – $18.95.

The food was clearly good quality as you would expect when you are starting with top quality fresh ingredients – For example the spinach was exceptionally good – only just wilted, it allowed the star if the show, baby spinach leaves to shine though. The roasted tomato was so flavoursome and the mushrooms were lovely.  However, although the ingredients were clearly top quality, the dishes themselves needed a bit more attention to detail. Katie’s coffee seemed like it was rushed and the top of her latte, was just a mess. I know I’m no coffee drinker, but I’m always impressed with the patterns on the foam – this one was just a mess of ugly bubbles (Apparently this has no effect on the flavour).  My poached eggs… well they didn’t seem like poached eggs – they seemed like my Nana had made them in her special poaching mold, which really steams the eggs which gives a different texture than poaching them. The bread wasn’t buttered, and no butter was provided which I find a little bit annoying, although the bread itself was amazingly good. Whilst the breakfast was enjoyable, the end result just didn’t deliver on the potential, a bit hit and miss for me.

Apple Espresso @ Tully's on Urbanspoon

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Finally decided to head out East and try the burger so many have been raving about – I’d been hearing so many good things about Dandenong Pavilion, and it has been on my to do list for quite some time. The only problem is that it’s not particularly close to me or anyone I know. Thankfully my good friend Shane was in town from Sydney, and with school holidays on, well I’d run out of excuses not to give this place a shot. It’s actually located just outside of the CBD (Downtown) area of Dandenong on the main road into town. Interesting location, it’s a big restaurant with a nice outdoor area, layout seems a bit like a good pub bistro inside. However, that’s where the similarities end. You can tell from the moment you are greeted and shown to your table that you are being served by a team of hospitality professionals – no hipster students here who throw you plate down with disdain, these guys clearly know and love their jobs. It’s actually refreshing. They just made you feel comfortable right from the start, no pretensions.

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Anyway, lets talk about the food… For some reason Shane and I ordered Milk Shakes to begin with, I got the Blue Heaven and Shane the Banana. Both as you can see were the corner store variety – very childish I know, but when Shane and I get together we tend to be like that! We also ordered some wings and calamari to start. The wings were OK, but really needed to be crispy before they were coated, and they weren’t all that spicy either. The serving size was a bit small for what you paid, and I would have liked a little more care given to the presentation – more a miss than a hit for me. The calamari on the other hand was really good, tender and well seasoned, it was presented beautifully and the portion size was quite generous – a dish that I’d order again. Once the starters were out of the way we were ready for the main event and lets be honest here, the whole reason why we had driven out to Dandenong in the first palce- The Burgers! We both ordered the Beef Burger, which is described on the menu as – “A blend of three types of 100% Australian beef ground fresh  daily, cooked medium, with tomato, melted cheddar cheese, butter lettuce, chef’s special sauce & American mustard, on a lightly toasted bun, served with chips, pickles & tomato sauce – $19.50.” (For some reason I remember it being cheaper than this but the website is saying $19.50… I thought 18.90 – Maybe they haven’t updated the website???)

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The Burger arrives with a huge pile of chips so don’t expect to go home hungry – unfortunately this meant that the delicious looking sticky date cake that was in the cabinet as I walked in was off the cards – there was just no room!! First impression, this looks the real deal, I like the way it’s wrapped up in paper fast food style – it signals the style of burger you are going to get. The bun is soft and smells sweet and buttery, it’s lightly toasted and has a nice scattering of seeds. The first thing that sprang to mind as I smelt the bun was croissant – so buttery and slightly sweet. The first bite – delicious, perfectly proportioned, so you get everything you want in that first mouthful – the patty is the perfect size and fits the bun all the way around. No bites with bread only on this baby. The patty itself seems heavy on the chuck -which gives it that “fast food” kind of vibe. It’s a well seasoned beefy, juicy patty never-the-less, nice charring on the outside that gives it that grill flavour and even though it is cooked all the way though, it’s still juicy. The cheese is the American kind which really suits this burger, nice salty, cheesy tang, the sauces keep everything really juicy and the tomato and lettuce lighten the otherwise very rich, sweet burger. The pickles on the side are the sweet cornichon variety which I’m not a huge fan of so I leave mine on the side of the plate.

There’s no doubt they are going for the premium fast food style burger, sweet, rich, not overly complex. And they do this really well.  Initially I was worried that Dandenong Pavilion might be one of those places that’s just rated highly because there’s nothing really to compare anywhere near by – but in this case, it’s the real deal. While it’s not exactly around the corner, it’s certainly worth the drive. I give this one an 8, but I imagine the inclusion of bacon and sharp pickles could only lift this burger up into the burger stratosphere…

 

Dandenong Pavilion on Urbanspoon

Many years ago I had the opportunity to sample the ridiculous “Bogan Burger” at the Napier Hotel with a few mates. My recollections of that evening are a little cloudy, so when the opportunity arose to give the bogan another crack I leapt at the chance. I had been studying all day in the State Library and felt that a burger would be a just reward for such a hard days work. Jo was also keen for a burger, so we made the decision to catch up in the Smith street area not far from where she works. Once I remembered that the Napier was just around the corner, the decision was easy – Bogan Burger time. We arrived at the Napier at about 6:30pm on a Thursday night – the place was packed and all the tables were either full or reserved. Thankfully one of the staff members said we could take one of the tables that had been booked for 6pm but had no-showed. Clearly, this is a popular establishment. Cool refreshing beverages were ordered and the menus were scrutinised. I was always going to get the Bogan burger ($25) if it was still available – thankfully it was – Jo chose to sample the Wagyu Beef burger ($20) . Since the place was pretty busy we had a chance to watch the plates from the kitchen go by and I have to say the meals looked pretty good – I’d love to give the Roo Filet with béarnaise sauce a shot. Anyway, we didn’t have to wait too long for our meals to arrive. Unfortunately my phone had run flat after using it to hotspot in the library all day so I had to rely on Jo’s phone which didn’t seem to work as well in the low light…

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Jo’s burger –  The Wagyu burger came with  port glazed onion, bacon, lettuce, tomato, American mustard, Kentucky bourbon barbecue sauce and fries – She felt that the patty was a bit small for the bun, you had to bite through to get the meat, and the overall taste profile was a bit bland, but generally she was happy with the burger. Being a good little sister she gave me a bite – I didn’t really get any of the bourbon barbecue sauce, and the meat to me seemed under seasoned hence the bland flavour. My burger was another matter altogether. This thing is pretty crazy, you get steak, chicken schnitzel, caramelised onions, cheese, pineapple, beetroot, egg, potato cake, bacon, lettuce, tomato along with a big side of wedges and salad. Come hungry if you want to finish this one! Ok, so technically it’s not really a burger – there is no patty, and well, really there’s also no bun. What you get is a big Turkish bread roll, toasted, piled high with as much food as they can fit and then held together with one of those cocktail umbrellas.

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It certainly grabs your attention, and is pretty difficult to eat. I cut mine in half and then it was possible to actually get it into my mouth… Taste wise, all the elements on their own were pretty good, the steak was tender and cooked medium, although it was very much under seasoned, the chicken schnitzel was really good, the bacon was amazing, and even the potato cake was nice. But putting them all together into one bun doesn’t actually taste all that good. I ended up eating the second half bit by bit, not as a burger – it felt somewhat sacrilegious to be honest…  But perhaps I’m missing the point and I’ve turned into some sort of pretentious  foodie. Really, this is not about the hand ground Wagyu beef, or the brioche buns, or the special sauces of your caviar munching, champagne swilling,  wouldn’t cross the Yarra to save themselves, bloody bourgeoisie foodie tosspots. This is about fair dinkum, bloody grouse blue collar grub- were quality is measured by quantity and a successful meal is followed by a burp, the unbuckling of the belt, and a side glance to your mates with the words, Fark, I’m bloody stuffed, gees that was grouse. It probably would have paired well with a Melbourne or a bourbon and coke… Let’s be honest, I’m not the target audience here, but  I’d still give it a 7 just because it’s a bit of fun!

Napier Hotel on Urbanspoon

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Needed to find a place to have a feed and watch the big Footy match between the Power and the Hawks. After a little bit of thinking, Paul and I came up with Bridie O’Reilly’s on Chapel St. Paul had a mates birthday party after the game and I was catching up with Friends north of the city, so it seemed like an ideal spot to get a bite to eat, enjoy a  cleansing libation or two and watch the game. I know from past experience that Bridie’s does fairly honest pub grub and they also have quite a few screens that you can watch the game on. We got there early and grabbed what we thought was a good spot to watch the game. Unfortunately, even though one of the waitresses had told us “of course they’ll turn the sound on for the game”, there was to be no sound for the game. When I enquired politely for the third time regarding the lack of sound, the answer was that apparently there was a function on upstairs at 5:30pm so they wouldn’t be turning the sound on… Not sure why they couldn’t have the sound on from 4:30 – 5:30 but whatever, it’s their pub. Disappointing considering they have about 15 screens all showing the game with no sound. Once Jo arrived we made the decision to head off to the College Lawn Hotel. Prior to all of this, Paul, Katie and I had ordered and devoured a late lunch – we had, after all arrived early to get good seats, oh well, the College Lawn was a good spot and we got there midway through the second quarter, so we only missed about 10 minutes of the game.

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Anyway, lets talk about the food – I really wanted to get a Parma – I know they’re half decent here and I was craving one – but for the sake of research purposes I felt that it would be wrong to pass up the Wagyu burger. Both Paul and I ordered burgers, whilst Katie just ordered an appetiser. We didn’t have to wait too long for our meals to arrive, which was good because we wanted to finish up with the food before the game started. Katie’s appetiser was actually really good – $15 for the potato skins with pulled pork – quite a lot of food for an appetiser, definitely a good choice if you are looking for a share option.

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The burgers arrive open – a very American approach, although I’m not sure of the reason in this case because the burger already comes sauced and there are no sauces on the table anyway. I suspect it’s more about presentation than about anything else. They come with melted Cheese (Swiss cheese in this case), lettuce, tomato, pickles, aioli, tomato relish and a big serve of decent pub chips – $20. The problem I had with this burger was the bun – as you go to take a bite, it smells sweet, like cake, its texture is cakey and there is just way too much bread to meat – the huge pile of pickles now makes sense, they’re obviously there to cut through all that sweetness – Unfortunately it doesn’t completely work.

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You can see in the photo above just how much bun there is, and that’s after it’s been compressed, it’s far too doughy – the sweet bun just dominates the burger.  Unfortunately you really don’t get all that much flavour from the patty. I think if they could get the bun right, they’d have a much better burger, as it stands, this one’s a miss. I’d give it a 5.5.

Bridie O'Reilly's on Urbanspoon

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Another lovely Spring day in Elwood – the leaves are starting to come out and the sun is starting to shine more frequently – Saturday in particular started off pleasantly – a nice day for a walk I thought, and a perfect day to head down to Ormond Rd. and find a café for brunch.

It’s not a long walk from my place to the Ormond Rd shops, so off Katie and I went – 15 minutes later we were seated inside at Wild Café. I’d walked past Wild Café countless times, but I’d never been in, it’s not the most popular of the café’s on Ormond Rd. and that always makes you a little wary about going in – is there something that people know that I don’t one tends to wonder. That and the ambiance doesn’t seem all that enticing, I’m not a fan of the layout. Anyway, since we were both hungry, we made the decision to give the place a go, Katie was getting cranky and I was getting there myself. Katie sat down and ordered some tea and coffee while I finished off some errands – but the time I got back the drinks were on the table and the only thing left to do was make a decision on the food. Easier that it seems. The Menu at Wild is confusing – I hate the layout, it took me way too long to figure out what I was looking at. Sure it looks pretty, but for those who have only just gotten out of bed or just aren’t too sharp to begin with it’s a little bit hard to read… Might just be me? Eventually I figured out that they do offer breakfast and so we made our orders. I went for the standard big breakfast (Not sure what they call it here), with Scrambled eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, tomato’s and mushrooms. I had to check with Katie first because she has this weird pregnancy aversion to mushrooms. She was ok with me ordering them, I just wasn’t allowed to mentioned them or acknowledge their presence in anyway for fear of making her sick at the table. Katie ordered the beans and baked eggs dish – although I was worried that the eggs would not be cooked through. I read somewhere that if you eat uncooked eggs when pregnant then, well I can’t remember, but I ‘m sure it’s bad… Possibly fatal. Thankfully, Katie and unborn baby survived. Here’s a tip – do not Google anything about pregnancy if you are a mother or father to be. Basically you will start to look at everything as being a potential threat to the life of both the mother and your unborn child. I’m sure this feeling of paranoia will only get worse once baby is born. Katie thankfully much less crazy than I am. Our child has a chance, small though it is, of being at least 50% normal…

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Ok, so back to the eggs – Katie’s baked eggs came with a nice flavoursome chili style baked bean and tomato ragù, a side of bacon and some house baked bread. The bread was a bit “cakey”, but otherwise she enjoyed her meal. My meal was ok, the eggs were cooked the way I like them, creamy, buttery, on a nice grainy sourdough that I’m sure had a drizzle of fruity olive oil and not butter – nice touch actually. The sausages were overcooked and a little burnt on one side so they were disappointing and the bacon was ok – again just not crispy enough for me – there were parts of my bacon that were just warmed, not fried. I don’t get it. At least it was the full rasher and not just the short cut. The highlight for me was the sautéed mushrooms. They came out late, on a separate plate – but they were worth it, a mix of mushrooms, including some Enoki and Shimeji and your standard Portobello and Button – all sautéed lightly in some butter, these were great on toast. As far a brunch places go this is certainly not the best option on Ormond Rd. however, it was enjoyable, so if you don’t feel like battling the crowds at some of the other places, Wild café is worth a shot.

Wild Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Sometimes in life things just take a turn for the best when you least expect it. Tonight was one of those occasions. Monday night is usually trivia night if I can get the team together. However, it was Katie’s first day back at work and she was tired and pulled the pin. Then, when I tried to book for the rest of the team I find out that it’s fully booked and we “might” be able to get a seat at the bar if we are lucky. Things didn’t seem to be working out, but then I got the idea that we should head out for a burger as a team… Ok, so I don’t need an excuse for a burger – thankfully the rest of the team were on board with the idea and so off we went to the selected destination. Only problem was that the first selected destination just happened to have a sign up that said – closed on Monday 15th September for repairs or something. Which would have been fine except it was Monday 15th September… Damn – I had the team looking at me with what can only be described as distain. Also, my sister Jo was becoming “Hangry” a word she made up – meaning hungry and angry… This might give you some indication with the crowd I was dealing with. Thankfully on the drive down Glen Huntly rd. I had spied a sign that read ribs. With nothing more to go on, I suggested that we move quickly towards this options. Self preservation mode was kicking in. Jo was definitely looking “Hangry”… Unfortunately my memory of the distance to the sign with ribs probably wasn’t spot on and the walk was a little further than I had recalled. The team were looking at me with more than distain at this stage… On arrival the place looked a little smaller than I recalled – by smaller I mean, this is a take away place with a couple of seats up against the wall and the window. Most of these seats were occupied… The team of 6, Dave, Chris, Taz, Ben and Jo all gave me “that” look. I was sweating now. I could only hope the burger here was edible. The $12 price tag was a little on the cheap side so I wasn’t holding my breath.

But then things began to look up – the guys at the window finished and left – there was space now for us to sit. Dave then suggested that we share a half rack of pork ribs – I’m not going to say no to ribs, it’s just down right rude. Once we had gone through the ordering process we all sat down and waited. From our vantage point we were perfectly located to watch as the grill master weaved his magic – Chris and I studiously watched as the chef flipped out the patties onto the flaming grill and then basted and seasoned the patties. Off to the side the ribs roasted above the charcoal and the brioche buns warmed above the oven. It was great to see the cheese go down on top, and melt enticingly over each patty, finally being placed over the grill in a warm spot to allow the meat to rest – it’s care like this really makes a difference to the end product.

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Each member except for Ben ordered a Burger – they come standard as a 180grm patty, Brioche bun,  cheese, mix lettuce, tomato and “rack sauce” – $12 + $3 for a generous serving of chips. Dave and I shared the half rack of pork ribs which were $22 – to be honest I’d like to see the pig these come from because half rack – come on, more like full rack – it was very a generous serving, or a bloody big pig…

So on to the burger – first thing first – it looks great. The bun is a standard light brioche style (apparently from Dench bakers), nicely toasted over the charcoal grill, soft and warm. The patty is juicy and delicious – it benefits from the flame grill fro that smokey grill not,e and the basting for added moisture. I’d say there’s a good ratio of fat to beef as even though it’s cooked though, it’s still quite juicy. The melted cheese encases the beef to keep the flavour in. The sauce is quite interesting – there’s quite a bit of it, so do expect this to be an elegant burger to eat – not a first date meal as my cousin Megs would say. There’s certainly a mayo base with a slight sharpness there as well, works to cut through the smokiness from the grill and the richness of the beef – this burger is well balanced. The tomato and lettuce add the necessary freshness and texture. Oh, I should probably mention the ribs – although only Dave, Chris and I  had any, and Chris got lucky because Dave shared one while I wasn’t looking – The ribs are good, no doubt about it, and not expensive either $22 for a large half rack. They were falling off the bone and had a lovely sticky BBQ sauce. I have to be honest, I like mine a bit smokier, but other than that there’s not much to fault (Perhaps a bit more sauce??) –  At the end of the day I’ve  had better ribs (It’s hard to compare to Texas 24hr pit cooked ribs – so I wont), but not by much and not at that price point in Australia.

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By the end of the meal my trivia mates were no longer looking at me like I had Ebola. Smiles all round, the “this is a tasty burger grin” from ear to ear was obvious for all to see. We struck up a conversation with the Chef after the meal and both Chris and I had the suggestion that perhaps some sort of “McRib” style burger would work. The guy actually told us that they do have one they call the Sow and Cow, a normal burger with added rib meat. However it’s not on the menu because it’s considered a bit too expensive. It was at this point that Chris became violently disposed towards the guy for holding out on us – how unfair that we only find out about this amazing burger creation until after we finished eating. I guess we’ll just have to come back now – first world problems… When I enquired about what was too expensive the guy sheepishly told me. Yep you’ll be shocked too – I’d say guess, but since this a conversation in writing you can skip ahead so it really doesn’t work in this format, but humour me. Nope, not $25, haha, no, not $30, it’s $16 – are you serious. wow, this guy must be from the 80’s, or possibly unaware of the concept of inflation. $16 for an amazing beef and rib combo burger of this quality is insanely cheap. $20 would be cheap. Anyway, if you live in the area you have to give this place a go. I give the standard Racks burger a 8.5 – it’s almost a 9. There’s no mistaking it, this burger is up there. I’m sure if you add rib meat to it will only get better!

Racks Ribs Co. on Urbanspoon

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Katie wins again at finding amazing places to eat! Originally I had planned to visit another burger joint, but Katie was craving buffalo wings – and you don’t argue with a Pregnant woman who has a craving. You smile and nod and ask when she would like to leave… Le Grill is located in Hawthorn, off Burwood Rd – well actually I’m not sure if you can get in off Burwood Rd, we went down a side street and parked out the back – they have this little eating area where you order the food with big share tables. It’s actually quite handy because trying to find a park on a Friday night on Burwood Rd was proving to be rather difficult. The Menu is short and sweet. A couple of burgers, various types of fries, wings and ribs.

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Speaking of fries – they have waffle fries and poutine!!! I just love poutine,  My kind of joint. Anyway, so Le Grill has a bar out the front, and upstairs area for functions and the eating area out back which is where you order.  We ordered some wings, fries – poutine and waffle, and some burgers and then sat down on one of the large share tables waiting for a lobster to vibrate (They give you this lobster pager that vibrates when the order is ready). It wasn’t too long before our food was ready – although it was clear that we ordered too much. I thought the waffle fries would be just enough for one and the poutine would be the same size but it looked like both were share size… Oh well, better to have too much than not enough. The wings were delicious, tender, falling off the bone, with a nice hot sauce, although I’d like a bit more kick to mine – Katie enjoyed hers. The poutine was nice, with house made cheese curd, although it reminded me more of a goats cheese than the more rubbery cheese curds that you get back in Canada – this was more of an upscale version. Waffle fries baffle me – how are they made – they seem to be these impossible constructs of potato goodness (Yes – I am clearly easily impressed). They came with a nice little ranch style dipping sauce. We thoroughly enjoyed them but couldn’t finish them.

Of course it’s the burgers that were the big ticket item for me – so lets talk beef. I ordered the Cheeseburger as a double with bacon. They are usually cooked medium rare which I love, but Katie was also ordering a burger and made sure that they cooked hers all the way through for safety reasons (Is this really that important? So many things you can’t eat when you are pregnant apparently…). I think they thought she meant both burgers because mine was also well done. Damn. Still the burgers were juicy enough. The meat is clearly good quality beef, nice and beefy, well seasoned – I’m not sure of the cut, but I’d say that there’s chuck there but also a better cut as well because you get that “steaky” flavour – Very nice regardless. The buns are a traditional burger bun – soft white bread with a scattering of sesame seeds on top. Lightly toasted, they hold up well to the rigours of eating a double. The burger comes with two types of cheese – as you can see, very cheesy! They also come with a sweet mustard and a homemade ketchup, which is also on the sweet side. You also get some caramelised onion interspersed throughout. The bacon was ok, but I didn’t get a lot of flavour to be honest, it seemed to be overpowered by the other elements. I think I would have loved a nice sharp pickle in the burger – but then I ALWAYS want pickles in my burgers. This was a good solid burger – I was quite impressed, I’d love to try it medium rare to let the quality of the meat really shine through. I give this one a 7.5, and I’d love to see what it’s like properly cooked (Pink).

Le Grill on Urbanspoon

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Mum had offered to come up from Mornington and take Katie and I our for lunch in celebration of Katie’s recent graduation from her Masters of Design degree from Swinburne. Katie chose Chez Dré on the basis that they offer a pretty well regarded range of French “petits gateaux” (I don’t even know what that means…) and Macaroons (Which I can take or leave to be honest) – much to my dismay they don’t offer a burger, but then we had had our burger fix on Friday night so I shouldn’t really whinge. Ok, look it’s not all about me, but luckily they do brunch and not just sweets. Chez Dré is a French café and patisserie located in South Melbourne not far from the bustling South Melbourne Markets. This of course makes trying to find a park on a Sunday a bit of a head ache, but as they say, good things are worth the wait… They don’t take bookings on weekends, and the places was very busy but Katie managed to snag a table reasonable quickly and we were seated and ordering in no time. Katie and I order the “grand petit dejeuner”, I’m going to guess that it means big breakfast, but of course it sounds way better in French.

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For $21.50 you get toulouse sausage, ‘istra’ bacon, avocado, slow roasted tomato, herb potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, tomato relish and poached eggs on sourdough toast. It’s quite a lot of food so a good choice if you are hungry.

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Mum ordered the Duck Sandwich $23.50, which is a confit pulled duck sandwich with onion jam, red cabbage (Lightly pickled), grated apple & truffle mayonnaise. First things first – since Katie’s been pregnant she can’t look at a mushroom – which works for me since I’m like a hobbit when it comes to mushrooms! Normally I’d expect one or two mushrooms on a big breakfast plate, but not here – One serving of the lovely Portobello mushrooms is about 4, so I got  double – Winning! They had a great flavour – beautifully cooked with a nice hint of thyme. Just lovely on the sourdough toast. I swapped her the avocado (Never been a fan – apart from guacamole…). The Toulouse sausage was great, but cold by the time I found it – just so much food (And too much talking)! The one let down for me was the bacon – not really cooked – with lovely bacon like that it should be crispy, not soft – disappointing. Mum’s Duck sandwich was a talking point – a huge mound of confit duck, with a lightly pickled red cabbage, caramelised onion  and amazing seeded mustard and truffled mayo on sourdough – just stunning. Mum couldn’t get through it all, so we all had a bite. Of course after all that eating we had to try out the petits gateaux.

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I had the Caramel-Mandarin dome, which according to the menu was a “vanilla brûleé, mandarin jelly, pain de genes, valrhona ‘caramelia’ mousse” all of this for $9.50. Now I might not full appreciate what all of those things mean, but I do know that it tasted pretty damn good. Katie ordered the praline, apple & popcorn and Mum ordered the lemon – hazelnut tart. We couldn’t finish them all, not for want of trying, but in the end they were simply too big! There’s a reason this place is so popular – if you are looking for an amazing brunch with a French twist, I strongly recommend heading down.

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon