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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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 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 luck 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 Cow 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

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Met up with some friends to celebrate the Australianifcation (Also known as citizenship ceremony) of Ang  (hooray Ang!). She’s a fair dinkum Aussie now – even though you still can’t understand a word she says after a few pints – That thick Scottish brogue is going now where. Still, I reckon she’s a grouse sheila. Anyway… a few of us met up after the ceremony at the Bridge Hotel in Richmond. I hadn’t been there is years – last time I was there I vaguely recall that it was rather trashy. These days the place looks fantastic, I love the outdoor laneway entrance as you walk in, and all the little nooks and private areas – it’s a great place to catch up with friends. Wednesday nights are $14 parma and steak nights. Unfortunaltely they had a burger on the menu so I had no choice but to give it a go. Katie opted for the steak, although I have no idea why – she had to get it well done since she pregnant. Waste of a good bit of meat if you ask me… She was disappointed, but then that was always going to happen fro someone who would normally eat their steak medium to medium rare… Poor thing – at least the condition is temporary – only 6 months to go!

I was under no such restrictions, but I still felt obliged to order the Burger that they have on the menu – $20 for the “Black Angus Beef Burger” – The menu states you get Bacon, egg, caramelised onion, lettuce, tomato, cheese, relish and aioli. On arrival the burger looks pretty standard for a good pub burger in Melbourne these days – Brioche bun, with a scattering of seeds, smallish but a good sized beef patty visible, weirdly they put the cheese beneath the patty and above the salad – but apart from that it looked the part. First bite in and it’s clear the bun is a bit stale -the brioche style can get that way pretty quickly, the crumpled appearance is a tell tale sign – the counter this, the chef had tried to toast both sides on the bottom, but the end result was that it just started to fall apart at the end. Flavour wise it was ok, but a stale bun is a big no-no for me. The patty was very tough and didn’t have a great flavour, it felt chewy and broke apart into small balls of meat. The egg was over cooked and dry and thus detracted from the burger, and instead of adding a nice saucy yolk it dried it all out. The mound of caramelised onion added some sweetness but seemed like it had been sitting around for a while. The bacon, whilst tasty, was a chewy – thick cut, almost speck like variety, which combined with the dry chewy patty to create a really hard to eat burger. I’m going to say the cheese on the bottom was a mistake, I didn’t like the effect – It didn’t add a lot to the burger… Moving on the salad elements and once more with this burger I was disappointed – The lettuce seemed to be the bagged gourmet leafy greens that you get from the supermarket – one of the greens was a baby spinach leaf – just didn’t work for me. The tomato was not totally ripe and was quite small and so didn’t add a lot either. The end result felt like a burger made by someone who had been shown a really good burger recipe but wasn’t a person that ate burgers normally. Almost like it was made by a chef who had never thought of the burger as something that could work outside of a McDonalds.  As a result the product at the end lacked that element of care and pride.  I was really disappointed by the food here – the place seems like a great pub, but the food I had was not good at all. I’d give it a 4.5.

Bridge Hotel on Urbanspoon

There really aren’t a hell of a lot of options when it comes to cheeseburgers in Melbourne. It’s not like the USofA where there is a plethora of good franchise options – Wendy’s, Checkers, Five Guys, In and Out burger just to name a few. In Australia there seems to be a lot of fast food chicken outlets, but only a handful of real burger options. On Saturday, Chris and I decided to head out into the burbs and hunt down Melbourne’s best fast food Cheeseburger from some of the franchise’s that are available around town- all for the sake of research… We wanted to know if you can actually get a good, reasonably priced Cheeseburger from a franchise in Melbourne. For research purposes we included the two main options – Hungry Jacks and McDonalds. After that we discussed a number of options including TGI Fridays – However we decided that it really needed to be a place where you can take out rather than a restaurant. We finished with a list that included Burger Edge, Huxtaburger (Three locations around Melbourne now) Grill’d and Ribs and Burgers – I went to Grill’d on the Sunday as 6 burgers on one day regardless of how much exercise preparation you do is still probably not a great idea… Other that these 6, there’s not a lot of options – sure there are a heap of one off burger bars around town that do some amazing burgers, but my goal was to find places that are more accessible – franchise options like you might  find in the States. The prices of the burgers ranged from $1 to $12. Ok – so the McDonalds Cheeseburgers aren’t normally $1 but we got there at 12:30pm and they had a deal – normally I think they are about $2 something – probably about the same as the HJ’s burger which was $2.35… Anyway, all of the burgers except for Ribs and Burgers were under $10 (Although my additions to the Simply Grill’d brought it above the $10 mark…). Each of the places we visited have at least three locations.

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Hungry Jacks:
Burger 1 – We started early around 11am, Chris went for a BBQ double Cheeseburger and I opted for the plain Cheeseburger – Both were around the $2 mark.
Tasting notes were pretty much the same – sweet, cakey, soft bun, flavourless microwaved beef patty – far too much bread to meat ratio. The cheese was more of a texture than a flavour, the sauce was overpoweringly sweet – even the pickle was sweet with no sharpness. If there was mustard in there then it tasted far too sweet – no contrast. The overall burger experience wasn’t unpleasant, but it wasn’t good either. Finished the burger so at least that’s a positive.

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McDonalds:
Burger 2 – We arrived during the special $1 Cheeseburger hour. There was quite a rush so I actually had to wait a good 5minutes for our to Cheeseburgers.
The tasting notes here were the same – Not good, neither of us could finish our burgers, they were not good – I don’t recall the cheeseburgers here being that bad – I know the quarter pounder I had a few weeks back was ok, so I’m not sure what happened. My Cheeseburger tasted a little sour, the onions tasted weird. Again the bun was super sweet, but there was a better ratio of bun to patty in the McDonalds Cheeseburger. Sauce is really sugary, too many onions in this burger, the cheese is tasteless and really just adds a texture, and the patty had no flavour. My Burger had no mustard. You just can’t trust a 15 year old kid who’s on minimum wage to get your burger right if there’s a rush. Let’s be honest, they DON’T care. The end result was two terrible burgers for $1 each – I threw out half of mine, Chris probably only had two bites. Thing is, I’ll probably be back – I go past at least 3 McDonalds on my drive to and from work – sometimes it’s hard to say no to convenience, and sometimes the burgers here aren’t that bad… Sometimes…

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Burger Edge:
Burger 3 – First of the non-majors – We went to the one in Brighton on Bay street. This Burger was $8.90 and we got them to cut it in half. I ordered the Feel the cheese with no lettuce or tomato as they don’t have a plain Cheeseburger on the menu. The bun was a sourdough – far too doughy in my opinion, however it did have lightly crispy crust that worked well. Chris like it more than I did. The patty was a bit sausagy but at least it had some flavour. I liked the pickles in this one and the onions gave the burger a nice bite. The cheese seemed to be the kind you get pre-sliced in the supermarket, not the processed cheese, but the pre-sliced tasty cheddar like Mainland or Bega etc… The overall eating experience was nice. I wouldn’t be upset if I had to have another one of these.

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Huxtaburger:

Burger 4 -I’ve been to Huxtaburger before and been disappointed – this time we tried out their latest location just off from Chapel street in Prahran. Chris ordered these as it was his shout – apparently he made sure to ask for no lettuce or tomato but clearly they thought that was a stupid request and put them in anyway… Oh well. Once again we got the burger cut in half so we could share it. At $9 this burger was the most expensive we had tried, and you could taste the difference. The bun was a fantastic, classic burger bun, soft white bread, with a sesame seed covering, nicely toasted – a classic style that always works. The sauces were nice – you had the holy trinity of mustard, mayo and ketchup. The mayo was quite sweet – almost like that kewpie Japanese style mayo, although it was balanced nicely by the mustard and ketchup. The pickle was lovely and created a sharp contrast and even the cheese in this burger was good. A shame about the lettuce and tomato – more from the point of view of the research and the ability to compare the burgers – I mean, personally, I like these elements in  a burger… The main downside with this burger is the patty, honestly, it’s not good. You can see in the photo that the texture is off – too meatloaf like. It clearly has a bit of filler in it, and it’s been frozen and then cooked all the way through. Like I said in the past, it reminds me a lot of the frozen patties you can by from the super market… If they could get this right they’d have an amazing burger, as it stands, it’s still good, just not great.

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Ribs and Burgers:
Burger 5 – The final stop for the day – a place that holds fond memories for me – Chris, Katie and I had adventured off to the Craigieburn Ribs and Burgers a while back and thoroughly enjoyed their offerings. This time around I was ordering their standard Cheeseburger – not the delicious, but much more expensive Wagyu burger. The Cheeseburger here is $12, you get the choice of American or Swiss cheese – I chose American as I think it’s more traditional. The tasting notes would have been the same except Chris cheated and ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger – cheeky bugger. Damo joined us in Northcote as he lives around the corner now, and he got their delicious Wagyu burger  – which he thoroughly enjoyed- Yhus I was left to sample the Cheeseburger: Their Cheeseburger come standard with a choice of cheese and a “Beef mince patty, grilled, basted and served on a sesame seed bun with iceberg lettuce, tomato, Spanish onion, dill pickles and… pink & BBQ sauce”. Their standard bun is terrific, not quite as good as the Huxtaburger bun, but delicious none the less – a soft white affair with a multitude of sesame seeds on top, lightly toasted on the grill. The cheese was standard American cheese – Kraft burger slices to be specific – giving a salty cheesy note, combined with the sauces and meat juices, you get a great juicy, saucy texture. The pickle were lovely, nicely sharp but not over the top. All of the elements worked well – but it is the meat the sets this burger apart. Cooked to medium well – a light pink in the middle – juicy, well seasoned, smokey note from the grill, beefy. This is a quality patty. You can taste the difference – this is the first patty all day that tasted like beef and not some sort of meatloaf/sausage concoction. The down side is price – your talking 6 times the price of a McDonald’s Cheeseburger. Although to be honest, the fairer comparison would be with a Quarter Pounder – still, at least twice the price of the McD’s Quarter Pounder.

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Grill’d:

Burger 6 – No Cheeseburger challenge would be complete without a stop at Grill’d – the original gourmet burger chain in Melbourne. Thankfully there’s a location near by so I stoped in for a sneaky Cheesy. I ordered the Simply Grill’d sans lettuce and tomato on the standard bun with pickles and cheese added of course. I didn’t have to wait long since it was about 11:45am and I was the only one waiting – I grabbed a seat outside and waited. The bun today seemed really soft – I don’t know if it was because it was really fresh or I just got lucky, but regardless – it really worked with this version of the burger – the fact that there was not lettuce or tomato gave the burger a lower profile and it was easier to eat – it was also less juicy – no tomato juice – and so it didn’t fall apart or get soggy. Without all the extra’s that I normally get I was able to get more of the meat flavour coming through – the smokey grill note comes though really strongly and just makes this burger so much better. I still think they should leave the meat alone and just keep it simple – but at the end of the day it was pretty damn good. The light herbaceous flavours from the mayo added a nice freshness and lightened the burger, and the sweet relish contrasted nicely with the sharp tang of the pickle. All in all this is an impressive Cheeseburger. They charged me $15 with a 600ml drink so about $11 something – Not the most expensive but still on the pricey end of things.

 

Findings:

I decided to score on 4 key criteria – Price, Speed and Quality of ingredients – all out of 5, and Taste – out of 10.

This was a tough one to call – the ribs and burgers cheeseburger was clearly the winner on taste alone, but as it was the most expensive you have to expect that. The clear message here is to avoid McDonalds if you can – or get a Quarter Pounder if you can’t since they are much nicer than their flaccid, grey, flavourless cheeseburgers…

Franchise Price Speed Quality Taste Total
McDonalds 5 4 1 1 11
Hungry Jacks 5 5 1 2 13
Burger Edge 3 3 3 5 14
Huxtaburger 3 2 3 7 15
Ribs and Burgers 2 2 5 9 18
Grill’d 2 3 4 8 17

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There was a time not all that long ago when Grill’d was my idea of burger heaven. So much so that I would rave to people about how good their burgers where – the Mighty Melbourne was my go to burger. Fast forward a few years and I have now explored the burger universe in somewhat more detail, and one might say, I have now developed a bit of a more mature appreciation of the humble burger. No longer is Grill’d on the top of my list of best burger establishments – although let’s be honest, this was a list that included McDonalds… So, in some respects I’m going full circle with my return to Grill’d after all these burger adventures. It’s been some time since I have tasted the delights of the grill at Grill’d. I was apprehensive about what laid in store – how would my burger memories hold up?

Grill’d, for those of you who are not familiar, is a fast growing Australian burger franchise – one of the first on the scene to offer gourmet/restaurant style burgers at a reasonable price. The market place was begging for a higher quality offering a few years back, and Grill’d answered the call. I remember the first time my friends Paul and Ness told me about the Grill’d in Hawthorn (This must have been at least 2005) – Although my first experience there involved a burnt bun – I think Ness complained and we got freebies, so since then I’ve always been a fan. I especially loved their chips – that flavoured salt and the amazing herbed mayo hit the spot every time! Their flame grilled burgers were also delicious – a far cry from your fast food varieties, these were made with real ingredients and claimed to be healthy to boot – I’d suggest “relatively healthy” might be more accurate.

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This time around I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, I know that their burgers are not going to match up to the likes of the amazing creations of Tuckshop take away or Rockpool just to name two. However I was curious to see how they did stack up. So in I went – through the back door of the Elsternwick Grill’d – waiting in line to make my order. I ordered the mighty Melbourne, with no beetroot, added pickles and an egg, a side of chips and some herbed mayo to dip. I put the order under the name Eddie and waited. (I always order under the name Eddie since the time My wife’s name – Katie was miss heard as Eddie because of her American accent and we had to wait half an hour for our burgers… Always makes me smile remembering) My burger came out and I surreptitiously took a couple of snaps before I went in for the kill. My burger was on the traditional bun – a crunchy crusted, sesame seeded bun -it’s here that Grill’d make their first mistake. Their buns suck. The Panini is too doughy and the traditional is more like a roll you would get from bakers delight – too crusty, not enough give, and has a fairly plain flavour. The first bite is ok, I like their relish and the herbed mayo – both add sauciness to the burger. The pattie is ok – but there’s far too much going on here. It’s got herbs and filler, and whilst the flame grilling give it a nice smokey grill’d note, the meat doesn’t shine through. Their cheese isn’t great – the cheese they use lacks flavour and doesn’t seem to melt much. The bacon is nicely grilled but is just the short cut so it misses out on the fat and thus falls short on flavour. The egg was cooked all the way through so it really didn’t add what I wanted – which was a runny gooey yolk adding to the sauce – a shame. Their salad elements – cos lettuce, red onion and tomato – are fresh and crisp and give the burger a nice crunch – and dare I say it – healthy vibe. Overall the eating experience is pleasant, the burger tastes nice. However, it’s not all that cheap. The burger alone is $13.50 and then the chips are over $4 for the regular, so as a meal you are looking at over $20 if you get a drink. Not expensive, but not cheap either. As a franchise, this place is great – if I don’t have an option to try somewhere new, or if I want to play it safe and get a nice burger – you could go far worse than Grill’d. I’d give it a 6.5. Good, not great.

Grill'd Elsternwick on Urbanspoon

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Thursday night is a great time to get on down to Budapest on Glen Huntly Rd  and sample a rustic goulash or one of their plate filling schnitzels. And by plate filling I mean a big plate, over flowing with schnitzel goodness, served with a side of peasant potatoes. They have a special “happy hour” menu all night on Thursday where you can get cheap beer and $16 schnitzels and goulash. Great value, and I can report that I have put away a schnitzel or three over the past few years that I’ve lived just down the road from this fine establishment. Their schnitzels are pretty good – however, you need to get a sauce with them as they can be a little dry otherwise. I really like the nokedli (little flour and egg dumplings smothered in butter and salt and served with a side of paprika sauce – If you know Spätzle, then it’s essentially same thing from a deffernt region with a different name…), but you can only get a salad or peasant potatoes with the special. And the sauce costs $4 – although it’s enough for two really if you don’t completely drown your schnitzel. Anyway, my move is to order the nokedli, which comes with a small side of paprika sauce as part of the side, and then I feel as though I get my side and the sauce that I wanted – without paying for both. #winning!

Budapest also do a really good stuffed schnitzel –   Honestly, the Eye Fillet Stroganoff with a side of nokedli  is my meal of choice when I go here, but it’s a bit on the pricy side ($32.50) when you are comparing it with the $16 special. My wife usually gives me that “look” when I suggest the stroganoff might be good, and so I usually just get one of the choices off the happy hour menu – I guess since I’m pretty broke these days I have to stick to the tight arse Thursday happy hour specials. I know, my life is terrible! Oh woe is me… Anyway, if you are looking for some good value, hearty fare – get yourself down to Budapest on a Thursday night!

Budapest Restaurant and Palinka Bar on Urbanspoon

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It seems as though Monday has replaced Friday as the burger night of choice for me. Not exactly sure why, but it seems like a pretty good way to start the week. Hell, every night can be burger night because, well, burger… Anyway, so Chris and I had liaised throughout the day shooting around ideas for a burger – there was some added pressure due to the run of pretty average burgers (And by that I mean some downright poor burgers) that had been consumed in the past month or so. This time around some proper research was conducted before the venue was selected. We settled on Ziggys because of the very high urban spoon rating and that rather tasty looking photos. Their website wasn’t much chop and almost put me off – but don’t worry, this place is worth a visit. Chris and I both ordered burgers – obviously – however, Chris opted for the special Cheeseburger (with added bacon) option, whilst I couldn’t go past the “Recovery” burger. Double beef, Double bacon, Double cheese… how could I say no?? I made it a meal with some added chips and a can of coke. Incidentally, their chips are cracking good, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle – good solid chunky chips. But enough about the potato right, lets talk beef and bun. All burgers are served on a light brioche bun, nicely coated with sesame seeds, a soft to the touch bun with an ever so slight sweet taste. This paired well with their special sauce which has a nice heat to it, and the caramelised onion which added sugary/savoury note. The double lashings of bacon added a nice saltiness and the tomato and fancy lettuce played their part in freshening it all up.

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Of course, Ziggys wins no points from me for the lack of pickle, I still think its a compulsory addition to any burger… However they do win some points for the patties –  The beef is quality beef, well seasoned and cooked to a medium well – a very slight pink was present – which kept the patty nice and juicy. My one criticism was that the cheese wasn’t melted, as you can see in the photo – it’s still quite hard. I think it adds to the burger if you put the cheese on while you rest the meat allowing the juices to flow back into the patty and the cheese then acts to keep it all in – A small point, but I think it certainly makes a difference.

Both Chris and I did agree that our burgers very quite good – Chris was of the opinion that his Cheeseburger would work brilliantly as an “after the pub/big night out kind of burger”. His had a melted cheese sauce with a slight peppery back note – quite nice by all reports. We both felt pleased with our burgers after they had settled and agreed that if we had just stumbled in on a night out, these burgers would certainly add to a pleasant experience. I’d give Ziggys a 7.5.

Ziggys Eatery on Urbanspoon

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I noticed Heads & Tails from across the road whilst I was out and about on my early evening walk with Katie – both of us were feeling pretty tired and even though we were standing in front of the supermarket – neither of us could be bothered going through the process of buying food, taking it home, cooking, cleaning – oh god the list never ends. Serious first world problems I know… Obviously the answer these types of problems and in fact, to all of life’s problems is Burger. So the decision was made to seek one out. My first response was Saintly down the road a bit, but I’ve been there, and even though I know it’s amazing I really wanted to try out something new… Across the road was a shiny looking place called Heads & Tails – and this place really looks the part – it’s a modern, fancy looking fish’n’chip shop. More fish and chip bar than shop. Anyway – they had a burger on the menu so in I went. And I wish I hadn’t… I ordered the burger with the lot – which means, lettuce, cheese  caramalised onion, egg, bacon, beef patty and tomato sauce – a standard fish and chip shop burger. I also added pineapple, because I was feeling adventurous and some of their home made aioli.

Unfortunately, the burger was a bit of a disaster truth be told – mainly because the plain white bread bun was either stale, burnt or a bit of both – it was a bit of both, lets be honest. They had toasted it on both sides so all that  meant was that the whole thing crumbled up and fell apart.

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The patty tasted “sausagey” and was overcooked , the egg was dead, although the bacon was actually good and grilled pineapple was nice. but still – not a lot of wins for this burger. At least the chips were nice… I’d give the burger a 4.5. Go to saintly instead if you want a burger on Ormond road – I know I will. Look, I’m sure their fish and chips are better – they certainly looked pretty good and the fish looks really fresh, just not a fan of their burgers.

Heads & Tails Elwood on Urbanspoon

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I’ve been wanting to try the burgers at Andrew’s for some time now. It’s impossible miss the hype surrounding this place if like me you have more than a passing interest in all things hamburger. Not only that – but a place called Andrew’s Hamburgers – I mean come on, it has to be done. For some reason though, every time I think – hey, let’s go to Andrew’s Hamburgers, it’s on a Sunday and of course they are closed on Sundays… This happened yesterday – for the third time – I sent the call out, only to be reminded that they place is shut on, you guessed it, Sundays (surely I should be able to remember that). Anyway, it was decided that it could be put off for no longer and an agreement was made for Chris, Katie and I to all meet up for a Burger before trivia on Monday. Chris arrived at my place at 5:30 and we all drove off to South Melbourne in search of what many have claimed to be one of the best burgers in Melbourne – the hype surrounding Andrew’s Hamburgers is pretty fully on with almost 3000 votes on urban spoon and the vast majority being positive. There’s over 50 blog posts linked to urban spoon alone reviewing the burgers here so there’s no chance that if you dip your proverbial toe in the vast ocean that is burgers in Melbourne that you wont hear some mention of this place… Anyway, the omens had aligned at it was finally my chance to sample the burgery goodness for this venerated establishment. As it was early there was no line out the door as I was half expecting – it helped that it was cold and rainy as well I am sure, and a Monday night too boot.

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Chris went first and order the burger as a double with pineapple and beetroot plus a couple for potato cakes. Katie and I ordered next – I got the burger with the lot – comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, fried egg, bacon, cheese and tomato sauce. I also got a couple of fried dimmies and we ordered a bag of chips. Katie got a standard cheese burger, just cheese, meat and tomato sauce. Standing in the shop I was reminded very much of the many fish and chip shops that I have frequented throughout my life – quite narrow, a couple of bar stools, and you can watch them cook the food as you wait. I was intrigued by the way they cooked the burgers, Ball of mince pressed down onto the hot plate with the diced onion pressed into one side of the patty before being flipped.
There was a bit of a back log of orders so we had to wait a little while, but eventually we were seated on the bench outside, excited to take out first bites.
Almost wished that I hadn’t. If I were to review the burger in one word it would be:

“Meh..”

That’s right, one of the most overrated burgers I’ve had on my adventures thus far. Now, that’s not to say that this was a bad burger. Not at all, in fact it was nice, almost good. But to be brutally honest, there was little if anything that set this burger apart from the many other standard fish and chip shop style burgers I have had. Let me explain:

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The burger itself is quite large – you get a large standard white bread burger bun, soft yet firm, sesame seeds on top, lightly toasted, the patty is a good size made from good mince – nothing exceptional, but a reasonable quality, however it’s thin and crumbly and doesn’t keep together during the eating process. the fact that it is thin means that it’s cooked all the way though so really the quality of the meat is lost because it’s overcooked. The burger is covered in quite a lot of melted sliced processed cheese, nothing fancy here. I got an over cooked egg with a hard yolk – pointless really. the bacon was standard, the lettuce was Iceberg which I like and my tomato slices were grilled which is a nice touch. the only sauce was tomato – I put a bit more of this on at the table and a bit of yellow mustard as well. Pretty much your standard fish and chip shop burger. At no stage did I or Chris or Katie for that matter think – wow this is an amazing, unique, special, or even better than average burger.

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Chris’s burger was pretty cheesy

That fact that it was served with pretty average chips – terrible potato cakes – oh and down right bad Dim Sims. Firstly, one was soggy and not fried properly and they all had about half a cup of salt tossed over them… Anyway, lets just say that I wouldn’t bother going back. I have much, much, better fish and chip shop options around the corner from me (I’m thinking of you Tommy Ruff). And my good Mate Charlie at Old Salt in Port Melbourne does a burger that’s much better… I’d give this place a 5.5 at most. I cannot understand all the hype about this place – I just don’t get it?

Andrew's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon