Posts Tagged ‘gastro pub’

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After chatting with Melissa about the best burgers in Florida, a decision was made to take the next step and seek one out Monday for lunch. Some serious research was undertaken and a shortlist of candidates was drawn up. We had it down to three options with a decision to be made just before we left. All three options were a fair drive south of Deland nearer to Orlando, but good things are worth travelling for.

With the arrival of Melissa on Monday morning and the assembling of the burger hunt team we decided to nail down our choice. Further googling ensued. It was at this point that we discovered that our options weren’t as numerous as we first thought. Two of our shortlisted burgerhunt candidates were closed Monday Lunch. We finally settled on a place a little further away than our original search had included, but since Kathy was looking after the littlest member of the team, Katie and I were free to adventure for the afternoon without worrying about nap times and nappy changes.

The eventual destination chosen was a gastro pub called Teak Neighborhood Grill, about 46miles south of Deland, and just south of Orlando. The reviews on this place a pretty impressive and the burger list is interesting to say the least. After about an hour in the car we were all pretty hungry, I think Melissa could have devoured a small cow given the opportunity.

The place itself is undergoing some sorts of renovations so they had a limited beer list, although the fact that it was happy hour more than made up for that. I forget sometimes just how cheap it is to eat out in Florida. Happy hour included amongst others – $3 20oz Bud lights, $5 cocktails, and $5 appetisers. Suffice it to say that we took them up on the offer, and with some food and refreshments on the way we had time to ponder our burger options.

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The burger list is extensive and very creative and obviously not your average burger. After much thought, we finally decieded on the burgers.

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Katie opted for the Waffle Burger, yep it’s a burger between two waffles, it comes with a half pound, angus beef patty (That’s a little bit over 200g for those of you playing back home),  American cheese, fried egg and apple smoked bacon. Katie got the sweet potato tots as her side $12. This would not be my first choice for a burger – in fact, it wouldn’t even register on my burger radar. And for good reason, it just wasn’t that great. The waffle was quite sweet and Katie didn’t help matters by drizzling maple syrup over the top. Apart, I think all the elements were nice, together – not my thing. Katie didn’t really love it either. So we’ll call this one a poor choice.

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Melissa was also thinking meat and sweet as she ordered the Cronie Burger, this crazy concoction of a burger was basically a cronut (think croissant crossed with a doughnut), coated in cinnamon sugar and sliced in half. This is your bun. Then you get the half-pound angus patty, maple-pepper bacon, smoked Gouda cheese and fried egg – $12.  Can’t say it’s a burger I would have ordered, but it certainly was interesting. I tired the burger – again, not a massive fan of the combination – although I must say the cronut on it’s own was delicious and the fillings were great on their own – together – weird…

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Finally I ordered the Drunken Monk, it seemed to be their most popular burger and so I figured it would be a good representation of what they were about. I didn’t like the idea of chips in the burger, but I thought I’d just go with the flow and hope for the best. The Drunken Monk comes with the standard half pound patty, crispy bacon, provolone cheese, onion jam, roasted cherry tomatoes, herb mayo, potato chips (Crisps) topped with melted white cheddar cheese served on a pretzel bun, I got mine with onion rings – $12.  Ok, so when this thing comes out it’s a big towering burger, it looks impressive. I squashed it down and was barely able to get a good bite in at first. However, I should point out that that first bite was pretty darn good. I was surprised at how the chips actually worked in the burger, they added a nice textural counter point, kind of like crispy bacon but even better. The bun was dense and savoury, I’m a fan of the pretzel bun. The beef patty was really really good, thick and juicy, I’d ordered mine medium and it was nicely pink. The beef was well seasoned, an excellent quality and not too tightly formed so you really got a big beefy flavour. The cheeses were great, oozing and coating the beef, combined with the herbed mayo, this was a messy burger. I loved the roasted cherry tomatoes – little explosions of flavour that just added to each bite. Overall this was an excellent burger. It was a shame that the girls ordered so badly, because this is one of the truly better burgers that I’ve had. I’m calling this a 9 – and that’s a big call. But I would caution that not all burgers here are created equally.

Teak Neighborhood Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Finally got a chance to head out for a boys Lunch. Dad suggested that the we head out for a little light refreshment, with Mac and Taz, while the girls stayed home and look after little Lucy. Not having been out of the house for any great length of time in the preceding weeks, I jumped at the opportunity. Dad, picked me up and we met Mac and Taz at PJ O’Brien’s for a pint or two of the black stuff, and some in-depth discussions on where we might do Lunch. It’s possible that we stayed a little longer at PJ’s than intended, so the decision was made to sample one of the nearby establishments for Lunch as we were running out of time. Taz and I had spotted a sign for Hophaus, and none of us really needed any convincing to head off to a Germanic themed restaurant. I mean, what’s not to like about German Bier and meat. So upstairs we went to Hophaus.

The morning had been pretty average, but after a brief shower, Melbourne really turned it on, and we were soon sitting out in the warm Autumnal sunshine, overlooking the Yarra, enjoying a fantastic Schöfferhofer Kristallweizen and some Bretzel. Ah, the Germans really know how to eat and drink…

Dad was shouting lunch so we decided to get some oysters to begin with. Normally I’m not a huge fan of the fried oyster, you tend to destroy all that is special about an oyster when you fry it – However, on this occasion Hophaus really nailed it. Possibly the best fried Oysters I’ve had. Very lightly fried in a Weissbier batter, each oyster was presented in shell on top of a small amount of sauerkraut, and finished with a dollop of dill aioli.

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We were in no hurry, however there seemed to be quite a wait for all of our courses – in the middle of a work day, during lunch, I would expect things to be pretty snappy, but for whatever reason there was quite a delay. I had ordered the burger, and when it arrived it was cold. I wonder if it has been made first and just sat there as they waited for the other dishes. I returned my burger, telling they waiter that it was cold and it was replaced without any fuss – they apologised and I quickly received a fresh burger. These things happen, it’s how staff deal with it that matters. In this instance they did so professionally and quickly. I was more than happy with the outcome. So lets talk about the burger – the second one that was hot of the grill.

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The Hamburg’er as they bill it, is advertised as Angus beef, with Kaiserfleisch, smoked cheese, lightly pickled cabbage, lettuce, pickles and a curry ketchup on a brioche bun. All for $20 with a bitburger bier thrown in as a lunch special. I’m a huge fan of Kaiserfleisch, a smoked pork cut, nice and smokey and salty, lovely fat. Personally, I’d choose this over our bacon any day of the week. The salty, smokey crispy pork, played off well against the angus patty. The patty itself was well seasoned and juicy, with a nice grill flavour, not overly beefy in flavour, but nice enough. I really liked the  pickle elements, the quick pickled cabbage (Not quite sauerkraut), and actual pickles, added nice sharp not the balanced the sweet, cakey Brioche and cut through the rich smokey Kaiserfleisch and the fat of the meat and cheese. The crispy lettuce added texture and freshness. Overall, a lovely burger which I’d give a 7.5. Enjoyed with some great German Biers and great company you have yourself the makings of a nice afternoon.

Hophaus on Urbanspoon

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It’s been exactly a year since I began my burger hunt- oh so many delicious memories… I’ve had some amazing burgers, and my preferences and my ideas about burgers have changed along the journey. Some might say it’s been a journey of self discovery and growth… Well, there’s been some midriff growth, but I don’t know about the rest. Anyway, Damo and I decided to revisit the first stop on this momentous life changing journey – Rockwell and Sons – to see how they stacked up a year later. I remember this first burger and some of the really bad photos’ I took – I had no idea what I was doing (I still don’t). You can read my pretty average first attempt at burger blogging here: http://wp.me/p4owfB-A

Not having the depth of experience that I do now, I judged the burger on a different set of criteria, so I was interested to see how I would rate their burger a second time around.

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For those of you how don’t know – (People living in a cave, vegetarians etc…) Rockwell and Sons have been attracting a lot of attention for a while now, largely thanks to their delicious takes on American classics – their burgers in particular. As you can see they have one of the most photogenic burgers going around “The Double Patty Smash Burger”. It just screams, eat me, and have another. Which we kind of did on this occasion…

We decided to get in early to beat the hipster hordes that crowd Smith Street on a Saturday night, so we arrived at about 5:30pm – got a park right out front as well #winningatlife… What we didn’t realise is that they were closed until 6:00pm (Apparently for the all Valley Karate tournament – ah hipsters and your obscure 80’s pop culture references). Since it was so damn hot, we decided to kill some time by sampling a craft beverage or two down the road at the local pub. Finally the clock struck six, and we raced back to stake a claim to table outside. The lovely server offered us some cool water and enquired about our desires – we didn’t need the menu, we knew what we were here for. Two Double Patty Smash Burgers were quickly ordered.

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We also got some delightful tater tots on the side which came with cheese sauce and bacon gravy. They had me at Bacon gravy…

We didn’t have to wait long for the burgers to arrive. Two perfectly created buns, housing two perfectly cooked, slightly pink patties, covered with oozing cheese, amazing burger sauce and crispy bacon. This is burger heaven. The buns here are a brioche style, but they seem like they’ve been slightly steamed or warmed through enough so that all that cakeyness that you sometimes get is completely gone. The Bun is sweet, but not too sweet, and soft and spongy. The first bite is a delight to the senses, juicy, beefy beef, cooked to a medium, hits you first. The crunchy, salty bacon is a great addition and is a nice counter point to all the oozy, soft textures. Speaking of which, the burger is encased in oozy, melted Kraft cheese slices, which actually work really well here. That salty cheesy flavour, mixes with the magic of the burger sauce and adds to the juicy beef.  That burger sauce – oh gosh – simply put, it’s amazing. I can’t completely work out what’s in it, but you definitely get a hint of dill coming though which just really works. The pink hue would suggest some ketchup added to the mayo base – the rest – must be magic. The pickles at the end add a nice sharpness and round out the burger.

Finishing off this burger, I sat back satisfied and though to myself – gee I’d love another one of those right now. It’s not your biggest burger, even with the two patties, and you don’t get any sides with that. So at $16 with the bacon, it’s not exactly cheap. The tater tots were great, but I’d say you’d want one each, not one to share if you were reasonably hungry. Since we still had room, Damo and I decided to order the chicken burger as dessert and split it.

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The chicken burger here is also amazing, crispy, tender pieces of marinated chicken, paired with iceberg lettuce and a tangy, vinegar hot sauce. Amazing. A great dessert if you ask me.

Rating the Double patty smash this time around I’d have to say that it has benefitted from the addition of bacon. This is a great, burger. A bacon cheesy just the way it should be. I give it a 9.

Rockwell and Sons on Urbanspoon

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After the more recent debacles on the Burger Hunt, Damo mentioned that he knew a pub that did a half decent burger, it just happened to be in walking distance from his place, and we’d be passing it on the way to the train station. Decision made and off we trotted to the Terminus Hotel. On arrival we were greeted by a friendly barman and an extensive selection of craft beers. Conversation ensued as to the merit of various craft beers and then on to locations around the world that have more expensive beers than Australia. We all agreed that there are perhaps only three or 4 location around the world where the beers are at least as expensive as they are here. God it sucks to have to pay such ridiculously expensive prices for a cool refreshing beverage in Melbourne… Ah well, anyway, so after ordering a cleansing libation, we moved on to food and ordered the burger. For $23.90 – yeah, we didn’t check the price before we ordered – you get a Wagyu beef burger, on the requisite Brioche bun, Dijon mustard, mayo, a sweet tomato relish, lettuce, cheese, tomato and some nice sharp pickles. You also get a side of nice pub chips. The Burger itself was a nice change from the rubbish I’ve been getting recently, and it was nice to get a patty that was made pretty much exclusively of Beef, well seasoned and juicy and pink. There is still hope out there! The patty was covered in a melted slice of cheese – not strong, probably a mild cheddar. The Sauces were good, and I particularly liked the mustard, which I’m pretty sure was a nice Dijon. There was also a pretty sweet tomato relish thing, which I’m sure could work, but with the very sweet and cakey brioche bun, the burger overall became just too sweet. Bacon and onion would really have rounded out the sweetness and improved the burger by quite a bit – the burger just lacked balance. If you are going to do such a simple burger you need to nail it. The brioche was a mistake on this burger. Still, I enjoyed the burger for the most part, with a few tweaks this could bit a great burger. I’d give it a 7.

Terminus Hotel on Urbanspoon

So I’ve had a few burgers this year and visited a number of fantastic and not so fantastic purveyors of burgery goodness. In fact, I’ve blogged about and rated about 64 Different burgers throughout 2014! Hmm, no wonder I put on a few pounds.

Well lets have a little bit of a retrospective shall we. I’ve put together a little highlights package so to speak, of the year, with some of my favourite burgers, and some of the absolute disasters.

Lets start with the best of 2014:

Stout – 1544 N Cahuenga Blvd Hollywood, LA, USA

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One of my all time favourite burgers. A hot day in LA spent exploring the sites – this was an amazing burger. A patty that is hand ground each day from a selection of grass feed Angus beef, Brisket and Chuck cuts with Blue Cheese, Emi Gruyere, Rosemary Bacon, Caramelized Onion, Horseradish Cream, Roasted Tomatoes. At the time I gave it a 9.5, I’m not sure if I should have given it a 10

Rockpool Bar and Grill – Crown Complex Southbank

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Chris and I went back for lunch here recently and had the burger again. It had lost none of it lustre. It was still an amazing burger from start to finish. Everything about it was quality. I particularly love their house made Pickles.

Tuckshop Takeaway, 273 Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield North VIC

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I’ve since gone back to Tuck shop and again this is a burger that continues to perform. One of the best going around without a doubt. Their sodas and milk shakes are unbelievable as well. At the time I gave it a 9, but honestly it’s a good as the others in it’s own way.

Spotted Mallard, 314 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC

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This burger calls out to me. It’s the burger I always want to go back for but haven’t gotten around to just yet. I didn’t have a ranking system in place at the time, but I’d say it would have been at least an 8.5 possibly a 9. I just loved their sauce and the bun.

Beat Box Kitchen – Food Van

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This was one of the first burgers on the hunt. I still recall this burger, everything was fresh and delicious. A quality burger through and though. I loved the stereo sauce, and the name – the Double Ralph! Again, no ratings system at the time, but it’s up there close to a 9.

Nevermind, Awesome Bar and Eatery – 927 E. Cape Coral Pkwy, Cape Coral, FL – USA 

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When I think bacon cheeseburger – this is what I think of. Amazing burger that I had in the states off the back of a tip from a waiter.

Three Crowns Hotel – 365 Victoria St West Melbourne – VIC

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Another place I’ve been to a couple of times now. It’s help up to repeat visits and I think it’s gotten even better. A quality American style burger!

Trunk Bar and Restaurant – 275 Exhibition St, Melbourne

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This burger was a little silly – I ordered a double but had to take the extra patty out just to eat it. Once again, quality ingredients from start to finish make for a quality burger. It’s not rocket science! I gave this an 8.5 at the time.

Chew Burger – 147 Plenty Rd Preston – VIC

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A really solid burger up in the northern part of town. Another Damo suggestion. Great value as well – I gave it an 8.5 at the time and I’d be back.

Racks Ribs Co. – 680A Glen Huntly Road Caulfield South – VIC

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I’ve been back to this place a couple of times and ordered the Sow and Cow – which is the normal amazing burger plus rib meat. Quality burger. I think I gave it an 8.5 at the time, but the addition of the rib meat really worked.

Merricks General Wine Store – 3460 Frankston-Flinders Rd Merricks VIC

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A recent burger, but a damn good one. Every ingredient was top quality – that’s all you need for burger goodness.

 

The not so great burgers:

Burger King – Shinjuku Japan

Check out my post on the Burger section for a clip and more information about the Burger experience!
This was gross – just gross. The squid ink and bamboo charcoal bun, the weird black sauce and the black shiny cheese. No thank you.

The Elsternwick Hotel – 259 Brighton Rd, Elwood “The Wick”

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The food here is much much better than it used to be. At the time, this was one of the worst burgers going around. These day’s it’s fairly edible (But probably still a 4.5 – 5)

Heads & Tails – 112 Ormond Rd Elwood Elwood – VIC

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A terrible effort from a local fish and chip shop. Stale, burnt bun that fell apart. Not a great experience. If you want a good fish and chip shop burger you should go to:

Tommy Ruff – Shop 3/1-3 Carre St Elsternwick VIC, or Old Salt – 246 Bay St, Port Melbourne VIC

Beer Deluxe – 329 Burwood Rd Hawthorn – VIC

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One of the worst burgers looks deceptively good… 3.5 Worst patties ever. I felt sick for 12hrs!

Final Thoughts

Anyway, it’s been an amazing year of Burger adventuring. I’ve had some great burger experiences on three different continents. I’ve also eaten a lot of overrated burgers! However I do think that I’ve found some of Victoria’s best burgers. Hope you have enjoyed coming along on the hunt with me.

Special thanks go out to the team –

  • Damo, who came along from the start and made so many fine suggestions. In fact, most of the good burgers were his suggestion…
  • Jo, who helped out and offered some sage words of burger wisdom. And put up with my burger ramblings.
  • Chris, who enjoyed some of the highs and  lows of the burger experience and who provided the idea for the Heaston cook off.
  • And finally, Katie, who put up with all my burger madness throughout the year.

Hope you all had a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Final Burger of 2014… Oh what a year it has been. But why, oh why, did it have to end with one of the worst burgers of my life. I am sorry Damo, Jo and Katie, that I made us go to Beer Deluxe when LeGrill is just across the road. I still feel sick and bloated after last nights effort.

Hmm, I should probably explain… OK, so I wanted a burger to finish off the year (Of course), and since  we were all at Jo’s in Hawthorn I thought somewhere nearby would be the best option. I had heard about Beer Deluxe in Fed square doing decent burgers, although this was a fair time back, so I figured that Beer Deluxe in Hawthorn should be OK at the very least. Damo had lobbied for LeGrill across the road, but my argument was that I had been there, and I wanted to end the year somewhere new and exciting (Sorry again Damo – you’ve earned your veto on my choice of burger place for next time…). So we found ourselves at Beer Deluxe at 5pm on New Years Eve… The place was pretty empty, so we were able to easily order our burgers and beverages. Jo ordered the Angus mini burgers for $12.5, Katie got the Peking duck crepes for $13 and Damo and I both ordered the DeLuxe Burger, which is a double beef patty with lettuce, cheese, bacon, onion, mayo, deluxe sauce, and a side of chips for $20. We also got an extra slice of cheese and pickle added. So, let’s start with Jo’s “Angus” mini burgers. The sliders came out arranged three in a row, perfect slider size. However, instead of one fresh patty in each, the chef had just cut up a pre cooked burger patty and wacked the pieces into the sliders. So you had these square edges and a very dry final product – very lazy effort from the chef. Katie’s crepes were pathetic, tiny, and bland – there was not Hoisin dipping sauce, just three bland, rolled crepes, a tiny piece of duck, a little cucumber and I think some hoisin in the pancake then placed on a small plate. Suffice it to say Katie was not impressed. However, all of that could be forgiven if the burgers were any good. They were not. Well, that’s an understatement.

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I could tell straightaway that we were going to have an issue with the burgers – from Jo’s cut up burger patty sliders, you could tell that the patties were the meatloaf/sausage variety. The burger as you can see looks pretty decent – these are big burgers. However, just because you get a lot of something doesn’t necessary translate to satisfaction. I mean, if the restaurant said – “oh hey, looks like you didn’t like that meal… How about we give you twice as much”. Would that make you feel better??

Anyway, so lets break it down. The bun was actually quite good, a nice fresh, soft white bread, lightly toasted. The caramelised onions were well done and added a nice sweetness. The cheese was pre-sliced cheddar, tasteless and plastic, the additional pickles were very sweet and lacked any sharpness, the sauces were nice and the salad was standard. Sound ok so far. Well, the patties were quite large and really dominated the burger. This would be a good thing except for one little problem. They tasted like rubbery, meatloaf/sausage. It seemed as though these patties had been formed on a production line, packed with filler and less that 50% meat, precooked, frozen and then warmed up in a microwave.

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I’m sure (I hope), that that’s not totally the case, however, they tasted like it could be true! Oh my God, they were just truly terrible patties. The more you ate, the worse it got. We were so bloated afterwards that we felt sick. I still feel ill and it’s the next day! These were easily the worst burger patties I’ve eaten this year. I actually removed one to finish the burger and you could bend the burger patty like a piece of rubber without it breaking apart! Honestly I don’t know what to give this – I feel like a McDonalds burger would have been preferable. I give this burger a 3.

Beer DeLuxe 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

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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 nowhere. 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

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I’d have to say that this burger hunt is probably the most controversial to date. I guess it comes back to the question –  What attributes must be present for a food item to be classified as a burger? When is a burger not a burger? This was the issue faced by Chris and I on Monday night. Since Chris is a much better writer than I am, he has kindly provided his take on the whole affair – however I will provide my own tasting notes on the burgers and judgement here – (as a side note –  we ordered two Burgers, a side of Poutine, and dessert – sticky date and chocolate fondant) :

For all intents and purposes the burger looks like a pretty normal burger. It’s a bit on the small side for my tastes – that annoying size between a slider and a hamburger, but you get a heafty slab of meat so you won’t leave hungry… The bun is a nice light brioche, very spongy and soft with a nice shiny glaze and a light kiss from the grill to give the bun some char marks. It  held up well to the burger and I’d have to say was the prefect bun in this case, even though it was a bit on the smaller size.  I know what you’re saying – So far no controversy… Ok, lets continue – The burger comes with a nice cheese crisp, a delicious red miso aioli and smoked tomato relish and some fresh and crisp iceberg lettuce that adds a lovely texture and crunch to the burger. Hmm ok, still no controversy… Ok, onto the first bite – admittedly it was a sensational first bite, juicy, meaty, smokey notes, sweetness from the brioche, crispness from the cheese and lettuce… But it was the patty that had me all worked up – I should have realised that a 12hr Wagyu shin burger patty really meant that it was a pulled meat patty. Compressed back into a patty and given some time on the grill to add a caramelised crust. The patty was juicy and moist and literally melted in your mouth. It worked sensationally when dipped into the sauce as well. But, for all of this, it was not a burger patty, but a pulled meat patty. So does that qualify as a burger or as a pulled beef sandwich??  Well lets hear what Chris had to say:

 

I love accompanying Andrew on his burger adventures. But every time I go I sometimes worry. “Is this it? Is this the night when we get a terrible burger?” I’ve been really lucky, from Gloria Swanson’s kitchen to Rockpool, I’ve been fortunate enough to join Andrew in eating some of the best burgers that I’ve ever had. But that can’t last can it? There must be a bad burger with my name on it out there somewhere…..

It was a Monday night and we were both up for a burger. Where to go? I chucked a few suggestions in the hat but Andrew pulled out “Half Moon” in Brighton. That’s right down the road from me so I said yes. I’m lazy like that.

Half Moon is your typical trendy Brighton destination all polished wood and weird angles but the bar itself had a good ambiance even if Andrew and I were the youngest people there, a strange feeling these days I can tell you. Comfortable seats and a good beer section left little to complain about although on a brisk Melbourne night it might have been nice if they had turned the fire-place on. We perused the menu and ordered our beer and burgers at the bar, we decided that we should also get the Poutine because we were both ravenous by this stage.

The menu proclaimed that the burgers that were going to arrive were 12 hour shin Wagyu burgers with a red miso sauce and a smoked tomato aioli to dip our chips into. To my mind anything that volunteers a cooking time is usually good. We were looking forward to it.

When the burgers came they looked the business with a good portion of red sauce on the side although the chips were standard frozen pub chips. The Poutine was the same chips, with an ok gravy (although not enough of it) and some mozzarella melted over it. Disappointing for $12.

The burgers were a different story. They were amazing. The buns were perfect, a slightly sweet brioche with a simple salad of sliced greens, some aoli and then double cheese on the top and bottom of a pulled beef patty of what was clearly top quality beef cooked for hour and hours to concentrate its flavour packed with Umami. This brought to mind what the burger minds at Nshry were going for but failed at. Here they had succeeded.

And then the debate began.

Andrew: “Is this a burger?”

Me: “Yes…um…no….maybe?….I don’t care it’s delicious”

Andrew: “Oh I agree, but is it a burger, would people be upset if they ordered a burger and got this instead?”

Me: “Are people upset if they order a Kia and a BMW turns up instead?…No…this is a surprise, but it’s a good surprise”

Andrew: “But this isn’t this more of a pulled meat sandwich?”

Me: “This is a sandwich in the same way the Mona Lisa is the painting of some chick”

Andrew: “Oh it’s good, there’s no doubt about that…but can we call it a burger?”

This went on for some time. The bottom line is that we are both right. To be fair to Andrew, it’s not a burger but to be fair to me, in the end that really doesn’t matter – it’s delicious.

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I understand why they called it a burger, because people want the familiar, but as a burger I could only score it an 8 great! To be sure, but not the best I’ve had. But it would be by far the best sandwich I’d had or sloppy joe and on those terms it would get a 9 or even 10. There is an argument to be had though that the fact that it’s different works in its favour, it’s not your everyday burger that other places are doing and now doing well. It’s different, it’s delicious and I never at any point felt let down by its lack of traditional burgerness.

I don’t think I convinced Andrew with this argument though and I too was let down by the chips although the Red Miso sauce was awesome and great to dip your “burger” into.

All that said, it is amazing and well worth the trip, but a small word of advice. Don’t get anything else on the bar menu, both Andrew and I were sufficiently impressed by the burger/thing that we decided to stick around for desert and…well…that wasn’t worth it.  When we left we were envious of the people who had just ordered the burger and were about to have the best pulled sandwich experience of their life. I’ll be back.

 

Half Moon on Urbanspoon

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Not quite the Friday night burger that I had planned, but Sunday evening works for me just fine as long as there’s a tasty burger involved.  By a stroke of good fortune, Damo, Katie and I all felt the strong urge for a burger and after a brief conversation to organise the particulars, we decided the best course of action was to meet up in  North Melbourne – well I thought The Three Crowns Hotel was in North Melbourne – apparently it’s on the wrong side of Victoria street and thus West Melbourne… Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, we organised to meet up at the  lovely little gastro/steak pub the Three Crowns Hotel. The buffalo wings on the menu were the deciding factor for me, oh, and of course the fact that there was an interesting burger available might have had something to do with the decision as well… We met up early in the evening and preceded to order some starters – no prizes for guessing what we ordered – 12 buffalo wings with creole blue cheese sauce and a bowl of Chilli Cheese Fries. The buffalo wings had quite the crispy coating on them and reminded us of the KFC wicked wings in texture and crispiness, the hot sauce that covered the wings was a bit on the not so hot side, very mild – I like a little more zing to my wings, however Katie quite enjoyed hers, so it’s more a matter of heat preference I guess. The Chilli cheese fries were terrific – the chilli itself was a slow cooked smoky beef cut that just pulled apart with a fork which was really really good. Add in some melted American cheesy, saucy goodness and some thick cut chips, and well, you’ve got yourself some pretty damn good chilli cheese fries!

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Once the starters had been polished off it was time to move on to the star of the show – the ” American cheeseburger with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, fancy sauce and pickle on brioche” which came served on a wooden platter nestled in snuggly next to a mound of chips. First thing I noticed with this burger was the bun, it was a super soft bun – however there was also a lovely crust to it. This is the kind of bun that I really enjoy, and it really worked with this burger – it wasn’t sweet at all, it was covered in sesame seeds which added nicely to the overall flavour, it had some nice charring and it compressed down nicely when you bit into the burger. Great start. The next thing I noticed was that this was a juicy burger – I needed extra napkins for this one – and the fact that it comes out on a wooden board meant that I made a bit of a mess…

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The fancy sauce that I dripped everywhere served as a great accompaniment to the chips – but it probably did it’s best work in the burger – a nice and creamy mayo based sauce with a hint of spice.  The beef in the burger was good – but both Damo and I agreed that this a burger that is dying to be a double – it reminded me of the beatbox patty. Not too thick, but not too thin – you get a juicy beefy patty, but you want more if you only have one. Well I know what I’m ordering next time! The patty itself was encased in melted American cheddar which kept the meat juicy and delicious. The bacon was good – crispy and salty, but I got mostly the short cut – whereas Damo and Katie got the streaky bits… They both like their bacon more than I did. The salad elements were ok, but my tomato slice was tiny so for most of the burger I thought they forgotten to add it – I would have like them to be a little more generous here – one tiny slice of tomato and one leaf of cos lettuce. Ok, I know you don’t make friends with salad, but in this case, just a little more wouldn’t hurt… The pickles rounded off the burger and added that nice sharp bite that cut through the richness of the sauce. overall, we all agreed that this was a really good burger, no one had any real complaints at the end and we all left happy. I’d give it an 8.

Three Crowns Hotel on Urbanspoon