Burger Noms: Americana
Yo yo it’s Ash again, back for burgs.
I have some infatuation with American food places so every time I hear of an American place I drag a group and/or Mel along and 9 times out of 10, I’m deeply disappointed and feel cheated to say the least. The gleam of the proud red, white and blue in these places is not present in the food they serve. Then I go to the next American place and the exact same thing happens. Goddamn. Maybe I should just actually go to America.
Although somewhat American diner style, Merrywell does not appear in this post for two reasons: 1) it is only subtly American compared to the kitsch of say Misty’s and Captain America’s 2) they make a goddamn good burger and get to hang with some greats instead of the dregs* of burgerland discussed here.
As I have a better memory for tastes I do enjoy, I don’t have much to say about um let’s say ‘lesser tastes’, and so rather than give my usual verbose analysis on those, I’ll just give the quick and dirty.
*Not all the places mentioned here are ‘dregs’ just most of them!!
103-105 High Street, Prahran VIC 3181
I ordered the American burger, which for some reason has an egg. USA residents/experts, please let me know if many of your standard and/or signature burgers contain eggs because my understanding is that they don’t. This burger also had a terrible and overcooked patty. The inclusion of egg didn’t help, however the burger was otherwise a bit dry with just a smattering of ketchup for sauce so it might’ve been even worse without but who knows, I won’t be returning to test that.
Melody: I actually had a super shit burger and didn’t even bother trying to finish it. However my spirits were lifted when I saw they had the legendary ‘American desserts’ which seemed to include a lot of deep fried goodness. Not being able to persuade Ash, I shared the double stuffed deep fried oreo with Lawrence and enjoyed it.
Captain America’s Hamburger Heaven
38 Forest Road, Ferntree Gully VIC 3156
We actually ventured out to this “fine establishment” many aeons ago, so my memory isn’t the best. I think the wings were alright but all I remember otherwise is a giant sloppy thing they called a a burg with average ingredients and being later told some racist pricks harassed my mates on their trip home. Conclusion: Avoid like the Ebola.
Soda Rock Diner
257 Toorak Road, South Yarra VIC 3141
The USA diner vibe here is actually mad cool and the crew I came with put money in to the little juke box thing and made a night of it, but the food is just super average. To elaborate, I had the burger and curly fries which were mediocre at best and then, a member of said crew had a hotdog and didn’t seem to pleased with it. So not matter how you approach the menu, you’re not going to get a great feed.
Melody: I got chilli fries which was surprisingly different than what I thought, but still good.
189-191 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
You will note that they are called ‘Panned Pizza’ not ‘Wrapped Hamburger’, and so taking this on board if you inexplicably find yourself here, give the burgs a miss and instead give their recreation of NYC-style pizza a whirl. Originally they only sold pizza and a few sides but then they moved to a bigger and more central location and massively expanded their menu, namely including a full range of American burgs. So you’d think they’d be awesome at least doing pizza, let alone burgs, but really the pizza only rates as good, not great. And let’s not even talk any further about the burgs.
Melody: The first time we came here, I ordered ‘poutine’ not really knowing what it was ..ever since that fateful day, I jump at the chance to order poutine despite Ash’s dislike for gravy and chips! (I may or may not have made it my sole meal the few times we ate at Panned Pizza)
64 Chapel Street, Windsor VIC 3181
Now we come to the first joint in this post that actually deserves a review, and having gone thrice hopefully this lengthy read will be entertaining/informative for at least some of y’all, or alternatively I promise not to be offended if you scroll straight down to the tl;dr. Really I won’t be. Much.
So first time I went, lots of mistakes were made, but not by them rather by me. I eagerly ordered fried chicken, french fries, an oreo milkshake and their burg with the lot (named the captain) and as soon as they brought them out, I realised my folly, the old ‘eyes bigger than the stomach’ adage. The fried chicken we shared, and I gave up on it quickly and let Mel tackle most of it due to being disappointed in its unremarkable taste. This was also tactical as I like to think it slightly reduced the bloatedness I still later felt in abundance. Due to the somewhat atypical milkshake flavours, I was a bit lost and ordered the orea shake on the waitress’ recommendation. It was average to the point of unenjoyableness. Bleh was the prevailing taste in the back of our proverbial mouths – but wait was there a golden beacon of light in the form of fried potatoes shining in the distance? Sadly, they were out of their signature curly variety and we had to settle for normal fries – delicious, delicious normal fries that is! So far that’s one home-run and 3 strikes for those keeping count.
As for the burg I need to remember to not just order the main/biggest burg and actually pay attention to what I’m ordering. As in this case there was too much salad and egg. I found it amusing when the moment of clarity came of why a review I read called this burger a ‘rainforest’. As for the egg, well stupid stupid egg I love you, but you do not belong in burgs or at least not in mine. The thick melted American cheese was however a positive and I could sense buried potential in the bun and patty given the right dance partners.
Being unsatisfied, I nagged Mel to go back and ended up switching things up entirely and ordered some of the least appealing bbq ribs ever and no beef patty sandwich. I mean shit, tomato based sauce on my ‘murican bbq? no thanks. I ended up turning to the available Dr Pepper bbq sauce which I was not only keen to try based on my love for Dr Pepper but also to drench the ribs in. Apparently it was little more than a prop for added Americaness, because when I asked the attendant (aka the owner) how it goes with the ribs I distinctly recall him answering thus “I wouldn’t put that in my stomach”. Anyway the sauce was sweet n tasty, overwhelmingly sweet in fact, but for a cheap soft drink-turned sauce it is what it is and did its job of drowning out the tomato-based sauce. Also, on this visit we were able to nab the elusive curly fries!! The old-school style fries were a treat, if not due to an exceptional flavour compared to the regular cuts, but the novelty alone. Although being wary of their milkshakes due to my previous experience, but having seen glowing commendations of their oldschool choc malt shake, I was willing to give them a second chance. I was rewarded for being a true believer with one of the best shakes I’d ever had, mmm dat shake.
Melody: The above lobster & shrimp roll is mine and while delicious, I didn’t realise their shrimps would be whole – others I’ve tried have had them in smaller chunks and smooshed :( I’m not the biggest fans of shrimps, so thankfully I had Ash to finish it for me :D
Later returning for my third and final visit (so far), I of course reordered the choc malt shake (just as good the second time!), and also made some sweeping changes to the burger. I asked for the Captain again, as the lesser burgs were missing the delicious sweet onions and requisite bacon, but I also made sure they saved the tomato and egg for the next customer, and then did some deforestation (aka I took out half the the lettuce). These small changes made the delicious patty and cheese really shine, elevating it to the best burg of this post so far, especially apparent when compared to the previous 3 burgers of absolute distinction.
tl;dr version: you should give this place a try, just careful with what you order. despite having the appearance of a varied menu you may as well pretend the chicken and ribs arent there, just get a burg WITHOUT EGG. also for any veggos that have stuck with me for this long, a mate told me they do a ripping vegetarian burger but thats not something i will be verifying myself.
Various locations (this one in particular is in Melbourne Central, CBD)
Here we have a locally available burger that isn’t quite off the zombie conveyor belt aka the big yellow arches, but nor is it up to the (high) standards of Mr Burger. So let us take a wee looksie. Inexplicably they only put some, rather than all of their burgers in brioche buns, so the obvious solution here is no matter which one you order, request brioche. Combining the sugary notes of brioche with the sweet/bitter Jack Daniel BBQ sauce made for a more than palatable experience. On the downside the lettuce towers their chefs seem fond of aren’t great, but I’ve never met a burger salad that a good picking apart can’t solve. Not the same quality as the good stuff but defo cromulent. With 7 locations around Victoria and more around the rest of Australia, wherever you are (well not everywhere but at least 7 places!!), TGI can fulfil your passable American diner burg needs.
Melody: I did not like this burger… but have enjoyed their chicken stuff :D
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So there you have it peeps, the bad, the ugly and some more bad and then a couple half cromulent American diner burgs. Also turns out writing these burg posts are hard-work especially compared to just snapping and eating them, so inevitably these burgs will almost always appear well in-advance on my instagram.
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