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!!

Misty’s Diner

103-105 High Street, Prahran VIC 3181
4
3

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.
Misty's Diner on Urbanspoon

Captain America’s Hamburger Heaven

38 Forest Road, Ferntree Gully VIC 3156
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Captain America's Hamburger Heaven on Urbanspoon

Soda Rock Diner

257 Toorak Road, South Yarra VIC 3141
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 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.

Soda Rock Diner on Urbanspoon

Panned Pizza

189-191 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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)

Panned Pizza on Urbanspoon

Parlour Diner

64 Chapel Street, Windsor VIC 3181
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.
1112

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.

Parlour Diner on Urbanspoon

TGI Fridays

Various locations (this one in particular is in Melbourne Central, CBD)
10

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

TGI Fridays on Urbanspoon
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
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.

@ENCEPHLON

Burgmania

 Warning: As this post isn’t by your usual mild-mannered author, this post  is rated M for man.
No sissys or vegetarians allowed.

My name is Ash and this here blog post be bout burgers. So shove a burger in your gob and strap in.
As all my  mates are well aware by now I like burgers – whenever I suggest places of the food eating variety for us to go, they are pretty much always burg places. I even got a random phone call recently from a mate asking recommendations for a good burg so at that point I think I became qualified to write this post.

Fat Bob’s Bar and Grill

80 Cochranes Road, Moorabin VIC 3189

Jackie-O and a side of frenchies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OMG ZUCCHINI FRIES

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Iced Choc and a Raspberry Spider that certainty brought all the boys to the yard (actually it was probably the burgs)

Situated in the bleak industrial district of Moorabin,  make your way through the neon sign littered archway heralding the  old-school American inspired foodgasm you are about to enjoy.  No surprises when you make your way inside, the outdoor decoration was an introductory taste of an interior entirely decked out in messy arrays of street signs and Americanisms – the greys of the exterior landscape temporarily left behind are rendered a distant memory. Fear the kitsch not, for Fat Bob will look after you – and if it’s not busy, serve up the burger of a lifetime.

Anyway enough with the word salad, let’s cut to the patty. I ordered a Jackie-O enticed by the saucy trinity of mustard, ketchup and Fat Bob’s sauce, hail. Standard with their burgers it contained a 180g patty, cooked to medium-rare perfection. 180g is a big boy patty, and for those not sure what that number means: unless you have a more voracious appetite than Fat Bob/me stick with a single patty and probably don’t eat for a little while beforehand. The oozing crown is an exotic fontina cheese which not only didn’t lead things astray but rather added a distinct yet complimentary flavour to the already bold burger. Of course we  wouldn’t want to forget the salad now, cos lettuce, spanish onions and tomato – standard affair and used in moderation to add a bit of flavour but not interfere too much with the other tastes. Now we need somewhere to put all that,and eschewing the dernier cri of gourmet burgers in brioche buns, Fat Bob’s pays homage to the classics and uses white seeded buns that thankfully didn’t fall apart under all that heft (although that could also be due to being wrapped in silver foil, not something I’d recommend testing). All in all an excellent burger  that while newschool in some ways (namely sauce and cheese) has not forgotten about a time when things – and burgers were simpler.

Now while the burger was more than enough to leave me full, we also ordered both french fries and more importantly ZUCCHINI FRIES.  The zucchini fries were prepared and cooked similarly to standard fries (at least as far as I could tell) however the replacing of potato with zucchini was a welcome and super delicious change – don’t come here without giving these a go. I don’t actually remember what the milkshake was like but Mel informs me I finished it pretty zippy so that can’t be anything less than a good sign. On a more sour note, I did have a return visit here on a Friday night where it was admittedly hyper busy and ended up with a more average burger and also mega long wait times – but hey all the more reason to go on a weekday lunchtime!

Fat Bob's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Mr. Scruff’s

60 Smith Street, Collingwood VIC 3066

Scruffz

Left: Burgers, Beer-battered chips and Poutine. Right: Confit Lamb Ribs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beef Burger: Cheese, Lettuce, Mr Scruff’s Special Sauce, Pickles & Onion

Okay so a preface: I wasn’t really expecting much when I decided to go here at the end of PAX, but shit my expectations were more than shattered. This could literally be the single best burger I’ve had. It was an unpretentious affair: american cheese, lettuce, pickles, onion, Mr Scruff’s awesome awesome special sauce and a thick and tender medium rare patty that the bartender informed me was a real meaty 100% beef patty, and subsequently convinced me that I didn’t need to add bacon. Also if you paid attention to those ingredients you’ll notice I didn’t mention tomato – that’s not a typo folks. The conscious decision to exclude tomatoes aligns perfectly with my preferences too, as I’m always finding myself taking them out or asking waiters to hold the tomatoes. The construction was excellent and everything just worked. And after getting it in into my gob, not only could I not fault it in anyway but I was seriously considering ordering round two (however concious of the recent pounds packed on my waistline I resisted this temptation)

As for sides here, well who even cares when the burg is that damn good. But lets pretend we do care. The confit lamb ribs as seen above were ace! It wasn’t the usual USA-style sweet bbq sauce thing, in fact it wasn’t in anyway like that. Instead of being bbq’d, as conveyed by the name it was confit which means it was fried in its own fat at a low temp. Definitely an interesting little side. Mel has an obsession with poutine (pretty much chips in gravy and usually other shit too) so she ordered that, I’m not personally a fan but she said it was one of the best she’s tried, and I nicked a couple that weren’t drenched and they had the right amount of crunch so another thumbs up if that’s your thing. Also having since gone back with some mates on my recommendation, I can confirm everyone loved the beer-battered chips.

Now for most of this post I’ve ignored price because these bad boys aren’t usually cheap, however this place you can order a few different things without breaking the bank. Everything and I mean everything on the food menu is up to $11. The man of the hour, the burg being $9 and only 2 bucks more to make it double. Also rocks a rad ambience and a beer garden outback and  great staff. Highly recommended in every aspect except why oh why isnt it closer to me???
Mr Scruff's on Urbanspoon

Tuck Shop Take Away

273 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North VIC 3161

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Minor with double cheese, bacon and no tomato.

Tuckshop2

Left: Double Minor with bacon but without tomato. Right: School Meal which included a Minor Burger, Triple Fried Chips, Salted Caramel Tart, Tuck Shop Sauce and a Redskin Milkshake

As can be seen above, they have one of the most photogenic, eye-candy  offerings. The main man, the burg seems to be at least partially based on some of Heston’s recipe(s) which can only bode well. This isn’t mere imitation though, rather Karina, the matriach has an esteemed resume that includes training under Heston himself at the Fat Duck! While her husband Clinton, not to be one-upped has worked at Vue de Monde. Anyway back to business, in the standard burg which are housed in Noisette sourced brioche buns along with the typical salads, there are patties designed by Clinton, made of three different cuts of beef, minced daily; american cheese which I believe is home-made with Karina’s own recipe and Tuck Shop sauce that consists of mayo, ketchup, and french’s mustard. Now I have a bit of a love affair with this place in no small part due to the superior quality and  utmost care in every burger they make – no conveyor belt service here! And with those factors of course comes the scintillating taste. But what also helps is the fact that its less than a ten minute drive from my place! location in this case is definitely a big plus for me.  And so at this point Clinton knows my order which is that I always add their delicious bacon (perhaps the best iteration of the  famed cured pork) and double cheese – yes their cheese is so good that one isn’t enough folks!

As for the sides, well they’re so interesting that that’s for another post but just briefly I’ll say they have one of the absolute best menus for a burger shop and whatever you order you won’t go wrong (order everything).

Tuck Shop Take Away on Urbanspoon

Mr Burger

Varying locations – food trucks along with a few permanent stores – check their facebook for daily updates on locations & hours

Mr Burger

Mr Burger: Beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mustard, mayonnaise and tomato sauce; and fries

Mr burgz

Mr Burger (again) & Trucker Chips: fries, bacon, cheese and special sauce.

MrBurgie

Mr Burger again again (yes I like this burg), fries and also featuring a USA Boylan soft-drink, a nice touch

Primarily sold through their ubiquitous food trucks and a few brick and mortar locations, Mr Burger aim to offer a limited menu that does one thing right as denoted by their name: burgers. Inspired a by trip to the USA the proprietors  wanted to fill what they felt was an under-appreciated concept in Melbourne: food trucks. And find and fulfill their niche they did, from inception in 2012 to now they have expanded to at least six trucks and a few non-automotive locations for good measure. The idea is to serve up and perfect items from a limited menu and not be bogged down with the superfluous, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ or similar, well Mr Burger’s aim is the exact opposite. They have 3 burger options: Mr Burger, Mr Meat and Mr Hot as well as a vegetarian option Mr Veg. The idea is with each of the burgers is that they combine ingredients with taste matched sauces.

My go to choice here is the Mr Burger largely due to the presence of the holy trinity of sauce: mustard, ketchup and mayo – again with the idea being to perfect their few offerings, this now somewhat common combination is enacted here particularly well, being  mega good and contributing to a delicious burger. Nothing fancy with the bun, a white seeded fella. The patties are made up of their propriety ratios of premium cuts, and is a big boy, meaning the handful of times I’ve ventured to get the double has made for a super filling meal. Melted on top the patty, is a sharp cheddar, adding more flavour than other more meek American slices. It is finished off with lettuce, onions, and tomatos, the latter of which I ask them to keep out. A super tasty burger which while perhaps not my very favourite, for the price of $10 you can’t go wrong. Also I would be remiss not to mention that in my books they certainly hold the crown for a consistently enjoyable burger with multiple locations in Melbourne.

The chips are quite good, but forget those, trucker chips is where it’s at. They made number six on Urbanlist’s fifty best fat feeds in Melb and for good reason! A sauce not dissimilar from the perhaps the aforementioned holy trinity (although I am probably wrong but it’s a starting point) and melted cheese drizzled over drenches the fries and with added crispy bacon pieces. It is amazing and a must try side  meal/option to share.

Following Mr Scruff’s, if they sell burgers and have “mr” in their name you’re probably in good hands.
Note: if going for the double Mr Burger ask for extra sauce as they seem to overlook that with more meat comes the requirement of more sauce. With extra sauce the double is just as great, if not better than the single.

Mr Burger on Urbanspoon

The Royale Brothers

1 Church Street, Brighton VIC 3186

Royales1

Bacon Royale, Double Bacon Royale!!!

Royalez

Royal Double Deluxe (with double burnt bacon!!), Bacon Royale (again)

I don’t know about you, but if I go to a place enough and really enjoy it I may eventually get a little cray and order some werid shit I wouldn’t otherwise order. Being right outside my work, this is one such case. I decided I would get a vege burger; now i cant say whether it was a good or bad vege sandwich as I have no points of comparison, but I can say it tasted goddamn disgusting.

Actual review (that is what I’m meant to be doing here I think): Recently opened up as an extension to the booming Pantry, defying these high expectations they sometimes offer up what can only be described as a messy construction and under-/over-cook the bacon. No matter because on the other hand, their patty, which is of the patented Wagyu variety, is absolutely delectable and one of, if not the best I’ve had. Their cheese is a classic american cheese which is light on the cheesy taste but high on sensual gooey texture. The housing situation here is milk buns, which at least to my palate are similar to brioche and bloody delicious. Also of note they have a tendency to burn bacon by entirely forgetting to flip it so its completely black on one side – this happens regularly, see bottom left photo for example.
They also have a kickass range of man sandwiches, so if you aren’t in a standard burg mood, their pork jerk which has pulled pork  and ‘slaw going on is fucking great as well. Chips are aight too, nothing to write home about though while their cookies and cream thickshake, the only flavour on offer wasn’t really my thing. Bottom line: just go here, you (probably) won’t regret it (unless you’re drunk/vego and order the vege sammich, in which case you’re drunk/vego, go home).
The Royale Brothers on Urbanspoon

The Merrywell

8 Whiteman Street, Southbank VIC 3006

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The American Burger

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fries & Onion Rings

Now this wouldnt be much of a burger post if it didn’t have burger of the year, every year – the vaunted Merrywell.

Merrywell’s burger of the year, the aforementioned Merrywell didnt do much for me so I won’t bother reviewing it in this sort of ‘best of’ post, SO LOOKS LIKE THIS WON’T BE MUCH OF A BURGER POST, on the otherhand, shit their American burger blew me away; so let’s talk about that instead.

So let’s start by introducing Mr Americano – he approaches the table with the combined weight of both a beef patty AND pulled pork and is accompanied by  pickled onions, coleslaw,
delicious smoked cheese, the royal coupling of  mustard and ketchup, and finally the  (in my opinon) controversial addition of BBQ sauce. No greens here, no siree – only the good stuff. On the topic of BBQ sauce- I’m normally not too high on it in mah burgs however there’s an exception to every rule (i think?) and so  here defying expectation it is a great match for the pulled pork – the one-two punch. Sadly the fries and onions rings don’t bring much to the table, in fact they are borderline bad so only get them if you’re jonesing for dem deep-fried sides.

The Americana burger was actually super amazing but its hard to compare it one like say the one from Mr Scruffs because it was a meaty testosterone-fuelled sorta deal that combined lots of things I liked loved whereas the Scruff one was a simple one where the few ingredients were 10/10 but they missed a few fan-favourites (read: BACON). Because of that this one has more leeway on individual ingredient taste but delivers 10/10 on the combined taste in the overall package. Anyway fact is if you like burgers and you like pulled pork, you will definitely enjoy this winner.

The Merrywell on Urbanspoon

While this post just sounds like a giant suckup which loves everything, rather than the tastes of a discerning burger connoisseur let me assure you I only picked some of my favourites and will leave some of the worse experiences for another time. If I can be bothered typing another one of these…

FOLLOW MY RIGHTEOUS QUEST
FOR BURGS ON INSTAGRAM: @Encephlon