The classic American burger is dead, simple as that.
David Chang, the legendary restauranteur, television personality and owner of the Momofuku Restaurant Group, posted his 'Burger Manifesto' on the Lucky Peach website in July of this year. In this so-called manifesto, Chang claims that a burger should consist of nothing more than a white bun, beef patty, cheese and sometimes bacon. That's it. I’ve got nothing against simplicity, but that simply doesn’t float like it would have back in the early 20th century, when the burger was still finding its feet. The scary thing about Chang’s assertions about the burger, is that many Americans agree with him. Well, I hate to tell you David, but Australia, particularly Melbourne, is lowering the American-style burger into its grave.
There are few other dishes that have had such an impact on the Melbourne and wider Australian food scene in the past 2 years than the ever-reliable burger. For me, nothing is more satisfying than a complete meal that you can hold in two hands, and yes, for most of the monsters you’ll encounter at any respectable joint, two hands is a requisite.
While some culinary fads have come and gone in our fair city, the burger continues to surprise with its ongoing popularity. This could be down to the fact that the burger is constantly evolving in Melbourne. No one is happy to be offering up the same burger as down the street, which results in daring new combinations being dreamed up… and served up.
This is where Australia is killing the American conception of a burger.
In the great US of A, the classic cheeseburger is the beginning and end of the conversation. In Australia, the burger is a blank canvas upon which we paint with jalapeño poppers, fried dim sims, potato cakes, mac and cheese croquettes, eggs, beetroot, pineapple, and of course rashers upon rashers of bacon.
While it may seem like a bunch of ingredients stuffed inside a bun, it is so much more. Even the composition is essential; the number of patties, the ratio of cheese. Our favourite burger places have got this down to a fine art, and I, for one, am eternally grateful.
There are way too many champions in our thriving burger scene to mention, but below are some of the unmissable places in Melbourne and beyond that are must-trys for any respectable enthusiast or newbie alike. These are the places that are killing the American burger. Sorry, not sorry, Mr Chang.
A small cafe hidden away on Buckhurst St is surprisingly the home of the monster burger in Melbourne. They have an enormous array of affordable but amazing burgers with every ingredient imaginable. Two monsters that are hard to split are The MeatAxe with beef, fried chicken jalapeño poppers and onion rings and The Boss with a double beef patties, fried chicken and mozzarella sticks.
Located upstairs on the corner of Bourke and Exhibition, a dingy looking place has been converted into a burger oasis. One of their best is the Frank Underwood which boasts a delicious mac and cheese croquette patty which really works.
You’ve probably heard a lot about this place already, and for good reason. Easey’s do simple, and infinitely customisable burgers, well made. Their piece de resistance is the Mighty Melbourne, which among beef, cheese, and bacon, contains beer battered potato cakes and dim sims!
Bringing some quality burgers to our sunny north is Brooklyn Depot. Their house special The Depot Burger boasts double beef, double cheese and hickory smoked bacon and a big piece of grilled pineapple to put a bit of Gold Coast sunshine into your burger.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Burger Series...