Mr Burger

It actually surprised me to realise that I’ve never profiled a food truck on this here blog, especially considering you can’t really miss them around Melbourne these days. I’m often partaking of their wares as an easy lunch or dinner – having to walk to a truck’s location from my house is a good way of convincing myself that I am working for my burger (of course no one need work for a burger, may we all have forty thousand burgers a day, burgers love you don’t forget).

Out of the two burger peddling trucks that normally haunt my suburb, I lean towards Mr Burger over Beatbox Kitchen these days – not because Beatbox Kitchen’s burgers aren’t good, oh no, you should definitely get one of their mushroom burgers into your face as soon as you can – but because while burgers are fab the real race for food supremacy is with chips, and Mr Burger’s chips are so good I have legit DREAMT about them.

I suppose I should give some concession to the burgers and at least describe them to you. While I love a good mushroom burger (as evidenced above), I’ve noticed a lot of burger joints overly lean on them, especially when they just have the one vegie option available, so unless they’re truly a top-notch construction they can get a little samey. Mr Burger goes somewhere a little different, with a felafel patty for their vegie option, complete with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, tomato sauce, mayo and mustard to make their Mr Veg burger. Now it might sound weird to have a felafel patty in a bun with all those more traditional burger accompaniments, but trust me, IT WORKS and is delicious to boot. Keep in mind, however, that these are also rather hefty burgers – I am an unrepentant glutton and put away obscene amounts of food, but I often find these particular burgers are a little too much for for me and I have to leave a bit for Mrs Manners. But that also may be because I can’t help but eat a stupid amount of chips alongside them, because THESE CHIPS, OH MAN.

Honestly I don’t think they do terribly much special to these chips beyond sprinkling some spiced salt mix on them, but they are always fat and golden, and have a very good ratio between fluffy insides and crunchy outsides, and are just ultimately SATISFYING in a very simple yet gleeful way.

The best thing about Mr Burger is apart from their trucks they also have two permanent locations, so if you can’t be bothered to chase down a truck you can head to either Fitzroy or South Yarra and have your burger longings sated. Which you should do, right now, go.

Mr Burger

300 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

364 Chapel Street, South Yarra

For daily truck locations, check Twitter

mrburger.com.au

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Thaiger

I have to interrupt my own traveling foodie reminiscences to tell you all about Thaiger. It is VERY IMPORTANT.

You may remember me visiting Huxtaburger not too long ago and being very disappointed with their vegie burger option. I even went back a couple of weeks after writing that review to give them another go in the fear that I’d been too harsh, but no, it’s still a highly uninspiring tofu slab. But as Cindy mentioned in the comments of that piece, a tofu burger doesn’t necessarily have to be boring and can be done awfully well. Thaiger is a very compelling example of such.

Thaiger, as you may have noticed from the puntastic name, is a Thai-inspired take away burger restaurant. Tucked down the Walk Arcade next to the sushi place that always has the obscenely long queue, it’s a very neat and attractive set-up. There’s 14 different burgers to choose, although only one is vegetarian, so if you like your meats you are in for a fun time (someone go try the pou-nim black burger and come back to tell me all about it because it sounds FASCINATING).

What about this singular veggie burger? Well, it consists of a slab of panfried tofu, crisp around the edges and gelatinous within, topped not only with smoky softened enoki mushrooms but also with a crunchy corn fritter. Keeping it all together is a generous squeeze of sesame soy mayo and a shiny, squishy bun, with some nicely frilled lettuce for good measure. As you would imagine, the combination of smoky enoki, corn fritter, and soft hot tofu was pretty epic in terms of the amount of flavour hurtling about, quickly quashing any suspicion that a tofu burger can’t be delicious. It just all depends on what you team it with.

I also got a cup of sweet potato chips (you can get regular potato chips too), which were hot and as crispy as one can get a sweet potato wedge. I wish I’d been together enough to realise that Thaiger of course had a bunch of sauces that I could have had with my chips, and it shall not be a mistake I make again.

Thaiger is one of those places where it comes across that everything in the business has been devised with great care. From the way the burgers are wrapped and placed in their take-away wrappers and sleeves so that you can eat them in the easiest, least messy way possible, to the design of the space itself, and the care that has clearly gone into creating the menu itself. There are a lot of burger joints across Melbourne now, most peddling the same types of burger fillings and snacks with a slightly depressing homogeneity, so Thaiger feels refreshingly unique. And more importantly than that, it’s properly delicious.

Thaiger

Shop 16, The Walk Arcade, 8 Causeway Lane, Melbourne CBD

Ph: 9663 8558

www.thaiger.com.au

Huxtaburger

In continuing ‘Hayley is finally visiting places that the blogosphere was losing their minds about three years ago’ news, I finally made a visit to Huxtaburger.

There was a time, young readers, when you couldn’t move for folks posting rave reviews about Huxtable’s various endeavours, especially their burger offshoot Huxtaburger. The first one, situated across the road from Huxtable base camp on Smith Street in Collingwood, always had an enormous line spilling out the front of it. Everyone, it seemed, was rapacious for American diner style burgers that were simple, filling, and provided avenues for a lot of Bill Cosby sweater jokes while you were waiting for them.

I, and many other vegetarians, were silent on the Huxtaburger score, however, as for a long time (I think two years? More careful foodie historians will be able to correct me) Huxtaburger simply did not have a vegetarian burger option. Which seemed slightly mad in veg*n-obsessed Melbourne, but the official line given forth was that the burger boffins simply didn’t want to offer a vegetarian burger that wasn’t as good as the meaty ones that were sending Melbourne collectively mad, and were going to keep quietly developing until one cut the mustard. Fair enough, I suppose, although in that time waiting my interest in visiting Huxtaburger waned into non-existence.

Indeed, it took Mel and I coming into possession of some Huxtaburger vouchers for me to remember that indeed they actually had vegie options now. To the CBD outpost we went!

The shop itself is very clean and a fusion between a diner and a slicker version of your standard chain burger restaurant. The staff were ENORMOUSLY friendly, and certainly made the customer service level of things far more enjoyable than I’m used to expecting in similar establishments.

The vegie burger is called the Sondra (all the burgers are named after Cosby Show characters) and consists of a slab of grilled tofu, tomato slices, lettuce, and sesame-soy mayo sandwiched in a brioche-style bun. The bun wasn’t too sweet, thankfully, which I often find is the standard fault of the brioche burger bun, but instead was very well balanced in flavour while also being structurally sound in keeping the burger together. The Sondra was actually the least messy burger I’ve encountered in a long time, a pleasing antidote to the types of burgers that stuff far too many toppings in that collapse out all over you as soon as you take a bite.

The tofu itself, being a cohesive slab, also stayed together nicely, but the one big problem with the burger as a whole is that the tofu itself just isn’t that flavourful. It had possibly been marinated in some kind of soy concoction before being put on the grill, but contrasted with the mild mayo it didn’t pack any kind of punch and was rather dull. Like eating a geography teacher.

What did pack punch, however, was the side order of chipotle fries. A colourful cup of crinkly chips that had been liberally sprinkled with chipotle seasoning, I actually needed to go a little mad in squirting tomato sauce on them so that my mouth didn’t end up on fire. They were a needed dose of fun!

The real question here is, would I go back to Huxtaburger without the dangled carrot of a voucher, and would I encourage you all to do the same? Honestly, I am not sure that I would. The pros that it is cheap and quick is overshadowed by the reality that the vegetarian option is simply not that exciting. The fact that within walking distance of the CBD Huxtaburger I could go to three different Lord of the Fries outlets and gorge myself on plentiful vegetarian burger options is probably damning enough.

There was a time, young readers, when if a food place didn’t have terribly good vegie options, veg*n diners would just sadly shrug and muddle through. But considering that Melbourne now boasts such an extremely veg*n-friendly food scene, whenever I now come across seemingly tokenistic vegetarian options my reaction tends to be “why did you even bother?” Because there are so many options now that we don’t have to put up with it. So while Huxtaburger may be one of the grand burger poobahs for meat eaters, vegetarians might want to seek out other alternatives. And that’s okay, because now we can.

Huxtaburger

Rear 357 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD (also locations in Collingwood and Prahran)

www.huxtaburger.com.au

Jus Burger

I am the first to admit that I am a fussy snob when it comes to burgers. There’s a lot of things that irk me when it comes to burger-making that makes it hard for burger joints to gain a wholehearted tick of approval from me. Everything from having overstuffed burgers that are impossible to eat, too many sauces that create a sloppy mess, and having buns that are too soft, too sweet, or, worst of all, too hard to actually bite through all contribute to turning me into a sad panda.

The positive reports that filtered through to me from friends and various blogs about Jus Burger piqued my interest. Here seemed to be a place that might be able to offer an acceptable cheap and cheerful burger option to my particular liking. Honestly, any alternative to the dreaded Grill’d is always welcome in my book, so Jen and I went investigating.

Imported from Perth, the Chapel Street Jus Burger is the first Melbourne outpost for the franchise. It’s a pretty standard hipstery burger joint in terms of outfit – bright colours, high tables with bar seats, little plastic toy animals standing in for order numbers.

We started off with a serving of the onion rings, served with aioli, as I am terribly addicted to the ones from Lord of the Fries and as a consequence basically walk around with a cartoon bubble with a picture of onion rings floating above my head at all times. While they didn’t live up to LotF’s heavenly version they were still pretty decent: fine breadcrumb that went super crispy, and soft onion within. Jen felt that the aioli was far too mild, but I didn’t mind that so much.

To what we were really here for. While being quite tempted by The Chickpea, a felafel burger with tahini and slaw, I ended up going with the tempeh burger: spiced tempeh pattie, with mayo, tomato, lettuce, on the standard Jus Turkish roll. Now, possibly I should have known better than to go with this option as my first Jus foray, as tempeh can be a very hit and miss prospect. While the texture of this one was very pleasing, avoiding being a dense brick like so many other tempeh patties, there was something about the flavour that was slightly lacking. Not bad, just needing a bit more omph.

Structurally, however, the burger was definitely in the realm of my preferences – not too big, not too saucy but also not dry, the bread was soft enough to easily bite through but didn’t end up dissolving against the wet ingredients, and best of all, they served it with a proper serrated knife so you could cut it in half for ease of scoffing!

Jen was the burger winner with her choice – the panko-encrusted pumpkin with goats cheese and basil pesto. She was kind enough to let me gnaw a portion, and it very nearly was her doom because it was so delicious that I was tempted to push her off her stool and devour it before she had a chance to reclaim it. EXTREME BURGER ENVY.

As we’d chosen the meal option, the burgers were served with either chips or salad, coleslaw and a type of green pickle. I went with chips (because I don’t know when to stop when it comes to fried things), which were good and crispy, a very nice side, particularly with a squirt of ketchup. The slaw and pickle I was less enamoured of, but then again I am very rarely enamoured of either slaw or pickles. Jen’s salad was in the Greek mold, with a lot of cucumber, tomato and olives among the standard lettuce. Good if you can resist the fried sides (BUT WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO?).

So, despite not being that jazzed by the flavour of my eventual burger choice, I can see very clearly what Jus is doing right, and I like it. I’m very keen to go back and have a panko pumpkin burger to myself, and to also sample the other vegie burgers (as well as the Chickpea there is a build-your-own vegie burger). I’d love to hear if any of you are also very particular about your burgers, and where the ones that ring all of your foodie bells can be found.

Jus Burgers

364 Chapel Street, South Yarra

Ph: 9827 1318

www.jusburgers.com.au