Burgers – a tough business

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New York Minute, 491 Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9043 1838

Last time Consider The Sauce frequented New York Minute, Bennie devoured a beaut two-handed, multi-level burger with which he was well pleased.

That was a while ago – and some time after our initial stories about the place (here and here).

We’ve eaten a whole helluva lot of burgers since then.

Bennie, in particular, has come to consider himself an expert, refining as he goes just what it is that pushes his burger buttons.

And the burger biz has changed a lot in that time, too.

There’s a handful of food trucks going around that specialise in burgers of various kinds, some of them doing excellent work.

And these days there’s hip outlets such as 8bit going very hard indeed for those burger dollars.

It’s a tough business – even if all that is good news for burger consumers.

So we are very interested to discover how New York Minute – which will soon be opening a branch in Williamstown – is going these days.

The answer?

It’s going OK … although we conclude the place has lost something of its charm and edge.

 

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During our Saturday lunch visit, business is brisk.

The place’s small space has been reconfigured – there’s no longer any interior tables, just window bench stools.

We grab one of the two outside tables.

Bennie’s New York – with “2 beef patties, special sauce, spinach, cheese, pickles & onions” (top picture, $12) – looks the goods but fails to elicit the much sought after groans of pleasure.

To use Bennie’s terminology, it’s “just a burger”.

 

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My brisket burger – with “Prime cut beef & sweet pickles with special sauce” ($9) – is OK but also lacks the sort of oomph that would set it apart.

There’s just not enough here to get in any way excited.

 

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Our large chips ($5) certainly look the part.

But what at first glance may appear to be a bronzed tan increasingly looks orange.

I detect an unwanted sweetness, but Bennie reckons that’s all about the charmless “aioli”.

But he also reckons there’s an excess of chicken salt going on here.

I’m not sure about that …

Going by the joint’s Facebook feed, New York Minute is a happy, happening thing.

But based on our latest meal, we reckon it’s entered the realms of merely good rather than excellent, as subjective as that may be.

 

New York Minute on Urbanspoon

8bit: The Bennie Verdict

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bit22
8bit, 8 Droop Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 8838

We have a few loose ends to take care of at the venue of our great party of a few nights ago.

I’d be happy to chow down right here and now.

But Bennie has other ideas: “We’ve already had African this week!”

Says Kokeb’s Helen: “I don’t blame you!”

She’s plainly envious as we troop off to 8bit.

Since the initial CTS story on Footscray’s new burger hot-spot, we’ve heard and read a lot … many happy raves, some “meh” and quite a lot of talk about protracted wait times.

I’m very interested to see what Bennie, the undoubted burger expert of the family, thinks.

We’re told the wait time will about 20 minutes.

It ends up seeming like more, but no worries … Bennie soon finds something to keep him happily occupied.

 

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After snagging a pair of stool right there at the shake station, I’m happy, too – watching kitchen action such as this is very much the CTS equivalent of taking in some performance art.

 

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Item 1: Cheese and bacon fries ($7).

These are almost certainly the unhealthiest things we’ve eaten this year – and that’s saying a LOT.

They’re gone in under three minutes.

Yum.

Item 2: After Burner ($9.50) with beef, tomato, red onion, lettuce, cheese, chilli sauce, calapeños, chipotle mayo.

“It’s just a burger,” says Bennie. “Grill’d is better …”

Ouch!

Based on my good-sized sample, I reckon he’s making a pretty harsh call. I really like the bite and freshness of the multi-layered lettuce and the spicy tingle of the mayo.

Item 3: Golden Axe ($9.50) with crispy fried chicken, cheese, Sriracha mayo, slaw.

Bennie rather wishes he’d had this instead.

It’s darn good and the chook really is delightfully crunchy.

The only fault I find is a lack of your actual real chicken flavour.

Some readers, both here and on the CTS FB page, have made unflattering comparisons between 8bit and a certain Latin-American joint in Sunshine.

Now, as much as we love that Sunshine emporium – and we really, really do – I’m not sure such comparisons are really valid.

They’re wholly different propositions, with different aims, staffing levels and – no doubt – rent to pay.

8bit is cool … and despite his lukewarm response, Bennie is keen to return for an outing with the “double beef, double cheese, double bacon, pickles, mustard, lettuce, 8bit sauce” Double Dragon.

See the 8bit website here.

8bit. on Urbanspoon

 

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Fine dining in Braybrook

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spot9

Spot On Kebab Station, 263 Ballarat Road, Braybrook. Phone: 0449 545 786

A blog I have started following recently is called Mon’s Adventures.

I like Monique’s writing style and perspective, and she ventures into the western suburbs occasionally.

And while she covers food and places that are normally outside the scope of Consider The Sauce, she also is happy, as she puts it, to get “down and dirty” – as when she visited a Ballarat Road kebab shack.

Moreover, it’s a kebab joint that has hitherto escaped our notice.

Initially, and prompted slightly by Mon’s photos, I presumed this was because the establishment concerned is set back from the busy thoroughfare and next to La Porchetta.

And I found it of great interest that in Mon’s opinion, she would choose the Spot On “Bomba Burger” above “the overrated Huxtaburger any day”!

So it is that Team CTS – comprising, for this outing, yours truly, Bennie and by-now regular CTS helper Rob – heads for Braybrook in high spirits and replete with robust burger appetites.

 

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Turns out Spot On Kebab Station has escaped notice by us until now not because it’s set back from the road – quite the opposite.

It’s sits right beside the road, with cars and trucks whizzing by just a few metres away.

It’s set up pretty much like your typical kebab shack.

But there’s a covered, turfed dining area with a wide-screen TV and heating facilities, should they be necessary.

There’s plenty of cheerful, obliging staff on hand, and even early in the evening there’s a steady flow of customers coming and going.

 

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In some ways, we know that by being here so early in the night and early in the week, we are missing the point of this place.

Going by upbeat postings on its Facebook page, the Spot On team has already established its venture as something of a westie social hub.

Later at night, perhaps even on this night when game 1 of State of Origin kicks off, or in a few weeks time when the World Cup starts – this may be a very cool place to hang.

There’s certainly something that delights we three about chowing down right here.

 

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Bennie and Rob both go with the chips-in Bomba Burger ($8.50), upgrading for an extra $2 each for more chips on the side and a can of soft drink.

According to the sign menus, the Bomba includes a 140-gram beef patty. As well, this being a solid halal joint, instead of bacon there’s a “rasher” of lamb doner kebab.

Chips, salad and dressing complete the picture.

Both my companions are very impressed with their meals, Bennie nodding enthusiastically after just a few mouthfuls and eventually giving it a 8/10 thumbs up.

 

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I go the cevapi route, my large sandwich ($11) generously stuffed with swell-cooked sausage cubes and simply dressed with sour cream and onion slivers.

It tastes great and goes down a treat – or most of it, so hefty is my meal.

As with my mates’ burgers, the bread is fresh and lighter than might be expected from an eatery of Turkish derivation – and this no doubt helps elevate our combined experience.

Quite apart from our food – which we have really enjoyed – we simply like the very fact of Spot On’s existence.

Just one suggestion …

Come on, guys, make the switch – ditch the polystyrene for cardboard!

 

Spot On Kebab Station on Urbanspoon

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Burger buzz in Footscray

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bit6
8bit, 8 Droop Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 8838

There’s no doubting the incredible buzz 8 Bit has created.

We’ve heard about queues, long waiting times and even the running out of food.

So we’re a little unsure what sort of situation will greet us, even early on a Tuesday night.

No probs …

Yes, there’s a 30-minute wait time, but we can deal with that – and not too long after placing our orders, we three snag stools overlooking the kitchen/prep area.

And that’s ace, as we get to see the whole 8 Bit team in action.

There and generally the operation has a fast-food feel, though there’s undoubted buzz, spirit and vibe that elevates the experience.

 

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As we wait, taking in the whole scene, we snatch a few moments of passing conversation with on-duty manager Kasey, who has been going since 10am and is still smiling!

And in answer to a FB query about 8 Bit gluten-free, we even see her packing a “hamburger without a bun” for a takeaway order.

In the interests of having a look at the broader menu, I steer away from the burger and go hot dog instead.

 

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My “1942” consists of “grilled bratwurst, pickle relish, curry ketchup, slaw, mustard mayo” and costs $7.50.

It’s a messy, sloppy delight.

The sausage is quite plain but good. But it’s the soft roll, slaw and the distinctive curry ketchup flavour combining with the other condiments that make this a winner.

The chilli cheese fries ($7.50) of “beer battered fries, chilli beef, cheese sauce, jalapeños, spring onions” impress less, I suspect, not because they’re not good but because they’re maybe not my thing.

But I do like the spice tingle from the peppers.

 

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My companions got the burger-and-sides route an seem happy with their choices – small fries ($3), small onion rings ($3), 8Bit with cheese (beef, tomato, lettuce, red onion, pickles, mustard, cheese, 8Bit sauce, $8.50) and the splendidly named Altered Beast (beef, bacon, cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, 8Bit sauce, BBQ sauce, $9.50).

I snag an onion ring and find it to be very good.

 

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It’s been a blast to share in the widespread delight the arrival of this snazzy establishment has brought to Footscray.

One simple warning, though – the seating capacity is rather limited.

We may do a follow-up CTS story on the occasion of Bennie getting his hands around one of them burgers – oh boy, is he ever going to love this joint!

Check out the full menu at the 8 Bit website here.

Eat8bit on Urbanspoon

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Great burgers – $12 with chips

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fam33

Famous Blue Raincoat, 25 Vernon St, South Kingsville. Phone: 9391 8520

“You look familiar – you look like a blogger!”

Ahhh, our cover is blown.

Hardly surprising, given my anonymous moustache and the fact this likely to be our third post on this Kingsville institution.

FWIW, I doubt very much that our splendid burger meals are in any way compromised, good or bad, by the ‘Coat’s knowledge that Consider The Sauce is sitting in the back garden.

This is an impromptu visit – we like that.

There’s Greek salad makings in the fridge at home, but we’ve hit the road … lured by the restaurant Facebook reminder that this is $12 burger night.

On a pleasantly muggy, hazy summer’s night, the back garden is a wonderful place to await our dinners.

We spy a young mum tucking in to a parmagiana as her partner’s steak sits unmolested.

He’s walking their toddler.

He returns; they swap roles.

Been there, done that … many, many times!

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They may have been purchased at special burger-night discount price, but it’s interesting to note that our whole meal deals end in dollar terms where a food truck stand-alone burger begins.

And here we’ve got real cutlery and crockery, and a lovely setting in which to enjoy.

The chips are deeply tanned and very good. And there’s a good-sized serve of them on both our plates.

Between standard but good buns are some greenery, tomato, beetroot, bacon and tomato relish.

All good.

The meat looks less patty and more big, fat meatball.

But they squash down well to serve our burger purposes well.

They taste magnificent – beautifully seasoned and a little bit peppery.

Bennie, happily smiling, raves about our burgers all the way home.

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Famous Blue Raincoat on Urbanspoon

REAL old-school in Altona

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alex5

Alex Take Away Food, 11 Ford Rd, Altona. Phone: 9398 4267

“If you aren’t paying for a product, you ARE the product.”

Such is the charge often levelled at Facebook

We’re not blind to the creepier aspects of the social media behemoth.

But while keeping them in mind, we find it almost impossible to remain unmoved by the connectedness it can foster.

Take the Altona, I lived there FB page for instance.

In its short life, it has quickly racked up more than 2500 members and become a lively, entertaining focal point for all sorts of stories, photos and reminiscences about Altona.

And it’s how we found out about Alex Take Away Food.

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The address has nothing to do with what most of us non-Altonians think of when we think of Grieve Parade – the freeway exit after the Millers Road one.

Nope, this part of Grieve Parade requires taking the Millers Road exit, heading right down past the refinery, turning right on to Civic Parade and THEN  turning right on to suburban – as opposed to industrial – Grieve Parade.

On the early week night we visit, the place is mad busy.

There’s a heap of customers in-house and there seems to be just as many phone orders coming in.

Everyone but us is a regular. We feel like strangers gatecrashing an intimate gathering of friends and families.

Certainly, the pace is sufficiently frantic to preclude any chit chat and inquiries about just how long this community asset has been doing business right here.

But judging by the funky decor, I’m guessing at least since some time in the 1970s.

We’re in no hurry though, so happily enjoy the vibe until our order is taken.

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There are zero tables or chairs, inside or out.

And unlike almost all the other customers, we can’t simply whisk our goodies home – and even the beach, while reasonably close by, seems a stretch that will ruin our dinner.

So we prop on the footpath right outside the shop, get stuck in and make small talk with some local youngsters while we’re at it.

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Bennie loves his “with the lot” ($7.50).

He’s enough of a burger maven to understand and appreciate that there’s a difference between more American-style burgers and the Aussie variety – and that there’s a time and a place for both.

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My calamari rings ($1) are the of the surimi variety and just OK.

My deep-fried snapper ($7.50) is much better and a real classy piece of work.

The batter is crisp and deep brown, and adheres to the fish pretty good.

The snapper itself is a huge chunk of seafood and has juicy depth of the sort we’ve rarely encountered.

Our chips orders ($4) got lost in the hubbub somewhere, so we end up with some that appear to have been sitting for a while – they’re barely warm and a bit leathery.

But as we saw heaps of chips of what appeared to be excellent quality and appearance be prepared as we waited for our food, we wouldn’t let this minor lapse deter us from returning to this amazing and obviously much-loved neighbourhood joint.

Alex Take Away Food on Urbanspoon

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Messy but good

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dude7

Dude Food Man at Yarraville Gardens

We head for Yarraville Gardens in a ridiculously brisk and windy spring twilight without dad doing his sums – figuring that $31 plus change should cover us.

We are forgetting, of course, that food truck food as it’s swept through the suburbs is not necessarily all that cheap.

So our immediately available funds fall a tad short of what’s required for our two burgers, chips and a couple of cans fizz.

This doesn’t faze the Dude Food dudes at all.

In the interests of happy customers, they happily make up the shortfall – and for that generosity we thank them.

But how do their burgers stacks up?

Especially when their goodies are more pricey than the outfit with which we are able to make a direct comparison – Mr Burger?

Darn well, actually.

In this case at least, it’s a matter of getting what we pay for.

Or mostly pay for …

(I have toyed with idea of relegating the close-ups of our sandwiches to the bottom of this story or not using them at all, so unappealing do they make our dinner appear.  Both burgers fall into a category that might usefully be termed “over-dressed”. But they’re here in all their technicolour glory – just rest assured what we enjoy tastes a whole lot better than it looks …)

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Bennie enjoys his pulled pork slider with “48hr cooked pork, crackling, coleslaw, house-made BBQ sauce” ($13), especially the smokey flavour of the sauce.

The coleslaw strikes me as a creamy delight.

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My Dude Burger with “160g Wagyu patty, iceberg, cheddar, tomato, caramelised onion, pickles, American mustard & aioli” ($13) is even better – a real hands-on treat.

The patty is of pronounced beefiness and has great, chewy texture.

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In many ways our chips ($7 with roasted garlic aioli) are the biggest surprise of our chow-down.

These are super-dooper chunky, hot, crisp, perfectly cooked and far and away the best chips we’ve had from a Melbourne food truck.

In truth, and on account of the cold blast of the weather, our meal is something of an eat-and-run excerise.

But on a warm evening and right next door to this or another park, we’ll be happy to return for more.

Best way to find out where Dude Food Man is serving is through his Facebook page.

Dude Food Man on Urbanspoon

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