Burgers? Best in show

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Zigzag Burgers ‘n’ Salads, Showgrounds Village, 320 Epsom Road, Flemington. Phone: 9372 5948

We’ve never felt any affinity for the showgrounds shopping precinct – the very honourary Lebanese fare of Saj aside.

Even last week, upon spying a new fast-food outlet, my eyes and mind slid by with barely a hint of interest.

Perhaps its was the somewhat conflicted description of “Burgers ‘n’ Salads”.

But then a regular reader and burger fan – Hi Lauren! – broadly hinted she’d love the CTS verdict before taking the plunge herself.

And then, when doing some research, I noted some very positive reviews at Urbanspoon and on the joint’s Facebook page.

Hmmm, this was starting to look more promising by the minute.

So much so that a report from our burger guru of choice, Nat Stockley, that he’d heard mixed comments about the place in no way deterred a happy, hungry CTS Team of four fronting up for Sunday lunch.

Our verdict?

Oh, yes – this is a winner!

Everything we had was good or excellent.

Our multi-facted order arrived within minutes but the food showed no signs of hasty preparation.

And the pricing (see menu below) is excellent.

 

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Bennie went the brisket bacon deluxe ($9.90) and he liked it plenty.

He reported the brisket was less like the BBQ versions we’ve been indulging in mightily in recent months and more like the brisket “you get in pho”.

But it all worked good for him, and that included the dressing/sauce and salad components.

As part of a combo deal, he also got a serve of the “house cut chips”, another order of which we got to share.

They were tasty but not crisp – not that it mattered.

 

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Our table also ordered a serve apiece of the popcorn chicken (above) and the popcorn prawns – both priced at $8.50.

The serves looked small but were big enough to ensure that all four of us got a good taste of both.

They were both excellent – crisp, unoily and tasty, with dipping sauces (chilli garlic mayo and Thai lime chilli) providing nice contrasts.

 

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The recipient of the chicken burger ($9.50) was happy with his lot while also reporting that the thin chicken breast, grilled not crumbed, was a little on the dry side.

No matter – as with all our burgers, the whole in terms of construction, presentation, balance and ingredients made such a criticism very muted indeed.

 

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I reckon I did best of all of us with my beef bacon deluxe ($9.90).

Again, all was in harmony.

This was a damn fine burger for $10 – one could easily pay another $5 and more around town for such a fine sandwich.

 

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And the salad portion of Zigzag?

Well, obviously we were in no mood for any such thing.

But the salad display actually looked very interesting and varied.

This could be a winner for Zigzag, as several customers were going salad instead of burgers when we were in the house, and the food options – especially quick, cheap and healthy ones – are not thick on the ground around here.

We had a super lunch, and on that basis we vote unanimously that Zigzag is a new, small western suburbs business that is doing good.

And for those who care, there’s not an ounce of hipster to be seen – and as little likelihood of queues.

Check out the Zigzag website here, though the menu there is not as detailed as the one below.

 

Zigzag Burgers n' Salads on Urbanspoon

 

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The BeeeasT of Tarneit

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BeeeasT Burgers, 1 Alexandra Avenue, Tarneit. Phone: 9974 6971

It’s difficult to imagine a more whitebread upbringing than school life in particular and life in general than that experienced by CTS in the ’60s and ’70s.

There were occasional exotic influences and people – though not much in the way of exotic food – but by and large Maori people and culture in particular were something that happened in textbooks, the North Island or the All Blacks.

A later career move that found me living, and surfing, in Gisborne and, before and after, in Wellington brought a more homogenous New Zealand to my life.

Still, the Melbourne move when it came was made at least in part because of the desire not to simply slip into a Kiwi sub-culture in, say, Sydney or Brisbane.

I love my Kiwi brothers and sisters, whatever their genre, but I have no desire to be surrounded by them at the expense of all else.

But after almost 15 years in the west, there has been a change.

It started – or, rather, I started to notice it – at Bennie’s primary school, where one of his best pals was a young Maori lad.

It continued with the thoroughly Kiwi-infused vibe of the Footscray Bulldogs Rugby Union Club, for which Bennie played for a couple of seasons.

In more recent times, I have enjoyed monitoring the ups and downs of the Altona Roosters Rugby League Club, though I have yet to make it to a game.

As well, I am enjoying observing through Facebook the beaut work of Victoria Maori Wardens and their efforts to keep Maori and Islander youngsters from getting into big trouble. I will make it a point to meet them one day.

I even diary-marked a couple of Waitangi Day functions this year – one in Elsternwick, one in Altona – but sadly missed both.

Maori may not flow in my blood but it resides in my soul, and is capable of surprising me with the force and profundity with which it sometimes surfaces.

 

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All these things are but a reflection of the fact the Maori and Islander population of Melbourne’s west has increased dramatically in the past decade or so, drawn like so many of us from around the world by housing prices but also, these days, no doubt by a sense of community as well.

Honey knows all about it.

She and her family live in Point Cook, but Honey travels to Manor Lakes p-12 College for her regular gig as assistant principal.

Assistant principal of a western suburbs school of 1800 or so kids?

Oh yes, she knows very well the changing face of the west in general and its Maori/Islander face in particular.

Incredibly, Honey has another job – she is a co-owner and co-proprietor of BeeeasT Burgers in Tarneit.

And the BeeasT itself, which shares a small business precinct with the likes of branches of Briyani House and International Foods, is testament to the growing Maori/Islander community in the west.

The business has been up and running since November yet in that time it has amassed a staggering 9000-plus Facebook likes.

 

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So it is with an easy smile that I front up for a chat and a feed.

In truth, aside from sweet potato chips on the menu (see below) and L&P in the fridge, there’s nowt that is particularly Kiwi about the fare here.

But there is no mistaking the nature of the management or the joint’s customers.

Many of the burgers listed are more complex and grandiose than fit my immediate needs, so I go for the Fair Dinkum ($10) – minus the pineapple.

All Beeeast burgers come with chips.

Those chips appear a tad nondescript but are really excellent and hot.

Similarly, my burger looks modest but goes down a treat.

It’s like a cross between an Aussie-style corner store burger and Grill’d, mostly because the very good patty has a real beefiness about it.

 

Beeeast Burgers on Urbanspoon

 

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So-so burger in Kensington

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Jerry’s Burgers ‘N’ Shakes, 482 Macaulay Road, Kensington. Phone: 9372 1687

Not too long before we noticed the assembling of a Jerry’s franchise branch in Kensington, our friend The Burger King dined at the Tullamarine shop.

His verdict?

He was and is dismissive.

More recently, another friend – for whom Kensington is neighbourhood territory – implied he and his had a much more satisfying time at the new place.

So I decided to find out for myself.

 

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The Kensington jerry’s is a smallish operation, done out in typical fast-food franchise fashion.

The seating is limited and rudimentary.

I found the service to be good and the prices to be very low.

But there’s the rub – on the premise of “you get what you pay for”, your Jerry’s burger will most likely suffer by comparison with the more pricey likes of Grill’d and other ritzy burger places.

The range of sandwiches – and even salads – is very long (see below), ranging through beef, steak, pork, fish, vegetarian and breakfast items.

 

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I went with the She Hot! burger with beef, bacon, cheese, red onion, Tabasco aioli, lettuce and jalapenos ($7.90) and a small serve of chips ($1.90).

My burger was just OK, and as hinted at above pretty much what you’d expect for cents under $8.

It wasn’t nearly as hot as the number of pepper slices included might suggest.

It was a sloppy meal, with the structural integrity lapsing totally by the end.

Worst of all, the meat patty was bereft of beefiness and redolent of sausage meat.

I wouldn’t go so far as draw a comparison with “pet food”, as one Urbanspoon contributor has done, but you get the picture …

The best part of my dinner were the chips, which were terrific and plentiful.

 

Jerry's Burgers 'n' Shakes on Urbanspoon

 

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Yup! Another new Yarraville joint

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beat9
b Eatery 21 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone: 362 080

So Yarraville’s long-time burger place has gone.

No surprise, really.

Perhaps it was nudged out of the picture by the arrival of a Grill’d outlet just up the street.

Or perhaps it had simply done its dash.

Whatever the case, a new business is in residence – one we believe has proprietorial links with the previous establishment.

The place has been done out a treat – the ambience speaks of laid-back cool without trying too hard.

The upstairs area remains, but we hunker down in a nice back room.

 

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We suspect, appraising the menu and generally taking in the operation, that while the success of this business is no doubt the paramount aim, such success may lead to other eateries of the same ilk opening up elsewhere.

The staff, we find, do a fine, on-the-ball job for us.

The two-sided menu (see below) covers the breakfast-and-more territory, including some very unusual items.

Sesame-seared ahi tuna nachos, prawn and crab “bang bang” cakes or Italian soda fountain drinks, anyone?

In the interests of blog diversity, Bennie has been banned from ordering the burger.

So he does the next best thing by nominating the steak sandwich (pictured at top).

It does good for him, with the nice slab of meat, good rocket and garlic-lemon aioli dressing all disappearing very quickly.

The chips are unlisted but we’re glad to observe their presence, as it makes the $15.50 steak sanger price tag a good one.

The chips are good though could be hotter.

 

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We share one of the smaller items – a duck rice paper roll ($5).

It’s OK but the quack quotient is on the tardy side, meaning the roll’s filling is mostly vermicelli.

Presentation has trumped eating practicality – the hoisin sauce is prettily drizzled on the roll, the eating of which is thus a very messy business indeed.

 

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For the second time in a week, I go the healthy route with my chicken salad ($16).

It’s a nice thing, beautifully presented and super fresh, especially the finely grated apple, which mixes well with grapes of both kinds, celery and chicken.

It’s like a waldorf salad with bells on – but without the waldorfs.

Ha!

The chook is a bit tasteless and I generally think of my lunch as being on the bland side.

I resist the temptation of requesting salt and/or pepper dispensing implements, but wonder if the rest of the menu evinces such rampant moderation in the seasoning department.

Given the spread of the menu, b Eatery we feel is likely to be a hit with families.

It appears to have been set up with some ingenuity, finding a niche in jam-packed Yarraville by doing what many others are without mirroring the competition in any precise way.

 

B Eatery on Urbanspoon

 

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Newport cafe cool

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odd1
Odd Spot Cafe, 302 Melbourne Road, Newport. Phone: 9399 2241

Following a knowledgeable recommendation, we give Odd Spot Cafe a whirl after stocking up nearby on goodies for the general all-round comfort of our new family member.

Odd Spot Cafe is situated amid a strip of shops on Melbourne Road to which we usually pay little interest as we’re usually too intent on going elsewhere when we whiz past, though we’ve also heard that the Thai joint Siam Kitchen is worth checking out.

Odd Spot has a nice fit-out dominated by black and white that speaks of coolness on a hot day.

It presents as an oasis.

We really enjoy our lunch choices and find the service to be grand.

 

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Odd  Spot features a number of dishes and a philosophy and approach that embrace “health food” – the sort of thing that can send the senior member of Team CTS fleeing.

So Bennie’s burger ($16) amply illustrates the “don’t judge a book by its cover” axiom.

It’s all-round fantastic.

He would’ve preferred onions to be cooked and some bacon but he really digs the pronounced pickled cucumber tang.

Is there anything more important – apart from the patty itself – to creating a successful burger?

The crinkle-cut chips are fine.

 

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Kenny, what are you thinking?

Sesame-crusted carrot fritters with “wilted spinach, pesto, hummus and micro herbs” ($16.50)?

Yes, I surprise myself by going all healthy.

Perhaps it’s a the festive season and all that oh-so-rich food we’ve been eating, but it does me fine.

Sure, the carrot pulp of the fritters is coated with sesame seeds rather than crusted or even, it seems, really cooked.

Perhaps I would’ve liked a bready base of some sort.

And the seasoning levels are way below what we’re used to in our mostly multicultural journey.

But right now, here today, this hits the spot.

 

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The Odd Spot cake display cabinet is chockers with great-looking things.

Bennie and I split a “chocolate fondant of goodness” ($4).

It’s a paragon of choc intensity and we love it.

Our cafe latte and hot chocolate are winners.

 

Odd Spot Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

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Po’ boy in Yarraville

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wov23
Woven Cafe, 175b Stephen Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9973 5926

Since our first foray to Woven, I have returned for a sandwich and coffee.

Today, though, my visit has a more singular focus – I am responding the lure set by the joint’s Facebook page.

Some eateries really work their Facebook pages hard and well; others not so much.

Woven is definitely among the former, posting what seems like several times a day – muffins du jour, specials and often things a lot more whimsical.

 

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So the shrimp po’ boy it is for me.

It makes me happy.

 

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There’s a heap of delightfully well-cooked, tender and tasty prawns that work oh-so-well with the slaw and its dressing and the all-important pickle slices.

Liberally doused with the red of the two hot sauces brought to my table, it all tastes great.

Even in these days of hot-shot $10+ sandwiches, $19 is a steep asking price.

But given the quality of the ingredients and their preparation, and the hand-cut chips on the side, it’s also value for my money, I reckon.

My only quibble is with the bread.

Po’ boys are perennially described as being prepared using baguettes.

But in New Orleans terms what that means is a broad, pliable loaf that makes for an easily wielded two-handed sanger.

This excellent CBD place, for instance, sources bread of just the right kind from a Vietnamese baker.

Woven, by contrast, has used a genuine French-style baguette that is too dense and too narrow.

I don’t mind at all, as the bread is still good and I happily treat my meal as an open sandwich and use cutlery.

I doubt that this particular item will be a regular feature for Woven so a specific bread supplier is hardly warranted.

My cafe latte is excellent.

 

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As I’d approached Woven for my lunch, it struck me what a boon it must be for the “local” locals, situated as it is away from hyper activity around the Anderson and Ballarat street intersection.

So I was surprised to find that on this Sunday lunchtime it was sparingly occupied, though several of the outside tables were taken.

If we lived on this side of the tracks, I’d be here near daily as I dig the place lots!

You can “like” the Woven Facebook page here.

 

Woven Cafe on Urbanspoon

Far out Flemo burger

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streat1
Streat, 307 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9629 4222

Consider The Sauce has stuck its nose into Streat numerous times.

But such has long been our penchant for the spicier, more exotic and evolving available elsewhere on Racecourse Road that we’ve never stayed to partake.

And that’s despite the fact we know Streat is a commendably community-minded enterprise that works tirelessly to fight homelessness.

So I’m happy to be meeting long-time CTS supporter Daniel for lunch and to be doing so at Streat at his suggestion.

I am surprised, however, to lay eyes on the blackboard menu (see below).

My recollection is of a more diverse line-up including the likes of Korean fried chicken.

Today, we’re gazing at a menu that runs simply from breakfast to bagels and burgers.

Still … no problem!

Especially when our lunches arrive.

 

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My “Racecourse Rd” burger ($11, $12.50 with bacon) really is excellent in every way.

Maybe not quite a 10, but a 9 for sure.

Everything is proportionately spot on, expertly assembled and of high quality – the beefy patty, the dressings, the salady bits, the sauce, the cheese, the perfectly two-handed size.

The wire basket of chips ($3.50) is just as good – there’s precisely right number of them to complete a fine and finely priced lunch.

 

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Daniel goes with his regular choice here – the “Wellington St” ($12.50) with fried chicken with coleslaw, mayo, Sriracha, mayo and cheese.

This looks the goods, too.

The chicken chunk is very fat and, my pal tells me, crisply fried.

At his request, we also get a couple of small pots of Sriracha for chip-dipping purposes.

I’m glad I’ve finally hit the Streat – ya never know where the next perfect burger meal is coming from!

 

STREAT on Urbanspoon

 

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