Pork ribs you can afford

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Gorilla Grill, 36 Edgewater Boulevard, Maribyrnong. Phone: 0401 830 800

It’s opening day – or, rather, night – at Gorilla Grill, the bricks-and-mortar carnation of the food truck of the same name.

With the recent opening of splendid Japanese eatery Shinmai Tasty just a few doors away, Edgewater Boulevard has, effectively for the first time, got something of a foodie buzz about it.

 

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The Gorillas are churning out fries, burgers, fried chook and more – some, but not all, with a Korean touch – with rush-hour steeliness.

The place is smokin’.

Those who followed CTS BBQ adventures of the past couple of years – at, say, Smokehouse 101 or Up In Smokemay have noted we have a cost-based aversion to pork ribs.

We love ’em!

But the cost, including bones, inevitably seems out of whack compared to other available goodies such as brisket.

At Gorilla Grill, we feel liberated.

Here, a half rack costs $18 and a full rack $27 – both served with chips.

 

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Hoorah!

Our half rack is excellent and is a goodly sized slab of meat.

There’s a heap of terrific, juicy meat on those bones, the sauce is excellent and the chips are fine, too.

This just about does the pair of us – for $18, it presents as a cracking meal for one.

OK, this is ribs in a fast-food setting, but we do not care.

Lip-smacking good is the verdict.

 

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Coleslaw ($3) is nicely crisp jumble of white and red cabbage daubed with mayo; good but not a knock-out.

 

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I’m so rapt with our ribs that I barely notice our Krusty Burger ($12) with its nice, crunchy chunk of chook, salady bits and bacon, though Bennie gives it a firm thumbs up.

 

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Fine burgers in Footscray

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Burger Business, 230 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Phone: 9396 0368

The talk in our home for a few hours leading up to our Friday night dinner outing is about Indian.

But when the appointed hour arrives and we’re heading for Footscray, I unilaterally change my mind.

Truth be told, I’m not really into chowing down on another Indian meal tonight – we DO eat a lot of Indian and Sri Lankan food.

This is a decision with which Bennie happy to go along with once he realises burgers are on the menuĀ  – obviously, our period of burger burnout of some months previous has abated.

 

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Burger Business is one of two newish burger joints that have sprung up in Footscray – perhaps hoping to tap into the sort of burger-crazed sentiments that have made 8bit such a hit.

It’s on a stretch of Nicholson Street that is quite gloomy at night and not generally famed for its food or street life.

But maybe that is changing – Burger Business joins a handful of African places down here where it WOULD be good to see a more robust street vibe happening.

We have no expectations or knowledge of Burger Business one way or the other.

 

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It looks and feels like its based on a ritzy burger joint template.

Indeed, as we await our meals, I whisper to Bennie: “This place looks just like a Grill’d!”

Hunters & Collectors are blasting from the sound system, duly followed by another iconic Australian rock anthem.

I fill Bennie in on the alternative chorus of the latter: “Don’t bore me shitless …”

Whatever our hopes and expectations, we proceed to enjoy very good burger meals – and leave Burger Business thinking we’ve lucked into cool Footscray secret that comes without the crush of crowds that may be encountered elsewhere.

 

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Bennie enjoys his bacon feast ($11.90) with beef, smoked bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, aioli and ketchup.

 

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But allowed a taste of my chilli burger ($10.90) – with beef, aioli, cheese, roasted peppers, red onion, jalapenos, chilli sauce and lettuce – he happily avows that my sandwich is superior.

It IS bloody good!

The chilli quotient is negligible beyond the pickled jalapenos but all the very good ingredients and condiments – including nicely flavoursome beef and juicy roast capscums – work together to create an excellent burger.

Our small serves of regular fries and sweet potato fries are beaut, the latter having the same crisp exteriors as the former.

Our burgers and fries have been combo-ed with drinks – so our Friday night feast has cost us a most admirable $15 each.

Upon completion of our meals, we are given a small brownie each without charge.

They’re more fudge than brownie and OK rather than wonderful – but still, it’ a nice touch.

 

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Point Cook burgers ace it

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Gemelli Cafe Grill, Shop 123, 22-30 Wallace Avenue, Point Cook. Phone: 9369 7602

Consider The Sauce has addressed Melbourne’s fixation with burgers a couple of times in recent months.

We’ve even been known to mutter about “burger burnout”.

So what do we do?

We eat more of them!

This is not a burden when the ones we try are so very, very good.

And it’s a special pleasure when we find them at places that are simply not part of the developing burger scene as such.

 

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First, a few weeks back, there was the fabulous burger ‘n’ chips combo at Searz in Newport.

Tonight it’s twin Gemelli Burgers at a newish cafe/grill in Point Cook.

Gemelli has been open a few weeks and is already a big hit with locals.

And so it should be!

It’s located in a commercial precinct on the opposite side of the freeway from Williams Landing station.

So new is the neighbourhood that there is building activity going on aplenty.

But for locals, and the overwhelming majority of them around here are young families, there’s not a lot about in terms of food so Gemelli surely seems like a gift.

So much so that perhaps we are chancing our arms a little by hoping to simply waltz in for a mid-week dinner.

But all is good as we wait just a few minutes for a table to be cleared.

 

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Among the various comments I have seen from (mostly very happy) customers have been a few noting a certain skittishness as the young floor staff get comfortable with their roles.

We talk with a few of them and find they’re all locals and that for most of them these are their first serious jobs.

We find them all cheerful and capable and the service top-notch.

As you’d expect, the dining space has a “family restaurant” feel – and if there is a bit of shopping centre food court vibe going on as well, it is soon forgotten as we get to grips with our dinner.

 

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A large serve of “Italian herb and parmesan” fries ($6.50) is not particularly cheesy but the chips are fine, hot and tasty. A small bowl of aioli is provided upon request.

 

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We both choose, from a line-up numbering six, the top-of-the-line Gemmelli Burger ($14), which is described as “2 homemade beef patty, 2 X cheese, Berkshire bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, relish, burger sauce”.

The verdict?

Bloody awesome!

The meat is, well, very meaty and a chewy delight.

The bacon is crisp and its flavour permeates the whole burger – such is not always the case.

The pickles, too, assert their presence and all the other protagonists are deftly put together to create perfectly balanced burgers.

As with the Searz burger, this is a 9/10 effort.

I prefer Gemelli, Bennie prefers Searz.

Everyone’s a winner!

We’re out of there for just over $42 including two soft drinks.

See the Gemelli Facebook page here and its website here.

 

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Corralling the drinks so Bennie doesn’t finish them off before our food arrives.

Beaut bento, better burger

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Searz Caffi, 39 Challis Street, Newport. Phone: 9399 2393

The Challis Street shops in Newport – off Mason Street – are the sort of strip we’ve been driving by for years just for a look every now and then to see if there’s anything cooking.

On Challis Street, there never has been.

And now there is.

Searz is a very fine local cafe.

It serves (see menu below) standard-range cafe breakfasts and mains such as a caesar salad, a burrito bowl and fish ‘n’ chips.

But running through the mains and the smaller (“tapas”) dishes are Japanese/Korean influences.

We find our meals of two visits, the service and timing, the whole experience to be absolutely top notch.

 

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The bento special no doubt changes periodically.

This version has fish three different ways – teriyaki salmon, battered cod with wasabi mayo and grilled gemfish with Korean chilli sauce.

They are all delicious and beautifully cooked.

There’s about half a dozen different kind of pickle, some of which I love, some of which I could do without.

The house-made zucchini pickles are very fine.

The bento mix is completed by good salad and rice.

This bento, given the quality of the seafood involved, would be right at home in a bona fide Japanese restaurant.

And the price, $18, is grand.

 

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Bennie’s bibimbap $16) is a doozy, too.

He loves the finely cooked beef and mushrooms, the salady bits, egg, enokis and more.

Unlike so many versions of this dish, this one has enough fluid action going on that it is a well-lubricated “sweet and spicy” treat right to the bottom of the bowl.

 

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But however fine his bibimbap, Bennie is openly envious of my “1010 burger” ($15) – and so he should be.

Despite the burger burn-out factor of the past year or so, this strikes us as being a superb.

It’s a 9/10 burger and chips combo that scrubs up much better than many of those to be had at more storied burger joints around Melbourne.

There’s more of those zucchini pickles in there.

And there’s “Searz aiolio”, tomato relish and the usual, standard salad accessories.

The meat patty is thick, juicy and screaming with beefy flavour.

Gosh, it’s fantastic.

The chips are hot, fresh and very plentiful.

Searz is a prime example of everything a neighbourhood cafe should be.

And the food, what we have enjoyed of it, rocks.

 

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Ace burgers in Sunshine

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Found 401, cnr Foundry and Hampshire roads, Sunshine.

It’s been a frustrating Sunday, one involving much driving, blog stories not eventuating and potential meals not eaten.

Worse, upon arriving back in Sunshine, I realise I’ve left my bag at an Indian sweets shop in Deer Park – so back we go.

By the time we return to Sunshine, we’re hungry … for just about anything, and blog be buggered.

But as it turns out – and despite recent proclamations of burger fatigue – we find something really good.

We find it in a rather anonymous looking cafe that’s part of the modest retail set-up in an apartment block at the other end of Hampshire Road than the one we normally frequent.

(Found 401 is about a block from Gold Leaf.)

 

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I’ve been hearing encouraging whispers about this place and its burgers, most notably from our regular provider of westie food tips and opinions, Lauren Sayer.

About this place, she is spot on.

As well as a concise burger line-up, Found 401 provides breakfasts and toasties, coffee and an assortment of other drinks (menu below).

I’d popped myself in on a previous Sunday but on that occasion had found the staff coping with the breakfast rush hour.

This time around we are, at first anyway, the only customers and we find the service and wait times very good.

I go for the BBQ burger ($10.50, top photograph) with beef, cheese, lettuce, bacon, mayo and BBQ sauce; I ask for the caramelised onions to be withheld.

 

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Bennie has the 401 burger ($11.50) with egg and 401 sauce added.

Both our burgers are terrific.

They’re nothing fancy – just good, solid all-round winners made with good ingredients and put together nicely.

The beef patties have a nicely solid meatiness about them.

 

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The chips ($4), too, are on the money and good value for the price.

They’re all crisp and unoily.

And no chicken salt or the like here – just a winning combo of salt and a dash of rosemary.

Bravo for the Found 401 crew for delivering burger goodies that are right up there with the best going around.

 

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We depart happy, hoping CTS readers Lorraine and Derek enjoy their meals as much as we did ours!

 

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St Burgs hits the spot

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St Burgs, 41-45 Edgewater Boulevard, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 7460

There’s two new burger joints about to open right in Footscray central.

Where is it going to end?

Will it ever end?

Melbourne’s rather rabid fondness for new-school burger joints seems to know no limits.

There seems to one or more opening every week, all this activity attended by a plethora of media stories, blog posts and click-bait lists.

Truth to tell, I have been a foot-dragging participant in our visit to St Burgs.

I feel a bit a burger fatigue but have been worn down by Bennie’s persistent requests.

 

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The tipping point came during our visit to try the fine Turkish fare at Platinum Cafe in North Melbourne.

There, Bennie asked of Nat Stockley, noted burger fan and expert: “So what is your favourite burger place?”

St Burgs is the first establishment he mentions.

So off we go …

St Burgs is unusually located … in an apartment block down the hill from the Edgewater shopping/eating precinct.

There is no parking, forcing punters to walk from the parking spots at the shops.

And, so far as I can see, there are no toilets.

 

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The burger shop is tiny in terms of in-house eating, with most of seating outdoors.

Thankfully, on the Sunday we visit the weather is fine.

And whatever the challenges St Burgs presents, there is certainly no lack of punters when we arrive soon after noon.

The service is good and wait time not too long.

My Western Fried Chicken burger ($12) is very good.

Joining coleslaw, cheese and Sriracha mayo is a fat, juicy and deep-fried hunk of very flavoursome chook breast.

 

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Bennie absolutely adores his Double D burger ($14)!

It’s pretty much the St Burgs’ version of “with the lot”.

I ask Bennie: “But isn’t it much the same as what you get at Dude Food Man or 8bit?”

His reply: “No – this is better!”

So there you go – the verdict is in.

 

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I find our regular chips ($5) to be disappointing – a bit limp, not very hot and liberally anointed with indifferent seasoning.

Bennie agrees.

We reckon deep-fried potato + salt = excellent.

 

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The chook burger wins

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Manok, 351 Somerville Road, Yarraville. Phone: 9315 1440

As previously reported right here on CTS, Manok replaces the long-standing chook shop on Somerville Road on the small shopping strip at that road’s intersection with the Princes Highway.

Team CTS has visited twice now and had enjoyable meals on both occasions.

But we recommend keeping expectations in check.

Even with the new Manok crew on deck, this remains a chicken shop – albeit with a few twists – and fast food is the go.

The service is fine and we love and applaud that our in-house meals are served on enamelled plates with metal cutlery attending, though takeaway customers get styrofoam.

 

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Our biggest hit by far is the chicken burger ($10, top photograph).

Bennie orders this and I’m envious.

He loves every mouthful.

It’s a simple thing – pulled roast chicken mixed with house-made peanut sauce and placed between the bun bookends with coleslaw.

How good does it look?

This is the sort of creation that could see Manok develop a bit of cult and end up on lists.

 

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The chips ($3.50) that come with Bennie’s sandwich are fine, fresh and hot.

 

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That makes them a step above those that accompanied my burger on an earlier visit – these were just OK.

The beef burger ($10, $1 extra for bacon) was pretty handy, too.

Much better than you’d routinely get in chicken shops across the city, though I did wish for a bit more charred beef flavour.

 

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And the chicken?

There’s a choice of two – regular and lemon grass.

Both CTS pal Marnie and I go for the latter, with the above-pictured half chook and salad costing $12.90.

I find it enjoyable but a bit average.

I’d like a bit more flavour oomph from the chook – I end up wishing I’d ordered the regular and got the crusty, salty taste explosion that goes with old-school chicken shop poultry.

The Greek salad is acceptable.

But with this sort of chicken in this sort of setting, I’d much prefer to have a good coleslaw on hand.

Marnie is a long-time reader of CTS and we’ve been working towards actually meeting up for some time – sometimes these things can take a while!

She has filed the following:

“Hey Kenny, thanks for inviting me to help check out the place. It was lovely to meet you both. The chook was good but I think I needed some sort of dipping sauce to go with it. Something traditionally Filipino would be ace. Paying for nearly $3 (!) for gravy is a bit insulting IMO … I still think I prefer Pier Street charcoal chicken shop in Altona in terms of juiciness, tastiness and value for money though.

Nice to meet you, too!

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