Sometimes a normal day just requires some filth. Should you happen to be in Melbourne when the urge for something dirty hits you, take a stroll over to the East side of the CBD to Grand Trailer Park Taverna, home of huge dirty burgers named after fictional characters and hard shakes that sound so good you wonder why it never occurs to you to make hard shakes at home.
As anyone who lives in a big city will have noticed, burgers have become a Thing over the last three years or so. Yes, we’ve always loved burgers. We’ve grown up on treat lunches at Burger King (or Hungry Jack’s for our Antipodean friends) as children during half term before the cinema; they’re a BBQ staple – a big Costco patty (unequivocally my favourite) squashed into too-small white bread roll because “they’d run out of burger buns”; hell, I even had a McDonald’s birthday party one year. But now it’s different. At first it got all gourmet. Prime beef with fancy cheese and weird relishes. Then it stayed gourmet but with the filthiness of the cheap burgers of yore – plastic cheese non-negotiable. The street food contingent became serious about making a burger people would talk about, the restaurants followed (certainly many of them being born of the street food vendors). Melbourne is no different, and Grand Trailer Park Taverna is at the forefront.
Premium Aussie beef patties and brioche buns class up the dirty essentials of American cheddar cheese and special burger sauce. The Atomic ($16.50), complete with chilli cheese kransky, crispy bacon, bbq sauce and truffle cayenne mayonnaise (ooer), came second on my shortlist, but for me it was always going to be the burger named after one of my favourite TV characters in recent years. The Francis Underwood ($16) is aptly named – audacious and bold, just a little bit full of itself. Literally – with the addition of a potato mac and cheese croquette, this is a burger that towers so precariously that you question how you will fit your laughing gear around it without getting lock jaw. Messy and undignified, it’s exactly what a burger should be.
Trust me when I say you don’t need a side, but if you’re up to the challenge you can order the potato mac and cheese croquette found otherwise only in the Francis Underwood as an accompaniment ($4.20). The chips are good but nothing to write home about – the strength at Grand Trailer Park Taverna is the burgers. The dessert menu reads like the sort of list you dream of as a child – sundaes and waffle stacks piled with Nutella and strawberries, whipped cream and the like. Where the winner lies for me is the list of Spiked Milkshakes and make no mistake, if I hadn’t struggled to see off Francis, I would have ploughed straight into the Bourbon with Salted Caramel and Maple Bacon ($17), though the Kinder Surprise with Frangelico and Bailey’s ($21) would have thrown up some debate.
I would like to see a different cider on tap next time, as the pint I ordered was not great, and Australia is full of wonderful ciders. But then I should have known better and gone straight in for the hard shake. Go hard and err…roll home.
Grand Trailer Park Taverna, 87 Bourke Street, Melbourne, 3000, VIC
+61 3 9972 3699