for needing to double take when reading the address for Bess, a gastro-pub that sits nestled firmly in the ‘drunk’ end of Swan St., Richmond. Usually, when making the trek down this road I am usually semi, or indeed fully inebriated after a hard slog at the footy and the only culinary havens I recalled usually rotated on a ‘gyro’ or were served by the slice. So, when I finally worked out where this incredibly understated pub with a distinctly french twist to decor was, it was an incredible relief.
Stepping in, the surroundings are soft colours with a definite relaxing vibe. I can only guess however (It was a quiet, cold Tuesday night) that when this place fills up it won’t be one for whisper-quiet conversations as the noises definitely reverberate.
Myself, and my buddy J had come here on a distinct mission. The plans had deviated somewhat, however, when we took aim at ‘The Bottom End’ only to be saddened on arrival by discovering it closes Monday-Tuesday. Bess was next on the bucket list, so off we set. Burgers were on the agenda, and what better way to indulge than on house-grounded Cape Grim patties. To me, Cape Grim dish out some of the finest bovines in the land so we were very excited.
Sitting down, it became apparent Brendan and the crew were going to go that extra mile when we were served our crockery with this
A nice touch a fresh change from the diner-style serviettes of late. We thought we’d start with a refreshing ale and ordered a #realmoretti. I did notice that this was a Lion Nathan job; one can only speculate when they will begin to brew this locally..
We both had the Bess Burgers, $22 for the combo with fries, and in about 10 minutes they arrived.
Crispy brioche bun, cheese, carefully prepared lettuce and that nice hunk of Cape Grim goodness. One thing not to leave out is the addition of bacon of a different kind. Rather than simply tack on supermarket special streaky stuff, Bess carefully slices loin from the porterhouse of the pig and places on top of the patty. By the time it was finished cooking, it’s interestingly semi-fused and marries well without over dominating the palate. The only cause for concern with this burger was in the cook-time. Medium would have allowed this patty to really sing but it tended to the ‘well’ end of the spectrum and as a result let it down a little bit – not taking away from the quality of the beef which was second to none.
The fries were also a treat – shoestrings in a cheeky little brown paper bag that were cooked, seasoned and presented to perfection
Head down to Bess for fantastic ambience, attentive staff and some great produce. The burgers are a definite recommendation; while they will come under heavy fire from the myriad competition jostling for Melbourne’s finest, and while it will make a near-miss in my podium places, the Bess Burger none-the-less gets an honourable mention.