Somebody recently asked me…
Upon reading my recent ramblings about Friday night adventures: “So Stef where are you headed tonight?” … “A van” I replied. “A what?” .. “A van. Remember those late-night kebab trawls of the noughties? Just without the, you know, salmonella…
Enter Beatbox Kitchen. I’m not sure which was established first, but the whole not-so-static setups of the likes of Taco Truck, Cornutopia et al certainly have captivated the hearts (and stomachs) of Melbourne’s adventurous. I first read about Beatbox Kitchen on my favourite burger blog where they awarded it Burger of the Year 2010. It certainly got me thinking; surely a glorified HIACE couldn’t stand up to the likes of Huxtaburger, NOSHRY, and The Bottom End could it? Boy, how wrong was I.
The concept is simple: Get the best, freshest and tastiest ingredients and a tank full of 91 octane, find a suitable location, send out a tweet, ???, Profit. It’s so ridiculous in its simplicity; perfect in its execution. No bookings, no waiting lists, no giving your table away, no obnoxious drunks laughing a metre away from your table. It was my dream restaurant. No overpriced drinks; hell, bring whatever you fancy. Sit wherever you want. Give your child a ball to go kick around. The park was full of people just enjoying the swan song of another week gone by. How had nobody thought of this before?
Work friday as is usually the case; was frantic. 7pm finally came, i grabbed my 6 cans of freshly arrived Peroni Red, complete with a couple of brown paper bags (To complete the drinking booze after sunset in the park look) and headed home to get changed. 7:45 came, my girlfriend Lydia arrived and we got in the car and headed towards Rathdowne St; the fixed location of Beatbox Kitchen (BBK) on a Friday evening. Driving in, I was mildly nervous. After all, the BBK had set up shop at 6pm and I was worried that by the time we got down there they would be all but sold out. Nervousness was quickly overshadowed by anger, as a pounding of the steering wheel let Lydia know I had forgotten something; and when I let her know the Peronis were still sitting in my fridge at home we had a quiet next couple of minutes driving in as I had a different kind of twinkle in my eye.
The first thing you notice is the scores of people sitting down eating, chatting and laughing. Then you hear the music, the reasonably quiet but unforgettably retro tunes banging out of the beatbox. Then you see the bright yellow halo of light emanating from the truck much the same as the almost intoxicating smell of exclusively grass-fed patties and fresh bread (Baked locally earlier that day). The fries simply singing out to you with their charm, and as we neared the front of the truck I knew we would be in for something special.
We both ordered the standard fare beef burger ($11), and a serving of fries ($5) with their signature “stereo sauce” (Read: Herbed Mayo). Whilst a vegetarian option is available, I think you are missing the point if you head here without plans of digesting one of Tasmania’s finest. I was almost pleased to hear there was a 25 minute wait for our order (No doubt testament to the incredible demand) which gave me time to scout out some nearby beers. We headed to the Railway Hotel around the corner and grabbed some Asahi ($4.50). The timing was perfect as upon our return within 3-4 minutes our meals were ready.
We picked a spot on the near-capacity lawns of Park Rd, crossed our fingers hoping for the best and dug in.
The first bite is what seals the deal. As you bite into the moist, incredibly fresh patty the medley of fresh bread, lovely gouda cheese, the usual assortment of tomato/lettuce and that oh-so-addictive stereo sauce radiates through the palate. Euphoria follows as you begin to question what more in a burger you could possibly extract. I’m saying this as an adult who can comfortably admit I have never eaten a meal on the floor since at least grade 5. They were simply incredible. The fries, a refreshing change from the disappointment of Huxtaburger fries some weeks before. It hit all the right notes and left us incredibly satisfied. 9pm came and the crew begin to wind down, the clattering of counting coins no doubt a sign of the days success. The burger van had came. It had conquered. Could this be my new Melbourne #1? Just maybe.
Had always been on my radar after always being abreast of their location through twitter. Certainly had my curiously aptly piqued after The Burger Adventure gave it top gong in 2010.
What’s not to like about a nondescript food cart, vast expanses of parkland and the ability to tailer your night to however you fancy. Very solid.
The van-staff were well versed in the art of taming the horde; service often suffers as a result of high volumes of traffic but not here.
2 burgers. One meat, one veg option. Fries were delectable. Burger maybe a touch over-salted but otherwise flawless.
Coke and water on the menu. $0 corkage to bring whatever-the-hell you’d like; you’re in a public park after all.
Would I return?
I’m already counting down the days. As close to In-N-Out as you’re likely to get south of the equator. Go now!