In an age where…
It’s not an uncommon (if slightly unsettling) thing to see one Melbourne eatery close down and re-birth as something else, we see the freeway end of Brunswick St’s latest development: Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew rises out of the ashes of now defunct ‘Eat Drink Man Woman’. Walking in on a pretty nondescript Tuesday night, it was pretty obvious by the waft of American diner-esque decor that this was one venue with at least one or two strands of American DNA. Hip staff, hip decor and hip tunes line the floors and a pretty tight, focused and fused menu combining elements of Aussie pub grub (think schnitzel+chips) with American burger bars (burgers, apple pie, alcoholic shakes) serves up a pretty positive pretence of an industry now, in Melbourne at least, that has become more and more competitive.
And I guess my palate has too. I’ve consumed the highest grade of burgers in the last couple of years, with the ones that are right up there right on our own front porch. I’ve sung the praises of Aussie beef already this year, so it was with great excitement that myself and J came down here,as the premise of 100% Majura wagyu burgers was too good to pass up.
Sitting down, we started with one of their marvellous brews (Served in 310ml glasses) and one of the Hors D’Oevres on offer: The Chiko Rolls, which, contrary to the name, bear more resemblance to the love child of a spring roll and a fried rice paper roll. The filling? Delectable pulled lamb.
These were special. The outer shell supportive and firm enough to hold everything in, yet not too tough to put up a fight when they were waging war with our teeth. The filling was moist, fragrant and everything lamb shoulder should be.
Sadly, what I write next breaks my heart. I don’t go out with the intention of writing on my bad experiences. Nor my mediocre ones. I also don’t like investing so many hard fought calories if the payoff isn’t going to be worth it but above pretty much ends the last of the positive words I can say on this place. Shareholders might want to look away now.
What came out next were the ‘Fat Chips’, which could be contender for understatement of the year because these things look like they were carved out of slabs of pine.
The disappointment came from the first bite. Dear oh dear oh dear. Inside was dry, suggesting that they may have been overcooked. Or were they undercooked, perhaps? My confusion is a little more worrying. The side of house mayo did nothing to ease the pain, nor discover any semblance of flavour we were so desperately searching for. On a side note, did you know Merrywell (Perth, anyway) air freight their fries in from Idaho? Land of the killer potato. Anyway, moving on.
When the burgers came out a little while later, we tucked in with open minds and open palms.
This was the ‘Hot Stuff': bacon, cheese, pickles, mayo, chilli jam. Curiously, if you just wanted the plain burger with bacon ($11+$4), you would be better off to order this one ($14), and tell them to hold the chilli.
Looking at the image, you can see just how much real estate was wasted with such a puny patty with such an enormous bun. Biting into the burger, the sweetness of the brioche bun was simply too overpowering. The patty was ok, lacking the medium-rare cook time which is pretty much a standard and instead was tending towards the ‘too cooked’ end of the spectrum. Pickles, my usual highlight, added no flavour.. Only extra saturation and the whole experience was so underwhelming; you just kept biting in waiting for the payoff. But it didn’t come. It was like Christmas as a kid, when even though you had 4 or 5 presents to unwrap, with every one that didn’t contain that collectable you had been dreaming of, you just kept you getting slowly more disappointed.
Now, I’m not saying it was a bad burger. But people hardly get excited in this day an age over a mediocre one, and if you are prepared to put ‘burger’ in your name, you should at least get the fundamentals of the noun right.
Still, this is mangiabeve, and not prepared to concede defeat just yet J and I decided to split their other big name, the ‘Royal Blue’, $14 of blue cheese, bacon, pickles, onion and sauce. Maybe I’m just spoilt, having been accustomed to Squire’s Loft-esque integration of blue cheese in a meal for so long. And as rudimentary as Squire’s Loft (Toorak) is, they always seem to get the basics spot on.
This one again failed to hit the mark, even more disappointing than the first. Just as we were thinking to finish off, our hostess came over and asked if we wanted her to bring the bill. She must have been able to read our minds… or just not in the mood to pawn off a dessert.
We grabbed the cheque ($78 for 3 burgers, fries, a side of chiko and 3 beers) and got out of there.
Usually, in this circumstance I’d say tick this one of the list and move on. Honestly, though, in this instance just save yourself the hassle. Neeeeeext.
Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew
413 Brunswick St, Fitzroy