Trunk Diner

Another lazy tuesday…


with myself an J in the car, with no real inspiration of where we were going yet, and with an emphasis on burgers it was going to be all too easy to return to a classic haunt like Merrywell or Captain Melville. Our persistence saw us frantically researching as we made our way into the CBD. We eventually settled on Trunk Diner, a historic site in Exhibition St in the heart of Melbourne that once housed a 19th century synagogue. Now, it’s pork abound with classic American favourites such as waffles, burgers and pie. Curiously, the old house did specialise in Italian favourites. Perhaps they still do, we didn’t hang around to find out. Instead, we entered the granny flat out the back of sorts – a pseudo tin shed complete with front-end bar and a dining hall.

4K6A1323We knew what we had come for – the burgers here are a class act. If not for the value ($10), certainly for the produce (wagyu beef). The 175gr pattie is mated to a perfectly grilled brioche that had notes of caramel, buttermilk and toasted wheat. It’s, i suppose, in the extras where the money is to be made, but they certainly don’t dissapoint.

4K6A1319I could use every superlative available to describe this masterpiece. Presented semi-deconstructed on the plate, J and I added Monterey Jack (cheese, a personal favourite $1.50), Jalapeño ($1.5) and bacon ($2). If you let the deceptively small size fool you, you’d think this would be a quick feast – and you’d be dead wrong. The burger is more Texan (high) than New Yorker (wide) in influence and as such it’s remarkably easy to hold. For the first time I think ever, I managed to keep mine together while J made a meal of it. The sliced pickles were a nice touch, and a slice of lettuce delivered a crisp crunch. I never do raw tomato in a burger so I jettisoned that, and the spanish onions are a nice touch but a little too powerful. If you’re after that, you’re far better opting for the ($2) caramelised ones.

The first thing that struck me was just how well integrated the Jack was into the patty. Melted to perfection, and mated to the thin strips of crispy bacon (to which you get a mighty fine serving)  was a perfect marriage of flavours and the fact that I opted to add no sauces to this is testament to how good it was.


Shoestring chips were doused in El Yucateco Salsa Roja Habanero which, as J rightly proclaimed, should  come with a disclaimer about its potency. We actually had to take a 5 minute pause because eyes were watering, noses were running and no doubt bottoms were quivering with the prospect the next morning’s  purge. The BBQ sauce (Sunday’s Super Sauce) was ok but honestly I am starting to tire of the monotonous American BBQ sauces with artificial high-fructose injected hickory smoke overtones.

As the night was still young, and we were still on such a high from those glorious burgers, we decided to double down and try something different.

4K6A1322This one substituted Monterey for Gruyere and Jalapeño for caramelised onions. Whilst it was still glorious, our first recipe is definately the finest.

4K6A1324So then, Trunk Diner is the sort of place you wouldn’t hesitate to visit, and indeed return to. It serves up some pretty classic American favourites, and it’s burgers will impress.

Trunk Diner
275 Exihibition St Melbourne 3000
Trunk Diner on Urbanspoon


Fonda Windsor

They say hindsight is 20/20…fonda9

So what do you do when you look at your first crack at it, and think to yourself “Shit. Too small, too cramped, not enough variety, sub-standard food”. Well, the obvious choice is to sell up and move to Bali, but not Fonda. They took precisely everything that was wrong with the first venture, dipped into Chris Lucas’ mentality of “build a bar inside the place so patrons can start the ball rolling while they wait” and seat what looks like around 3-4x more patrons and just sit back and watch the tide roll in.


And the fit-out is neat too. Much the same white walls as the originals, but with less fish-n-chip and more dining hall. It’s a great social environment, and the bar upstairs is deliciously decorated. The $9 Pacifico’s had about 6 facings in the bar fridge, with such an aurora around them I swear I saw a halo.

fonda3Seats are a little cramped but it only adds to the vibe. Actually, while i’m on the analogy, you also order and pay up at counter much like a fish-n-chip shop too. I guess it’s designed to speed things up, and I guess it does also. Even with 5 tables ahead of us (1 hour wait at Mamasita, 4 hour wait at Chin Chin) we were seated in about 15 minutes.

Service was stellar too, they really have it down to a fine art and food is only ever 5-10 minutes away.

So, what did we eat? Read on.

fonda8Antipasto of chipotle chips a perfect way to whet the apetite. Thick cut planks with a side of creamy chipotle aioli. Did note that it definitely needed more chipotle. Too much cream, not enough tang.


Again, i stress, where are the damn carnitasAt least we got pork this time, the “Braised Pork” (We didn’t have the pulled pork quesadillas, but surely it would the same meat) a nod to carnitas with pineapple, coriander onion and chicharons. These were good. Refreshing crisp and I have to say sizeable. at $6, you get your money worth.

fonda6Next was the dish of the night. Chorizo quesedillas with sweet potato queso fresco and some jalapeno. Everything about them sang – what a dish. Would have loved to have tried the pulled pork but they are mega servings at $14.

fonda5Next up was the chicken burrito. Very skilfully and tightly wrapped. Looked very professional. With a touch more moisture too it (The beans + grilled chicken does dry the palate) with some sort of salsa, chipotle mayo or even guac this thing would have been great. Lost marks for some undue gristle in the meat.

fonda4We closed with the beef brisket which unfortunately was just not cooked how a slow piece should be – either too hot too quickly, or not long enough. The fatty innards didn’t have a chance to gel into the meat, instead they formed a chewy, stringy umbilical cord. Stick with the pork.

So then, Fonda presents decent honest Mexican food with a decent drinks menu full of handpicked value wines + beers. It’s not ground-breaking Mexican, but then again I haven’t tasted anything in Australia that has been. It serves up ok food – but most importantly, doesn’t make you wait 3 hours for it.

144 Chapel St, Windsor
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