The Dude has been on my list for quite some time, and with good reason. They started as a food truck, but eventually opened this store in Essendon – albeit in a slightly odd location. Very little foot traffic and little else on the same strip; it’s no wonder there wasn’t a massive crowd here. Just to be clear, it was 6:30pm on a Saturday night.
The fitout of the shop almost looks a little tired, or perhaps cliched, or both. But the thing that really stands out here is the prices! $14 for the basic burger is getting pretty expensive – better blow my mind! Once the burger arrived, I think it became clear why it was so pricey: that brioche bun must have had at least $14 worth of butter in it. Mmm, buuuuttttteeeerrrrrr… (channeling my inner Homer Simpson).
I went for “The Dude Burger” and was not disappointed by the presentation. As soon as I saw it, I figured I was in for a treat (except for the chopped lettuce). Dripping with sauce, glistening bun, and I just loved the bowl that it came in. Sauce oozing from every orifice, this was gonna need quite a few napkins to clean myself up.
Diving in I was immediately impressed with the bun. As I said, so buttery, but also quite sweet. This is true brioche. No mucking about. The sauces err on the side of the mustard and ketchup brigade, rounded out nicely by the mayo – preventing a vinegar overload. The patty was not bad, but lacked a little seasoning for me. The cheese was a really authentic American addition; dark yellow, almost orange. Really good flavour that enhanced the experience.., normally I wouldn’t go in for this kind of cheese. The pickles were ho-hum, when they could have been an area to really shine. This is all too often the case it seems – pickles are an afterthought, or perhaps that’s just my individual point of view.
The Dude deserves his reputation. This is a quality burger establishment. They also had a nice selection of dude food accompaniments, such as mac and cheese balls. The American diner theme is perhaps a little overdone here, or perhaps just a sign of the changing times. Burgers should be moving beyond this concept of the manufactured 50’s diner. If you want to go down this road, perhaps Fat Bob’s in Moorabbin is a good template to follow. A little more class, some local flair, and a more genuine kitsch. Go here for the burger with it’s decadent brioche. It may not feature in a top ten – if I was to name a leader board – but still an experience worth having.