Leonard’s House of Love

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Leonard’s House of Love is hidden down a back alley, just off Chapel St in South Yarra. You walk into the place, and are immediately transported to Brunswick, as if by some sort of magical hipster technology that understands it takes too long to travel north to south in Melbourne-town. Working behind the bar are some young folk, with beards, tattoos, flanalettes, piercings, and all the other cliches that define the hipster culture. Sets the scene perfectly.

Outside, there are lashings of wood. Stumps for seats, wooden benches and tables, and even some “tables” that have been expertly formed around the existing trees in the yard. As you can see from the photo, the lighting is set to bar level darkness, which adds to the mood.

I cannot wait a moment longer to explain my love for this burger. It was just so good. Everything was done PERFECTLY! This is not to say that this was my number 1 burger, or any such thing. But you have to bow down and appreciate that these guys totally nailed what they were trying to do here. A glistening bun greeted me, perfectly formed brioche with a buttery glow that screams “eat me!” A patty from heaven that was just cooked so perfectly it is almost hard to believe they did it. Sauce, cheese and lettuce leaf complemented the whole experience perfectly, creating a very creamy experience that satisfied with every mouthful. My only complaint is that I am certain a slice of tomato would have been the perfect foil to the creaminess, cutting through and letting the flavours shine. I am big on the tomato and lettuce in my burger though.

It was fated that I would be greedy on this particular occasion. I went all in and ordered some fried chicken as a complement to the burger. WOW! So crispy and delicious, the coating was like popcorn. Served with a chipotle mayo and some pickles, this went down really well – for the first couple of tenders. After that, I’m afraid the experience just  became too much. There was extra smoked paprika sprinkled on top, that was just excessive, and tended to dry the palate. Tenders are not the best choice for fried chicken, as they tend to dry out and become stringy before you can reach peak crispiness with the coating. And, I simply ordered too much food.

My only other complaint was the beer choice here was a little lacking for my liking. Not that this drinking hole was dominated by the evil big brewers. More that the beer was too lager focussed, with nothing that really pushed the boundaries.

My little gripes are just that; little. There is so much that is right about how these guys are going about their food business. Pretty busy on a Wednesday night, I’m sure they are quite successful. Despite the off the beaten track location, word of mouth will no doubt see them flourish, serving me more than this one burger so worthy of my favorite adjective: DELICIOUS!!!

Leonard's House of Love Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Humburger

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This is not my first trip to Humburger. It’s been a little over a year, and a lot of burgers have gone under the bridge since my very first burger post. There have been some burger rules formulated; some opinions formed; favorites shone through; and some losers disgraced themselves. My writing has also expanded beyond a few short sentences on Facebook, to whole blog posts on my own “fancy” website.

It was business – not nostalgia – that brought me back here. I was in the Hawthorn area, and the choice was simple. Over a year has passed, and many, many burgers have been consumed. Best get back down to Humburger and see if my original assessment can stand the test of time. I was impressed the first time around, and this visit backed up that positive review.

This time the burger rules would be adhered to. Although, this leads me perfectly to my first whinge. Whilst they have tried to be a little different here, they are sadly lacking my perfect “basic” burger. Patty, cheese, pickle, lettuce, tomato, condiments and bun. No matter, I constructed one myself from their version of the basic – The Hum. I’ve said this before – it’s a bit rich charging $1 a piece to add tomato and lettuce, but I don’t regret doing so. I also snuck some bacon in there, just cos. Yum.

This burger really wowed me. The patty was slightly overdone, but not so much that it was a lost cause. Still nice and creamy, with lashings of grill flavour to back it up. Good condiments, with an emphasis on the tomato ketchup – a worthy style choice. The bun was a good one, with some sweet buttery flavour and a soft texture that still managed to hold the burger together nicely. A solid effort all round.

Unfortunately, there are always issues. The service was pretty poor. Interestingly, there was a guy ordering before us, and he kept repeatedly asking for a “burger with the lot.” He clearly hadn’t read the menu, and the guy taking the order did a really poor job of explaining that it was not a fish and chip shop. No suggestion for what he might order instead. No explanation of what the place was about. Just a simple “we only have what’s up there.” The guy was understandably annoyed, although still a bit of an idiot for not bothering to check the menu. Our turn came to order, and it was a frustrating experience. Finally got the order down, and they are cash only – no sign anywhere that I saw? Cash machine in the corner. No worries. Where’s the drinks? You gave our group half the drinks, but not all of them. There was a gruff exchange with the girl that just started her shift. Drinks were procured from the fridge.

These are small things, but add to how welcome you feel in a burger joint. Service is what is supposed to set this kind of place apart. I don’t expect silver service with white cloths, and the whole nine yards. Just some courtesy and hospitality. A friendly disposition.

Humburger have managed to satisfy – quite nicely I might add – the first requirement of a good burger joint: the burger. Pity they forgot about the service aspect. But it’s not enough for me to say “stay away.” This is a worthy burger.

Humburger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Motorhome Majestic

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There are so many new burger places in Melbourne right now! It’s really starting to get a bit overwhelming. We were having a discussion in the car on the way to Motorhome Majestic, saying that a weeks holiday may be in order, just to stay on top of all the new burger joints I WANT to go to.

This place is another in the seemingly endless procession of burger shops being opened by this group. It all started with Dandenong Pavilion, moved to the city with Grand Trailer Park Taverna, out to Werribee for Truck Stop Deluxe and now to Ascot Vale with Motorhome Majestic. Keen readers will be aware of my general fondness for their style, although I fear I am beginning to tire of it somewhat.

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Being the first week in operation, they clearly have a very slick operation going already. No signs of the usual teething issues that can befall a new restaurant opening. These guys absolutely have their proverbial together when it comes to opening a fresh outlet. And to complain about what you get here would be an exercise in being particularly picky, I must say! But you know it’s coming…

My main gripe is that there is nothing fresh here. It’s a tried and true formula that had proven itself so far with success at their other venues. But I’m the type of guy that is always looking for something new. And it ain’t here.

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The burger I ordered – as per my rules – was the “Fine & Dandy” which is a fine specimen. Thank God they cooked this thing right, cause I am seriously close to losing it if burger “specialists” keep serving me overcooked hockey-puck tough patties. The taste of a nice pink patty makes my heart sing. It really is that good. On the downside the bacon I added had little flavour and mustard was overused on this particular burger. The bun is solid – in a great way. Can’t fault it, but wouldn’t rave about it either.

I must confess that of the large platter of food you see in the photo, the burger was consumed last. Further, I may have added too much Tobasco sauce in the process of eating the onion rings and fried chicken. This definitely had an affect on my tastebuds, accentuating the mustard taste on my burger.

Woe is me who glosses over the onion rings and fried chicken. Simply delicious. Those onion rings were crunchy as you like them, and the chicken was definitely tasty, although perhaps could have benefitted from a second coating of flour.

My negativity should never discourage someone from visiting Motorhome Majestic. These guys are pro’s; no doubt about it.

Motorhome Majestic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Captain America’s Hamburger Heaven

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Heaven is the last word I would use to describe the hamburger’s here. My God! Closer to hell as far as I am concerned. I came here against my will – my third visit across the span of almost 30 years that Captain America’s has been trading. Despite my early refusal to come along for this burger adventure, I eventually capitulated. What a mistake.

Some might put forward the argument that 30 years of being in business would suggest that they are doing something right. I will admit that there is a (potentially large) segment of the population that believes size matters when it comes to food. The bigger the feed, the better it is. These same people must be the learn-ed reviewers that have collectively given this place a ridiculously generous rating on Zomato.

Yes, the burger was big. No I didn’t eat it all. It tasted terrible. Even if this was the best burger ever the portion was too large for the average persons recommended daily intake. And that’s just for a stadard burger. The “burger challenge” was something so ridiculously large, and the male record for eating it all stands at 5:37 at the time of my visit. I can not, and will not condone these challenges.

So, the details are: plastic cheese; plain white soft dough bun that was flavourless; overcooked patty that was tough and rubbery; way too much lettuce; and just a general lack of flavour. Any flavour was artificial and just bad. Of course the parsley garnish was a nice touch; back in the 1980’s!

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The waitress kindly warned us that they were “breaking in a new chef” that night. Judging by my last visit (15+ years ago), the standard of the new guy is on a par with the past. There were a few issues that would be sorted out by some more practice from the kitchen. For instance, the buffalo wings we ordered could have benefited from the spicy sauce that we ordered, but did not receive.

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There was some American kitsch that did somewhat add to the experience – if you like that kind of thing. Car license plates all over the walls; “funny” quotes/sayings painted on the ceiling; and just a general OTT approach to interior design. Probably par for the course in the American diner world, but starting to look a little dated in it’s old age. Kids probably enjoy this stuff too.

Overall, I have learned a very important lesson. Next time someone asks me to visit Captain America’s Hamburger Heaven I will so no. Categorically. Absolutely. Unflinchingly. Without a second thought. NO!

Captain America's Hamburger Heaven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ziggy’s

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Ziggy’s comes with some serious street cred. They have been around for a long time in burger terms, and clearly have a loyal following of burger lovers in the Balaclava area. Right off the bat, I need to explain that coming here was a last minute decision, and I went with the takeaway option, which could have affected the quality of the burger. But, I was just underwhelmed… completely!

Saturday is not the best night to go for a burger, nor Friday. And this Saturday was a busy one at Ziggy’s. The kitchen was very efficient, and my burger came nicely packaged in about 15 minutes, smelling delicious. But, to backtrack a little, the choice of burger was a difficult one.

Nothing really took my fancy. A confusing menu for me. I loves me a burger with bun, patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and then the venue can go to town with whatever sauces take their fancy. For me this makes a proper cheeseburger, and it’s a combination which I expect to see on every burger joint’s menu. Sadly, I must be in the minority on this, as more and more places I visit do not cater for this. (I also like to order only from the menu – no additions). The choosing could be made easier here me thinks.

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Unfortunately, the trip home in the car was a long one. Perhaps this affected the quality of the experience in some aspects of its failings. The patty was overcooked, and the flavour was just not there. Worse still, it came nowhere near reaching to the edges of the bun. This leaves an overly bready experience. It’s a nice bun, but the patty/bread ratio is just all wrong. Too much dough! Mayo sauce was ok. Really enjoyed the red onion in the burger, despite the lack of lettuce. Bacon; yes you can never go wrong with bacon. This bacon was executed beautifully. Did I mention bacon? Bacon, bacon, bacon…

On a much more positive note, the onion rings I ordered to round out this “meal” were amazing. Despite the long ride home in the car, they were crispy and delicious. Normally I would insist on a condiment to match, but no need here. Just good.

I’m a little lost for how I should sum this up. Perhaps they deserve the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps I should go back and eat fresh? I’m not sure though…

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Juanita Peaches

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I came here with a significant quandary: a fried chicken adventure at a place that also sells a beef burger. Not just any burger, but an acclaimed number that recently scored the #3 spot in a well known top 10. More importantly, I am yet to try this burger! And it does look like a fine burger. But, alas this was a fried chicken night and I stuck with the plan.

Juanita Peaches is part of the group that also makes All Day Donuts and runs the Taco Truck food trucks. The fried chicken at Juanita Peaches is the most recent addition to their range of casual eating brands. True to form, it offers plenty of hipster appeal, whilst sticking faithfully to the southern fried chicken theme.

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There is little here that would surprise you. This is a good thing. They focus on doing the traditional stuff… well. I feel that my first rule of fried chicken should be a relatively obvious one: only order fried chicken. To clarify, this does mean that no fried chicken burgers are allowed – at least on the first visit.

Here we have the 2 piece box, served with slaw, fries and sauce. The pickled chili was a nice touch; and a spicy little number. Slaw was, and always is, a perfect accompaniment to fried chicken. This one was not drowned in mayo, and was subtle enough to let the chicken shine. And that chicken was pretty damn good, if you ask me! Crispy, tender, flavourful, with a nice greasy residue left on my fingers to lick off joyously. Not a real fan of breast meat when it comes to this delicacy though. Ends up being a little dry and stringy. Would love to have slightly more spice in the flour on the chicken – I crave the spicy chicken.

The added bonus of a couple of well known quality craft beers to the menu sealed the deal for me. A great, casual fried chicken experience that really hit the spot for me. Now, to plan my next visit for the beef burger…

Juanita Peaches Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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