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!!!