275 Exhibition St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9663 7994
Melburnians don’t normally speak Americano if restaurants such as Taco Bill and TGI Fridays are anything to go by. Yep, can you blame us for being skeptical when it comes to American-influenced food? Thankfully, though, places such as FOG and the Newmarket Hotel are starting to dispel the theory that American and Tex-Mex food in Melbourne are rubbish. Closer to home (and by home, I mean the CBD where I spend a LOT of my waking hours), there is Trunk Diner.
Located literally right next to Trunk proper, the diner is essentially a marquee-like structure that houses a simple lay-out of concrete floors, outdoor furniture and a kitchen. It is open for breakfast and lunch every day (except Sundays), and gets extremely busy during the weekday lunch rush what with workers from the nearby Exhibition Street offices and Casselden Place flocking to the diner for their burger fix. In the past, Trunk was only open for business on weekdays but thankfully for us, they’ve decided to open on Saturdays for weekend brunchers. I don’t think a lot of people know that they’re open on Saturdays, hence why Saturdays aren’t so busy (yet, anyway). My first visit to the diner was almost two months ago, with Martin in tow. We may have had a late one the previous night, but there was no rest for the dedicated and wicked as we stumbled into the empty diner at 9am that morning. With a St Ali coffee ($3, me) and a Presha apple juice ($4, him) in hand, we chose several items off the breakfast menu to share.
First up, the Mexican scrambled eggs ($12). A yummy free-range scrambled egg omelette, bacon, cheddar and spring onion were all enveloped by a soft tortilla wrapped which then spent a bit of time on the grill to give it a lovely crunchy exterior. Coriander leaves and tomatoes gave the dish a fresh edge while the sliced jalapeno peppers added some heat.
The Mexican scrambled eggs dish was nice, but I liked the shredded poached chicken quesadilla ($10) a bit better. Crispy tortilla made a second appearance, this time with bit of lovely chicken breast, cheddar and roasted red peppers and tomato, and coriander. A bit of lime juice was also on hand to add a bit of zest into the wrap. I could eat this for breakfast every day (well, when I’m sick of eating organic yoghurt and chia seeds and a piece of fruit which is the phase I’m going through at the moment, though I might have a Maccas breakfast tomorrow morning to spice things up, heh).
Oh, and if the jalapenos didn’t do it for you, then a bottle of super hot green chilli sauce was on hand for extra heat.
Finally, we had the much-lauded Breakfast Burger ($7). It was a meagre little thing – two toasted brioche bun halves sandwiched crispy slices of bacon, melted cheddar cheese and a free-range egg cooked sunny-side up.
Oooooh, yeah! Stuff that Maccas breakfast, I think I’ll come here for my breakfast burger tomorrow morning…
I’ve also been here a couple of times for lunch. The first time I went, I dragged Dave out of his Lonsdale Street office to join me for lunch. The poor bugger had to a blood test later that afternoon and so couldn’t eat anything. Consequently, he spent his entire lunch time sipping on his water while watching me devour my burger (why subject yourself to such torture, I dunno, but ahh Dave…).
The standard burger starts at $10 and comes with a thick pattie made out of 175g fresh ground wagyu beef squeezed between two slices of grilled brioche halves. Baby cos lettuce leaves, slices of red onion, thick-cut tomatoes and a lovely house-made zucchini pickle are placed on the side for you to add to your burger, or omit entirely. You also have the option of adding other ingredients at an extra cost. I chose to include some caramelised onions ($2), crispy bacon ($2) and Monterey Jack cheese ($1.50) for a full-on American experience. Oh, and fries. You couldn’t give the fries a miss. I ordered a $3 serve, though $6 will give you a larger serve if you’re extra hungry.
It wasn’t by any means a massive burger but it filled me up enough. More importantly, it was pretty damn tasty. The wagyu pattie was cooked beautifully medium-rare, with the fat-infused meat meshing beautifully with the melted cheese and caramelised onions. I also liked the contrasting flavours of the salty bacon and the sweet brioche. It was definitely one of the better ‘gourmet’ burgers I’ve ever had, and probably a fraction of the price of Rockpool’s famous wagyu burger. Plus, the lacquered trays made the whole thing look cuter. Win.
I couldn’t get over how freaking’ delicious Trunk Diner’s home-style tomato and capsicum ketchup was. It was so tangy, so sweet and so rustic. Once you had the stuff, you’ll never go back to liking bottled shite again. Ever.
They also do take-away. After my Bodypump class on Saturday morning, I walked down to Trunk Diner to pick up a Cuban baguette ($9.50) for I had a massive craving for pulled pork (which is funny, given I’ve never actually had pulled pork before). The lunch time trade had just started so the dining room was reasonably busy, however I got my Cuban baguette in a matter of minutes. The so-crunchy-it-could-have-come-from-a-Vietnamese-bakery baguette consisted of sliced Gypsy gam, gruyere and the lovely zucchini pickle that made its way to every burger ordered at Trunk Diner. The star of the baguette, however, were the shreds of pulled pork that were tender and sweet, with slight hints of lovely smokiness. A google search led me to believe that authentic pulled pork is saucier so I was a tad disappointed when I saw that the pork was dry but on the other hand, a lovely, creamy chipotle mayonnaise made up for it. It was delicious. My only whinge about it would be finding a knuckle and small bone in the baguette (imagine biting into the sandwich, savouring the melt-in-your-mouth bits of pork, only for your teeth to chomp on something hard) but eh, it was only a small annoyance.
And of course, you can’t leave the place without trying something sweet. I’ve yet to try any of the dessert pies on offer but I can’t normally leave without taking home a small plastic cup of sinfully sweet and sticky caramel popcorn ($4), good enough for me for those lonely nights spent studying and good enough to post to Queensland where my other half, Marty, devoured his cup in a matter of seconds. Pig.
All in all, good experiences at Trunk Diner (a far cry from the not-so-good experience I had at Trunk proper two years ago). I say now that I want to try the other items on the menu (such as the many salad items they have on offer), but I know that I’ll be back just for the burgers and/or the Cuban baguette. Oh, and more caramel popcorn. While I wouldn’t be the least bit sad to see Trunk proper go, I would be in tears if they also took away Trunk Diner. A welcome addition to Melbourne’s CBD dining scene. Too bad it only took me effking three years to haul my arse down here!