64 Chapel Street
Windsor VIC 3181
+61 3 9533 2006
When I was living in Melbourne three years ago (wow, has it been that long?), the burger-isation of the food scene was at its peak. Everywhere you looked, a new burger joint was opening up. Multi-hatted celebrity chefs were opening burger kiosks, hipsters were driving burger food trucks all over town and every second restaurant seemed to have kind of burger on their menu. It got bloody insane.
Then I moved to Gold Coast where the only burger options close to where I lived (at the time) were McDonalds and Ze Pickle. Of course, burger joints are now everywhere on the Gold Coast but back then, the options were pretty dire. So whenever I visited Melbourne and friends asked me where I’d like to go for dinner, my response was no longer ‘ANYTHING BUT BLOODY BURGERS’ but rather, ‘Whatever you want, I don’t mind.’
And whenever it was my friend Aaron’s turn to decide, 90% of the time he’d choose a burger place. On this occasion, he decided that Parlour Diner was going to be our dinner venue. That was fine with me as well as his girlfriend, Cathy and our friend Yuri who was visiting us from Japan.
We visited this cool-end-of-Chapel Street restaurant on a weeknight, so the place wasn’t totally packed. During the day, no doubt Parlour Diner’s checkerboard-tile floors and pastel coloured walls would create a vibrantly retro but chilled atmosphere for diners. After dark though, the muted lighting created more of a mature vibe; it also meant that my food photos would look terrible (you have been warned).
The menu comprises the usual stuff you find in American restaurants around town: burgers, fries, barbeque ribs, buffalo wings etc etc. You’ll also find hipster/Asian infusion dishes such as Asian pulled pork sliders and something called a Miss Saigon burger with handmade fish patty, lemongrass, ginger, lettuce, tomato and pickles (how about no). In the end, we bypassed all the Asian stuff and went straight for the classics, as you can see below.
Okay, so we may have over ordered. We probably could have done with fewer sides, as delicious as they were. The onion rings boasted a light and crispy batter, while the curly fries were dusted in a tasty salted paprika seasoning. Our group definitely enjoyed them both.
Cathy ordered the fried chicken. There was a choice of four or six pieces and she chose four. Initially, I thought the price point was a bit odd. ‘Wow, $25 for four pieces of chicken,’ I thought to myself. ‘That’s ridiculous.’ But when they arrived at our table, we were all surprised to discover how huge each piece was. The chicken also came with curly fries, salad and sauce; it was a dish that was probably enough to feed two people. We each had a little bit of chicken – the beer batter was absolutely tops, light and extremely crunchy with the lightest hint of spice. The chicken was also juicy inside, with no signs of dryness.
I ordered the Parlour burger, the venue’s default burger consisting of an 8oz beef patty, tomato, lettuce, cheese and pickles. As far as Melbourne burger standards go, it was a pretty good burger and generously portioned for the price point. People have complained about there being too much greenery but I didn’t have an issue with that. In fact, I found that the bitter lettuce leaves balanced out the well-seasoned fatty beef patty and melted cheese quite well, with the super soft sesame bun holding everything neatly.
Yuri ordered the curiously named earth burger, Parlour Diner’s vegetarian option. On paper, the burger sounded like it had perhaps too much stuff in it – tofu, Portobello mushroom, avocado mash, haloumi, roast tomato, lettuce and pickles – seriously, guys?! In person though, the burger admittedly looked impressive. In fact, I could probably fool any of my vegetable-hating friends into eating it. While Yuri did agree with me in that there were too many ingredients in the burger, she did concede that it was tasty.
Will I return? While I’m not saying no, I can’t promise that I’ll be back any time soon. I enjoyed the food but there are also hundreds of other burger joints in Melbourne that are on my ‘to visit’ list. There are also places that I’ve been to – and loved – but are far more convenient to get to. If I do find myself on this side of Chapel Street craving a burger though, then sure. Absolutely.