Date: 13 January 2012
The Fellows further showed their disdain of the Australian test selectors "resting" policy as they ventured out to the leafy shire of Nillumbik to sample their fourth burger of the new year. This time, at the ever popular local eatery, the Eltham Burger Lounge. The site of the old TAB - the smell of the ashen thickened walls and the confetti of discarded tickets now distant memories - has been revamped into a contemporary, yet somewhat eclectic, dining room centered around a large communal table. This family friendly diner is a beacon for locals and is regularly sighted with a queue long enough to rival Chris Bosh's neck.
Owners, Gerry and Florie Mustafas; on the back of their success at the highly regarded Charcoal Chicken on Bolton Street, clearly understand what patrons want and offer an extensive menu of quality, fresh and locally sourced ingredients. With such an abundance of choice one could be forgiven for thinking that the Fellows would have more difficulty than John Inverarity in picking a first XI when they approached the counter, but as any burger enthusiast would know - always go the house burger.
The Lounge Signature Burger comes with a 100% prime organic gippsland beef pattie stuffed with havarti cheese and basted with a balsamic glaze. While the pattie is undeniably the star of the show, it is ably accompanied by pickled cucumber, red onion, mixed lettuce, fresh tomato as well as relish and herb aioli. As much as I am advocate of seeing a burger topped off by a crispy rasher of bacon; the reality is, and much like two-thirds of the EPL ladder, it wasn't needed.
The pattie is handmade daily and featured a first in our burger ventures - cheese inside the pattie. Cooked medium with a charcoal finish, the melted cheese provides a texture and juiciness unlike any other burger we have sampled. A real delight. Although this burger fan prefers a marginally thicker pattie, the size of the burger to the bun was perfect.
On that note, the traditional Artisan sourdough panini - the bun, for those of you not interested in a blog which reads of Pete Evan's blanched almonds - is generously coated with seeds and is lightly toasted to provide a nice crunch, but not so much that it loses its freshness. Plaudits cannot really be given for the simple act of toasting bread, but its getting the little things right which transform the good into great - just ask Wayne Harms.
Not surprisingly, the chips are crispy, perfectly salted and seasoned with a mix of herbs. Don't expect any sachet of Heinz Big Red, but there is a great mixture of condiments - we went for the sweet chilli mayo - a good investment for the small sum of a dollar. You do, however, receive a complimentary moist towelette that puts even Colonel Sanders to shame.
As is the current trend, there is no side salad but what is inside the burger would be more than enough to keep Pete Siddle happy - not sure why you'd become a vegetarian when burgers like this are on offer, but that's a topic for another day. The salad is finished off with a garlic aioli and tomato relish which wouldn't look out of place in some of Melbourne's elite restaurants.
The Burger Lounge is the Roger Federer of the burger world. The alcohol free venue is a real family favourite and the signature burger, much like the Fed Express on the court, is just about the complete package. The burger didn't have the standout ingredient à la a Roddick serve or a Henman serve and volley, but it didn't have any shortcomings either. It ticked all the right boxes and, like Federer at his peak, would require something special to beat it.
It is well worth the stop if you're in the area or the drive if you're not.
Burger Friday Score: 41.67/50