Meat and greet: Huxtaburger at Fulham Place. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Oh god, not another review about reinvented burgers and the junk-food revolution. You'd think we'd be sick of all that by now, but this isn't just any burger joint. Huxtaburger estimates it sells about 7000 buns a week at its city and Collingwood takeaway strongholds, with a Prahran outlet due in late October.
Daniel Wilson, Dante Ruaine and Jeff Wong are the Huxtaburger boys. The trio also run Collingwood's one-hatted Huxtable restaurant, and are part of the wave of savvy young operators taking over the town. They met at former legendary city haunt Hairy Canary, when Matt McConnell (Bar Lourinha) was head chef.
Since opening in Collingwood in 2011, Huxtaburger has been heralded as the benchmark of burgers. It's certainly an adherent of the ''brioche bun craze'' but is it overhyped?
Bill's burger at Huxtaburger Fulham Place Melbourne. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones MCJ
At 1pm on a Monday, Huxtaburger CBD is chockers with a wall of black-suited blokes and 34 lucky punters who've scored stools at the eat-in bench or an outside alley seat.
It's a slick, low-lit, loud and pumping place, and ordering at the counter feels like trying to get past the door bitch at a nightclub. I'm polite. I don't pay in 5¢ coins, so, like, what's with the 'tude, dude? I reckon I count four eye rolls in that one-minute exchange but there's none of that on visit number two. The order takes 11 minutes - fast, considering how jumping the joint is.
The menu is a short, sharp list of six burgers: the classic Huxtaburger, Bill's, the Rudy (for the kids), Theo, Denise (the hot one, with a smattering of jalapenos) and Sondra, plus retro crinkle-cut hot chips. When Huxtable opened everyone thought the name was a reference to The Cosby Show - it wasn't, they just liked the name - but it sparked the Huxtaburger theme.
Like all modern-day ''junk food'', Huxtaburger's is elevated by its ingredients and cheffy technique. Moondarra grass-fed wagyu, seasoned only with salt and pepper, forms the awesome, juicy patty. House-pickled Qukes (baby cucumbers) add acidic crunch, the mayo is house-made, as is the pickled beetroot, the eggs are free-range, the bacon is from Istra and the grilled pineapple is real. Only the bright yellow American mustard is imported.
There is no faulting the flavours and textures, the blessed meshing of sauciness, sharp pickle and succulent beef. My problem is the buns, sourced from a Vietnamese bakery in Richmond. The inside is grilled crisp with clarified butter but the outside is cold and clammy to touch - a bit, dare I say,
McDonald's-y. At first bite, the Bill's falls apart at the seams, the bun disintegrating and splitting down the middle; same deal with the Denise, so organise a stack of serviettes before you tuck in.
Drinks? Serve-yourself soft drinks, fancy Fever-Tree ginger beer, six bottled beers and one cider, and top-shelf milkshakes, the syrups all made in house from things like strawberries, Heilala vanilla and salted caramel.
There has been talk of the burgers not being filling enough, and Wilson does say that sometimes after a couple has come in for lunch, the bloke will sneak back later for a second burger. Fair enough, too. They're mighty tasty. Are they Melbourne's best? They're definitely up there, but ''best'' is a big call.
* Collingwood Huxtaburger is cash only.
Do … Download the Huxtaburger app; order and pay before you walk in the door.
Don't … eat meat? Try the organic tofu burger with sesame yuzu mayo.
Dish … Burgers, burgers. I like the Denise. The Huxtaburger is good, too.
Vibe … I-can't-believe-it's-not-junk-food.
Prices … Burgers, $5-$12; chips, $2.50-$3.
- Make your own Huxtaburger: Recipe here.
- 03 9417 6328
- Cuisine - American (US)
- Prices - Burgers, $5-$12; chips, $2.50-$3.
- Features - Licensed
- Owners - Daniel Wilson, Dante Ruaine and Jeff Wong
- Cards accepted - AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
- Opening Hours - Mon-Sat, 11am-10pm (city); Sun-Thurs, 11.30am-10pm and Fri-Sat, 11.30am-11pm
- Other Branches - 106 Smith Street, Collingwood.
- Author - Nina Rousseau