When it comes to the Melbourne burger battle, I’m beginning to feel like the girl who cried wolf. Just a few months back I was waxing lyrical about the 8bit burger; prior to that I was bold enough to name three of the best burgers in Melbourne. And now I feel like I may have jumped the gun entirely. Yes, my friends, we have a new frontrunner for the title: Grand Trailer Park Taverna.
This retro-fabulous burger joint is housed in a first-storey space on the corner of Exhibition and Bourke streets, which last played host to Happy Palace Chinese. They’ve cleverly opened up the balcony for alfresco dining; inside they’ve installed old Airstream caravans for cool booth action.
The team has serious burger pedigree, coming from the same patty-savvy fellas behind Dandenong Pavilion, plus South Yarra boozer Pawn & Co. I’m not going to lie to you: being generally confined to a five kilometre radius of the city, I haven’t made the trek to Dandenong, but their gutsy burgers continually make must-eat lists around town.
And now they are within way-too-easy reach. Simon and I headed to Grand Trailer Park Taverna last night and were blown away by the burgers, heavy-handed cocktails and chilled vibe from the staff. We’d barely sat down before we were offered a Wet Pussy shot on the house.
It set the tone for the evening, as Simon ordered a boozy Randy’s daiquiri ($15) and I chose the Kentucky Mint ‘Tulip’ ($15). When the bar guy brought us our drinks, there was a clear moment of ‘She must be having the girly drink’, but no no, that pink slushie was for my manly man, and the stupidly potent tulip was for me. He seemed reluctant to hand it over, like when eight-year-old me ordered the spiciest pizza on the menu, and the server looked at my parents as if they were condoning child abuse. And yes, just like that chilli-spiked Vesuvius pizza, this little brew near knocked my head off.
As this wasn’t going to be our official dinner (just a pitstop en route to a review), we toyed with the idea of ordering one burger to share (clean living, y’all). But once I was halfway through my man drink, there was no chance of going halves.
The menu is a tongue-in-cheek paean to pop culture, from the 1980s to now. There’s the McDowell with special sauce (hello, Coming to America); the two-pattied Chunk (The Goonies: the movie of my youth); the Russian-accented Ivan Drago (he was the baddy in Rocky IV, not the leader of the Dothraki, as I’d originally guessed) and the pimped up Francis Underwood (a hefty American burger with a gratuitous mac n cheese croquette, perfect for the House of Cards baller).
We opted for the KSA ($12.50) with American cheddar, tomato, lettuce, mustard and special burger sauce (creamy, tangy goodness), plus the CB1 cheeseburger ($7) with added crispy bacon. The lads grind three types of beef for their patties, which are cooked to charry perfection on the outside, pink lusty goodness within.
My KSA came slathered in special sauce, with orange-hued cheese and thick hunks of tomato. It was as good as I’ve had anywhere (yes Shake Shack and In-N-Out, I’m looking at you). Simon’s CB1 was topped with a zippy mix of diced shallots and gerkins, plus tomato sauce, mustard and those extra strips of bacon. They were both exceptional examples of their kind: juicy, substantial and dripping with flavour, with a toasted brioche bun that held its own.
Needless to say we skipped that second dinner. We couldn’t even dive into the desserts or the liqueur-sloshed milkshakes on this visit, but I highly doubt that will be our last trip to the trailer park.
Grand Trailer Park Taverna
87 Bourke St, Melbourne
(03) 9972 3699