861 High St, Thornbury
It would appear that Melbourne’s obsession with burgers isn’t letting up at all; if anything, it’s powering on even stronger than it was 12 months ago, with places like Grand Trailer Park Taverna, 8bit, Mr Scruff’s, JD’s Burgers, Bad Boys, Dandenong Pavillion, Laurie Dees and Chew Burgers all seriously stepping up the burger game as demonstrated by their prominent positions on the Instagram feeds of Melbourne foodies. Enter Kustom Burgers, the new kid on the northern suburbs block, who have established their home base on High St, Thornbury.
Having driven past the neon sign for what felt like months, we were stoked to find out it was finally open a week or so ago, and decided to head over and give it a try last weekend. Great lay out aside from the amazing truck you can see above, which unfortunately takes up quite a lot of space that would be better used for seating. Luckily we went for an early lunch, so we didn’t have any issues getting a seat, but I can see how it could become problematic on a Saturday night.
As per my standard burger procedure on a first visit to a new place, I ordered the name sake burger: the F150 Kustom Burger ($13.00). We had an original old school burger bun housing a 100% grass fed, all-beef patty, bacon, American cheese, pickled, cooked onion, lettuce, tomato sauce and Kustom mustard.
Pros: simple bun didn’t take away from the burger itself. Loved the special Kustom mustard. The cheese was great and perfectly melted. Onions were amazing – perfectly cooked, soft, a little grill top char, delicious. Very generous on the bacon, too, which is always a bit plus.
Cons: the bacon, while generously supplied, was basically not cooked – I like my burger bacon nice and crispy, so that kinda sucked. The lettuce was all wrong for the burger, and after a few bites was wilted and mushy. The patty was almost there, but lacked seasoning.
Husband got pretty excited to see the EH Smashed Burger ($14.00) on the menu – we both love the double smash burger at Rockwell and Sons, and the smash burgers at Laurie Dees, so he was looking forward to trying another one. This one promised double 100% grass fed, all-beef patties smashed flat, double bacon, double cheese, lettuce, onion and house-made special sauce.
This one, sadly, was a let down. Firstly, let me just clarify the “smashed patty” thing; long story short, smashed patties = delicious by-product of the Maillard Reaction = “a series of chemical reactions that take place when protein-rich foods are heated. Large proteins break into smaller compounds which react with others, recombining into new configurations. They break apart again, recombine, and on and on in a cascade of chemical reactions that creates hundreds of brand new compounds. It’s the smell of a good burger joint. It doesn’t just make meat taste good, it actually makes it taste more meaty.” You can read more on Serious Eats, but that’s the basics. So back to this burger – it wasn’t a proper smashed patty burger. These patties weren’t just not smashed, they were also sadly under seasoned, and just tasted like your run-of-the-mill fish & chip shop burger patties. And once again, under cooked bacon. Sad face.
We also got a large serve of the hub cap fries ($6.50) with a side of chipotle sauce (extra 50c). We did ask for the sauce on the side, but I guess that wasn’t noted…
Lack of attention on the sauce order aside, and despite the burger disappointment, this was the surprise delight of the meal; one of the best sides of chips either of us have had at a burger joint in a long time! They were all nice and crunchy, the seasoning was unreal, and the chipotle sauce was great, too. HUGE win!
I’m glad we finally got around to trying Kustom Burgers, and despite the burger short comings, there’s potential there once they find their feet. I hope they do, because it’s always nifty to have a great burger place nearby!