Eat here: Easey’s, Melbourne (burgers)

Easey’s
48 Easey St, Collingwood, Melbourne
http://easeys.com.au/

Burgers. I love ’em. You know this. I’ve eaten many and have high standards.

Easey’s have been all up in my Instagram feed for so long now, their burgers looked so good, and I SO wanted to love them…

 

I had a burger craving the other week. Favourite 1090 was still off the grid after having some truck issues, so we kept on going past Rucker’s Hill towards Collingwood. We decided to try Easey’s for 2 reasons: afore mentioned social media food porn, and proximity to Messina for dessert (the burger was probably gonna make me unwell anyway, may as well have lactose, too!)

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We rolled up around 6pm on a Friday night, and it was already packed – we got a seat on the second floor (I so wanted to sit in the rooftop trains 😦 damn!), and ordered quickly, being pretty hungry. The wait time was actually very civilized for such a busy Friday night, only 20 minutes or so.

Husband ordered the Rowdy Double Cheeseburger (double beef, double American cheese, bacon, jalapenos, pickles, onion, ketchup and mustard):

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I went with the Easey Cheesy (just the one patty with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, ketchup, mustard and mayo):

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They looked SO good. Don’t they look lovely? And they were. But they were missing something which neither of us could put our fingers on. Individually, everything was great! Patties cooked medium, tick. Great choice of cheese, properly melted, tick. Appropriately crispy bacon, tick. Condiment selection, tick. It was all there, it should have been magic. But there were no fireworks… Don’t get me wrong, Easey’s does make a good burger (upon reflection, I’m thinking I wasted space with the lettuce and tomato and should have gone the double; the extra cheese and meat and bacon in lieu of healthy stuff may have helped..)! But for all the hype that came with it, I expected a little more… I think that’s one of the biggest social media dangers for food lovers – maybe my opinion would have been a little different without the expectations!

We also ordered a side of chips with Changz perrinaise (so good!) and deep fried chicken bites. Perfectly done chips, happy days, but that chicken was the real winner – super tender and juicy inside, golden crispy perfection outside. LOVED these!

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Collingwood has been inundated with burger options of late, so it’s a little hard to know where to go for the next one. Personally, I’d probably be more inclined to try Mr Scruff’s or go back for another Rockwell before returning to Easey’s, but I most likely will return – I want to try the double. And the potato cakes. Still kicking myself for missing that on the menu before ordering.

 

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The po-boys of New Orleans…

Is it possible to be homesick for a place that isn’t actually your home? For your soul to ache to go back to a little corner of the world you spent only a small amount of time in, but you feel an indescribable affinity for? Is it really possible to feel so connected to a place you’ve only visited once? Not long ago, I’d probably have scoffed at the idea; then, I visited New Orleans. You guys know how much I love Melbourne, but I left part of my heart in New Orleans – you may have noticed from how much I’ve written about it 🙂

When one thinks of New Orleans, one naturally also thinks of good food. Unique food. Honestly, it’s some of the best food in the world. And when people who know a little about the city first think of their food, one of the first things that pops into mind are the po-boys, like the Parkway one I wrote about last week.

The history of this special sandwich dates back to the Depression era when people were out of work, money was scarce, and a good meal was hard to come by. These sandwiches were created to feed the “poor boys” (hence, po-boys), and were originally something like potatoes and roast beef gravy on an amazing piece of French bread.

These days, they’ve evolved to something a bit more spectacular and creative, filling the perfect French loaves with everything from the more traditional roast beef, fried oysters and Andouille sausage, to the not so standard stuff like the cheeseburger po-boy…?!

We may not have had all that long in the city, but we certainly did our best to try as many po-boys as we possibly could! Here’s a what we tried and why you should be trying them when you visit the Crescent City.

 

NOLA Po-Boys (beef debris)
908 Bourbon St

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This was the first one we tried, on a whim, because it was around the corner from our hotel and we were too hungry to go hunting for anything else.

Points for:
– HUUUUUGE variety of po-boys available – if you can’t find something you like here, get your head examined. They literally do it all!
– Multiple sizes available, so you can match your sandwich to your hunger level.
– My beef debris came with a little cup of super tasty gravy for pouring and dipping.
– Great Bourbon St option

Points against:
– The beef was tasty, but definitely needed the extra gravy to keep it moist.
– It’s not the best po-boy in the city, so if you have the time to get away from Bourbon St, you will be rewarded.
NOLA Poboys on Urbanspoon

 

 

Johnny’s Po-Boys (surf & turf)
511 St Louis St

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Number two was Johnny’s, and we’d heard about this place before the trip. We’d heard very good things.

Points for:
– Ohh that gravy…. damn… The beef was fantastic, too, very soft and tender. The shrimp were very tasty too, nice coating.
Great bread, soft and fresh.

Points against:
– The shrimp and bread both got pretty soggy pretty quickly because of the gravy. But it was the best gravy I’d ever had, so I could forgive even that!
Johnny's Po-Boys on Urbanspoon

 

 

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen (sausage)
416 Chartres St

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Next up, we visited K-Paul’s for a lunch sitting (less formal and way less expensive than dinner!) – we’d heard it was a city institution, and a must visit.

Points for:
– Best Andouille sausage I had in New Orleans. hands down! Incredible flavour, not too spicy, just enough kick. Amazing!
– I quite liked the herbed tomato business they used.

Points against:
– It was a bit of a “hotted up” po boy compared to some of the more traditional ones I tried.
– Staff weren’t particularly friendly.
K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

 

Domilise’s (fried shrimp and roast beef)
5240 Annunciation St

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The next few po boys took us out of the French Quarter to Domilise’s, another city holy grail. Well and truly worth the venture out of the French Quarter!

Points for:
– Best shrimp I had in New Orleans! It was beautiful meat without the slightest taste of fishiness you can sometimes get when it’s not quality, and the coating was perfect.
– The shrimp also magically stayed crispy and crunchy the whole time!
– The roast beef was delicious.
– Perfect bread for it, well dressed.
– It’s not in the French Quarter.
– Best customer service!

Points against:
– The roast beef was very good, but the gravy at Johnny’s still trumped it!
– It’s not in the French Quarter.
Domilise's Po-Boy & Bar on Urbanspoon

 

 

Parkway Bakery (surf & turf)
538 Hagan Ave

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Our final po boy stop was Parkway Bakery – the one we’d heard had been rated number 1 in the city over and over again. It was a long wait, almost an hour, but we figured it must be good if there are this many people waiting and no one complaining!

Points for:
– The people were right, it was very good. Soft beef, big fresh shrimp, great tasting breading on them, too!
– Great bread, held up well against the heaviest po boy we’d tried.
– Well dressed, loved the pickles.
– Also not in the French Quarter.

Points against:
– The gravy still wasn’t as good as Johnny’s!
– The wait wasn’t ideal, but sometimes you gotta wait for the good stuff!
– Also not in the French Quarter.
Parkway Bakery & Tavern on Urbanspoon

 

 

So which was the best? Haha no way am I making that call!! But, when I return, my first two stops will probably be Domilise’s and Johnny’s, if that helps 😉 

Eat here: Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, Coney Island, New York – Happy 4th of July!

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs
1310 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, New York
http://www.nathansfamous.com/

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So, it’s not a thing here in Australia (duh), but for all the Americans out there, Happy 4th of July! And yes, I know I’m a day early for the Americans, but it’s the 4th here, so I’m gonna roll with it! While we were in New York in January, we took a trip out to Coney Island (gorgeous!), and when we got to Nathan’s, husband was pretty excited to point out that we were at the home of the famous 4th of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest! We were hoping to try one, but being the middle of winter, we weren’t holding our breath – turns out we were in luck, and hot dogs were still happening! Happy days! And a delicious hot dog it was, too. I reckon on a good day I could probably polish off 10, don’t think I’d ever be able to get near the recorn 69 hot dogs polished off by current champion Joey Chestnut. In 10 minutes. Wow. If you haven’t seen this guy in action, follow this link and prepare to be amazed/impressed/horrified/all of the above. If you’re in NYC for the 4th of July and get down to the contest, tell me all about it!! Otherwise, I hope everyone gets to enjoy a delicious hot dog of some description anyway!

 

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Eat here: Burger Boys, Melbourne (burgers)

Burger Boys
525 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne CBD
http://www.burgerboys.com.au/

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I know what you’re thinking. “Another bloody burger review? Seriously?” Yes, seriously. Melbourne has become home to the fancy-ass burger apocalypse, and I’m ok with that, because I love burgers, and am always happy to try anything touted to be the next best thing. My Instagram feed has been peppered with burger shots from this place for months now, and I walk past a poster for the Burger Boys every morning when I get off the train. It was time to check it out for myself. But I’ll get to that in a moment. First though, I’m just going to quickly share some of my thoughts out loud. I’m writing this on the train as I make my way home from a General Assembly blogging networking type event, “The Business of Blogging.” Fabulous guests included the hysterically funny and very lovely Pranav from Zomato, dreamer turned do-er Lauren of Haynes & Bruce, the very insightful Bec of Dancing Through Sunday, and Melbourne food blog royalty Ashley of I’m So Hungree fame (I’m a huge fan of her work, and have been ever since I started following her during my first foray into blogging back in 2011), and hosted by the gorgeous lady who directs and edits Onya Magazine, Sandi Sieger.

  

It was awesome to sit down and listen to some real talk from people who are in the business of blogging, particularly because this forum was based on food blogging. Suffice to say there was a lot covered and discussed, but the two big things I took out of it were:

1. Blog because you love it, not for the numbers of likes or followers.

2. You have to love what you do!

 

The old cliche about finding success when you stop desperately looking for it seemed to be true – the resounding advice was so it for the love, not for the followers, the likes, the freebies, the payments. Just write about what you love, put quality content out there, build a relationship with your readers and success will come. I’ve been pretty honest about this from the start; this blog is primarily a creative outlet for me, a space to record and share my adventures, and the fact that I have hundreds of followers now still completely astounds me. It is truly the most humbling thing to know there are people out there interested in what I have to say.. Just wow 🙂 And on that other point, the number of people who came clean tonight about leaving the jobs they had to work to pay the bills (solar energy complaints department.. “do what you love!”) to pursue what they loved was incredible, inspiring, terrifying and insanely motivating all at once.

Which brings me to my next point: why take the risk and start yet another burger joint in a city that’s already got a ton (and not all of them good, mind you) of them? In their words:

We love the large number of great burger spots in Melbourne, but on our hunt for the perfect burger we couldn’t find exactly what we were looking for. So we decided to make our own. We buy our beef from Queen Vic Market and grind it ourselves to get the fat content of our patties just right. We season our beef with Kosher salt and cracked pepper just prior to cooking. Then add a layer of hi-melt cheese. We use real brioche buns which are baked in South Melbourne each morning.

That’s a mission statement I can respect, even more so after all that inspirational chit chat. Anyway, my favourite burger buddy and I visited last Friday after work. The Burger Boys are open Tuesdays to Fridays from midday until sold out, and they sell their burgers out of Deja Vu Bar. We each decided to go with the Classic (150g beef patty, American hi-melt cheese, streaky bacon, tomato, lettuce, red onion, American mustard, ketchup, Kewpie mayo and a nice juicy pickle on the side) for $10.00. Add a side of fries with paprika seasoning and Sriracha mayo for $4.00 (no, I’m not just saying that, actually order the side).

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First up, kudos for the Instagram-ready presentation. They looked perfect, with the cheese all melty and the crispy bacon peeking out the side. Also on the pro side: perfectly melted cheese, the condiment trinity was fantastic (Kewpie mayo over regular mayo makes me SO happy!), and the patty was cooked perfectly medium rare -still nice and pink and crumbly in the middle, just the way I like it!  Fries were a great side – loved the paprika seasoning and mayo!

On the con side – tomato was too chunky and hard to eat, there was not a whole lot of bacon in there (note to self: add extra bacon for an extra $1 next time), the bun wasn’t toasted enough so it got soggy quickly, and the patty was well under-seasoned for my tastes.

Overall though, solid burger with all the basics on point, just needs a few tweaks to get itself up there with the likes of the 1090s, Rockwells and Beatboxes of the city. But well worth a visit, and an awesome way to end a long working week. Particularly given that these burgers are sold out of a bar. With lots of beer and cider and wine to choose from. Go on – when you finish work tonight, pull up a stool at Deja Vu, start writing out your dreams on a bar napkin, and smash down a burger while you’re doing it. Just treat yoself 😉

 

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Eat here: Southern Hospitality, New York (BBQ)

Southern Hospitality
645 9th Ave, New York
http://www.southernhospitalitybbq.com

Finally, winter is really here in Melbourne! I’m one of those minority idiots who actually loves the cold, as I demonstrated carrying on like a Michelin-man look-alike in America over the Christmas holidays just passed. I was also lucky enough to eat a lot of great food in really great places over there, and as such, the cold weather reminds me of a lot of them, particularly this BBQ place that came into play very unexpectedly and randomly…
This was one of those great accidental finds that you end up recommending to the next person you meet who says they’re going to New York. This happy accident came about after arriving at the doorstep of another recommended BBQ place only to find out, from the ever so nonchalant repair man, after standing outside in the snow for 10 minutes, that a gas tank had exploded and they were closed for business for the next few days. Great.
Having just walked a few kilometers towards the briskety light at the end of the snowy tunnel, we were both pretty hangry (hungry + angry). It wasn’t looking good. On a whim, I pulled out my phone and opened the Yelp app, hoping to walk past somewhere with free WiFi so we could find the next closest BBQ place. New York miracle: no WiFi, but Yelp had somehow still loaded my last search for BBQ places! And there was one a mere 600m away!We hauled frosty ass to Southern Hospitality in record time, defrosting happily with menus in hand. The unspoken agreement had been reached (one of the perks of a 10 year relationship), and lunch was ordered:- Brisket
– Pulled pork platter
– Slaw
– Mac & cheese

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Even now, months later, I remember this meal ever so fondly. The BBQ sauce through the pork was fantastic, tangy and smoky and all the things you want from a BBQ pulled pork situation in the freezing New York winter cold. The brisket was some of the best I’ve had anywhere (husband agrees) – lovely crispy, burnt edges with perfectly rendered fat. And the slaw and mac & cheese are the perfect sides – particularly the mac & cheese, all melty, golden deliciousness.

As far as accidental dining experiences go, we couldn’t have been much happier with Southern Hospitality, and would absolutely return again if when we re-visit New York. And if you find yourself at your first restaurant of choice to be turned away because of a gas tank explosion, just thank the universe for the not to subtle hint, and head to Southern Hospitality instead!

 

Southern Hospitality Hell's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Domilise’s Po-Boys, New Orleans

Domilise’s
5240 Annunciation St, New Orleans
http://www.domilisespoboys.com/

2015/01/img_6189.jpgBloody hell, June 1st… when did that happen??! I can’t believe it was already 6 months ago we were mid-trip in America, the time has passed so quickly since we’ve been back! I’m reminiscing back to one of the great places we ate at in New Orleans back in January today: Domilise’s.

This place is an absolute city stalwart, holding legendary status amongst locals and visitors alike. A family owned and run operation for almost a century (they opened in 1918) and led by matriarch Miss Dot (Dorothy Domilise) until her passing in 2013, the only time Domilise’s has closed was when Hurricane Katrina hit back in 2005; when they re-opened, after a lot of hard work and restoration by not only the family, but the community, they re-opened to a line of customers several blocks long. Domilie’s IS New Orleans, it’s always up there in any list of best po boys in the city, and I was excited to find out why!

It’s tucked away on a quiet, nondescript street well and truly away from the French Quarter, which suited us just fine; while we loved the craziness of it all, it was nice to get out and see a different part of the city. We actually walked the full 5 miles (8km) from our hotel to Domilise’s, taking our time and enjoying the stroll down Magazine Street, through the garden district, with a stop at District Donuts Sliders Brew for a donut to fuel the journey.

When we finally got the the iconic lemon yellow, weather boarded eatery, we were hungry and ready to put all those burnt calories back into our bellies, and then some. We were welcomed warmly like old friends overdue for a visit. We were happily and proudly guided through our options, and invited to please take a seat while our sandwiches were put together. It was like checking into the most wonderful sandwich hotel on earth! We ordered two po boys to share, the roast beef (top) and the fried shrimp (bottom), both fully dressed with tomato, lettuce and mayo.

2015/01/img_6188.jpgThe roast beef was really nice, tender meat, lovely gravy (though not quite enough), really good sandwich. The shrimp one though was the money sandwich. Absolutely indisputably on point, sandwich perfection. The shrimp, no idea how, stayed golden and crispy and crunchy the whole time, despite the other stuff in there. The bread was perfect and crusty on the outside, pillowy soft inside. I honestly don’t know how else to describe it other than one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had!

Are you lucky enough to be visiting New Orleans? Planning on spending your visit in the French Quarter? That’s fine, it’s lovely, just do yourself a favour and get out to Domilise’s for the best shrimp sandwich you’ll ever have – it’s worth the trip!

 

Domilise's Po-Boy & Bar on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Tropisueño, San Francisco, USA (Mexican)

Tropisueño
75 Yerba Bueno Lane, San Francisco
http://www.tropisueno.com/

I’m gonna stay with the Mexican theme for anther day, because writing and posting about Punta Sur yesterday got me craving Mexican food, and remembering how damn good it was in San Francisco, of all places!

This was quite the pleasant surprise! I’d heard the Mexican food in San Francisco was pretty good, but wasn’t expecting an actual restaurant to come through with the goods – I thought it’d be more the street food-style stalls in the Mission District.

Having had a craving for Mexican, we found Tropisueño, a fantastic little place tucked down a side strip in the city. We walked in to find the place packed to the rafters and were told it’d be about a 15 minute wait; I don’t think we actually waited more than 10. We were seated quickly, and it was immediately apparent we were in for a good night – this was some of the best customer service I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant. The lady who looked after us for the night was amazing; she was clearly flat out, but made time for a quick chat with everyone seated in her area, leaving each table smiling and laughing. That’s what turns a good dinner into a great one 🙂

Then there’s the food. After being seated, we were straight away presented with a complimentary bowl of freshly fried corn chips and dips (top left), which were much appreciated! We also ordered:

– beef tacos (bottom right) – tender, braised beef cheeks, taco truck style with onion and cilantro. salsa tomatillo and radish.

– pork tostaditas (bottom left) – roasted pork on crisp tostadas, guacamole salsa güero and pico de gallo, shredded lettuce.

– chicken salbutes (top right) – soft-crispy thick masa tortillas, shredded chicken tinga cabbage slaw, pickled onion, pico de gallo, avocado.

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This was some of the best Mexican food I’ve had, including the stuff I ate in Mexico; fresh, insanely tasty, great flavour combinations, everything just right and just so. No need to dissect each dish bite by bite. This is the dining experience we’re all looking for; amazing food, impeccable service, decent prices, lovely restaurant, free lollypops on your way out! Make sure you make time to get here when you’re in San Francisco  : )

Tropisueño on Urbanspoon