MELBOURNE | Burger Boys were relatively early entrants in Melbourne’s recent burger wave, and after popping up in a few kitchens around town since 2014, they’ve now taken over the kitchen at The Alehouse Project. Who are the Burger Boys though?
It all started in 2014 when friends and burger lovers Simon Alexander and Dene Lockwood were making their way around Melbourne, trying all of the burgers they’d been reading about on burger blogs. Dene was studying engineering at uni and working part time behind the bar at Deja Vu in Melbourne’s CBD while Simon had recently quit his job in software and was driving an Uber while trying to figure out what the next step was.
After a while, the boys decided that could put what they’d learned from eating burgers across Melbourne into a project, and with an opportunity opening up in the Deja Vu kitchen, Burger Boys was born. Soon they’d built enough of a customer base and were making enough money to realise that this could be a viable business going forward. Just as things were taking off, however, Deja Vu was sold to new owners who decided the entire venue would work better as a Korean restaurant.
Several phone calls, letters and e-mails later, to bars and pubs across Melbourne, Simon and Dene found someone receptive to their popup burger concept in Mr Wow’s Emporium. The small food truck out the back (ex Jabili’s Kitchen, Voodoo Jerk Truck) was vacant, and the boys moved in. Shortly after they also started doing Friday lunch trade out of CBD pub The Bottom End. The decision to continue making burgers was the right one, and soon the business outgrew the small food truck, quite literally.
Around the same time, Alex Summers, owner of one of Melbourne’s top craft beer spots, Brunswick East’s The Alehouse Project, was looking for a new operator to take over the kitchen. We spoke to Alex about the appeal of popups versus controlling the kitchn, and found out that it’s all about flexibility and giving customers something new to try. Alex gets to focus on the beer side of the business, and the food side is taken care of by someone who’s passionate about what they’re doing. After having Ironbark BBQ, Sparrow’s Philly Cheesesteaks, and Katie’s Crab Shack do their thing in the spot, it was time for that perfect match to beer, burgers, and that brings us to today.
We enjoyed Burger Boys’ burgers when they were at Deja Vu, and have already reacquainted ourselves with their burgers a few times this month at The Alehouse Project. In a city where a new burger joint seems to be opening up every day, we asked the boys what they think it is that differentiates them from the rest. For Simon and Dene it’s all about keeping it simple and fresh. They’ve seen quite a few burger places come and go in the time they’ve been operating, many of which focused on gimmicks to get customers in. The core range of burgers at Burger Boys are simple creations with just a few ingredients. Produce is delivered fresh every day, and the 100% beef patties, which use a mixture of brisket and chuck sourced from farms in Yeah, Northern Victoria, are hand ground on a daily basis. Dene actually comes from a family of butchers, so knows what to look for each time the meat gets delivered.
The beef patties are thick and juicy, and cooked medium (you can get it cooked through if you want, but we recommend sticking to medium), and the flavours of the ingredients do the talking. The brioche buns, sourced from Fitzroy’s Rustica Sourdough, aren’t sweet like some brioche buns can be and compact nicely when you grab the burger. The bread is light, but doesn’t fall apart, doing a great job of keeping the burger intact.
We’re fans of the ‘Classic’, which features a 150g Beef Patty, American Hi-Melt cheese, American mustard, ketchup, tomato, red onion, lettuce, Kewpie mayo and a Kosher Pickle. The balance of ingredients is spot on, and at it’s essence it’s what the name says, a classic burger, done right. When we’re hungry, the Royale With Cheese (which loses the tomato, red onion, lettuce, and Kewpie Mayo of the Classic) with an extra patty is a great option.
The most popular burger on the menu is the Kentucky Derby (twice fried chicken, Sriracha mayo, Saigon slaw, American Hi-Melt cheese), and the boys told us about a secret hack that we know we’ll be trying the next time we’re in. It’s the vegetarian Mt Fuji, which has a panko crumbed crispy mushroom, winter slaw, and wasabi mayo, with the mushroom swapped out for a piece of fried chicken.
The core burgers might be simple, but the menu is completely modular and flexible so any one of the core burgers can become a beef, chicken, pulled pork, vegetarian or gluten free burger with a little tweaking. There are also fries, onion rings, chicken wings and ice-cream sandwiches on the menu if you’re looking for something else to have with or instead of a burger.
We love craft beer, and often find ourselves at The Alehouse Project to enjoy the constantly changing range of new and interesting beers across their 12 taps. If you haven’t been, keep an eye out on their Facebook page to find out what special beer events are coming up. Whether it’s a showcase of a style of beer, beer from a particular state, or beers that have never been poured in Australia before, there’s almost always something new to drink at The Alehouse Project. Non-beer drinkers are well catered to as well, with a focused range of good quality wines and spirits also on offer.
Oh and if you’re wondering what the craziest burger a customer has ever ordered from Burger Boys is, it’s the Classic with extra chicken, extra beef, mushroom, 3 pieces of cheese, and bacon. Perhaps that makes you recoil in disgust, or perhaps you see it as a challenge…
Burger Boys At The Alehouse Project
98-100 Lygon Street
Telephone: (03) 9017 5422
E-mail: [email protected]
Mon – Sun: 5:00pm to late
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