Mark Hobby: A recent trip to Melbourne saw me at Rockwell & Sons, the latest on-fad chew-house to grip the knickers/breeches/undies of those whose palettes demand a dollop of conceit in their meal. Serving a menu influenced by the southern/soul tradition, its brick lined walls and low-light site means the word ‘hip’ is used a lot, ensuring repeat business for those who take brand culture with absolutely no sense of irony. Though they make a variety of food and possess a bar serving up, I do not doubt, the usual cocktail-brew-micro mess, my visit was for one purpose only: The Double-Patty Smash Burger.
I tried one last year, its rich taste and brioche bun momentarily piercing through my sneer, compelling me to conclude: not bad. Bianca, Queen of the Burger (yes, that’s her full name), would seethe with burger-rage at the knowledge that I, a culinary commoner, had eaten a burger she had yet to taste. Heh. When she recently posted her ‘Great Melbourne Burger Crawl’ http://forfoodssake.net/2015/02/23/the-great-melbourne-burger-crawl-of-2015-melbourne/, I pointed out that, though her list was excellent, it was flawed due to her omission of the Double-Patty Smash. This I did with much gloat. For two months.
So, when learning I was returning to Melbourne, Bianca demanded that I do a review. Letting me bite twice, to her zilch? She hid her hanger well.
Booking for 6pm, I was greeted with a quality of service best described as perfunctory with just a touch of ‘effyadoin’here?’. Clearly struggling with his disdain, the waiter managed valiantly to offer me the choice of window seat or table, of which I chose the former. Until, that is, I saw how little space that was, at which point I asked for the table instead. It would appear however that the choice offered mere moments before was no choice at all, because I was brusquely told ‘no, you can sit at the window’. I have to say, I am not enamoured with the current preoccupation with ‘the perfect dining experience’. It’s just so much bourgeois tat, an entitlement sickness from an ever-spreading praise-junky culture. So, I was impressed with R&S’ commitment to a level of service you’d find at your local chew-n-spew fish shop, albeit after they’ve turned off the fryer from a 14 hour shift and you’re itching for a Chiko Roll. However, fully aware that the chew-n-spew angle won’t quite fly with R&S’ target audience, I’m calling the service Nouveau A-hole. That’s for free. My gift to you.
With no chance of small talk and the obligatory niceties (bonus!), I quickly ordered a Double-Patty Smash Burger with bacon ($11 + $6) and French Fries with Malt Vinegar Aioli ($6). Since this review is focussed mainly on the burger I will be quick about the fries. Nice.
Anyway, how was the burger?
Well, as I ate, it became a confected mess in my hands, with the patty, gherkin, ‘super secret sauce’ and cheese (Kraft, ‘cos its kitsch) mixing to turn into a mushy, almost gelatinous goo. It was as if it took to heart the ‘smash’ aspect of the name as, with each bite, it formed the shape and consistency of a burger that had just been pelted into a wall for giggles. The patty itself, the point of the burger, had no discernible taste beyond that of a cardboard face-slam. The best way to describe it is if McDonalds decided to add three scoops of ice-cream to a Big Mac and proceeded to smear it over the face of their customers. Which could very well happen one day. The ones not participating in this confectionery treat were the crispy bacon and butter-light brioche bun, serving as a savoury counter-note to the Big Mac sundae. Felt a bit like two contrasting worlds colliding (Smash!), with both vying for dominance. In this instance though, McDonalds won. The last time I ate here, it was a different story. But hey, sometimes the clown gets a win, okay? Live with it. Still, not bad.
Speaking of winning, the meal ended on a nice note, with the waiter’s relief at me leaving echoed by my relief at having left. Coexist, people. Plus, I got to eat a burger the B-Queen has yet to try (twice). Gloat-ity, gloat, gloat, gloat.
For those looking for the new wrinkle in ice-cream-based burgers, I say get on the Double-Patty Smash quick. Coupled with the new standard set in nouveau a-hole service, these kids are going places.
Photos by Shannon Ford and Mark Hobby