This is the best burger in Melbourne

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Worth it: the $15 wagyu burger.

Now that’s what I call a burger. A Wagyu burger to be precise from Rockpool Bar & Grill at Crown Casino in Melbourne. The bun was more like a brioche in texture. The whole construction is designed to be eaten rather than slip out down my front. There was a thin slice of cheese inside but the real star is the meat, prime wagyu spiked with what can only be wagyu fat packed with all those greate omega 3 oils..

Fat as we all know is the solution that transfers the flavour from the meat to the palate. And boy what flavour that was, the unmistakable flavour of wagyu, creamy, meaty, mouth melting… I whimpered.

At $15 it is an absolute bargain and worth a visit to the the bar or wine bar section (you can’t buy the burger in the restaurant) alone. To even mention any burger joint in the same blog post of this masterpiece would be sacrilege. But hey, I sold my soul to the devil years ago; the burgers from Grill’d are shit in comparison (probably because they are healthy burgers) despite being half the price.

We arrived at Rockpool at 10.45 at night after a very poor and longwinded staging of Othello and this burger uplifted my whole evening.

Of course, by the time we’d ordered chips and three glasses of red the bill was $71 for about 45 minutes time in the restaurant. For burgers alone that’s about 66 cents a minute but with chips and wine that’s $1.57. Considering I had to wait five minutes in line in McDonald’s last week simply to buy a $4 and quite nasty takeaway to deliver to a very hungover friend (seriously it wasn’t me or Jak) the Rockpool burger is great value.

Last night was my second visit to Rockpool. I’d resisted for six months purely because of my own prejudices about casino eating. How wrong I was.

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All is calm but busy in the open kitchen.

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Inside the restaurant: some of the customers who know how to hold their cutlery.

It has a great cosmopolitan feel like something from New York. Or on more familar territory from Conran in London. The service was friendly on my first visit, if not a little overstretched at some points.

The seafood here is fresh out of the acquarium. At first I was shocked at how quickly the live scallops arrived all the way from the Melbourne Acquarium on the other side of the Yarra. How many divers did the restaurant employ I asked. Was there any chance you’d get some of the giant squid once it thaws out?

But no, Rockpool has it’s own acquarium. Although the scallops were described as live they were very docile. I was worried they may hop onto the carpet which is awful because these shell fish really pick up the hairs.

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Live, possibly dying or already dead scallops.

Next we each had steak tartare. Although spicy and tasty, it was of the ugly variety, the size of a small liquidized rodent nestling in a lettuce leaf (which is a lot better than France-Soir where it is the size of a domestic cat nestling in something near the size of a whole lettuce).

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Steak tartare – tasty but of the ugly variety

To be quite honest I’ve only popped in for two quick meals and haven’t gone for the full blown experience but from what I’ve experienced and tasted so far I like Rockpool very much. It is a very different experience to my last pre-blogging visit to its Sydney sister I really did feel like I’d been treated like shit.

Finally it is time for the bill. Simon our sommelier who took us towards some excellent wines takes my card. And I am recognised. I’m not recognised for my column on the Herald Sun, for writing in The Australian or any of the reviewing I’ve done for restaurant guides.

I’m recognised for my blog. It turns out his girlfriend is Jackie from Eating with Jack who also works in hospitality.

One month from my second blog anniversary I now reflect how blogging has evolved in Melbourne, to the point that bloggers are recognised, regularly reviewing and discovering new restaurants before the main media. Many restaurants such as Interlude and Fenix are even courting bloggers. But as I often say that’s another story and coming soon.

45 Responses to “This is the best burger in Melbourne”

  1. freddie

    Had a burger at Burger Edge Melbourne Central last week , so disappointing the bun was dry and stale,burger was thrown together after waiting 15 minutes, not like the ones I regulary got at their QV store which is now closed. They also now brag on their website the beef and chicken they use is halal,while claiming they are an Australian company.Thats the final straw for me will go to Grill’d from now on after all this

  2. Grace

    I wonder if prices have gone up since 2007…does anyone know how much it costs now? I wanna try!

  3. cam

    Yeah I feel the same way about Wagyu burgers. Bit pretend, and to upitty. Best burger in my mind is a hidden gem in Sandringham. Its an old beach shed near the Sandringham Yacht club called S.H.Q. Kiosk. These things make Grilld or Alberts look like nothing. Plus it’s a really cool place with great coffee as well, but the burgers are the best I have had. Cam

  4. Tex

    Hey ed,

    i too have recently gone on the burger trail….and within my first bite of the rockpool david blackmores full blood wagyu burger i was saying to my GF damm this is the BEST BURGER i have had !!!

    being a big pickle man it was so refesssing sweet and tasty !!
    at $22 plus fat chips $12 ? and onion rings $9 ? plus a wagyu spagahetti $24 a total of $80 was a fair bill for a fine dinning experiance!

    Cafe Vue burger which i tried a week ago was my number 1 now i would say number 2… but it is a close call… a different style of burger it was very thick and meaty reminds me of the ones i used to eat at home as i young boy…it is small but very filling and also a good cafe experiance….

    keep up the good work ed great blog!
    imho 2 of the best burgers in town!!!

  5. B

    Only 2 years since your post…had the wagyu burger in Sydney tonight. Damn that is one tasty burger! With fantastic chips too.

  6. Ed

    Thanks Danny,

    Wait for Paul Wilson’s burger wine tasting menu at Match, hopefully with his Heston Blumenthal inspired chips.

    I’m going to try and get to Cafe Vue and try the burger there also.

  7. Danny Bishop

    Hey Ed,

    Just a quick report from a visit last Friday;

    Burgers were great. Both Brad an my buns were a little too toasted, but not beyond simply ‘well done’. The burger contents were very much up to scratch. Slivers of griddle BBQ’d baby zucchini and gari style pickled onion really freshened up the burger and lightened the load of the beautifully moist pattie and bacon.

    The side of fat-cut chips were disappointing. Barely seasoned, they needed liberal salt and were not offered with an accompanying sauce – something that in my opinion the massive sized square cut chips were crying out for to offer them as something other than just a well cooked piece of potato.

    We opened a Shaw + Smith 07 Shiraz to go with the burgers… a stunning wine that may be the best 07 of anything that I’ve had to date.

    Ratings: Burger 9, Chips 6, Wine 9.5

    Cheers!

    Danny

  8. Ryan

    I too have tried the Rockpool burger. I enjoyed it and was quite satisfied. In my honest opinion though, you cant beat a Grill’d Burger! I am so addicted, its not a joke!

    http://www.grilld.com.au

    Can’t go past the Might Melbourne

  9. Brent

    Hi Ed

    I came across this Tomato blog and really enjoyed reading it. You have a great writing style and incorporate some excellent photos. I am pretty sure that i have seen your peices in the Sun Herald too.

    I thought I would invite you write on mytaste.com.au. This would be a great way to gain exposure for your blog as you are welcome to link back to it from myTaste.

    My personal name on mytaste is Brent C. – if you have a look around you will see me there. Drop by and say hi.

    Thanks for the great dining tips. If you do end up registering on mytaste i will add myself as a fan of you and therefore be notified whenever you do a review.

    Cheers. Brent

  10. Ed

    Just ate the wagyu burger again last Thursday. $18 but still as good.

  11. Ed

    Okay a new one for the list, Paul Raynor’s Wagyu burger at Hotel Nest in Albert Park $16. topped with a perfect fried egg. good but not quite up there with the Rockpool job.

  12. Ed

    Paul, once they get to you on a Sunday morning there is nothing unfriendly about the staff. It’s the wait for service that gets me. They do a great bloody mary I will admit. I’ve had some poor stuff at BAs but everytime I’ve had the burger its been pretty bloody good. France-Soir good although they could do with refining the steak tartare, Donovans excellent food although I wish they’d chuck out some of that chuff they insist in decorating the place with. Let’s not forget Andrew’s and Danny’s.

  13. Paul

    Ed A bit harsh on Greasy Joes. We had a great night there on Saturday. Good food and service. In our group of we had a wide range of food from salads, steaks and burgers. The staff were friendly, chatty and efficent.
    I agree it is no Rockpool but it good to know there are places for all types, not just the foodie white collars in our world. Again with Barneys Allens I thought it was very poor for what it promised.
    France Soir, Donovans and Greasys Joes still stands out for me as great reliable eateries in Melbourne. Depends on your mood, food type and expectations I suppose.

  14. Ed

    Paul, I have to differ on this and question your taste. The fat bastard is merely large. That is fine if you are a labourer but most of us arn’t. I live around the corner from Greasy Joe’s and I’m afraid as far as the food (and service) goes its more “sloppy Joe”. I’m revising up my opinion on Grill’d. Barney Allen’s does an astonishingly good burger – right up there and in a different league to the others you mention – and I need to go back and blog it. For wagyu and Rockpool $15 is good value, it tastes great and provides an cheap entry to try Rockpool.

  15. Paul

    Greasy Joes is where the best burger in Melbourne resides. The Fat Bastard (three quality beef paties, cheese, onions, relish, mayo )is the best you can get in Australia. Waygu is not the best meat for a burger. Try aged Victorian beef as in the all the burgers made at Greasy Joe’s. Also their steaks are a decent size and quality. Based on my two visits to Rockpool I found the place overrated, expensive for wwhat they serve and dare I say an over inflated opion of their own product. Service was excellent and wine list extensive.

  16. Ed

    Wills, it is very good and you’ve reminded me that I should go back. Cheap wagyu is difficult because most of the stuff costs hundreds a kilo. Movida does a good Wagyu Tartare that is under $20.

  17. Wills

    I saw this blog entry a while ago and finally went and tried the wagyu burger at Rockpool and I agree with you entirely! Btw, can you recommend any other Wagyu places in Melbourne that are not too expensive?

  18. Kim

    hello,Im a high school student i would like to know if any of you great food critics out there would be kind enough to do a interview via…anything!it would be a great help,what do you think melbourne’s best dish is?
    ps. reply to kim.BBC@hotmail.com ASAP

  19. Susan

    All I can say is to go try a burger at FLIPP’S on 838 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn.They make an awesome burger! They use organic beef, lamb and chicken cooked over volcanic rock, you can really taste the difference. You even have a choice to have it in a pita wrap… D’lish!

  20. Ed

    Valda I haven’t tried the coffee yet but must. What is this Vittori thing? Al these top restaurants serve great food and top wine but don’t care about the coffee. Something needs to be done.

  21. valda rubio

    I totally share in your Burger experience at Rockpool. It is the BEST burger of all time. I have been many times, introduced many friends to the place and also gone on my own (with a rather nasty hangover. The burger is just the right size and the meat absolutely melts in the the mouth.
    But i also highly recommend the coffee. Everywhere else in town i have to ask for a double and now sometimes a triple shot (what is going on?) Not at Rockpool! My friend still would have preferred hers stronger but she drinks three-quarter lattes! But its the flavour of Rockpool’s coffee that lasts to the last drop and be damned if it’s not freaking Vittorio!!! That’s weird. No, we love Rockpool and best of all on weekdays you can get your car valet parked and validated at Rockpool so that your parking is free. Yay!

  22. Ed

    Frank,
    Thanks, I’ll try the other end of Crown as well. Also i recently had the Tolarno burger in St Kilda. Not bad at all.

  23. frank

    I’m a glutten but a discerning one when it comes to steak and burgers.Yeah,been to Rockpool on several occassions steak and wagyu burger is of world class.Great wine list also.

    At other end of Crown Casion in the main food court is a place called Burger Edge which is a takeaway type operation but also has some of the best burgers I have ever come across.Their Aussie Beef Burger is awesome.Crowm has the best of both worlds when it comes to burgers

  24. Ed

    James, to me the Catherdral burger is simply too large which is why it had the giant cocktail stick keeping it together (which Grill’d as does). I’d imagine two things will happen when bitten into. The stick will impale the palate and the contents of the burger will falll out. The great thing about the Rockpool burger is the simplicity. It is an easy to manage and eat burger pared down to the very best basics. I will credit your burger with looking as though it is possibly one of the largest in melbourne though.

  25. Jack

    Absolutely. Look at all the on-line blog talk about Tempura Hajime and then a few weeks later a very positive review by The Age. I can only assume that we helped this happen.
    Jack

  26. Ed

    Jack, good point. i guess from the pure marketing point of view blogging is just another medium to target and monitor just as with TV, radio, print, events. Good point about being underground and being able to slow build less conventional consumers for new concepts.
    There is also the element of influencing the influencers in trad media. All the reviewers read food blogs to a lesser or greater degree and being noticed by bloggers can mean being noticed by the mainstream writers.

  27. Jack

    Thanh
    I might be able to answer your question; some restaurants have identified that some great marketing opportunities can come out of on-line content. Will Goldfarb from Room 4 Dessert in NYC was a presenter at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and he was very interested in the on-line media and food bloggers, he sees it as a way of the future. He also liked that it was a bit less mainstream and hence attracted less mainstream customers to his quirky dessert bar. Perhaps a little more like the ‘viral’ marketing that some companies are now undertaking.
    Jack

  28. Thanh

    Ed, I wasn’t implying that you write glowing reviews for free meals, sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    I was just wondering what free stuff they offer you and how they find out. I guess the bigger restaurants would have PRs who trawl the web for reviews about themselves. I just didn’t think bloggers had gained so much power that they would bother courting bloggers. I thought they would take magazines and newspapers and other media formats.

  29. Ed

    Thanh, all I mean is that quite a few restaurants or their PRs read blogs. Some see it as another way to get the word out and they just find it when they check for links to their sites I guess or by Googling themselves. I blogged Jamon. he offerd to invite me in to a free meal. I pre sold a story about the meal and his journey across the various Wagyu meats to The Australian. Lots of journalists get offered this stuff. I’m certainly not trying to attract free meals just be hinest. Some things I like, others I dodn’t and I say it.

  30. Thanh

    The food looks and sounds great Ed. Wagyu burger is now on my list of must try food list.

    As for the “courting food bloggers” part, what exactly did Jamon offer you? A free meal? And how did they find out about your post on them?

    I must write more glowing reviews now and hopefully get “courted” by the chefs/owners rather than be ridiculously threatened to be sued by them for a very fair review of their food.

    The Bar Lourinha saga has finished I think. The email was definitely from the chef but he has failed to send a reply to my email asking for clarification.

  31. Ed

    Stephanie, I’d probably say stark rather than sad. What little of it that there was quite tasty and more than welcome with all that meat. ChefJP, I guess it probably is glazed with butter just like a brioche. Jack, Fenix with Esurienntes for one is and Jamon once did me after I blogged the food there…Interlude. I suspect there are some out there that may offer free meals for largely uncritical reviews. Ali-K, I’m sus of wagyu too and only went for it because it was Neil Perry.

  32. Ali-K

    I’m getting suspicious of all the Wagyu available, particularly when it turns up in a burger at a pub. Still, of all places, I’d imagine Rockpool would be the place to whack the real deal in a bun! I’ll have to try it sometime!

  33. Jack

    Hi Ed
    Thanks for the link… must be fun to be recognised!
    What do you mean by some restaurants ‘courting’ food bloggers? I’ve seen the review links on their sites and was mildly suspicious of the glowing reviews and refined photos, but just assumed they had trowelled through the web and found the best comments.
    Jack

  34. chefjp

    The burger sounds awesome! Next time I’m in Melbourne (which should be some years from now) I’ll stop in & have one of these….mmmm! The top of the burger bun looks as if it was glazed with butter, is that so? chefjp

  35. Stephanie

    Have to say though, that the tomato next to the burger looks the saddest-looking I’ve seen in some time….

  36. Ed

    Adade, the bun really wasn’t grilled ans the pattie was incredible moist. Was it the Wagyu. I think there may be some minor service issues – and I’ve heard this from industry friends too – but I thought it all came together in the end.

  37. adade

    I tried this place back last October but I still much prefer Andrew’s Hamburger. I think the bun was over-grilled and the pattie is too dry.
    Plus that the waiter is just not attentive enough to me. So, I can take it that this is not the case anymore yea?

  38. Ed

    I will try it at some point. But I’d say this burger ws more buttery than anything else and well worth it in terms of wagyu unless it is done is the Japanese style. You should just drop in and at least try one.