55-61 Princes Hwy
Dandenong, VIC 3175
One thing that I’ve always thought was great about Asia is that good food is always a hop and a skip away. Yes, Australia does have that culinary variety that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, but you’d better be ready for a 40 minute drive out to the ‘burbs. And let’s not even get into the whole wineries business.
Take Dandenong Pavilion for example. Despite living in the outer-east myself, it was still a 25 minute drive to this restaurant 30km south-east of the CBD. Although Dandenong is hardly known for being fashionable, I was still surprised at how much ‘The Pav’ looked like an over-priced, run-of-the-mill family restaurant.
The illusion continues inside, all the way to the contemporary but unexciting menu, then back out again to the beer garden. But that’s not to say the place isn’t nice; in fact it’s quite spruced up, and definitely not too fancy for a collared shirt. Plus, anyone worth their Murray River Gourmet Salt knows that the real appeal lies in the not-so-secret secret burger menu, which was once a limited-time affair, but has since become so popular that it’s now a permanent addition to the menu.
Standing alongside other high-profile offspring from Dani Zeini, such as Grand Trailer Park Taverna, Motorhome Majestic, and Royal Stacks, The Pav is serious about the American Burger. Everything on the burger menu weighs in with at least 2 patties and double cheese; it is not for the faint of heart, and there is no vegetarian option within mooing distance.
The Quintessential ($22.5) is just that – a classically over-the-top concoction of two medium-rare beef patties with triple cheddar melted over, shallots and pickles, mustard and tomato sauce, all on a sugary white bun. It is greasy and meaty, with nothing but the slight sweetness of shallots for relief. As dirty as this burger made me feel, I have to admit that I secretly loved it.
With that said, I have to admit I was an even bigger fan of The General ($22.5). Although quite similar to The Quintessential, the slightly sweeter palate was replaced by fiery jalapenos, and the aroma of caramelised onions. And before I forget, the chips were pretty great too – fluffy and lightly seasoned – not that we had much room left for them by the end.
As it turned out after a couple of hours, I wasn’t as good at burger-scoffing as I had thought. Despite having finished my burger with only slight difficulty (after donating a couple of bites to Chris), I ended up feeling downright ill from the sheer excessiveness of it for the rest of the evening. But let me be clear: this is a genuine case of it’s not you, it’s me. It’s a great burger, but make sure you practice on lesser specimens before you tackle this one.