HUXTABURGER: 106 Smith Street, Collingwood, Melbourne
Can the only question be this? Would I go back for the food if the restaurant didn’t have a concept?
Huxtaburger’s is of an American diner-style “burger joint”, with a sit-down counter up near the grill action, with further seating back against a wall and some tables outside. It is slick, smooth and clean, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It sells cold beers and a choice of hamburgers named after family members/actors of the great 80s TV show, The Cosby Show. Bills is your average Huxtaburger (beef, lettuce, tomato, pickle, mustard, mayo, cheese) plus bacon, egg, pineapple and beetroot. The Theo is another variation on that, and the Denise is the Huxtaburger with jalapenos, ’cause she’s the hot one. And there’s a Rudy for the kids. So far so good, in isolation. All their patties – ground up meat remember – is wagyu; unfortunately not an isolated anything at all these days. And the couple of times I have been there, it has been frequented by many a hipster, the queues getting very long. But even that’s bearable, depending on what comes out on the other side.
Here’s the problem. There is too much going on here. The first time I got a Huxtaburger some time back, it was cold, so long it took to be arranged just right. That annoyed me so much that whatever else was going on with the food did not matter. The second time around, this time, it was a little warmer, which is an improvement, but the image of a dozen buns being lined up on the counter, dressed up and then waiting around for ages for their date, the patties, to be getting ready, disturbed.
When my Huxtaburger finally arrived on its silver tray and I took a bite, I then remembered the calamity of the brioche bun – what must surely be the most annoying trend in Melbourne today – particularly befouling the now ubiquitous but heroic mini-burger, at a bar near you. Its sweetness just does not mix with the fried cheese, burger meat, mayo and eventually congealed cheese, no matter how far and wide it is seemingly demanded. The mustard is sweet enough as it is. And if their miniscule portion of pickles were any bigger – a lucky accident – I’d be having a sweet overload. And when the bottom bun is really thin, and mine certainly was, it gets soggier than an everyday takeaway burger stuck in a plastic bag for the drive back home fifteen minutes away. You end up holding the remaining soggy piece of Brioche, finger indents in it like a piece of dough, up to your mouth, your other hand hovering on the beer, ready to wash the whole thing away.