Almost every time Cindy and I eat in the CBD we wind up heading to Shandong Mama or Shanghai Street, so we were delighted when Hayley suggested a pre-movie meal at Grand Trailer Park Taverna. Melbourne's obsession with dude-food is getting a bit tiresome, but even the most committed dumpling-heads need a change sometimes. Grand Trailer Park Taverna exploded onto Melbourne's burger scene a few years back, with queues out the door and inordinate amounts of buzz (see the blog round-up below). Things appear to have mellowed slightly, and we had no trouble getting a table early on a Tuesday night.
It's a beautiful setup, with tables nestled inside wooden caravan cut-outs and little cabins, chandeliers on the ceiling and a bright, cheerful vibe. The menu is a glorious paean to junk food, featuring ridiculous boozy milkshakes, a selection of burgers, loads of fried sides and mad dessert dishes like an ice-cream donut sandwich or the menacingly titled 'chocopalypse'. Vegans are basically going to be stuck eating chips and onion rings - it seems a shame that they haven't come up with an option or two burger-wise, but they're clearly focussing on the meaty end of the market.
The drinks menu is fantastic - we couldn't stomach the idea of boozy milkshakes, but the cocktails provided an excellent fallback option - the apple collins ($18) and dark and stormy ($18) pictured above were both superb.
Food-wise, we kicked things off with a mac 'n' cheese croquette each ($4.50). We all expected something small and spherical, so these giant squares of fried came as something of a shock.
A delicious, gooey shock.
There's just the one vego burger on the menu - the Shaquitta (chickpea patty, cheddar cheese, tomato, butter, lettuce, special burger sauce and mustard on a brioche bun, $12.50). We added a serve of the fries ($5.50) and the onion rings ($5.50) to round out the savoury portion of the meal.
The burger was adequate - heavy on the cheese and sauce, which covered for a reasonably unexciting patty. I was moaning about the brioche buns as we ordered, but this one was surprisingly okay - far from the sickly sweet mess that some places serve up. The chips and onion rings were crispy fried and salty, which is a recipe for success (and a second round of drinks).
One of the main reasons we'd ended up at Grand Trailer Park was Cindy and Hayley's shared excitement over the dessert menu. The ridiculousness is typified by the $38 giant waffle stack and the aforementioned chocopalypse (described thusly, "Look. Feel. Hear. Smell. Taste. At the end??? Have a goodnight"), but even the smaller options are a bit mad. We went for a regular waffle stack - a pair of waffles sandwiching Nutella parfait, whipped cream and strawberries all drowning in a Nutella sauce ($10).
I'd over-committed on the savoury round, so I only sampled a teeny bit of this. It was as rich and ridiculous as it looks, but that's what we were there for. This would surely be impossible for anyone to finish on their own, but split a few ways it worked well, with the strawberries providing at least some respite from the choc-creaminess of the rest.
We had fun at Grand Trailer Park Taverna - the staff were friendly and efficient and the vibe of the place was lovely. I imagine things get a bit more hectic on a Friday night, but it was a surprisingly relaxed place for dinner on a Tuesday. The food is junky and the vego options are limited, but it's worth a visit for the ridiculous desserts and great drinks.
Thoughts of a Moni provided a rare review of the vego burger, while there were very positive meaty reviews at Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Dreamer, For Food's Sake, I'm so Hungree, The Very, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Olive Sundays, New International Students, De-Briefme, Big Picture Stuff, MEL: HOT OR NOT, confessions of a little piggy, Bauble, Bubbles and Bags, Hashtag, The City Walker, Eye Eat, Dang It We Love Food, The Melbourne Glutton, Team Cheeseburger, trading plates, Gastronomical Ramblings, Foodie Melbourne, The Domestic Traveller, Fun Date Ideas, Lips Temptations, BLK's Food Blog, Eve Lovelle, Crushing on Food, Food Comatose, Mango Macarons, Ichigo Shortcake, Melbourne Vita, Kit and Kafoodle, Burgers of Melbourne, Andrew's Food Adventures, Good Food Good Karma, Eat My Words, The Food Society, Eat Like Ushi, delightfully tasty and Foodie About Town.
The Burger Adventure, Linnie Eats all the Food, Snow Crab Nebula, Journey from Within, DonutSam, Gastronomic Gems and Wandering Mint were all a bit less excited, but nobody was hugely negative about their experiences at Grand Trailer Park.
Grand Trailer Park Taverna
Upstairs at 87 Bourke Street, Melbourne
(03) 9972 3699
Accessibility: The only way in seems to be via a set of stairs, which isn't ideal. Inside, there's a mix of high and regular tables. You order at a high counter and the food is brought to your table. Toilets are gendered and not notably accessible.