Leave the sleeping bag at home, but bring your holiday pants to the inner-city trailer park grilling great burgers and spiking their shakes
When ‘gaudy caravan park’ is the theme for your burger bar in central Melbourne, leaving the chandeliers up from the previous tenants actually works in your favour. The space above the 7-11 on the corner of Bourke and Exhibition Streets used to be a Chinese joint called Happy Palace, and a few choice furnishings from this time have survived the makeover. Now the glittering chandeliers share ceiling space with a mirror ball and garlands of colourful festoon lighting and the golden dragon door handles also survived the purge. It’s like prom night in a trailer park.
The indoor-outdoor action at the Grand Trailer Park Taverna takes its cues from vintage holidays. There are sturdy picnic tables and faux-rusted chairs. You can set up inside a little indoor cubby complete with corrugated iron roof, or you can try and lock down a spot inside one of the trailers. They’ve got boxy little caravans lined in hibiscus print and shiny shells designed to look like vintage Airstreams encasing tall tables and big booths that you can book so long as you have 11 hungry friends.
If you are short on small armies needing a feed, it’s a first-come, first-served system and it gets riotously popular at lunchtime – they’ve been known to sell out of burgers. Luckily the staff is a friendly crew who try and squeeze everyone in.
When it’s going to take more than a sugar rush to get your afternoon quick-firing, order up a spiked milkshake. They throw a good glug of Maker’s Mark bourbon into milkshake glass with a light gold salt caramel syrup and milk to make a super-sweet shake that’s boozy without tasting like it – danger, Will Robinson! The garnish for this frothy cocktail is a strip of candied bacon. Cold bacon, even when crusted in caramelised sugar, is not quite as gratifying as hot bacon, but it’s still a lot of fun.
The cocktail menu champions American classics, like the Gin Rickey, a Corpse Reviver No. 2, and a Mai Tai. If you’ve got to head back to the office after lunch there’s Squires, Dos Blockos, Boags and Heineken on tap, or you can just grab a can of Coke.
The basic cheeseburger here is a winner. It’s called the KSA – that stands for kick some ass – and it’s a beef patty with American cheddar melted onto it, topped with tomato, butter lettuce, the house’s specialty burger sauce and mustard on a brioche bun. Forget clean eating and upgrade to the Francis Underwood (named for House of Cards’ soul-food loving Washington schemer), which takes the KSA burger as a base and then crams it with a golden, fried mac’n’cheese and potato croquette. Don’t dig meat? Mushrooms get the starring role in the vegetarian burger with an umami-heavy mushroom mince patty.
Melbourne may be rich in burgers (Rockwell and Sons and Huxtaburger are making it rain) but its caravan park quota had been sub-par until the Grand Trailer Park Taverna rolled into town with a convoy of booze and burgers you’ll want to hitch your wagon to.
|Venue name:||The Grand Trailer Park Taverna|
87 Bourke St
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sat 11.30am-late|
|Transport:||Nearby stations: Parliament|