One sunny spring afternoon whilst jogging around the hood with my brother, our minds fully focused on getting fit…we started talking about burger joints.
He’s been working around Dandenong and was raving about the Pavilion, with high claims that it has some of the best burgers in town. I asked whether it was one of those burgers you just regret afterwards, and he answered, “All you feel is sadness that the burger is gone”.
It came with a disclaimer though – while the main menu offers a choice between a humble beef or chicken burger, my brother said you must ask for the ‘secret burger menu’ which features more interesting burger concoctions. I was a little cynical that this was just my brother stitching me up to ask for some non-existent menu, but my curiosity (and stomach) gave in, and so off I went the following weekend to check it out.
I went with a friend who shotgunned not to ask for the secret menu, so it was up to me… and I was pleasantly surprised when I asked the waiter for it and they smiled back with a “Ah, yes we do”.
Ta-da! It exists:
I had the “Tsar”, which features a beef patty, cheddar cheese, bacon, beetroot, black Russian tomatoes, a pickle, shallot and horseradish sauce all sandwiched between a brioche bun.
And boy it was VERY good. The patty was super juicy and the brioche bun was light without that cloying feeling afterwards. The beetroot and pickles pulled everything back together.
Bonus points also for the excellent chips (my Achilles heel).
My friend chose the same combo as my brother, which was “The General” – two patties, double cheese, pickles, onions, mustard and jalapeno and tomato sauce.
The good thing is that there’s at least another three options on the secret menu which gives me an excuse to come back…
Nearby The Pavilion is Dandenong Market, which doesn’t pretend to be anything fancy, it’s a simple but comprehensive market to get your get good quality fresh produce, plus a few extra essential items, such as hot jam donuts (of course).
They are also do some live cooking demonstrations throughout the day. The market was packed on the Saturday morning and there seemed to be quite a good range of options in the food court area.
Caribbean Gardens Market
Along the similar vibe is Caribbean Gardens Market in Scoresby, where I used to spend many weekends as a kid – full of memories of looking at the tables full of cheap ‘gold’ watches, hermit crabs and gold fish for sale, the fake gleaming Pokemon cards (which I fell for) and climbing the nautical monuments in the park.
My friend and I decided to relive the memories and visit it on a Sunday afternoon. And while the market is looking a little more tired than as I remember as a kid, one thing has stayed the same – the hot jam donuts. Yes, they may be double the price compared to when I had them in 1998 – but the fact is that it’s the same oozy, sugary, delicious donut (that I still manage to make a mess of more than a decade later).
Also hanging around the market till near the closure time has it’s advantages – vendors practically giving away boxes of strawberries at 6 boxes for 6 bucks.
Consuming strawberries make up for the lack of nutritional value in jam donuts, don’t they?
Also a quick shout out to my wonderful Dad, Happy Father’s Day! I wouldn’t be the same person without you.
And there’s also nothing like breakfast outdoors at home in the sunshine.
P.S. Apologies that this post comes after a long hiatus as I’ve been away for the past few months due to work. Melbourne, it’s good to be back – bring on Spring!
- Burgers at Dandenong Pavilion: 55-61 Princes Highway, Dandenong, http://www.dpav.com.au/ (ask for the secret burger menu)
- Dandenong Market: Clow St, Dandenong, http://www.dandenongmarket.com.au/ (Open Tues, Fri, Sat and Sun)
- Caribbean Gardens (Market): 1280 Ferntree Gully Road, Scoresby, http://caribbeangardens.com.au/market/(Open Wed, Fri, Sun)