420 Sydney Road, Brunswick 3056
(03) 9380 8667
I’ll be honest: I’ve had a lot of bad vege burgers in my life. From crappy supermarket-bought patties to that one burger I had at a quasi-Australian restaurant in Vietnam called “Boomerang”, I’ve had my fair share of disappointments in the way of this humble sandwich. So when I heard that The Penny Black, the pub that sits pretty on the eclectic Sydney Road, sold haloumi burgers, I was excited but hesitant. I was not reassured when I saw that it was $12 on their special burger night, down from a crazy $16. Particularly considering this was the pub I went to for some cheap $6 pizzas and ciders every now and then. But the prospect of haloumi, the oh-so-delicious fried cheese hailing from Cyprus, lured me nevertheless.
Sydney Road in Brunswick is a strange place. Made up of fifty percent bridal shops, fifty percent Asian restaurants, Penny Blacks sticks out like a sore thumb with it’s brightly lit sign and slightly indented location. It’s easily accessible, given that the tram runs straight from the city to the front of the pub. When I visited on Thursday, a band was performing hardcore music with lyrics in some eastern European language, so there was a minor complication with the bill. Unable to hear me, the bar wench overcharged us by a substantial amount but this was sorted out after some careful calculating and confusion. Rather than listening to the next band, which happened to be Chilean (we seemed to have arrived during an international band competition), we decided to sit out in the outdoor beer garden out the back. The garden has a much different vibe, with foliage and lanterns everywhere making it feel pretty chill. The back bar is also convenient.
Our burgers arrived relatively quickly but immediately, I was disappointed. For $12, I was expecting a burger that would be so filling, that it makes me wish for hunger, much like my beloved burgers from Grill’d or Lord of the Fries. But what I received was tiny. So small that once I finished my meal, I was still hungry – I even resorted to a cheeky chocolate sundae from McDonalds. Maybe I’m just greedy but it seemed more like the size of an entree and this was a big downside to the meal. Particularly since the burger was actually really good. With haloumi cheese, beetroot, pickles and all of that good stuff, it had an interesting flavour that was simultaneously salty and sweet. It was quite hard to eat, as the bun fell apart a bit (this is a huge pet peeve of mine) but I enjoyed it immensely. Teamed with a pot of cider, it was burger heaven. The chips were pretty average with perhaps a bit too much salt on them but I suspected that they were there simply to make us feel less gypped at the size of the meal.
As much as I wanted to like this meal, I was left feeling pretty unhappy. I don’t believe that you can have too much of a good thing but you can certainly have too little, and after handing over $12, I wanted to be filled to the brim with burger goodness. As much as I love haloumi cheese, I don’t think it’s really worth the bother — and god help you if you go on a night besides Burger Thursday.
- Taste: 9/10
- Nutrition: 6/10
- Atmosphere: 7/10
- Cost: 2/10
- Convenience: 5/10
- Overall: 29/50