Surprisingly, it can be hard to get right. Every so often you try one of Melbourne's newest additions to the burger craze and leave sorely disappointed with an average sandwich and wasted calories.
There's a lot to take into consideration: Is the bun right? Is it a milk bun? A brioche? Did they toast it first? Lather it with butter? What about the patty: Is it thick and juicy? Seasoned? Well-done or medium? And the cheese – is it American cheddar? Did they use French's mustard? Or make their own ketchup?
The seating is primarily benches and booths - cozy!
I didn't even know that 8Bit existed until August last year when my brother came to visit from Sydney and suggested we eat there. I hadn't been to Footscray before either – having only heard interesting things - and we hesitantly ate in the diner on our way back from the airport.
Aside from feeling a little heavy afterwards, the burgers were perfection, and would be ideal for a hangover. I've always loved Huxtaburger's namesake, but the 8Bit with Cheese was pretty damned good.
When I became a vegetarian in February, I thought that I would really miss eating burgers. I loved finding new burger places in Melbourne every couple of weeks, and they really were the best thing after a big night.
Enter the lowly vegetarian burger, and all was right again in the world. It's even harder to do well than it's beefy brother, and I've enjoyed revisiting some of my old burger joints to try the forgotten, healthier alternative.
When my boss suggested we hit up 8Bit for a birthday lunch, I was pretty excited about trying the 1 Up Mushroom burger. I'd done my research, and the reviews were killer.
I was impressed with their attempt to create a veggie burger similar in structure to their regular fare. Most of the time, burger joints try to create a completely separate vegetarian burger that doesn't reflect its American cheese/mustard/ketchup'd carnivorous cousin.
Instead, most burger joints make it fancy with pesto and chargrilled capsicums and it ends up resembling a roast veggie stack with balsamic glaze instead of an actual burger. Don't get me wrong, this is delicious (and I've essentially just described the Grill'd Field of Dreams – which happens to be my favourite vegetarian burger, period).
But 8Bit actually created a vegetarian burger with a structure similar to their 8Bit with cheese, replacing the beef patty with a crumbed and deep-fried mushroom.
It comes complete with a glossy brioche bun, American cheese, a crumbed mushroom, tomato, red onion, green tomato relish, lettuce, mustard and their signature 8bit sauce.
The idea to use a crumbed mushroom as the patty was really different and made the burger feel similar to a schnitzel. It also helped stop the mushroom from leaking all over my hands, which can happen with other burgers that use the versatile mushroom as their star ingredient.
I was looking forward to the green tomato relish, but it ended up being kind of indistinguishable from the rest of the ingredients. I kind of wish it had pickles and ketchup to round out the standard American burger vibe it was giving off, but I guess the relish does make it a little more unique.
The 1 Up Mushroom Burger with Onion Rings & Smoky BBQ Sauce.
I grabbed a side of onion rings with mayo and their smoky BBQ sauce, and wow - that stuff is good! Try dipping first into the mayo and then into the BBQ sauce - it's creamy, smoky, barbecue-y goodness like nothing you've ever tried. The onion rings were lovely and thick too, making them extra juicy.
Team lunch tucking into the offering at 8bit in Footscray.
While not my favourite vegetarian burger in Melbourne, it definitely had it's own individual merit and wins brownie points for being the closest thing to a proper American-style burger I've had in a while. Get a side of the delicious onion rings and you'll be 2/5 serves of veggies for the day...kind of!