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Barney Allen's

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by H. Clare Callow (subscribe)
A die-hard Melburnian who keeps being drawn away by luscious food and drinks. Be a pal and click the 'like' link below if you enjoy my article.
Published February 3rd 2015
Experience the burger to end all burgers
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The infamous Tolarno(ish) burger.

I have two words for you: Tolarno Burger.

Okay, these days it's three words. The burger that graced the bar of Hotel Tolarno, created by Iain Hewitson and taken along with him when he opened Barney Allen's just along the street, is now named for its current venue. That's just about the only thing that's changed.

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The authentic diner atmosphere.
My relationship with this burger goes back many years. Early on in my time in Melbourne, I'd wandered into Tolarno and ordered the burger on a whim. It didn't exactly suit the place to be offered a mere burger. When it came out, I found out exactly how it fit in: this was the burger to end all burgers.

Okay, let me back that hyperbole up with an adequate description. Imagine that the best burgers you've ever had somehow met and fell in love, settled down and had a kid. Just the one kid, so that they had enough money and energy to give it the best it could possibly have. They gave it the sustenance so that it beefed up, sent it to the best schools and ensured it hung around with the right type of caramelised onions. Then imagine someone tracked down this burger and somehow persuaded it to adorn your plate, nestling its bottom bun with a single dollop of dijon mustard.

This burger is the one I'd order on the rainy days when I'd wandered into Tolarno's bar, eating it perched on a stool. This is the burger I resorted to after cleaning an apartment for the end of a lease all day, dusty and exhausted, with juices running down my forearms. This is the burger to end all burgers.

This burger is that burger. A sourdough bun. A beef patty that's two inches thick. Squidgy, sweet caramelised onions, nestled beneath a layer of melted cheese. Fries if you are foolish enough to think you could fit them in. A side of Hewitson's Kick-Arse Tomato Sauce, which, for me, is an essential addition to the burger itself although it amounts to burger tampering.

Barney Allen's is a bar that attracts the business people who now make St Kilda their home. I don't fit in. Apparently neither did the dollop of dijon on the bottom of the bun, which seems to have disappeared recently (my theory about that strange addition was that it was as much a warning that you'd need a full hand washing after finishing the burger, that it was useless to try to eat it primly, as it was a way to wake up the tastebuds as you took each bite). But if you're in the area, try to find a corner that will fit you and order this burger. It's not just a staple of the area: it should be on the heritage list.
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Why? The burger of a lifetime.
When: 3pm-11pm Mon-Thur; 12pm-1am Fri; 3pm-1am Sat; 12pm-11pm Sun
Phone: (03) 9525 5477
Where: 14 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda VIC 3182
Cost: $10
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