I'm a Melbourne girl, born and bred, and new resident of Geelong. Fantabulous adventures await as I explore my gorgeous new city and the stunning Surf Coast. But don’t worry—I’ll be crossing the bridge regularly to get my Melbourne fix.
Published August 29th 2015
Get on it at On It Burgers
Melbourne has come a long way in the where-can-you-get-a-decent-burger-stakes over the last few years, and no longer are you resigned to grabbing a thin, tasteless burger from the Golden Arches, or a sloppy, greasy number from your local fish and chip shop. Gourmet burger joints are popping up all over town, and On It Burgers in Ferntree Gully is coming along for the ride. And we are so glad they are.
Opening in March of this year, On It Burgers might not look like your typical gourmet burger place. For starters, it's in an old, converted fast-food place that may have once housed Colonel Sanders and his fried chicken, then it was a Thai restaurant for a while (or was it Indian?). And if the building itself hasn't thrown you as being a gourmet burger joint, the location sure might. It's in Ferntree Gully, at the foothills of the Dandenongs, on a very non-descript section of Burwood Highway. It's not in a hip and happening laneway in the CBD, hidden away so that only 'those in know' can find it. It's not opposite the beach in funky, crazy, anything-goes St Kilda, or nestled among the trendy restaurants and cafes of Port Melbourne or Fitzroy or Carlton. Nope, it's on the edge of suburbia, about 35 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne, surrounded by a steels sales yard, car dealerships and an RV sales centre—quite the unlikely locale for gourmet burgers.
But unlikely or not, On It Burgers is oh so welcome out in the 'burbs of Ferntree Gully, and will certainly give other newly popped-up gourmet burger joints closer to the city a run for their money. It's been a long time coming for us who dwell on the outskirts of Melbourne to indulge in the world of premium burgers, and judging by the number of people packed into On It Burgers this last Friday night, these sentiments are shared by many.
The interior is nothing fancy, although it is a far cry from the fast-food take-away place it once was. Grey carpeting on the floor, soft downlights and dark wood tables and chairs have replaced ugly fluorescent tubes, Laminex tables and typical fast-food restaurant floor tiles. There a few cosy booths along one side of the restaurant (hot property on a Friday night) and you can pull up a stool at the long wooden counter along the front window. The outside is pretty cool too—wooden decking boards take you up the double front doors (which, by the way, are wooden too—just a bit more special than greasy, finger-print covered glass doors that are standard issue in the fast-food restaurant world), and a funky cow sculpted out of corrugated iron has parked himself on the manicured patch of grass just outside the entrance.
Downlights, cool wooden tables and carpet on the floor give the restaurant a warm atmosphere - and very un fast food-like
But that's enough about the aesthetics of the place. You want to know about the burgers, right? Well, I'll tell you: they're good. Damn good. And whilst I wouldn't call myself a huge burger fan (fries and milkshakes are more my thing—surprise, surprise), my companion certainly is—and he has a LOT of experience in the burger-eating world, and thus has a lot of benchmarks. And On It Burgers certainly came up trumps. We placed our order at the counter, grabbed our number and snagged a table, which was not an easy feat, given how busy it was. We were prepared for a fairly lengthy wait, especially given the two big tables in the centre with groups of around eight on each (which, interestingly to note, had 'Reserved' signs placed in the middle—a bit of bonus that the restaurant actually accepts reservations, and handy to know if you plan on visiting with a big group), but the stream of burgers and fries coming out from behind the swinging doors was constant, and before we knew it, our order had arrived.
The swinging door to the deliciousness that is prepared in the kitchen behind it
After seeing a steady parade of food coming out before ours, we started to get an idea of how good it was. When I realised ours was coming, a halo appeared above the blonde hair of our lovely young waitress, and I'm sure she had angel wings. Oh yes, I'm sounding melodramatic, but it was Friday night, we were hungry (nothing unusual there), and smell of deliciousness in the air was starting to torment us.
Even before we dug into our food, it looked the goods. The burgers were on cool wooden boards, stacked high on buns with a bit of substance (no thin, sugar-laden pieces of fluff here), with tomato, melted cheese and a big leaf of butter lettuce poking out the sides. The burger patties themselves are made out of fresh, grass-feed beef, and you can taste the difference. Prepared daily in-house, they were meaty with a bit of a bite, but tender and juicy enough without having grease run down your arms after every mouthful. The 'On It' sauce on my burger was tangy and smoky and gave the burger a bit of a kick, but it was nothing compared to the Popping Jalapeno burger my partner had—the menu said it was hot, and boy, was it HOT. And the best things to accompany two pretty fantastic burgers? Equally fantastic milkshakes, fries and onion rings (I told you we were hungry—and for the purposes of research, we of course had to try both the fries and the onion rings).
The onion rings were deliciously crispy on the outside, the onion soft in the middle, with just enough oil to lick your fingers afterwards to savour the light, oniony taste. The fries were equally good, and whilst you can order a number of different flavours (such as rosemary & thyme, and garlic & basil), we chose the traditional plain with sea salt, and we weren't disappointed. Thick and hot, we got through our cool brown cardboard box of fries easily, all washed down with our milkshakes in the funky striped cups. I'm a bit of a milkshake addict, and like my shakes thick—so thick that you can barely slurp them up through the straw. And whilst the shakes at On It Burgers were not quite that thick (there was definitely a bit of slurp in the straw), they were GOOD, and quite obviously full of a hefty amount of ice cream. They have 13 flavours of shakes on the menu, some traditional and some not so traditional—I'm planning to work my way through each flavour one by one. You know, for research purposes. And if milkshakes aren't really your thing on a Friday night, On It Burgers also offer a small range of beer on tap, as well as some bottled craft beers—perfect to partner with your premium burger and gourmet fries. And if you're really feeling fancy, you can bling up your burger with extra cheese, bacon rashers or even bacon jam. And they do cater to the non-beef eaters out there with crispy chicken burgers, a soft-shell crab burger, and even a vegetarian burger.
It's a tough call to decide which is better at On It Burgers - their delicious opinion rings or equally delicious (and addictive) fries.
As much as I love the vibrancy that the inner city of Melbourne exudes, sometimes it's nice to be able to satisfy a craving for a decent burger (and fries and milkshake) that doesn't require a three-hour round trip journey, GPS instructions and worrying about where on earth to park. And I'm the first to admit that I'm not exactly the most hip and trendy milkshake-loving gal going around, and there are times when I don't want to get dressed up all fancy-like to go out to eat. Sometimes, I just want to wear my comfy old jeans, or even—gasp—a pair of tracksuit pants (can I even admit that in writing?), but still be able to get some good quality food from somewhere that doesn't have a drive-thru or a kids' playground or mass-produced burgers that may or may not contain real beef. And sure, On It Burgers might be a little higher in price than the Golden Arches or your local fish and chip shop just up the highway, but you get what you pay for. For good quality burgers, the tastiest fries this side of the Yarra and a nice cold beer (or milkshake), it's worth it to splurge every now and again. Even if it is when you're wearing your tracksuit pants.
The perfect burger meal - complete with fries, onion rings and shakes.