29 Sep Merrywell Upstairs, Southbank
Today I had the opportunity to try Merrywell Upstairs for lunch. I’m not big on American food, but seeing as the Merrywell Burger ($22) is apparently one of the best burgers around here, I thought I’d give it a go. The burger bar is Merrywell Downstairs, but we have an Entertainment Guide discount only for the Upstairs section. According to the online menus, Upstairs served a burger (the Merrywell Angus Burger) that was almost the same as Downstairs, the main difference being served with a brioche rather than a white bun, and lettuce, tomato and onion being skewered on top of the burger instead of being inside.
The exact descriptions are:
Merrywell Angus: Aged Cheddar, Bacon, Secret Sauce, Caramelised Onions, LTO, Pickle, Fries ($24)
Merrywell: Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions, Tomato, Special Sauce, Bacon, French Fries ($22)
There were a few others waiting outside the restaurant just before opening time, but I was the only one who went upstairs. I actually had to wait for about 5 minutes for someone to notice me and at one point a security guard at the entrance to the casino asked me to get a maintenance person to open the door to the restaurant. As I sat down with the menu I was crestfallen to find that the Merrywell Angus Burger wasn’t on it. I had a feeling I’d been given the dinner menu, but when I inquired about the burger I was told they’d changed the menu and now serve the Double Beef burger. This new burger was $28 – $4 more than the Merrywell Angus and without chips. That price puts it above Rockpool’s David Blackmore’s Full-blood Wagyu burger ($24 + beware of Sunday surcharge), supposedly the best in Melbourne, or his Mishima wagyu burger, which is comparable to the Kobe wagyu. I wasn’t too upset about the loss of chips, seeing as I don’t usually eat chips and especially not when there’s already a huge burger, but the higher price and exclusion of chips did raise my expectations quite a lot.
When I booked my seat yesterday I was put through to the Crown restaurant booking service, who had the same menus as what was found on the website, so I’d assumed it was up-to-date. I hadn’t planned on spending $20+ on a burger, even with a 25% discount, because I’m not exactly a burger person. I find it incredibly frustrating when restaurants haven’t updated their menus and I only want to go there to eat a specific item. Apparently this new menu has been in place for a few weeks, so I don’t know why the website still hasn’t been updated. I briefly considered moving downstairs to have the Merrywell Burger, since that was what I really wanted and I’d be paying about the same price either way, but I’d already sat down. Maybe I should have double checked the menu before taking my seat. I also thought about getting the popular mini Wagyu burgers instead, but since I had a voucher it would be wiser to utilise it for something more expensive. If I wished to return I could have the Merrywell then, though, I’m pretty reluctant to spend that much on burgers in the first place and would probably prefer to spend an extra $2 to have the Rockpool wagyu burger. Anyway, I resigned to the fact that I’d have to eat something different even though it was more expensive, and tried to remain positive so I could still enjoy my meal.
The description for the Double Beef Burger was: Angus patty, beef short rib, foie gras butter and cheddar. The burger arrived open-faced with a fried egg sprinkled with rock salt and a caramelised slice of onion (neither were disclosed on the menu), half a pickle and the foie gras butter on the side. I don’t normally like pickles, but this one was quite nice and actually tasted like cucumber. Maybe I’ve been influenced too much by McDonald’s pickles. I thought I’d try a bit of patty and short rib before assembling everything. The short rib was tender and tasty, but there wasn’t a lot of it – there was only enough to cover about a third of the bun. Even though I’d asked for the patty to be cooked pink (the other option was well-done) and it oozed with juices when I cut into it, when I was eating the burger it was oddly dry and slightly crumbly. I was also saddened when I pressed the top half of the bun onto the egg and all the yolk ran out onto the plate. Of course, that wasn’t their fault; I just hadn’t realised it was runny.
The burger was quite tall and I couldn’t fit everything in at the same time, especially seeing as I don’t have the world’s biggest mouth. Perhaps I should have eaten it with cutlery to taste all the ingredients together. The burger was somewhat bland without the short rib (there wasn’t enough of it to last long) and the butter. The butter was what made the burger, but unfortunately it couldn’t overcome my disappointment with the texture of the patty.
As I finished my burger two people sat on the table next to me and one commented that he was going to get the Merrywell Burger. I was confused and annoyed that the menu was different and that the waitress didn’t seem to know that the Merrywell was still on the menu. When I paid for lunch I had a quick look at the menu on the desk and was somewhat relieved to find that although I had been given the dinner menu instead of the lunch one, as suspected, the burger was called the “Merrywell Double Beef Burger”, as opposed to “Double Beef Burger” on the dinner menu. I was also pleased to find that the burger was $26 at lunchtime, so I wasn’t spending over $20 on a burger (though only just). I suppose the discounted price wasn’t too bad considering a typical, pricier brunch dish costs ~$18 nowadays, and it was still 50c cheaper than the croque madame at Hardware Societe. Although I missed out on the Merrywell Burger and it’s special sauce, I’m not too keen on returning. As mentioned earlier, if I had to pay that much for a burger I’d prefer to pay slightly more and go to Rockpool instead.
Cnr Clarendon St & Crown Riverside
Southbank, VIC, 3006
(03) 9292 7468