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Burger Brothers & chookas charcoal chicken Howitt street wendouree ballarat + gellato

I droppWP_20170824_14_20_27_Proed into burger brothers & chookas charcoal chicken at Howitt street wendouree for a quick, and hopefully good value lunchtime feed.  The food I ordered was competent, fresh, and tasty enough, but I wasn’t blown away- for the price I expected a bit more- Sadly, the “big brother” burger turned out to be more like a bland accountant or conservative public servant type, not a bad boy that plays in a band, rides motorbikes, and hoons about in his terminally unregistered commodore, outrunning police on a regular basis.

The shop is a tidy looking place, but to be honest, the decor needs some creative flair- with a bit of effort, it could be made to look a bot more interesting than what appears to be a bog standard retail shop with a few counters, tables and a kitchen plonked in round the back- sadly, its got a a bit of a sterile, generic aWP_20170824_14_20_30_Prond impersonal feel.

The owners & staff appear to be Mediterranean, probably Greek, with what looks like multiple generations of the family working the counters and kitchens, and milling in and out of the shop at various points. A few more family photos of years gone by and other more personal touches would go a long way in brightening the place up and  giving it some soul. – You see that sort of thing in ethnic foodshops almost universally around Australia, and it gives a homely air to the establishment.

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The “big brother” burger I ordered came out quickly, was tasty, with a nice big bun, and decent salad, fresh tomato… perfect bacon & egg… overall a very competent burger, but it wasn’t mindblowingly awesome, or unique in any real way.- for the price of $11, plus extra for the chips, I kind of expected a bit more than boring. Maybe some special sauce to zing it up a bit at least?

WP_20170824_14_29_33_ProThe big let down was the fact that the meat pattie was bland as cardboard- typical Aussie or maccas american style, when at other Greek shops, they usually do something interesting with it, adding spices, bacon, onions or other vegetables to make it juicier and more interesting, similar to my own burger recipe , which I unashamedly nicked the core of from Nshry in port melbourne.

Possibly my fault for choosing the menu item at the very top, but I did expect that it would be a flagship burger that would have some sort of wow factor.

Other favourite places in town, such as I lover burgers & kebabs and round the way really have the formula down pat- instant MMMMM! factor, and they both offer something a bit uniquely different.

Burger Brothers & chooks’s charcoal chicken also stocks famous Triano’s Gelato- I’m yet to give it a go, but it certainly looks pretty good! The charcoal chicken offering or other burgers on the menu may also be worth a raz.

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Tin Roof Cafe & Pizza- MacArthur Street- Soldiers Hill- Ballarat

This little place just opened up a couple weeks ago just down the road from my usual neighborhood, and I decided to give it a go on its opening day.070520161899

The cafe’s fresh fitout is quite nice, and well thought out, with an emphasis on being light and airy.

That said, it isn’t anything original and unique, which screams “This is where da crew from Soldiers Hill hang out, alright”  and there are no low_riders parked on the curb…..

Ok, enough references to cypress hill. the band. Lets get back to the cafe. and all its copy-cat, me too potted plastic succulent table number markers.

070520161902The concept here seems to be cafe + pizza parlour + Souvlaki. Ok, that’s original. trying everything I suppose to see what the residents of the b-rat’s most famous and oldest neighbourhood want I suppose?

Upon entering, i was most dazzled by the horde of staff milling about- about a 2-1 ratio for the 6 odd customers that were settling in over lunch. Enthusiastic, young new starters, obviously, and hopefully getting paid for their likely “Trial day” I hope!

Anyway, the girls were friendly and cheerful, and I couldn’t fault the service, they certainly were keen, chatty and attentive, as was the probable owner, an older lady.070520161901

We ordered a couple coffees and a “soldiers hill special” pizza.

The pizza took a while to come out, and was tasty enough, but for $20 I was a little unastounded.

To be honest, it was probably the presentation that ruined it for me- the cheap looking shredded ham, highly visible on top of the pizza reminded me of a home modified Mccain or Pappa Guiseppe supermarket pizza, like the sort I might cook when feeling lazy, adding extra cheese and quality ingredients on top.

Maybe i’m being harsh though- the actual pizza is in the pic above- zoom in and take a look, judge for yourself.

Being an establishment that seemed like it was pitching for the more gourmet end of town, I was naturally nonplussed- I had imagined a kind of “pizza pie”, or wood fired deliciousness like I had had at other similarly priced Italian restaurants before.

That said, the pizza was pretty good, just not any better than I could make myself, which was what I was dearly hoping for. I spoke to the chef about, how it tasted a lot better than it looked, sensitively, of course,and he angrily rebuffed my feedback, suggesting I buy a “gourmet” line pizza off the menu next time, not a traditional. Maybe he was right, the other pizzas might be better.

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The silly hipster plastic pot plant of a succulent. Looks nice till you peer closely… then its just tacky.

Comment below if you give these guys a try. With an arrogant chef that doesn’t take feedback though, I’m not sure how long, he, or the business will last if the business model relied off late night pizzas.

One thing i do have regrets about though, was not trying the souvlaki they had on offer instead.

One of the excitable serving girls was having lunch next to us, and had chosen a big, tasty lamb souvlaki. We could SEE how big,  good, and fresh it looked, and could smell how delicious it was, even from the ten paces away to her table. We waved her over, and had a chat to her- she confirmed how ridiculously tasty it was.

Either way, the only competition is a little fish and chips place down the road on Doveton north, which I have tried, and their souvlaki was pretty average.

I’d say its a pretty safe bet that if you want a Souvlaki in solders hill, the Tin Roof might be a good place to go. It’s pizza, however, isn’t likely to be serious competition to THE FORGE on armstrong.

The coffee was ok, and i’ll come back here because its nice and close to where I regularly loiter in this neighborhood.

UPDATE! – I visited Tin Roof again a little while back, and tried out a souvlaki, and have just uploaded the pictures- you can read more about it here and see what the verdict is.

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