Today, after nearly six months of work, Marcelo Tummino finished transforming the ageing Cafe Greco on Chapel Street into a larger incarnation of Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew, his three-year-old burger-and-beer joint on Brunswick Street.
“This is even more like a diner than Fitzroy, isn’t it?” he says, looking fondly at Greco’s old leather booths, which were retained. As much as the founder and former owner of The European and Melbourne Supper Club used recycled materials for the good of the environment, he did it because he enjoys a creative challenge.
The walls of BB 2.0 are thus lined with some 800 antique meat mincers, which he found on eBay and had shipped from New Jersey. They’re spaced along raw timber battens and emphasised with soft uplighting. As at Fitzroy, the space feels one-of-a-kind and comfortably lived-in.
Otherwise it’s more or less business as usual, from the cheeky, upbeat service to the jaunty rock‘n’roll soundtrack and the outstanding burgers. “We trialled burgers for two months before Fitzroy opened,” Tummino says.
South Yarra sticks to the established rules; buns are devised with help from flour and yeast companies and baked in-house daily. “I wanted my buns to be soft,” Tummino says, “I didn’t want them to be overly sweet and I wanted them to hold the ingredients together but not dominate them.”
The patties contain nothing more than Wagyu mince sourced from Mayura Station in South Australia. That’s not as special now as it might have been 10 years ago, before Wagyu started appearing on every menu. The difference is that Mayura’s cows are full-blood, rather than half or quarter. And unlike some restaurants, Brother Burger doesn’t blend the mince with that of any other breed.
“The beautiful thing about Wagyu is that the fat content melts at 28 degrees,” Tummino says. “So literally, if you put it in your palm, it starts melting. When you put it on the grill, a lot of it just melts away, so you're not getting an intense fattiness."
For customers not interested in beef, there are burgers made from mung beans, mushrooms, chicken, pork and lamb. And for true blasphemers, several types of salad are available. But whatever the main; sides and house-made condiments are pretty much mandatory, such as onion rings with chilli jam or fat chips with blue-cheese sauce.
Finally, there are the drinks. With 15 beer taps, South Yarra is slightly better off than Fitzroy, where there are nine. As a result things will be slightly more predictable, with three taps pouring the same drop for a year at a time.
The remaining taps will host just a single keg each before switching over. If beer’s not your thing, take a crack at the hard milkshakes, where rum, tequila and bourbon meet the traditional blue heaven, banana and vanilla flavours.
Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew South Yarra
560 Chapel Street, South Yarra
(03) 9041 1393
Sun to Thu 12pm‒11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm‒2am