Melbourne burger maestros Josh Lefers and Dani Zeini (Grand Trailer Park Taverna) and Jimmy Hurlston (Easey’s) have extended the transport themes of their other venues (caravans and trains), and taken their knack for shaping a top-notch burger west. They have opened a destination diner, Truck Stop Deluxe in Werribee.
The building is a long, narrow space in which the team has parked a few big rigs. “We had to crane the cab off, take out the front window and forklift it through. Then we put the second one in afterwards, so had to cut that one off a bit more and carry it over the bar,” Lefers says.
Replicating a traditional truckers rest stop, diners can take a seat in the two cabs, or pull up a stool in the re-envisioned cargo. Horseshoe booths mimic sitting in the drivers seat with dashboard controls and screens looping videos of tarmac. The back room is a breezy barn, with louvre windows, Astroturf beneath your feet and hazard flags overhead.
This burger joint could come across as big, bad and intimidating. Sure it’s a place to wolf down a mean double-patty burger, chilli-laden fries and a spiked shake. But there’s also something decidedly humble about the diner – it’s a locale where a father and son can climb joyfully inside a big rig to eat lunch, burgers can come wrapped “protein-style” in a tidy bun-mimicking lettuce cup, and the staff is friendly and relaxed.
Indulgent waffle stacks doused in whipped cream and Nutella aside, the menu has some wholesome elements, such as grass-fed Australian beef patties, truffle-cayenne mayonnaise and Black Russian tomatoes, making the experience less In-N-Out monster-burger style and more of a quality-driven affair.
The McDowell is Zeini’s renowned homage to the Big Mac, while The Claire Underwood is the “biggest, baddest vegetarian burger” featuring an organic potato and chickpea patty and a mac‘n’cheese croquette. There’s buttermilk fried chicken, sweet-potato fries and doughnut ice-cream sandwiches to round out a meal. Then there’s a key lime pie daiquiri, Budweiser or boilermaker – just make sure you’ve decided who’s driving home before your food coma sets in.