For two whole years, Paul Hendrie spent long nights driving a forklift on the docks and happy days building Kustom Burgers, his new diner in Thornbury. “Each week I’d put some money together and buy a piece of equipment,” he says, “maybe go on eBay and find different quirky little pieces – car parts and different grills and headlights.”
His passion shows. The car-themed space is rich with detail, from the old flip-out ashtrays which adorn the counter (you can’t use them, of course) to the faux checker plate on the walls. There’s also an entire pick-up truck parked inside, with a working slot-car circuit set up on the tray.
The car love extends to the burgers, which are grass-fed beef with names such as F150 and FJ Holden, and come on your choice of plain or brioche. Chilli fiends can well and truly meet their match with the Hot Rod, which is fuelled by a habanero and chipotle sauce measuring 120,000 Scoville Heat Units. “A couple of drops of this stuff, it’ll almost burn a hole through the table,” Hendrie says. He designed the burgers himself after much tasting and experimentation. “I put them all on paper and sketched out how I wanted them to look, how I’d stack them,” he says.
Despite this, David Rogan, who worked at Beatbox Kitchen and helped set up Mr Burger, is the one who runs the grill. He also makes mushroom or chicken burgers with jalapenos and chipotle mayo. Then there’s a huge range of extras including one-kilogram rib-eye steaks, wings, dogs, slaw and incredible beer-battered fries caked in a reddish spice powder.
The only downside is the current lack of alcohol, but if the milkshakes, spiders and American sodas can’t scratch your itch, then Carwyn Cellars’ Back Room Bar is only a few doors down.
861 High Street, Thornbury
(03) 9484 9316
Sun to Wed 11am‒9pm
Fri to Sat 11am‒1am