Rockwell and Sons
From the outside, you can’t tell. When you take your seat, you can’t tell. But when you take your first bite, Rockwell and Sons’s fine-dining pedigree will become apparent.
Chef, co-owner and North Carolina native Casey Wall’s first job in Melbourne was in the kitchen at Cutler & Co. The menu at Rockwell is far more down-home, but the same attention to detail has been carried over in dishes such as sweet potato crisps with smoked ricotta, and smoked bone marrow with buttermilk biscuits and watercress.
For the famous double patty smash burger, two smallish balls of minced brisket and chuck steak get slapped hard onto the grill, turning them into fragmented pikelets with plenty of ragged edges ready for caramelisation. Once they’re nicely blackened, the patties are placed inside a seeded bun with Kraft cheese and elbow-tickling amounts of a creamy, mayo-like sauce that counters their potential dryness. The burger is a perfectly balanced umami bomb – one that rose to prominence in 2012, well before burger mania had properly gripped Melbourne. It’s still one of the best burgers in town.
Wall’s business partner, Manu Potoi, splits his time between here and Bar Liberty, which they also have shares in. His experience working front-of-house at Attica and Stokehouse keeps the service on point, though you won’t need much attention. This is the sort of spot where you roll in, order a couple of beers, try and fail to eat your burger slowly, and then be on your way.