“Not another burger joint,” said no Melburnian, ever. Especially not this beef-and-bun-obsessed Lister, who was eagerly anticipating good things when local burger baron Dani Zeini’s latest venture, Royal Stacks, opened on the bottom end of Collins Street last month. So I headed in for an early-bird dinner on a Saturday night (because, mid-30s), and was quite surprised to see it was already heaving. Mainly with families at this hour, but still.
Dani (of Dandenong Pavilion, Easey’s, Grand Trailer Park Taverna and Truck Stop Deluxe renown), has drawn inspo for Royal Stacks from US hits Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger, with a local twist. And there are more to come—a series of Royal Stacks restaurants are set to roll out across Melbourne, with Brunswick up next.
Upon entering, the NY-loft style space—high ceilings, vertical garden, cement floors, requisite neon ‘burger’ sign, exposed bulbs and chocolate brown banquettes—while not revolutionary, appear far slicker than your average fast food joint. But who am I kidding? I’m here for the eats.
On the menu are eight burgers, plus fries and potato gems—which come loaded with cheese or straight up—a handful of beers and duo of wines (hey, this is not a bar, people), plus their signature frozen custard, a silky smooth twist on traditional ice cream that’s super popular in the US but relatively new to our shores.
I’ve brought a girlfriend along for the ride, and we decide to go halvsies in The King and the Bacon Bacon, plus some potato gems. The burgers, which are ready in around five minutes, are pretty spesh. The patties (minced fresh daily from pasture fed, 100% Australian, GMO-free beef dontchaknow) are perfectly plump and juicy, and the buns (baked fresh daily) are soft and fluffy perfection.
The Bacon Bacon is a double stack of beef and bacon with American cheddar, caramelised onion, tomato sauce and pickles, and is as decadent and drool-worthy as it sounds. The King is, well, epic. Think beef patty, tomato, butter lettuce, HANDMADE MAC & CHEESE CROQUETTE, tangy American mustard and special burger sauce. Yes, this is real life. It’s rich, it’s juicy, and you’re gonna need that complimentary wet wipe.
All the burger options are pretty decadent—this ain’t no temple to clean eating, let's be honest—and there’s just one beef-free option, the Queen Bee with its chickpea patty. But, personally, I’d be happy with a tub of potato gems alone. Crispy, crunchy and perfectly golden, these heaven-sent morsels are full of fluffy potato, and a far cry from your grease-laden, train station memories.
Full as a goog, I can’t leave without at least one scoop of the frozen custard, created by St Kilda’s 7 Apples. I bypass the concrete mixers—basically, a fancy McFlurry-esque mix of frozen custard and things like Snickers pieces and Tim Tams—and went for a half scoop each of peanut butter and New York cheesecake. Soft and smooth, pretty much half way between soft serve and regular ice cream in texture, it’s delish.
Repeat after me: “the burgers are better at – –”
Image credit: Provided, Royal Stacks
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