Who hasn’t been to a Huxtaburger restaurant?
Well, I hadn’t been until last Friday and I am not sure I would return.
Firstly, let me say that the Eastland outdoor dining experience hasn’t improved at all, so visiting Huxtaburger in Ringwood was already on the downside. The outdoor dining space in Eastland’s Town Square simply isn’t inviting. So, if it’s not inviting when the weather is good or fair, it is certainly going to be much less than inviting when Melbourne sinks into it’s full on winter weather.
I like that the garden beds surrounding the restaurants are packed full of vibrant herbs which look lovely, but I would like to know who has the responsibility of caring for these herb beds and if they only care for the beds surrounding the vast open walking space or are they also responsible for the herb garden boxes that divide each restaurant’s dining area from the next?
My dining partner and I seated ourselves at Huxtaburger, right next to one of these dividing garden boxes – full of half dead plants! It automatically set the tone for me as far as vibe goes. The seating is reminiscent of old school metal seats, nice to look at but probably too low slung for the height of the table. I am tall and so is my dining partner and we both felt like we were school children sitting at a big desk.
It was 12.30, middle of the day, in school holidays. There were a few of diners in the Town Square, but it was much closer to empty than full. There were three other tables of people (a total of nine diners, including ourselves) seated outside Huxtaburger who were in the process of choosing and waiting for meals.
Once seated we saw that the menu was already sitting on the table as was a caddy with a couple of bottles of sauce, both had crusty rims around the lids so there was no chance I would be adding extra sauce to my burger. We chose our burgers and I went inside to order. There were three other diners already eating inside and two people waiting – presumably they had ordered and waiting for their food to be cooked.
There is a sign on the wall ‘order here’ with an arrow pointing downwards – downwards – but nowhere to order. Facing the sign where you are directed to place your order means you need to turn around, take a couple of steps and turn left to place your order. I placed my order and it was far from friendly service – just ‘business as usual’ kind of attitude. Not having been there before I was unsure of the procedure, and, first to admit my mistakes, if I had looked at the menu a bit closer I would have seen that I was supposed to mention my table number when I placed my order – oops, I didn’t realize that, so when I asked the guy taking my order if they would bring the food to my table he said quite abruptly ‘that’s why I am about to ask for your table number!’ OUCH! I had been officially chastised!
Two disposable cups suddenly appeared next to the cash register and I assumed that these were for me to fill for our drinks – self-service I suppose!
Hoping that I was doing the right thing and wanting to avoid further chastisement, I paid for our order, picked up the cups and went back to near where the ‘order here’ sign is to the drink dispensing machine.
I proceeded to fill one of the cups with coke, but the machine was spluttering coke all over my hand. Serviettes? Yep, they were there, but right at the far end of the counter and behind where people standing.
I persisted and eventually had two full cups of coke and also coke all over my hands. Thankfully lids and straws were right next to the drink machine but unfortunately, the first two lids I picked up were too large for the cups I was given. I eventually found lids that fitted and took the drinks, with my drippy hands, back to our table and waited.
Twenty-five minutes later our two burgers and fries arrived.
Twenty-five minutes is not really ideal for this sort of restaurant on a busy day, but this was quiet so I have no idea what the delay was.
The burgers arrived sitting on a silver coloured platter with a cup of chips perched next to each of them. If I was scoring presentation out of 10, I would probably give a big ‘bah bow’ and say 3! Even having the chips on the plate instead of in a cardboard cup would have improved the presentation. The burgers looked like someone had sat on them – the buns were all squished on top. I had seen photos of burgers from other Huxtaburger stores and they sit tall and proud with a rounded dome of bun perched on top of the plentiful filling.
My dining partner ordered the Huxtaburger which is a beef patty, mustard, mayo, tomato sauce, tomato, cheese, lettuce and pickles. I ordered a ‘Bills’ which is a Huxtaburger with bacon, egg, pineapple and beetroot. Firstly, the beetroot simply wasn’t there. The pineapple was the smallest and thinnest slice of pineapple I had ever seen and the patty was thinner than one of those all beef patties Maccas use in their Big Macs.
So, with the Eastland Town Square experience, the abrupt and unfriendly service, the long wait and the less than appetising look to this burger I was expecting the worst.
Much to my surprise, it was delicious. The bun was slightly crispy on the outside, the flavours of the fillings stood out on their own and the patty was well cooked but juicy. The chips were also really good, light and fluffy inside with a crispy outside – better than most restaurants can cook them in fact.
Would I go back?
I would certainly have second thoughts about revisiting because for me, even going to a ‘hamburger joint’ should be a dining experience and there was nothing really positive about this experience. These two burgers with fries and coke cost $37.00 which I find quite expensive for this type of food.
The only redeeming factor to the Eastland Huxtaburger is the food itself. If you don’t care about atmosphere or service, by all means go along, you will enjoy the burger.