8 Droop Street, Footscray
The coolest joint in town: a funky burger bar with lengthy queues and famous visitors in their first week. And just ten minutes’ walk from home. I judiciously avoid 8bit for a couple of months until the hype wears off (a little), and then on a bitter Saturday night we brave the cold and head in.
At eight o’clock the place is already overflowing, but mostly with people waiting for takeaway food and the order queue. Quite a few of the restaurant seats are free.
We order an After Burner burger – beef pattie with tomato, red onion, lettuce, cheese, chilli sauce, jalapeños and a dollop of chipotle mayo, and an Altered Beast – beef pattie with bacon, cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, 8bit sauce and BBQ sauce. In case that wasn’t enough taste overload, I was persuaded to order some Loaded fries – chips piled with chilli beef, cheese sauce, bacon, pickle relish, grilled onions and jalapeños. Nothing healthy about this dinner.
We find a seat easily and wait the regulation half and hour for our food. Orlando is horrified to see that somebody has taken his place on the high score of the vintage game console beside us. He has eaten here before with the boys.
The place continues to fill up with more eat-in diners. We are increasing the average age by at least ten years: most of our fellow diners appear to be local uni students.
Our food arrives piping hot and fresh from the grill. The loaded fries are a sight to behold: you can hardly see the main ingredient through the mess of toppings. But they are delicious, and I wish I had a glass of wine in my hand instead of a can of lemon squash (that’s my only gripe here: the drinks selection is disappointing and lazy).
The burgers are decent-sized and messy to eat. My After Burner is really good. The two things to get right in a burger is the bun and the pattie. The bun needs to be substantial enough to hold the ensemble together but light enough that it doesn’t take over: this one does exactly that. Spot on. The pattie is perfectly cooked, just a little charred around the edges, juicy, good quality meat. My combination of spicy toppings work well with my melting cheese slice.
Orlando’s Altered Beast was also excellent, although I am yet to figure out what the 8bit sauce is (and philosophically I am against BBQ sauce on burgers). Once you start eating, it’s hard to stop because these things are a two-hand job.
So, does 8bit live up to the hype? I have to say that was probably the best burger I have eaten in ten years. Good quality ingredients, faultless bun, cooked to perfection.
But I still have a problem waiting half an hour for my food. I’ve seen smaller premises churning out equally fantastic food in half the time with half the staff, so I fear they are keeping the wait times long for effect.