The burger boom shows no sign of abating, with the latest volley coming from Warren Turnbull's Chur Burger as it opens for the first time in Melbourne.
It will be burger shop number six for the award-winning chef in the running for the title of Australia's least likely burger king. The New Zealander made his name at Sydney fine-diner Assiette but took an unexpected detour into burgers after a fire destroyed his newly renovated restaurant kitchen. Fast-forward three years and Chur Burger has five shops in Sydney and Brisbane and opens on Church Street, Richmond, on Monday.
For Chur Burger Melbourne, Turnbull has gone into business with former employee Johnny Moukachar. "Johnny's a friend of mine whose family has a lot of takeaway chicken shops in Adelaide. He knows a lot about the fast-food environment - he certainly knows more about burgers than me - and he's been begging me to get on board in Melbourne."
A former Vietnamese bakery has been given a makeover resembling the original Surry Hills shop, including aerosol work from street artist Treazy backing up a semi-industrial feel. It will seat 60 downstairs, a few more curbside, and Turnbull's happy about revisiting his more rarified past with a private room for 20 upstairs.
Melbourne is on the frontline of the burger wars, with local hero Huxtaburger being challenged by Neil Perry's Burger Project sideline, and even 77-year-old Albert Park institution Andrew's Hamburgers opens a city shop this week on Franklin Street, near the Queen Victoria market. Chur Burger will be quick off the mark, too, opening an Express outlet at Chadstone shopping centre in mid-October.
As for what makes Chur Burger stand out from the crowd, Turnbull reckons his old-school, rough-hewn, not-too-complicated burgers are right on the money, but he also attributes it, Castle-style, to the vibe: "It's friendly, it's easy-going, it's a really good feel. You feel just as comfortable dressed up as in shorts. We've got cool music and a chilled vibe, but we're not trying to be too trendy."
Chur Burger, 176 Swan St, Richmond, churburger.com.au; open Sun to Wed 11am-10pm; Thu to Sat 11am-11pm.