Nestled by the banks of Lake Burley Griffin — the vast, artificial patch of water at the centre of Australia’s capital city — is Bowen Park, a small recreational area that’s home to a collection of quaint groves, open, grassy fields, hungry black swans and a certain bright red caravan…
It was a beautiful day. I was in Canberra for the weekend with a friend, who was lucky enough to have a local pal kind enough to spend his day taking us around. Naturally, being my friend’s first time in Canberra (it was my second), we were hitting all the usual must-see spots: the Australian National Gallery, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Parliament House, Black Mountain Tower, the Australian War Memorial, the international embassy district, etc. Personally, having first come to Canberra as a kid, it was nice for me to revisit these places with a few less (pre-blockbuster) Marvel characters battling about in my brain. Despite now being old enough to properly appreciate the impressive collection of cultural, “grown-up” things that Canberra has to offer, none of those places got me as physically and, well, emotionally excited as the prospect of BRODBURGER.
We were sitting around a small table in a cafe on Sunday morning, about to order breakfast. As I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before, I was leaning towards the cafe’s “big breakfast” option, but our guide was hasty to advise otherwise:
“Hey, if you guys like burgers, I know this place I can take you for lunch. It’s next to the lake and their burgers are massive. The last time [his girlfriend] and I went there, we ordered two of their burgers and couldn’t finish them. We took half of them home to finish off the next day. So if you want to go there for lunch, you’d better go easy with breakfast.”
My eyes widened. I may have started breathing a little quicker. I almost certainly splurted out “YES” in a way that made everyone around me furrow their brows out of surprise and worry.
Shortly after, I found myself eating an omelette in lieu of the big breakfast, whilst mentally consuming tantalising thoughts of giant, un-finishable burgers. And not long after that, after a tour of the embassies and an obligatory tumble down the sloping grass roof of Parliament House, we found ourselves in a car on our merry way Bowen Park, and Brodburger.
If you’re driving in, you can’t miss it. It’s literally sat right next to the park’s carpark. And it’s bright red.
If you can’t see a bright red caravan, however, it might very well be for the crowds of burger lovers queuing up outside it. Apparently this is the norm. (Actually, the above picture may very well be considered “quiet” by Brodburger standards).
Whilst waiting in line, you’ll have plenty of time to peruse the menu. As we were leaving town that day with no immediate plans for a return trip in the near future, we simply had to go “all out”. In the case of Brodburger, this meant ordering the “Brod Deluxe” which, like all the other burgers on the menu, came with our own choice of three cheeses: brie, Swiss or blue.
We had to wait 20 minutes for our flame-grilled burgers due to the backlog of orders that had come before us (and that kept coming well after ours had been placed). We figured it was more time for our stomachs to get hungrier… something which, if the legends around this place were to be believed, was a good thing.
Soon enough our numbers were called, and with warm, hefty burgers firmly cradled in our hands and we found a lush, sunny patch of grass nearby to sit down and eat (puzzlingly, there were no picnic tables in the area that we could see).
And there we beheld them: our Brod Deluxes in all their monstrous majesties. Each contained: two “A grade” gourmet flame-grilled beef patties, two strips of bacon, two eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, Spanish onions, home-made aioli, tomato relish and our choice of cheese (Swiss in my case). They were, essentially, two burgers in one.
A small mouth struggled to accommodate a proportionally-upsized bite of the beast. It failed.
We all managed to finish our servings, some sooner than others (I’m pretty sure I got sunburnt by the time I finished mine). At the end of it all, we were united in our verdict: those were some tasty, tasty burgers. Despite the relative simplicity of their composite ingredients, each layer of the towering Brod Deluxe was well prepared and their combined effect was one that all good burgers should convey: it was unpretentious, delicious and filling. Simple as that.
Having said that, those looking for something with a bit more kick in their burgers may want to look elsewhere as some may find that the flavours here complement each other a little too well, i.e. nothing really stands out. But then again, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that if it tastes good.
It was a shame that we weren’t staying in Canberra long enough to be able to sample any of the other burgers on the menu. From what I gather, this little red caravan is a bit of a Canberran institution (even though our local guide — born and bred in Canberra — had only caught wind of it a few months earlier). Reports of hour-long waiting times abound, as does speculation over a potential forced relocation, and debate still rages over whether or not the burgers themselves live up to their now formidable hype. But one thing is for certain: the lovely lakeside location, quality ingredients, even the queues and the eclectic mix of people in them all contribute to an experience that stands playfully alongside (though obviously not equally in stature) the city’s more well-known cultural magnets as a fun twist on what may otherwise be a largely grown-up affair.
Bowen Park Carpark
Bowen Drive/Wentworth Avenue
Barton ACT 2604