The words ‘Grease Monkey’ are on everyone’s lips at the moment – and judging by the number of Instagram posts about them, so is the taste of their delicious burgers. If you haven’t heard, Grease Monkey is the newest Braddon hotspot (at least until something new comes along), located on the corner of Lonsdale and Elouera Street. It’s the brainchild of Canberra hospitality stalwart Soc Kochinos, and its name, design and concept pay respect to the mechanics and wrench heads of Braddon’s past.
Grease Monkey’s idea is simple, but like finding a good mechanic, not necessarily easy to achieve – it’s billed as a place where you can grab some of the best burgers (and fried chicken) in Canberra, and where people can hang out and have a drink. You could argue that the burger market is reaching saturation point these days, but Grease Monkey has got a few things going for it: prime real estate, a different offering to everywhere else nearby in Braddon, an experienced team, oh – and the fact that they actually do make excellent burgers.
After opening in late June, Grease Monkey’s first couple of weeks of trading saw it at max capacity most of the time – even prompting the kitchen to take a half-hour ‘hiatus’ from taking burger orders on its first Saturday. But when we visited on its second weekend, the beer was flowing, service was quick, and the cranks were running smoothly.
Grease Monkey has an indoor bar section with a mixture of booths and bar-style tables to sit at, and an outdoor courtyard that seats about 30 people. The fit-out is modern, but retains a bit of an industrial feel, with a long pewter bar, iron-looking beams running across the ceiling, and the open kitchen sitting behind a wall of corrugated iron. The back wall is similar to Mary’s in Sydney, showing an ‘exploded’ view of their burgers and detailing the ingredients in each one. It’s an effective, simple way to decorate the wall and highlight the focus on their burgers.
The menu offers 6 types of burger (with extras and sauces available), fried chicken and sides, a couple of breakfasts, and a couple of ‘Murican-inspired desserts (a salted caramel ice cream sandwich, and a jam donut). Since we’re here to benchmark their burgers, we figure the best way to do that is to start with their basic – so all three of us go for the Greasy ($15, served with chips). It’s got a beef pattie, lettuce, cheese, onion, pickles, mustard, ketchup and Greasy’s sauce. Classic.
I should also mention that Grease Monkey has a solid list of craft beers and wines (including a few local options) – making it a nice place to settle in and knock back a few if you’re in the mood.
The burgers arrive shortly and there’s no mucking around – we dive right in. The first bite through the soft milk bun, through the crunch of the lettuce and pickle, and into the juicy pattie, is one to remember. These burgers are legit! The meat is coarsely minced so there’s still plenty of texture in the pattie, and it’s cooked perfectly with a bit of colour in the middle.
It was only halfway through my burger that I noticed that the wax paper lining the plate had some Grease Monkey artwork on it – which is a cool little touch. Each table is also stocked with a bottle of French’s mustard and Heinz ketchup which you can douse your fries with (or add them to your burger if they’re not saucy enough for you).
UPDATE: I visited Grease Monkey again a week later and had the Double Deluxe (below) – it’s got double beef, double cheese, bacon, GM ketchup, onion, pickles, mustard and Greasy’s sauce. I HIGHLY recommend getting the Double Deluxe over the standard Greasy – it’s pretty much twice as delicious. And for only $2 more than the Greasy you get an extra pattie, extra cheese, and bacon… so it's more fiscally responsible too!
Grease Monkey. If you don’t know, now you know.
19 Lonsdale Street, Braddon