When we moved to Australia we were told by the only friend we had here to look north of the river for accommodation as that was where it ’was all happening’. Circumstances developed that lead to him and his partner taking off to work in Singapore and, after hearing horror stories about securing a rental property, we took over the lease on their small but perfectly formed apartment in St Kilda.

Some of you might turn your noses up at this. Yes, it is packed to the rafters with backpackers, there really are just too many cake shops on Acland Street, and it might lack the grungy ‘edge’ you find up Fitzroy way. But having spent a large amount of time in London, where the stone-covered beach is an hour’s train ride away, it isn’t so bad. We jumped at the chance to be a 10-minute walk away from the sea. Don’t judge us.

I have had a love-hate relationship with Chapel Street. There are some real shockers, but scratch the surface and you will find some hidden gems, and three cinemas, which works for me in so many ways. There’s always decent coffee to be had down at Dukes. And yummy share plates at Eau de Vie. And in the last year we have seen the likes of Burch & Purchese, Massive Weiners (ok, it’s on Greville Street) and The Woods of Windsor add a depth of flavour to the strip.

I recently walked to Prahran Market and noticed a few more changes. I knew Speakeasy Kitchen Bar, but wasn’t aware that their bar can be accessed down an alleyway behind the restaurant.

Also, there’s a new pub is on the way – The Wolf & I. Currently getting an extensive facelift it will be open to the public from September 5. The director, Steve Powell, has instructed the chefs to take the menu in the direction of their strengths. The downstairs will open first and they hope to have the top floor open for group bookings and private dining by February 2013.

So, as per the LCD Soundsystem song, Chapel Street isn’t ‘losing its edge’. And by the looks of its latest addition – Parlour Diner, which opened just six days ago – it might well be a destination that those north of the river come in search of.

In charge are Adrian and Dorian, previously the proprietors of Milky Joes, which has been a hit with café-lovers all over Melbourne. Over the years they have had many a conversation about how to do a US-style diner and, luckily for us, they have taken the plunge. They went out on Twitter and asked their loyal followers where they thought the best Melbourne burgers were.  After tallying the responses they hit the road to try every single recommendation. They ate and dissected every element. Then, by putting together everything they loved, they came up with their own take.

A lot of love has gone into this place overall – pretty much all the furniture has been assembled by hand and the three retro lampshades over the counter (complete with comfy swivel seats) gives the place an old-school feel. It’s all about location, location, location – so setting up shop opposite Windsor station should work out well for them (did we mention they do takeaway – perfect for lazy nights in).

If 2011 was all about Mexican, this year’s food trend seems to have moved north and now its all about stateside staples. Check out, if you haven’t already, Rockwell and Sons (reviewed here), Burger Mary & Red River BBQ’s Wednesday night residence at The Workers Club and Big Boy BBQ (reviewed here). These guys talk the talk and can walk the walk.

Back to Parlour. With an all-day breakfast menu that includes grits with red-eye gravy and steak and eggs you know immediately what kind of vibe they are going for.  Add to the mix Allpress Coffee and you have a pre-work feed and a hangover cure all in the one place.

The lunch/dinner menu kicks off at 12pm (seven days a week) and offers a meaty (and diet-unfriendly) mix of burgers, hotdogs, ribs and fried chicken.

We heartily recommend the Asian pork slider with sesame slaw (the crunchy, delicately flavoured cucumber adds great texture) and chipotle. Chunky cuts of pork in a soft bun and a subtle hint of spice.

Buttermilk crispy fried chicken chops come in serves of two, four or six, there’s half and full rack serves of BBQ baby back ribs, an assortment of burgers, and sides including super-curly curly fries.  The pale ale onions rings are a must – thick-cut and lightly battered.

The Parlour burger is a lesson in tasty simplicity. A rich 8oz meat patty, tomato, cheese and lettuce. Their liquor license is currently being processed so jump on the Jarrito bandwagon – first brought to us by Fonda Mexican and Mexico Radio.  And to complete the diner experience, finish it all off with a chocolate malt shake or banana smoothie.


Parlour Diner

64 Chapel Street, Windsor

Burger Phone Orders: 9533 2006


Open every day and night 7am – late.
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