I’d never heard of Novembar’s before having it brought to my attention by a reader who recommended that I check it out. A small burger and fish’n’ chip joint in Dianella, it’s the eating challenges and outrageous burgers that give Novembar’s its identity. The ‘FATBOY’ burger challenge requires you to eat a burger with seven beef patties, three cheese slices, bacon, egg, caramelised onion and salad, which costs $32.50 or a dollar per minute if you can finish it faster. There’s also chilli burger challenge and some truly ridiculous burgers on the menu, the largest of which is simply called ‘Hello’ and comprises 101 beef patties, two T-bone steaks, 100 bacon slices, 100 eggs, plus onion, salad and sauces and costs $1000. I’d be curious to know if anyone has ever ordered one and if so, I’d love to see the picture!
Located in suburban Dianella, Novembar’s is squeezed between a hairdresser and a fruit ‘n’ veg store. It’s a small place with very basic décor and a few seats inside and out – groups above five are advised to call and book ahead. As I walked in I immediately noticed the smell of the oil coming from the deep fryers – not a bad smell, but strong. Chef and owner Minh Van was behind the counter and the only staff member in the place – he took my order, made my lunch and brought it out to me. I chose a burger called Novembar’s Star ($11.50) along with a small serving of chips ($3.50) and a bottle of iced tea ($3.70). The bill came to $18.70, which for the quantity of food was good value.
The Lipton iced tea was quite nice, with good tea flavour and subtle tanginess from the lemon, although it was a little sweeter than I’d have liked. Despite being called a small, the serving of chips was more than generous and I couldn’t finish them. They were thick-cut, hot and well salted with what tasted like chicken salt. Crisp outside, soft and floury in the centre, they also tasted strongly of the oil they had been fried in.
The Novembar’s Star uses a house-made, star-shaped bun, filled (top-to-bottom) with ketchup, a fried egg, a slice of bacon, two pale processed cheese slices melted over a thick beef patty, tomato, iceberg lettuce and more ketchup. Despite being one of the smaller burgers on the menu, it was a challenge to get my mouth around it, though someone with a Julia Roberts-sized-gob probably wouldn’t have a problem. Both halves of the bun were, thankfully, quite thin and exuded heat from the fillings within. The bread was very dense and seemed a bit stale – when I squeezed it for a bite, the contents would slide around and threaten to fall out onto the plate. The cheese was creamy, mouth-coating and tasted a lot like a common supermarket brand of processed cheese slices – not bad, but not as good as proper American cheese. The egg was cooked through and crispy around the edges, which was a nice textural component, combining with the lean bacon to give the impression of a breakfast burger. The beef patty had some green herbs and diced onion in it and was cooked medium with a pink centre. It had little beef flavour and was surprisingly quite dry with a chewy texture. The salad was warm from the heat of the meat above, but seemed to be nice and fresh, while the ketchup added some much-needed moisture and acidity.
Holding the burger forced the patty towards my mouth, which meant that by the time I’d finished it, there was still a good third of the bun left – perhaps a blessing in disguise as by then I was well and truly stuffed. I can see why Novembar’s has earned high ratings on Zomato and Yelp – the combination of low prices, huge servings and Minh’s great service are bound the have diners leaving with smiles on their faces. However, based on my experience, I have to say that the Novembar’s Star is…
Have you been to Novembar’s? What did you think? Comment below and let me know.