There's nothing new about burgers and shakes — but then again, there's nothing new at Kustom Burgers. From the fit-out made of old car parts and the fifties swing tunes filling the air, to the retro lollies on the counter (hello, Milkos!) and the vintage Chevy pickup that owner Paul Hendrie can be seen driving around Thornbury in, everything is a throwback. At one point while waiting for my burger and fries, I was sure Frenchie would lift her head out of her banana delight milkshake and start singing to Frankie Avalon. Alas, not this time.
Still, Kustom Burgers holds a distinct fifties American diner vibe, with a nod to everything retro automotive. There's even an entire pickup placed in one corner with a slot car racing track built into the tray.
Car fan or no car fan, the burgers, fries and shakes are really what bring in the business. A steady patronage can be seen at all times of the day, especially on weekends – although, that might have something to do with the fact that this is perfect hangover fodder. Burgers range from the standard Kustom Burger ($13) with a beef patty, bacon, American cheese, pickles, onion, lettuce, tomato sauce and mustard to the Impala Southern fried chicken burger ($15) with fried buttermilk chicken, cheese, jalapenos, house-made chipotle mayo and slaw, with a few stops in between. There's also a Portobello mushroom burger for vegetarians, a 1kg rib eye steak for $70 (pre-order only), and a Hot Rod Burger that will bring the toughest chilli fiend to their knees — and keep them there for a good hour or two.
The patties are made from pure beef and minced onsite, the fries are beer battered to ensure they hold a fair deal of crunch, and the milkshakes are sickly sweet indulgence in a mason jar. Don't count calories here, because it won't end well. And make sure you leave room for an ice cream sandwich, or a Redskin to go.
This is a passion project by Hendrie, and it shows. What Kustom Burgers lacks in refinement, it makes up for in honest, unashamed vintage fanboy fun.