We thought it a great idea to catch up with a couple of good friends, who love American sports like my hubby, at Bobo’s Diner in Ivanhoe one lazy Sunday afternoon. Once inside, the actual restaurant appears much more Americana than from the outside (side note: we’ve known this location as the former home of a long-standing Chinese restaurant, so it’s a little bit of a head-trip for us to see it as an American diner), there’s a nice outdoor area, fitted with a bar, deck, and space for a couple of musicians.
The weather was perfect for outdoor dining, but with all the tables taken – except one that was in full burn-you-to-death sun – we trekked back inside and plonked down in one of the booths. A few bottles of mandatory American Coors Beer ($6.50/bottle) and an Apple Cider ($7.50/bottle) were brought to the table, which made my singular glass of Apple Juice ($4.50) look a bit paltry, but hey, sometimes you just don’t want any alcohol!
So let’s move onto the food. Hubby Bear and one friend got the NY Burger ($22.00). Sandwiched between two sesame seed sprinkled buns sat 2 patties of meat disguised as gooey cheese, a spread of aioli sauce, some diced onion, a sliced tomato, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, all topped with a pickle.
And this is where things become mysterious. Despite all those ingredients and its big appearance, Hubby Bear felt the desire to look for more tomato sauce because it, well, it simply lacked any flavour. How – remains a mystery. Especially at that price, surely there would be something tasty in there? I felt sad for my significant other as he was left with a full tummy but gastronomically unsatisfied. Oh, and the chips were leaning towards overcooked. Meh. In saying all this, the friend who got this burger really enjoyed it (and has in the past), so it goes to show everybody has different interpretations of taste!
Our other good friend ordered the Mushroom Burger ($13.90) that had a big juicy grilled portabello mushroom sliding around it in. He spent most of his time trying to contain the lettuce, roasted peppers, chipotle butter, and shaved parmesan in between the buns just to eat it! We asked, “How is it?” and he responded with a very non-committal, “It’s nice“. Given no further comment was made was enough for us to understand he didn’t hate, but he didn’t love it either.
So what did yours truly, the vegetarian have? No, not the veg burger! I thought I’d hedge my bets by trying a few different things, so went for a selected trio of sides: A Side Salad ($6.00), Corn on the Cob ($9.00) and Fries ($6.00).
The side salad had the obligatory components but nothing more: a handful of mixed salad, one slice of tomato, and a splash of vinaigrette. But I should never expect a side salad to have much going for it an American diner. My fries were the same as hubby’s – on the verge of overcooked, if not just overcooked, but the aioli dipping sauce was fine.
My corn? Well, the sauce that came with it – lime mayo sprinkled with smoked paprika – was actually great! But too bad it was all on the plate and not on the corn! I think they put the corn onto the sauce, instead of the other way around. And the cheese portion, well it needed another 5 minutes in the oven/grill/blow torch, as 90% of it wasn’t melted. Needless to say, my trio looked and tasted more like lack luster canteen food than anything else.
The wait time for our food was a bit long, but we were happy chatting away, so thankfully it didn’t make much difference to us. Our server was super sweet, she joined in and played along with our table’s laughing and jesting with great humor.
Overall what did we think? We had a great time, but there is no chef in the kitchen here. There may be cooks, but no chef. If you want to go and enjoy Americana decor, friendly service, possibly some live music, and gargantuan looking food inspired by the large-American appetite — then by all means go!
Me and hubby? Not headed back. Why would we, when we can get an amazing, fresh, and incredibly tasty burger with delicious onion rings from Chew Burger for about the same price?
Address: 59 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe VIC 3079
Tip! Perhaps give these guys a try on one of their “specials” nights – so you can give them a go without much financial commitment. For example, they have a $1 Buffalo Wing night and 2-for-1 rib (I think) deals on another.