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The Burgers Aren’t Better in Bondi Anymore

By Georgie Jeffries on January 27, 2012 in News

Photo: Grant Brooks

When my mum was a kid you could buy a can of coke and a cherry ripe for 20 cents a pop. Apparently. You could also go to the cinema for less than a buck, but rather than calling it the cinema, people referred to it as the ‘theatre’. Children would flock in droves to the local theatre dressed to the nines in their Sunday best, galivanting around high on cheap coke with chocolate and cherry stuck in their teeth, eager to watch Elvis Presley perform some pelvic thrusting on the big screen.

“Ahhhh the glory days”, my mum would say. “It’s just never been quite the same.”

And so, it seems, Bondi too may never be quite the same. Although the days of $1 theatre tickets and affordable snacks are long gone, at least we’ve always had the heroic, cheap as chips hamburger to find comfort in. Until now.

Just as Chicken Tikka Masala is unofficially considered the flagship dish of nationalism for Brits, so to is the humble hamburger for Australians. Laden with sweet beetroot, ripe tomato, crispy lettuce, caramelized onion, tender beef and juicy pineapple (if it tickles your fancy), nothing quite gets an Aussie as satisfied as a hamburger does. But death may be lurking in the shadows, waiting to destroy this delicious delicacy with hefty prices and far-too-fancy touches.

Once the Mecca for a good old-fashioned feed, Bondi is now virtually void of a decent burger joint. And no, I am not talking about the chain burger restaurants or the fancy joints where the ‘gourmet’ standard leaves you wiping Turkish bread flour off your face like a ponce and your wallet short of a lobster or two.

Rather, a decent burger joint can defined by a place such as Bondi Top Tucker, a no frills takeaway opposite the Beach Road Hotel on Glenayr Avenue, which makes over 800 burgers in an average week. Top Tucker has been delivering good old-fashioned burgers to the people of Bondi for just over 38 years, a milestone by anyone’s measure.

To the disappointment of many though, Vanessa Ibrahim, who has owned the store for the past seven years, has recently sold up and shipped out, and claims the close of her business to be an end of an era as the new owner has signalled plans to discontinue production of the popular fast food fare.

“There is no one else around who does a good burger for a fair price,” she said. “People don’t want to pay $15 for some fancy lettuce – they want their burger the way they’ve always had it – big, cheap and with chips and a milkshake,” Vanessa lamented.

There has been a mass exodus of burger joints over the past few years in Bondi, with the Original Fish and Chip Co. (also on Glenayr Avenue) last taking leave last year and Top Tucker flipping its last burger and closing the doors in mid-January.

Thankfully there are still a few golden oldies remaining in the Eastern Suburbs that crank out a decent burger – namely Three Steps on Bondi Road, Out of the Blue in Clovelly and the Dolphin Street Fish Shop at Coogee Beach – but at the rate they’re disappearing, is that really enough?

The death of the burger joint is a sad tale and if it continues it’s more than possible that you’ll end up boring your children with stories of the ‘good old days’, when eating a burger with fresh pineapple didn’t ended up costing you one!