It's called Trunk Diner but that strikes me as a bit of a misnomer. It's not anything like I think of when I think of an American diner. I'm expecting vinyl booths, a juke box in the corner and waitresses with tags bearing hyphenated names, Mary-Lou or Betty-Sue. Instead in setup it's much more the love child of a Melbourne café and beer garden. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I like both Melbourne cafes and beer gardens. It's just a long way from what I'd normally consider a diner.
Food wise I suppose it gets a bit closer, with its hamburgers, Mexican meatballs, Apple and Lemon meringue pies and several versions of imported chilli sauces as condiments. Serving sizes are comparatively smaller though, as I remember ordering two entrees between three of us at a diner in Boston and needing to ask for a doggy bag to deal with the leftovers.
On a wet Thursday jumping in first with her order was Ms Counting her Calories, going for the wagyu beef burger that both of us had been eyeing off. The basic burger is comparatively cheap and decently sized but a bit light on for ingredients other than the patty, lettuce and tomato, and while you can order cheese, bacon etc as extras it will push the price up considerably. Burgers are generally served medium rare here although Ms Counting her Calories asked for it medium (slightly to my horror) and with a serve of crispy bacon. While the burger was cooked a bit more than I prefer it and so I thought slightly dry, it does demonstrate that if you want to make a good burger start with quality meat. To quote Lady Gaga (not that I watch her clips at the gym) 'once you kill a cow you gotta make a burger', so at least make sure it's a good cow. It's a bit prissy in presentation compared to your classic local hamburger joint burger, but when combined with some pretty good shoestring fries and a dash of bbq or chill sauce we both thought it was a very tasty effort.
With my number one choice already gone I settled on the Mexican meatball baguette, with cheddar, jalapenos and coriander. I am not always the biggest fan of baguettes and have been let down a number of times but thought this was one of the better I've had in town, if a little pricey at $11. Still, with a baguette crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, moist and flavoursome meatballs which would have stood on their own and the mildly hot jalapenos, no real complaints about value for money.
The one item that was a bit of a letdown was the apple pie for afters. I was expecting a thick slice with cream or ice cream on the side. Instead it was served as a small individual pie, with ice cream on the side in a cup. While I liked the pasty I thought the filling was somewhat lacking in taste, and could have been improved by being more generous with the apple and a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg.
A nice and pleasant place for lunch, causal and relaxed with respectable food and prices. The menu is quite short so I think I'd exhaust all the options I was interested in fairly quickly if I came here regularly, but more than happy with Trunk Diner if looking for a burger and not wanting to travel too far from work.
Food - 7.5
Service - 7.5
Ambience - 7.5
Price - 6.5
275 Exhibition Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 7994