The “new kid on the block” is side-stepping foodie trends to bring quality, uncomplicated burgers to High Street.
Nestled in the heart of Preston, Kick Ass Burgers is a new local mainstay, serving up – you guessed it – kick ass burgers. But there’s much more to the warm, low-key establishment than meets the eye.
With a newly decorated, spacious beer garden out back, fully stocked bar, and an inventive menu boasting original recipes made in-house by owner and chef Michail Laladakis, the restaurant has all the makings of a neighbourhood go-to.
An entry into the unassuming burger shop is always met with a smiling welcome from Laladakis, whose generous Greek hospitality is at the core of what he does. With thirty years in the industry spanning a career from Europe to Australia, Laladakis’ focus is intent on procuring the best quality ingredients for his food.
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This goes for everything from the cut of the meat used in the patties down to the potatoes for the chips – everything is thoughtfully considered for an ultimately delicious result.
Kick Ass Burgers’ bar manager, Michael Hennessy, says the quality and care put into the food means every menu item is irresistible. This goes for their vegetarian options, even for meat-eaters.
“Both mine and Mike’s favourite is the mushroom burger, which is surprising because we both love meat. Because of the high quality of the mushrooms, when we southern-fry them they take in all the flavour of the batter and retain all of their texture – it’s delicious,” he says.
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While the crowd favourite is the Kick Ass Combination, featuring southern fried chicken, Angus beef patty and crispy beef rashers, Hennessy recommends going in simple to get the best Kick Ass experience.
“I think that people can overcomplicate it sometimes. If you want to eat a nice, good quality burger, I think the Kick Ass Classic represents us in a nutshell. It’s just a simple, honest burger with quality meat and produce – that’s the best. And with the smoky barbeque popcorn chicken on the side, of course,” he says.
The restaurant opened its doors in between lockdowns last year to an emphatic response from the community.
“When we opened on that first day there were lines out the door – super, super busy. It was the new burger restaurant on the block. There wasn’t, and still isn’t, another like that on High Street,” Hennessy says.
While the second lockdown reared its ugly head, the restaurant was able to carry on through online delivery modes.
Although running a delivery service kept them busy, the venue was missing its soul, the absence of customers left a gaping void. Rather than wade around in woes, Michail and Michael got to work, prepping the space for when they could finally welcome guests back in.
The recently cemented beer garden is spacious and inviting, with seating for no less than 50 people on offer. The area is mostly shielded from the elements and heated – a welcome feature this gloomy, grey autumn.
Hennessy says the bar and beer garden are exciting additions to the venue, and hopes the space can one day welcome DJs to play on weekends.
“I think our biggest asset is the beer garden and the bar. Cocktails-wise, I started with classics, like mojitos, margaritas and daiquiris, but I’m getting to work on some seasonal items.”
Hennessy’s latest is a berry spritzer, with his homemade berry syrup, triple sec, gin, mint and lime over ice, topped with some soda water. Summer in a glass, pretty much.
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“It’s really nice, it goes down really well. It’s a really summery drink, like another one I had on the menu, a frozen watermelon margarita. Great for summer, on those hot days, but at the moment, it’s grey, it’s cold… I’m in the process of figuring out some winter-warmer, apple pie spiced rum situations.”
For Laladakis, catering to the community is key. In addition to a swath of vegan and vegetarian options, everything at Kick Ass Burgers is proudly halal. From Monday to Thursdays, there’s a meal deal involving a burger, chips and a beer for under $20, a blessing for those on a budget.
While the menu’s brightly coloured buns and thick, juicy burgers may seem like something straight off of Instagram, Hennessy assures us Kick Ass Burgers are anything but trendy.
“We’re not going to be this cool, hip, hip place, you know? We’re more of a community vibe, where we can get a family come in with the kids, and the parents can enjoy a couple of cocktails.
But we also want uni kids to come in and enjoy their food. At the end of the day, Preston is a really diverse suburb and we really want to accommodate for everyone.”
“We’re the new kid on the block in an area that’s starting to change, High Street is progressing and now Preston is starting to get a taste of that, and we want to be a part of it,” he says.
“We just want to make everyone feel welcome.”
Kick Ass Burgers is open from 11am daily, with the bar kicking off at 4pm and running til late. Check out their menu online, here.