Melbourne - the inner north in particular - is becoming food truck mad! Take a cruise down Park St, North Carlton, on any Friday summer night and you'll see the Beatbox burger van with a bigger clamouring of worshippers than even Charles and Camilla have managed to muster on their recent visit. Not too long ago, I finally fulfilled a long held ambition of hitting up the mobile Gumbo kitchen. After spending an indulgent few days in 'Nawlins, Looziana' last year, I missed the Southern cuisine, and was thrilled to learn that the Gumbo Kitchen also offered a vegetarian option, alongside the traditional Gumbos and iconic PoBoys. Score one for us planet-saving types!
The premise of the food van is fantastic, particularly in summertime. Louisiana funk band music blaring, generally on location park-side, eating from recyclable food containers: there is a simplicity to it that is quite enjoyable, as the popularity would suggest. Unfortunately, the limitations of cooking in a van does affect the quality of the fare on offer. The deep-fried green tomatoes did manage to transport me back to those Southern days, but the sweet corn gumbo tasted quite bland - unless dressed handsomely in one of the various hot sauces - and the gluggy balls of sticky rice did nothing to save the situation. My non-vego companions were of a similar opinion, although the whisper is that the PoBoys are the real speciality here. It feels as though the food is a victim of its own popularity. Compensation for cooking quantities at pace, is a loss of taste. Worth a try for the experience, but unlikely to inspire repetitive business from this guy.