Being a fan of burgers (can you tell from our last burger-related post), and having heard good things about the Handmade Burger Co. (hereby known as HB Co.), we decided that a Sunday lunchtime trip was needed. I was looking forward to it. I might not be as much a burger-fanatic as my husband but I do appreciate a really tasty piece of meat when done well. We were met at the door by a smiling waitress (with quite good hair I have to say), and the friendly service continued as we were led to a booth, sat down and were given clear directions about the ordering process. The instructions were simple but strangely familiar – Nandos maybe?
Decor inside is really modern, with nice, comfortable areas for a variety of group sizes. It felt a little dark at times, especially in comparison to the bright sunshine outside, and it felt like a clear contrast to other burger fast food places. Whereas Burger King, McDonalds and other fry-up cafe’s might go for bright reds and greens in an attempt possibly to echo the lettuce and ketchup in their meals, HB Co. went for large floral patterns in black and white echoing only the seating and shiny black tables.
Looking at the menu I quickly realised it matched the decor – expensive! Very expensive! A burger doesn’t come with chips & each option is around £7! A solitary milkshake was almost £4. This all brought me to a few questions: Can their food be THIS good to explain prices? Or is it just inflation that I’ve failed to grasp? Or maybe they’re just attempting to rip-off their customers.
I breathed, got over the price with difficulty by deciding against dessert. Because that’s what every girl loves to do when out on a date! Humph.
Having seen Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket on Channel 4, I thought I would try one of his famous burgers. I chose a “Jimmy’s Bacon & Cheese Burger” (£8.75), but trying to cut down on my lactose-filled food I decided to get mozzarella instead of the cheddar suggested. Reading the menu told me that if I wanted to change something the staff would be happy to do so. Great! Simple! You’d think…
Bear chose a BBQ, Cheese & Bacon Burger (£7.85), we decided to share chips (£2.95), as well as coleslaw (£2.55) and chargrilled vegetables (£2.95). Bear went up to order as the instructions insisted and returned with the receipt in hand. Instead of simply switching cheddar for mozzarella for some reason there was a discrepancy: rather than a cheese & bacon burger, I had been ordered a plain burger (£7.75) with an addition of bacon (£1.25) and mozzarella (£1.15). Now I knew mozzarella was more expensive than cheddar, but only by about 15p, so I assumed that it wouldn’t be any trouble. But I had been charged almost £2 extra, and we were not at the counter or on the menu that this would be the consequence of having a lactose intolerance.
We queried the receipt with a waiter and the answer we got in response: they get trained that way. We were told that in order not to confuse the chefs in the kitchen (because they find it difficult to swap one cheese for another being so unacquainted with food) that they go to the basic and add anything extra. When we stated that to charge us more because of something I could not control seemed a little off, he apologised, repeated the training issue, but we were given a free drink though. He was very polite about it all… but it was still a little odd.
A milkshake was interesting: Bear was asked how thick he would like it, Which is not something I’ve ver been asked. But it was good; it was thick; but it was also slightly powdery and had the aftertaste of syrup. Bear felt it was possibly worth money. I was not so sure. Of course I could still be holding a grudge, but they did react well… Of course, I also realise the irony of having lactose-free cheese, only to have a milkshake. In my defence I was sharing it with Bear, and guess who had the majority of it.
One thing going for HB Co. is the very fast service! We had barely finished the milkshake when two large burgers et al landed infront of us. Each burger was huge and juicy and amazing. Big portions of sides finished off the meal and were made up of fresh ingredients. Our shared chips were soft, crispy and tasty and there were enough of them to share comfortably. Getting back to my burger, it was amazing, filling me up nicely with a large portion of meat, nicely cooked bacon and stretchy cheese. Bear’s only complaint was that he felt there was a little too much pepper on coleslaw.
Clearing of the table happened just as fast as previous service. Bear even decided venturing into the washrooms was required and reported that they were clean and tidy. They would need to be with time travelling cleaners! To have cleaned at the 2pm timeslot before 1.45pm is indeed a feat for the superhuman!
Personally, although the meal was good and possibly worth the £7-8 , I would have rather seen a pricing scheme be kinder to those who medically need to customise their meal rather than be charged extra for something as simple as switching cheese. Also toothpicks are required after all that meat – perhaps they could use the same supplier as Nando’s do!
Bear’s verdict: Good quality worth the price.
The taste was like nothing I have had before, and the sheer bite or real traditional hand prepared meat was really, really nice. Yes, it came at a premium but an understandable one, I think!
Well worth a try I’d say.
UPDATE! 18th August 2012
Having visited again, somewhat reluctantly with my in-laws and Bear, I was happily surprised to enjoy a really delicious burger. I wonder whether the first time I was simply not as adventurous as I should have been. The four of us had: a Hoisin Chicken Burger, a Morrocan Lamb Burger, a Tikka Masala Lamb Burger, and a Mexican Beef Burger – all which were eaten with many yummy noises from the bunch of us. Alongside that, the table also shared chips, coleslaw and chargrilled vegetables which were also enjoyed, although not by me as I was stuffed full. The service was good and all in all we enjoyed a nice warm evening’s dinner in Brindley Place. Well done Handmade Burger Company – you brought me round.