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Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Jonathan Schofield learns to love burgers once more at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Written by . Published on July 10th 2007.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

I am McDonalds phobic. Burger King makes me retch. The food in both not only appalls me, it alarms me. A Big Mac, for instance, I find very small, very unfilling and with chemical flavoured mustard/mayo/weirdo sauce. Worse, the flaccid meat feels as though it’s been recycled several times through the colons of overweight people from Arkansas. The twee little word patty, which our trans-Atlantic cousins use to describe the uncooked burger, makes me uncomfortable. It puts me in mind of raw offal although I don’t know precisely why.

The clouds have lifted, the horizon cleared and a big patty shaped sun has risen upon my tired tastebuds. GBK has me converted.

You could say then that I’m not the ideal candidate for reviewing a burger bar, that I have set opinions and that I go expecting the worst. All true. I went to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) definitely expecting the worst. To misuse Shakespeare I went to bury Caesar salad not praise it.

But the clouds have lifted, the horizon cleared and a big patty shaped sun has risen upon my tired tastebuds. GBK has me converted. These burgers are sturdy and honest. They are filled with good flavours and come with fresh salad and intelligent sauces that look as though they were mixed by the hand of man not by the tines of a spinning machine in a vast factory somewhere distant.

I so enjoyed a blue cheese burger on Saturday lunch that I invited three families down to enjoy tea at the same place. Young and old were unanimous in their approval. It was a toss-up between the blue cheese (£6.95), the garlic mayo (£6.55) and the straightforward classic (£5.55) as to which was the best of our selection. The blue cheese probably won, the latter element giving the flavour a kick of astringency which brought out the full-on, solid flavours of the 100% Aberdeen Angus beef beautifully. Other burgers you could try include cajun, barbecue and satay. There are a variety of meats on offer too, venison, lamb, chorizo and chicken. The breakfast burger (£7.75) looks promising, sausages, bacon, whole portabella mushroom, egg and tomato sauce.

The service was enthusiastic rather than flawless. The drinks range is decent, with a goodly selection of wines, although we enjoyed Budvar beer (£2.45 a bottle) and the rich and very large milk shakes (£3.15).

The Spinningfields restaurant is a good-looking, smartly modern space too, with a lofty ceiling and fine terrace on each side, one opening on to the River Irwell, the other giving a view of the best new building in Manchester. This is the Civil Justice Centre with its superb glass wall rising through fifteen stories. Indeed the whole area, for those who haven’t been round Spinningfields recently, is worth a promenade to get an idea of the scale of this new Manchester city centre district.

I whole-heartedly recommend GBK for a reasonably priced and very good burger. It shows that excellent burgers can be delivered quickly, efficiently and to great effect. The fact that GBK is a chain doesn’t change any of this, it just underlines how wrong the McDonalds and Burger King offerings can be.

Rating: 14/20
Breakdown: 7/10 Food
3/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: Gourmet Burger Kitchen
(over the river from
the Mark Addy pub)
Unit B6 Leftbank
Off Bridge Street
0161 823 2719
Mon-Fri noon-11pm,
Sat 11am-11pm,
Sun 11am-10pm

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26 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJuly 10th 2007.

Well Jonathan - we must have been eating at different restaurants. I went there last Friday - it wasn't that easy to find for a start and although it is a lovely building, its a pretty daunting space when there's only a handful of customers in. Was a little confused about the whole ordering of things. Why would you have a waiter to take your drinks order and not your food order? all or nothing i'd say but preferably when i go out to eat at a restaurant, i prefer waiting staff to take my food and drink order - sorry - I just thought thats what eating out was all about. My friend and I ordered the cajun burger and the lamb burger. And upon the advice of the waitress, we only ordered one portion of chips (she said they were large portions) and a GBK salad. Well, to say i was diappointed when the food arrived, was an understatement. The burgers weren't as juicy looking or tasting as I expected, the bun didnt have a particular nice taste, and the sauce in the cajun burger was far too sweet. the salad was mediocre - the tomatoes were far too soft for my liking - picky i know but for £6 or so, i expect plump, sweet ones in my salad. this brings me to the chips. call me greedy, but they definitely weren't a portion for 2. and at that price, i would say it was a complete rip off. aren't heston blumenthals triple cooked chips at his pub in bray that price? and they were no where near that quality...... so with a glass of wine each the bill came to £33!!! for half of that, i could have gone to sainsburys and bought two 100% aberdeen angus burgers for a quid each, bought some organic baps, some fresh salad with condiments and made my own chips. o, and for a few more quid i could have got a whole bottle of wine. i don't think i'll be returning but i guess you've figured that one out for yourself......

dan wildeJuly 10th 2007.

looks like we going down very much my kind of style and fancy that the missus says she never wanted to be taken out for a burger again (I joke)

RaceJuly 10th 2007.

If burgers and chips are your choice of cuisine then you would think they'd have those particular items nailed. NO ... not at anyone of their Manchester venues so far, it's hit one miss one and the chips seem to be the odds and ends you find n the bottom of the bag no matter how often you give it another chance.

ColeJuly 10th 2007.

Do they do plain buns as I'm allergic to sesame seeds?

GravitygraveJuly 10th 2007.

After watching Hester Blumenthals in Search of Perfection show about the perfect burger I thought I would take my boyfriend to GBK (I had read lots of good reviews about it). First of all, I agree with everyone else about the ordering at the bar being a bit strange. What is the point, the waitress basically does everything except take the order and payment, doesn't make sense to me, and must make for poor tips for the waitresses. I am vegi so ordered the falafel burger and my boyfriend had a blue cheese burger with extra bacon. We also got two portions of fries. My falafel burger was very dry and not as nice as the organic falafels you can buy in the supermarket (for a quarter of the price might I add). My boyfriend said his burger was nice enough but no nicer than a burger at Frankie and Benny's. We both thought everything was very overpriced. The chips were £2.45 for quite a small portion. They were very oily and tasteless and pretty much like the chips you would get at a beefeater or something. The extra bacon on the burger cost £1.50 and my boyfriends milkshake cost nearly as much as my wine (and tasted like it was made with Crusha). Overall, I think if the prices of the burgers included chips it would be worth visiting GBK again. However, as it is, if I am going to spend £25 on one course and one drink I would much rather go somewhere else. At Room you can get any main course for £7 before 7pm - cheaper than most of the vegi options on the GBK menu. I know where I would rather go!

Tapas PrincessJuly 10th 2007.

I agree with Anonymous and Ancoats Girl on GBK, having visited one rainy sunday afternoon. Whilst the burger were tasty, we felt the prices were way too high. £2.45 for an egg cup (it seemed that small!) full of chips and £1.35 for a small pot of dip bumped the price of the burgers up to a rather expensive meal. The burger was nice enough, but teemed with the over-priced drinks this light dinner cost me a hefty £32 pounds. Needless to say I won't be visiting again, not when I can pay that little bit extra and go to the Gaucho for a tasty Argentinian steak burger.

nick BoyJuly 10th 2007.

We've had GBKS around London for a few years now and yep, they do kick Monkey Ass!!

JohnthebriefJuly 10th 2007.

I went to this place for the first time last week. It was nice enough but not at all special, and the prices are simply out of order for what you get. The habit of making everything you should get anyway a chargeable extra is a depressingly increasing trend but one I have no tolerance for. And what is the weird half-and-half waiter/self service about?

JonathanJuly 10th 2007.

Cut them and then eat them, they're impossible otherwise. But then flavour and filling up is the key here not dainty elegance.

ChrisJuly 10th 2007.

I fully agree with the review. I had a lovely blue cheese take out burger last week, and it was an amazing burger. The service could do with a bit more training (not sure why every waiter had to crowd around look at my burger and chips before handing it to me). The food was excellent (I love the chips), but it's probably not good for my health that I live 50 metres away in leftbank...

GordoJuly 10th 2007.

Gadzooks, i bloody well do remeber it as well! Great fun. What happened to them, anyone know?

JanieJuly 10th 2007.

WOW! That burger looks fantastic! Having sworn never to cross the threshold of another burger joint I think I'm quite literally going to have to eat my words. Think I'll use the excuse of taking the crew from the office as a treat to get around it...........

JamesJuly 10th 2007.

Those burgers look amazing - but they're quite high, are they easy enough to eat burger style or is it a knife and fork job? Might have to check them out today.

G A D zooksJuly 10th 2007.

This is GOOD NEWS! Not had a decent burger in Manchester since Great American Disaster closed it's doors. Ask Gordo, he'll remember!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Steven FeldMay 3rd 2011.

GAD Zooks,
I used to WORK there!
I would kill for one of the T-shirts and would appreciate any info on how to get one!

JonathanJuly 10th 2007.

Anna, I think subconsciously it might have been, that picture of her in her underwear is branded into my mind.

Niggled of SalfodJuly 10th 2007.

Fired up by the reviews, we went to GBK on Saturday. We were the only people in there at about 12:30 lunchtime. The burgers were OK - would have been even nicer if they hadn't been swamped in sauce (mine had BBQ sauce, onion sauce and mayo!) and with half a head of unchopped lettuce. But the service system is rather odd. Order drinks at table, but food at counter. Pay at counter giving table number - but ours didn't have one? Expensive considering burger is all you get - no chips, no sides included in the price. Try the burgers at Chez Gerard instead - they are around the same price and come with chips and salad! Happy days!

Dr QiJuly 10th 2007.

Went during Bank holiday weekend. Didn't wine so can't help with the wine.I did have an Oreo Milkshake which was glorious and could have made a meal on its own. Got a blue cheese burger which was very nice, but I couldnt get a distinct taste of the cheese which was a pity. We ordered two portion of chips whic I can't fault at all the wee hot, thick and nicrly crunchy on the outside. We really should have ordered just one between 4 people because the burger ( and milkshake for two people ) were very filling. Came to about £10.50 each. It was a meal out but wouldnt pay that everytime I wanted a burger.

AnonymousJuly 10th 2007.

As a homesick New Zealander, I'm thrilled to see this great kiwi export come to Manchester. Finally I can have an ice cold Mac's Gold without having to fly for 30 hours.

Ali McGowanJuly 10th 2007.

I've been to GBK in Fulham when visiting my bro - and can confirm that they're awesome!! A fantastic import from New Zealand :o)Can't wait to try them in Manc. Mmmmmmmm!!!

AlexJuly 10th 2007.

I went to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Didsbury. And it was all a bit Southern if you ask me. I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. Gormet? They are having a laugh at your expense literally!

Charlie JonesJuly 10th 2007.

went to the burger kitchen and underwhelmed. service was average and a bit confused and taste of burger is lost in all the relishes and sauce they stick on top. agree with earlier comment about the artwork. all a bit odd and not worth the trek from town.

annaJuly 10th 2007.

Is the reference to the colons of overweight people from Arkansas another dig at Beth Ditto? Nice.

AntthemancJuly 10th 2007.

went to the one in Wilmslow the other week. Had a big build up but ending up being a big let down. Similar thoughts to others - waiters who takes drinks orders but not food!?, overpriced burger and why don't you get asked how you like it cooking? side orders are very expensive. Garlic mayo which is more garlic than mayo (NB - not good for a date!). Ended up paying more than if we'd had a meal at a nice restaurant on the usual pre 7pm dining menu. Only plus point was the serving of Mac Gold lager.

ancoats girlJuly 10th 2007.

Anonymous, I went on the basis of this review and I was a bit disappointed too. Another case of a restaurant that sells just about everything as extras so your £6.95 burger creeps up to £10 with chips! My partner enjoyed his burger, and I thought mine was tasty enough. However the patty wasn't as big as I expected - the volume was more in the toppings and bun, which is sneaky. I too found it bizarre that our drinks order was taken and then I was sent shuffling up to the counter to order our food. Which, incidentally, had a cheeky tips bowl prominently on display.And what's going on with the decor? I felt like I was stuck in an 80s Athena poster shop. What has George Best got to do with burgers anyhow?Equally weird was discovering a poor girl stuck upstairs in a tiny room next to the toilets, fervently slicing up buns. Good job I'd already eaten as that would have killed my appetite.We'll probably go back from time to time on sleepy Sundays when we can't be bothered to cook, but I wouldn't rush back.

Burger fanJuly 10th 2007.

Im off to GBK on saturday - whats the price for a bottle of wine?Has anyone had the venison burger? sounds lush!

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