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Gourmet Burger Kitchen, review

Simon Binns gets himself in a mess on Spinningfields

Written by . Published on April 12th 2011.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen, review

AS FEARGAL Sharkey almost said, a good burger these days is hard to find. So many god-awful chains exist in the burgersphere that you can forgive people for thinking that a flattened disc of eyes, teeth and testicles constitutes the best of the genre.

Thick, luminous red sauce totally covered the bottom half of my bun and just got everywhere. The burger squirted out of the bun because of the partially melted mozzarella; it was like trying to hold back the tide with a sheet of blotting paper.

As the saying goes, you can’t flame grill a turd.

But there are burger establishments that position themselves at the higher end, certainly by price. Some, such as Hard Rock Cafe, actually do a pretty good job when it comes to burgers. Others, like TGI Friday, charge more than a tenner but refuse to cook them any less than medium, effectively pandering to the same mass market as the popular takeaways, but on a night out instead of a drive-thru.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen, or GBK as it’s also known, is one of those ‘casual dining’ chains that seems to end up in every city centre in the UK and sits in between the higher and lower echelons of the burger world. It’s one of those places that perpetuates the myth that ‘mayo’ is actually a word.

The Spinningfields branch was desperately quiet (ie. totally empty) when I paid a visit with my daughter on a wet Monday lunchtime. The enthusiastic service staff didn’t let that dampen their mood though, and were particularly good at sorting Daisy out with crayons, puzzles and so forth.

The kids menu offered a good range, and at four courses for £6.25 (including Fab lolly), good value too. A milkshake arrived and was duly demolished at speed, as did a generous mini-portion of tasty fish and chips.

Adults have a dizzying array of options to choose from, pretty much involving an entire farmyard’s worth of meat. I plumped for a habanero burger (£8.45), which promised ‘hot and spicy sauce’.

There was plenty of that, no question. Sadly, it was presented as a puddle on the plate, which the burger had then been sat in, like a cow in a shallow bath.

This could mean only one thing; sticky fingers. Some people may like the idea of having to wipe their hands every 10 seconds whilst eating lunch. I am not one of them.

It was a constant battle against the thick, luminous red sauce, which totally covered the bottom half of my bun and just got everywhere. The burger squirted out of the bun because of the partially melted mozzarella; it was like trying to hold back the tide with a sheet of blotting paper.

Was the burger nice? I suppose so, but I was so bloody distracted by the sauce I stopped caring. I will say this – you get a lot of chips with your burger, which is just as well, because the limp, vinegary coleslaw (£3) is a total disaster. The tri-taster dipping sauces, three small paper ramekins for an eye-watering £3.35, are deeply uninspiring too, and the sides can really bump up the bill.

Given that my dining companion was four, after we’d had a drink each the bill came to nearly £30. That’s an awful lot for a lunch for one and a half people.

If you want a good burger, you could definitely do a lot worse than GBK. But maybe order the sauce on the side.

Rating: 11/20
Breakdown: 6/10 food
3/5 service
2/5 ambience
Address: Gourmet Burger Kitchen
M3 3ER
0161 832 2719

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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

elpollolocoApril 12th 2011.

Tried GBK once and won't be going again. This group have really missed a trick as I beleive there is a place in the market for a really good burger offering.

Sausage TowerApril 12th 2011.

Couldn't agree more with this. Despite the mild irony of my name, I am concerned by the ballooning height of England's burgers.
Our 'flattened disc of eyes, teeth and testicles' merchants seem intent on creating burgers that you have to dislocate your jaw like a horrid hairy flesh snake just to fit the bastard in.
And I'm a burger halver.

The Habanero sauce isn't that hot either..

JApril 12th 2011.

I liked it, better than burger king that's for sure and with the voucher deal it is probably cheaper!

Sausage TowerApril 12th 2011.

True but I would never use Burger King as a benchmark to compare any eating experience.

Snaffling reformed offal globs directly from a rusted trough would be better than Burger King.

And cheaper.

graham30April 12th 2011.

i agree with review but was told by gbk management the habanero sauce is meant to dribble down the side of the burger and not drown it, also do not order a large beer (500ml)unless you want to part with £6!!!!

AnonymousApril 12th 2011.

Agree - it is so difficult to find a good, reasonably priced burger. You'd think something so simple would be easy to get right.

By the way - if anyone is holidaying in Cornwall I highly recommend Blas Burgerworks in St Ives - the burgers there are fantastic!

JApril 12th 2011.

Sausage Tower, agreed. My point was the cost of GBK using the vouchers is on a par with BK prices, making it a good option. I've had the Habanero burger and whilst it was messy, it was delish.

bigearsApril 12th 2011.

TV21 does great fresh burgers and reasonably priced. if you have a city scene card its 50% off too! well worth the trip!

CRABBY PATTYApril 12th 2011.

Visited the one in Wilmslow when it first opened and the burgers although messy were gorgeous, I still visit now but the standards do seem to have dropped since then and portions gone smaller. The price of the sauces is ridiculous £1.50 (I think) for a miniscule little tub of Garlic "Mayo"....

I still think they do a good burger, but it does work out expensive when sides and drinks are added.

philcApril 12th 2011.

I always prefered the Handmade Burger Company, but there is none in the North West at the moment.

marshaluanApril 12th 2011.

Horrendously expensive for what ii is - I have been to the one at Spinningfields & the one in Didsbury & was very disappointed on both occasions. The Woodstock in Didsbury serves a much better burger (home made & with all the trimmings too) for much less cash & you don't feel like your dining in a school canteen!

MissyEApril 12th 2011.

If you want to use a voucher, make sure they haven't changed the terms on it. They like to do that without telling anyone.

AnonymousApril 12th 2011.

Worth going with Tastecard during the week when it's 50% off, or with a voucher but I wouldn't pay full whack. I've had to eat the burger with a knife and fork usually though which doesn't bother me, but might deter some burger purists.

RusholmeRuffianApril 12th 2011.

Agreed in general. I've been twice, both in Didsbury and it was fine. Not worth the price, but ok if you have the voucher. Although i think that only takes care of teh burger. Sides and other things like drinks are vastly overpriced and it isn't really a very nice place to eat. Its a slightly upmarket type of fast food a la Nandos, but just not worth the restaurant style pricing

Simon McDonaldApril 12th 2011.

6/10 seems a little harsh ranked against the other burger offerings around, but the review is pretty fair overall.

LadyGreayApril 12th 2011.

If you've ever managed to eat a 'decent' burger without it flopping out the bun and not having to revert to the old knife and fork, you've probably never had a decent burger. GBK is good if you have a discount, the avocado and bacon one is pretty delish but the sides are outrageously priced and the trio of overpriced different colours...not good.
Drinks are expensive too, at least Nandos has a refillable soft drink option! It's a real shame, service is always pretty good but the Burgers you can get cheaper elsewhere....Also as weird as this, this is the second article I have read today about Burgers....BURGERS. BURGERS.

breadman nx16April 12th 2011.

i'd rather get two double cheese burgers from micky d's evil empire for £under 3 quid.
better quality too.
GBK is an abomination.

PaulApril 12th 2011.

Hubert Keller Has a burger place called Burger Bar in Vegas yes a long way to go for a decent burger but you do get a 10/10 Burger

MCApril 12th 2011.

Well, we tried GBK in London what a disaster! (Not the American one - if you all remember the American Disaster in Manc?) We also tried the burgers in Byrons in the Westfield Shopping Centre (they have branches all over London) FABULOUS!! Have been trying to persuade Tom B to bring his brand North.

The AustrianApril 12th 2011.

Traditional American burgers are bigger than the average mouth; getting messy is part of the fun! As for GBK, OK, but way too expensive. The take outs cost the same as eat in and do not deliver, barking!

eva12532April 12th 2011.

The best burger i ever had was at a place in the trafford center .Shame it is now closed

elpollolocoApril 13th 2011.

I remember going to the Great American Disaster when I was a nipper (70's)...can't remember where it was though..can anyone help there? Talking of distant restaurant memories...does anyone remember the chicini (I think) Chinese restaurant in town? How about an article on this subject Ed?

BurgerSnobApril 13th 2011.

I completely disagree with the review. I have eaten at a number of GBK's. THe best one by far is Wilmslow. Burgers are generally cooked very well, the dipping sauces are to die for, they serve good chips (not soggy) and their homeslaw (not coleslaw) is to die for.

I shall keep going as they keep me happy!

GordoApril 13th 2011.

lot of things to die for there Burgersnob...

Pete WoffendenApril 13th 2011.

I'm with Burgersnob on this one. Whilst admittedly not fine dining, these are pretty decent as burgers go albeit a little overpriced. Is it really worth laying your life down for a dipping sauce though?

LeeApril 15th 2011.

Completely overpriced for what it is. We couldn't fault the food. The Burgers were lovely as was the fries and the Milkshakes were presented really nicely in the chrome mixing containers. However, the value was just not there. The bill was £50 for 3 people. We also thought it a bit of a cheek to charge almost £3.50 for fries. Rip off!

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