I DID a review by accident. The itinerary was: visit this new place, eat burger, go to cinema. However, it turned out a friend was working here.
(0131-228 5367, www.burgeruk.co.uk)
Lunch for three, excluding drinks
He told me all about how the owner has modelled this venue on New York burger bar, Shake Shack, and that there are already plans for another branch in the capital.
“Are you here to do what you sometimes do?” he asked, half closing one eye.
“Nope, I’m having something to eat, then going to the cinema,” I said, then changed my mind five minutes later, because the menu looked more interesting than I thought it would.
This affordable eatery is very chain-in-waiting – it reminds me of a Pret A Manger – though sleeker and shinier, with spongy blue banquettes, a funky board and buzzy flashy things that tell you when you can pick up your food from the counter. It has a view out to the dilapidated bingo hall, with weeds sprouting from its facade, where Sean Connery was supposed to have worked.
The three of us ordered a spread of stuff to sample. Everything is served on a metal prison canteen-style tray, and they use eco-friendly Vegware packaging where appropriate.
A huge portion of chilli cheese fries (£3.75) was especially filthy gorgeous. The skinny and crispy fries, made from Russet potatoes, chopped up before they’ve even had a chance to remove their jackets, were covered with clods of kidney bean-riddled mince and a blanket of melted orange cheese.
The Reuben beef burger (£5.25) wasn’t bad. Their patties are browned all the way through rather than pink, and they aren’t the kind of luxe charred-to-perfection hung-for-28-days confections that you’ll find in some gourmet burger joints. Nah, they’re just regular patties.
Instead, they pimp things up with the trimmings, which, in this case, included a thin slice of Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing, all packed into a highly polished brioche bun.
Our kimchi dog (£5.95) was also piled high with suitably sugary, umami and vinegary fixings, including spicy gochujang mayo, mild and wet chopped kimchi, and a smattering of spring onion rings and sesame seeds. All good, except the dog wasn’t a bockwurst, bratwurst, mega weiner or Bavarian schnitzel pipe. It was just an ordinary household, common or garden pork mongrel hotdog. How very retro.
The chicken katsu burger (£4.95) was more like a dessert than a savoury course, as the Panko-crusted patty’s topping of fox-coloured tonkatsu sauce was incredibly sweet. I liked its other accessories though – long strips of pickled gherkin, wasabi mayo and spring onions.
Here, they understand that a burger without ice-cream is like a blue tit without a beak, so you get a choice of these for pud (ice-creams, not blue tits).
We ordered all three, so maybe it’s just as well that the New York, New York cheeseshake (£1.95) didn’t arrive, as the combination of their special frozen custard vanilla ice-cream, with lemon mascarpone, raspberry purée and a biscuity bottom, might have been the unnecessary accoutrement that makes Buckaroo flip out.
The Maya (£1.90 for one scoop) also featured their frozen custard ice-cream, but in a smooth cinnamon and chocolate flavour. It was dotted with sugary blips of candied almond and topped with a meagre chevron of Ice Magic-esque “white chocolate sauce”.
The passion fruit sorbet (£1.75 for one scoop) was a fruity Berocca-like blast, which worked like a memory serum to erase all thoughts of saturated fat and, thus, completely reboot our bodies.
If only it were that simple. After all, even though the meaty core of this business is rather bog-standard, the ambience, menu, fries, decent coffee, and the fact that it’s near my local cinema, are going to make me a regular guzzler.