To paraphrase Alanis Morissette; “Isn’t it ironic to be told about your very high cholesterol count just before you’re due to review a much-hyped burger joint, don’t ya think?” (granted, that bit of the chorus might be clunkier than the other lyrics).
I was all set for a total blow-out before I was presented with my numbers. Thus the low-fat veggie burger had to be mine. I had faith in even the non-beefy options being decent. After all, this place is owned by Ben Dantzic and James Forrest, formerly of the Michelin-starred Peat Inn in Fife, and there’s already a Burger Meats Bun in Glasgow, which, since opening last year, seems to have achieved cult status.
Now they’ve taken over what was Urban Angel on Edinburgh’s Forth Street. The space feels more like a café than a burger joint. Even though they don’t currently serve any hot drinks, you’d be inclined to linger with a cocktail or a beer. One isn’t made to feel like a banger in a sausage factory – stuffed, then shipped out.
I invited a couple of friends, so I could pick at what they had.
The best of our orders was probably the item that had been chalked on the specials board: Pork Bun (£8) with a wad of Ramsay of Carluke pork belly, hoisin sauce, red cabbage, radish, compressed cucumber, spring onion and a judicious smudge of sriracha.
This could have resulted in a sloppy hotchpotch, with all flavours indistinguishable from t’others. But this creation, presented in a greaseproof paper wrapping, was sweet, spicy, wet and crisp in all the right places, with a sturdy brioche bun that stood firm against the onslaught of pig juice.
Our Smokin’ Bacon burger option (£8) was a little less busy. A two inch thick beef patty, cooked to medium, was topped with cured-in-house bacon, which was corpse grey but tasted much better than it looked, and the mix also included melted Barwheys cheddar, spiced ketchup (more please) and braised onions. Cleverly, the lettuce was underneath the burger, to stop the bready undercarriage turning into papier mâché.
My Magic Mushroom (£7.50) paled in comparison to the rest of the nosh, mainly because the pastily textured bean patty was kind of flavourless and stodgy. However, it was jazzed up by half a roasted Portobello mushroom and a thick layer of peppy and vibrant mojo picon.
Chicken wings (£5.50) equals amazing. We went for the Seoul versions, which were presented in a cardboard bucket, à la Colonel Sanders, and lathered in a sweet spicy sauce with a scaly surface of sesame seeds.
The hot and steamy Thai chilli chips (£3) are served on a metal tray, with a layer of skinny fries, then melted cheddar, spring onion and a confetti of green and red chilli.
For those who make it past this point, there are two desserts. We went for both.
The burger and shake (£5) is a cute idea. There’s a yo-yo-sized sesame-seed sprinkled macaron as the bun, and it’s filled with a layer of dehydrated raspberry coulis, one of mango pulp and discs of dark chocolate. On the side is a dinky milk bottle full of a malty peanut milkshake, complete with stripy straw. I felt like Elvis, straining the seams of my tight white jumpsuit.
I preferred the simpler option of joyously warm and cube-shaped doughnuts (£3), which came with a teak-coloured salted caramel dip.
So, the food is pretty filthy here, but in a considered way. Their burgers are feats of precision engineering, rather than the slop-it-all-on Man vs Food versions you’ll find in lesser establishments. I can imagine them measuring out the precise amount of ketchup required to lubricate a burger before scientifically evaluating the quantity of melted cheese needed to successfully envelop a chip.
I couldn’t have blown my saturated fat allowance in a better spot.
1 Forth Street,
(0131-556 7023, www.burger-meats-bun.com)