Friday, 19 April 2013

Handmade Burger Co proves that burgers don't have to be boring

On Sunday night we arrived back in Leeds after a whirlwind of a holiday with a new relationship status, sunburned skin and a massive rucksack full of washing. To be frank, food shopping was the last thing on my mind, so you can probably imagine my relief when I checked my emails and was reminded that Handmade Burger Co had invited us to review their Leeds Trinity restaurant. We needed little encouragement to avoid Morrison's and our bulging washing basket, so off we popped on Tuesday night to sample some of the Leeds' newest foodie fayre and combat our post-holiday blues.

Handmade Burger Co are one of a number of chain restaurants that have sprung up in Leeds' brand spanking new shopping centre - they're joined by the likes of Carluccio's, Cafe Rouge, Giraffe, Nando's, Wagamamas and TGI Friday's.  Founded in Birmingham in 2007 by a trio of brothers, there are now sixteen Handmade Burger Co restaurants scattered around the country. They make and hand press their burgers on-site in their restaurants daily. Unlike some of their neighbours in the Trinity Centre, Handmade Burger Co really seem to value extremely fresh food, variety and service - not just in their mission statement but in practice too (and I'm really not just saying that).

The Leeds Trinity restaurant is fresh and modern, with a large open kitchen running against one of the back walls. With an ordering system not dissimilar to Nando's (you're shown to a table, choose what you want and then order at the counter), it could be easy to feel like you're just a number and service levels could reflect that. However, the service that Ash and I received was exemplary - beating the "service" we've been subjected to by their competitors hands down (not that you go to Gourmet Burger Kitchen expecting Michellin starred service, of course!).

With over forty different burgers on offer - ranging from a classic cheese and bacon burger right through to Moroccan lamb, brie and cranberry chicken, and stuffed cheddar and chilli - making a decision as to what to break my post-holiday diet with was more than just a little bit difficult. After a bit of hmming and haaing, we decided that as Homemade Burger Co first got in contact when I was battling with meat-free March it was only right that we check out their vegetarian options. And my goodness - if you're a veggie you could do far worse than choosing to eat here. With a plethora of options to choose from, it really is a breath of vegetarian fresh air. Our lovely waitress explained that all the vegetarian options are cooked separately (in vegetable oil) from the hundreds of meat-based food on offer, so no worries there either!

After some debate we settled for a Sweet Potato and Bean Burger (£7.25) and an Onion Bhaji Burger (£6.85), along with a portion of cajun seasoned fresh cut chips (£3.25) and a house salad (£4.95) to share. Both of the burgers arrived in a sourdough sesame seed bun, and were fit to burst with the most delicious garnish. The mango and ginger salsa that came with the sweet potato and bean offering was delectable, and the mint and red onion garnish with the bhaji burger was pretty darn tasty too. In fact - the burgers were so big and so tasty that they warranted knife and fork action! The Sweet Potato and Bean burger was sweet, but not overly so and the bhaji burger would make the best sort of hangover fodder. The portion of chips easily fed two and were perfectly fluffy and well-seasoned. All in all, top notch grub that beats rival Gourmet Burger Kitchen hands-down.

Although the Trinity Centre has been unbelievably busy and the queues for some of the restaurants have been quite literally out of the door, I think that a meal at the Handmade Burger Co is more than worth waiting for.

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