Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A good burger in Manchester

Finally got down to Almost Famous burgers the other night. I've been watching from a distance for weeks as the growing Manchester foodbloggerati fell hard for this temporary burger joint from the folks behind Keku Moku, Home Sweet Home and Socio Rehab. Could it be that a decent burger had finally made its way to Manchester? Reports were promising.

I ignored the whole "no bloggers no blaggers no photos" thing as a clever marketing ploy; as a signless pop-up burger joint in what appear to be empty offices in the top floor of a building in the Northern Quarter they would have been screwed if nobody had blogged or tweeted about it. Of course that did not happen, and thank god it didn't, because we want these guys to come back with their good burgers SOON. ( As an aside, anyone interested in social media marketing should take a look at their twitter feed. I imagine it being written by a kind of meat-crazed Hunter S. Thompson).

But really, who gives a shit about their marketing when their burgers are this good. They are the real deal. And yes, I say this as a burger-chomping American known to bitch about how bad the burgers are here in England. Juicy and pink in the middle, they appear to be made with 100 percent beef unadulterated by bready filler, vegetables or weird spices. You can tell all the burger research time Almost Famous' Beau Myers spent in California was put to good use (tough gig, that). Nice brioche-style bun too that wasn't too thick but got out of the way and let the meat shine. And the inclusion of rib meat and cole slaw in their Triple Nom burger was a stroke of meaty genius.

I like the gauntlet thrown down by placing a fresh cylinder of kitchen roll on the table with your food. Like, you're going to need this. And you will. The fries were good, but not quite as amazing as the boigers. It might be a regional thing; up in New England where I'm from places like this do a brisk trade in dirty, just-pulled-out-of-the-ground, cooked-until-they're-mahogany fries. But definitely nice that they added sweet potatoes to the mix. A messy barbecueish special with roadkill in the name, some fearsome looking wings, and vodka cupcakes all appealed, but I was already stuffed.

A note about the drinks: These guys seem to have a winning strategy of keeping diners likkered up. I had only to enquire about the composition of a Jack & Smack before a free shot of this potent elixr was on the bar before me. (In fairness, though, I had tweeted that I was coming and am pretty easy to spot, so maybe they were especially forthcoming.) The cocktails are head-scrambling mixtures with punchy names like Bitch Juice. This combined with their opening hours (weekends only, late nights) and position sprawled in the lap of about a hundred NQ bars make the atmosphere boozy and convivial. This is a good thing. It's nice to have a place to eat good food where you can really kick back, but, you know, leave the kids at home.

If you're going you'll have to be quick (and prepared to queue; last Friday there was a line from around 5:30; so good news that they're opening around 1pm this Friday. For evening eats, arriving after 9 or 10 might be a better strategy). This weekend's their last before this incarnation of Almost Famous closes, but there are intimations that a more permanent venue might open at some point in the future. Hurry up, burger dudes. Manchester needs your patties.

Monster burger illustration by NOF artherapy.


Anonymous said...

Mmmmm, I'm not sure about this pink in the middle business. Mince is not solid steak and requires a different cooking process to be truly safe. Bacteria aside, look at In-N-Out, they don't do pink but their burgers are amongst the best in the world. A great burger should have good mouth feel, a decent chew, and give you a good slap of flavour around the chops. Too many "foodies" are being fobbed off with fall apart, pink in the middle, meatballs on brioche.

Kate Feld said...

You're free to eat your burgers fried to a crisp if that's what you want, just don't try to tell me your nanny state brown burgers taste better than the medium rare pink ones I've been cooking, serving, ordering and eating happily and safely all my life (along with many of my fellow Americans.)

But y'know, I'm no "foodie" :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying. I wouldn't say I prefer burgers "fried to a crisp" but I get your point. And, to be fair, I have no right arguing burger science with an American. Lets be honest, you folks are the burger champions of the world. Maybe it's time I stopped listening to nanny and embraced the pink. I love your blog by the way, it's well written, informative and fun.

Kate Feld said...

Awww, thanks for your kind words. You did make me think... the culture around this is just different in the two countries. In the states you're always asked "how do you want it," and I think even places like In-N-Out will do medium rare if you ask. The burger at Almost Famous wasn't dark pink and bloody, btw, more of a pale pink.

I would never order chicken liver pate in a restaurant, though... guess we all have our ground rules.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog! It looks really tasty..Great hamburgers up in Manchester :)

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SyntheticBlue said...

All sounds so achingly hipster but the food does sound good.

Nick Hancill said...

Never made it to Almost Famous Burgers, but if it was anything like MEATLiquor down south, it'll have been one hell of a place.

Great blog Kate. We should share Manchester foodie stories!

Lauren Jane said...

Love your blog! I went at weekend, absolutley amazing burger... took loads of sneaky snaps and they have not batted an eyelid, like you say clever marketing!