Earlier this year the fashion world was rocked by the suggestion we may have reached ‘peak beard’, where the hirsute look on men is as popular as it can get. It’s tempting to wonder whether the same fate might be about to befall the burger.
Where once Leeds folk would have to settle for visits to the major burger chains offering bog-standard fare, with few other options, you can now barely turn the corner without having a bread-encased patty thrust into your hand.
And it looks like there’s more to come. Later this summer, the Byron chain will open its latest hamburger joint in the city centre, and the uber-trendy MEATliquor, which has punters queueing round the block to get into its original London restaurant, will arrive at the Trinity Centre this autumn.
It’s into this increasingly saturated market that New York Burger Kitchen, situated above the Brooklyn Bar on Call Lane, has arrived since opening in March. Using locally-sourced meat, it claims its burger is ‘possibly the best in Leeds’. With so much competition, this is quite a claim.
It might be the rain, but when we arrive on a weekday evening we are virtually the only customers. The upstairs restaurant area is closed during the week so we’re served in the bar area, adorned with moody photos of the Big Apple and with US rock playing in the background.
The atmosphere downstairs is very much that of a bar where you would grab a quick bite to eat, rather than a restaurant, while the New York-style subway station signs on the way down to the toilets add a touch of urban chic.
Service is quick and friendly, while drinkers have a surfeit of options with their meal including cocktails, a decent selection of imported beers on draught and a number of US and foreign bottled beers. I opt for Samuel Adams lager, though it might have been nice to have a British craft beer on tap.
Within a few minutes of weighing up our options, ranging from £7.50 for a standard burger with chips to £9.50 for one of the more elaborate options, our food arrives. The menu also includes ‘posh junk food’ standards such as ribs and chicken wings, but in a place with the word burger in its name there’s only one choice for a hungry punter.
The burgers themselves, served medium or well done, are every bit as good as promised. My 6oz beef burger is cooked with the perfect amount of charring on the outside, leaving it fleshy and tender in the middle.
The brioche bun was sweet and lightly scorched on top, while extra onion rings were hooked onto a wooden skewer.
My partner’s California Burger, garnished with bacon, Monterey Jack cheese and guacamole for an extra £2, is equally good. Best of all, the metal tubs carrying the burgers had an abundance of excellent fries, cooked with the skins on and the next size up from the Golden Arches-style skinny option.
We leave full to bursting with a bill of £23.90 for two drinks, burgers and chips – not bad value for decidedly above average fare.
A good option for a quick midweek bite or a pre-night out fill-up, New York Burger Kitchen looks capable of carving a niche for itself even in Leeds’s ever-expanding meat-eaters’ scene.