Leeds is buying into burgers in a big way.
Forget your typical fast food joint. Whether it’s ‘gourmet’ beef, mounds of pulled pork or sizzling lamb you’re after, it’s all on our doorstep.
The wealth of choice available – with recent additions alone including Byron Burger and Leeds’ second Red’s True Barbecue – not only means the city’s collective tastebuds are hungry for meaty portions, but also that setting a restaurant aside from the pack is no mean feat these days.
Twisted Kitchen at Brewery Wharf is trying to do just that.
Not to be confused with the similarly-named Twisted Burger Company that has taken residence at Aire Bar just over the river, this waterside bar/diner is a meat feast with American blood running through its veins.
As soon as you cross the threshold into this fresh new venue, which is owned by the same people who run the neighbouring Azucar tapas eatery, you are confronted with a smorgasbord of classic US rock music, from Bon Jovi to Guns N’ Roses.
Inside it’s an expansive venue that is quite neutral in decoration. There are warm red leather diner-style booths to the rear, while a raised area filled with simple wooden chairs and tables sits above a lower banquette in the main bar space.
Littered with plasma TV screens, the venue is punctuated by dark purples, creams and dark wood furniture.
On our arrival we were promptly guided to the plush leather row of booths overlooking the River Aire, where a number of other mixed couples had taken up seats.
The menu unashamedly plugs the plus-size nature of its offering, from ‘Big Ol’ Salads’ to its stuffed burger signatures, selection of hefty grilled steaks and other mains that include pork, crab cakes, risotto and salmon. There is also an array of starters from £4.95, while mains cost from £8.25 to a 16oz T-bone steak at £17.95.
Drinks-wise there are around 40 inventive cocktails as well as wines, beers, ciders and a whole host of soft drinks to choose from.
We went for a couple of Twisted Kitchen’s signature ‘stuffed burgers’, which involve burger buns sandwiching two thick patties that have one of a range of stuffings between them. They come finished with lettuce, tomato and red onion as well as some accompanying chips.
I chose the hardwood smoked bacon, avocado and cheddar stuffed burger, while my dining partner opted for the unusual stuffing of apple smoked bacon and mashed potato.
First and foremost the portions were humongous – the stacked burgers so tall we both had to cut them in half or quarters to pick them up.
Despite feeling as if we’d taken on some sort of eating challenge, the meals themselves were a hefty, no-nonsense delight.
Certainly not for the feint-hearted, my buxom burger was tender and cooked to perfection, oozing with the calorific cheese, while the bacon added its own intense flavour to the mix and the avocado added a soft smooth texture right at the burger’s heart.
My dining partner had similar joy, with his slightly drier burger and its unusual mash and bacon stuffing proving a succulent success.
Our burgers each cost £9.95, which seemed reasonable given the monstrous portions and the fact we both left satisfied and full.
Washed down with a couple of on-the-house tap waters, the bill came to £19.90.
Twisted Kitchen is bidding to cash in on the growing trend of hearty portions and unusual thick-set burgers.
It takes the American theme and runs with it to a degree.
The venue is comfortable and unpretentious, the theme is subtle enough to not be off-putting and the food is big, brash and good value.