A busy morning of Saturday shopping led us - rumbling bellies at the ready - to the door of the Handmade Burger Company.
The restaurant was busy but not rammed, and we were shown to a corner booth quickly by a friendly waitress.
The layout was spacious, unfussy and pleasing. The clientele was made up of young families, groups of teenagers and young couples.
The menu was extensive, with classic plain burgers and popular combinations sitting alongside more exotic offerings like the Moroccan burger and the Tikka Masala burger. There was also a prime beef burger selection made of meat sourced form a local farm, a variety of ‘slider’ mini burgers, a decent children’s selection and a variety of all-American desserts. So customers are certainly spoilt for choice.
My companion opted for the Peppered Beef Burger (£8.55). This came with onion rings, red onion relish and peppercorn sauce. It was a hefty offering and my hungry dining partner - a committed carnivore - waded in with gusto. He was impressed with the juicy, perfectly cooked beef patty. He said it was fresh tasting and obviously made by hand and with care by somebody who knows what they are doing. He enjoyed the onion rings but said they could have been a bit crispier.
I opted for one of the seven delightful-sounding vegetarian offerings, the Goat’s Cheese Veggie Stack (£6.95).
This consisted of chargrilled mixed peppers, a flat mushroom and goat’s cheese served with a caramelised red onion relish.
I have to say it was one of the most awkward things I have ever eaten. The large chunks of peppers - which were not grilled enough for my liking - were falling out all over the place, and the bun was a little too small for the massive filling. The bun itself had not been warmed, which would have been nice. I loved the goat’s cheese and the general combination of flavours but in the end, I had to deconstruct the burger to eat it. Yes I know I was going for veggie in a carnivore’s paradise, but if you make the effort to have a nice non-meat offering, it makes sense to give it equal love and care in the preparation.
We shared a portion of chips for £3.25, as fries are extra with every burger. The small portion was slightly over browned, although my companion seemed happy enough.
There is no doubt the people at Handmade Burger Company know their flavour combinations, and know how to mix the best of different worlds. But I think a little bit of tightening up in some areas would not be a bad thing. Our bill, with soft drinks, came to £25, far from cheap but just about acceptable.