Review: Meat Shack

Hi there, (put ‘National Burger Day’ somewhere near the top for SEO purposes) remember the B-52’s 1989 hit single Love Shack? Of course you do, you wild party animal. Well, see below, I’ve composed a new version.

I’m headin’ down the Smallbrook Queensway
Lookin’ for the meat getaway
Headed for the meat getaway

I got me a mouth, it’s as big as a whale
And we’re headin’ on down to the Meat Shack
I got me a gut, it seats about 20
So hurry up and bring your burger money

The meat shack is a little old place where we can get together
Meat Shack, baby
Meat Shack, baby, Meat Shack 

Repeat until bored

Good right? I’m willing to write jingles for any food / drink provider in the West Midlands in exchange for free booze, food and cash.

So, burgers is it? I like a burger, I’ve even spent three of the last four years running pickle eating competitions at Mr Hyde / Street Feast’s National Burger Day Parties. What I’m getting at is – yes, I’m a high flyer in the burger world.

Moving to Birmingham I was slightly concerned about not finding anywhere decent, having tried Buffalo and Rye a few months ago and being left VERY disappointed. I was excited to hear about Meat Shack and seeing everyone on social media saying it was like properly good.

So, I went, and for once, social media was right.

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Buffalo blue burger

I had the buffalo blue burger and some onion rings, despite onions doing funny things to my arse – a price I’m willing to pay to provide you with top blog content.

The burger was superb, the Franks sauce, blue cheese dressing and candied bacon crumb all worked so well together that it’s giving me the right horn just writing it down.

The onion rings were fantastic too, perfectly crisp and with onion salt added to give my bowel a real good going over.

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Onion rings

Congratulations to everyone involved, well done, ten on ten, in other words:

FoodieBoys_review_fullx 5 out of 5

Want proof that I’ve eaten burgers before? Weird, but OK, check it: here and here.

Review: Yeah! Burger

After our incredibly successful review of We Serve Humans at the Jackdaw and Star (over  ****** potential impressions on Twitter achieved and a healthy ****** blog views reached – get in touch to find out the numbers behind the stars) it wasn’t a big surprise to hear from the marketing guys at the Star pubs again.

“Please,” they begged “will you come and review ‘Yeah Burger’ at the Star by Hackney Downs?”

“Hang on, let me get this straight – East London and burgers, right?”

“Correct.”

“We were hoping you’d say: ‘Yeah’.”

“Oh, yeah. So, are you up for it?”

There was only one answer to that: “Absolutely.”

Toby

I arrived twenty minutes before Tony, due to typically poor transport planning on his part.

“What shall I do?” I asked him.

“Go incognito,” urged Tony “pretend you’re just an ordinary schmuck from the street and see how they treat you.”

I ordered a pint and tried not to betray my celebrity status, but I fear the bar staff were all too aware that I had something special about me.

Tony

TFL fucked me, yet again, leaving Toby to try and initiate the blogger / vendor process.

Worried, I told him to get himself a pint, keep his mouth shut and not to do anything that could jeopardise us getting burgers.

I arrived to see Toby propping up the bar shouting about geese to a poor bartender.

Toby

“Fire me over a couple of GEESE please, barkeep!” I said to the bartender, wooing her with my wordplay.

There was a beer called ‘Goose IPA’ you see.

I had already bought a Camden Hells that I hadn’t finished, but I couldn’t turn down this opportunity to impress the young, possibly Australian woman behind the bar.

“GEESE, you see, is the plural of GOOSE!”

“TOBY! Leave that woman alone,” Tony shrieked as he ran towards the bar on entering the pub.

“What can I get you?” she calmly asked.

“Two goose, please.”

“GEESE!” Toby yelled again.

“Go and get us a table, Toby.”

Oooh political

As a pair of deeply political kinda guys we were pleased to see ‘Yeah Burgers’ getting on board with the General Election. 

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“Where the fuck is Sir Timothy Farron in all this?” Tony demanded to know.

“He thinks burgering is a sin.” Toby laughed to himself, “burgering – like buggering, like what gays do.”

“Yes, I got it.”

The food

We didn’t try those political items as we thought we may be swayed from a truly impartial review.

So, we settled for a Gladiator burger, and a beef Coney Island hot dog.

The Gladiator burger was very much a burger, but with confit garlic mayo, avocado and most importantly chicken skin. The chicken skin was a delicious addition and the salty hit instantly cured Tony’s hangover.

Yeah Burger Gladiator burger

Gladiator burger


“Surprised it’s not GOOSE SKIN,” shouted Toby, looking around the pub, desperate for a reaction.

The Coney Island hot dog was a beef frank with ketchup, mustard and crispy onions.

Toby scraped away some of the tasty onions as they do his IBS riddled stomach a right mischief – life can be so cruel.

Coney Island hot dog

Coney Island hot dog

“The bread should be OK seeing as it’s sourdough,” he assured the barman, who had a Jeremy Corbyn T-Shirt on, “the onions perhaps not! Onions for the many! Not for the poo!”

“Shut up, Toby.”

The burger and hot dog were excellent, as were the fries and sweet potato fries.

The side order of pickles was a bit sad, and not very pickly.

“Is everything OK with your food?” asked the bartender as she cleared our empty glasses.

“It is, very good indeed. But could you help us with something, what genre is the music that’s playing in here currently?”

“Um, I’m not sure who it is.”

“Ah yes, but is it… Grime?”

“It could be Grime. Yes. I think it’s Grime.”

“YES!” We had never heard this music before and were thrilled to be part of Corbyn’s grime scene.

You do not have to say anything…

Before we left, Toby wanted to get to the bottom of the barkeep’s mysterious accent.

“Hello, I’m Detective Inspector Twang, and I’m making routine inquiries today.”

“I’m sorry?” she had now become wary of our conversations.

“I’m from the Dialect Squad. Anything you say will be taken as evidence.” He winked slowly.

“I really don’t understand what you’re on about.”

“Sorry about him,” apologised Tony.

“999, ACCENT EMERGENCY” shouted Toby as Tony dragged him away and with him, his last chance to woo this enigma of a lady.

YEAH OR NAH?

It’s a YES YEAH from us for Yeah Burger at The Star by Hackney Downs. It’s a fine way to spend your summer afternoon; go for the burgers, stay for the grime and leave before you meet Toby.

4 Boys out of five

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Review: We Serve Humans

Having moved away from London’s trendy East I think it’s important to go back every now and then to keep up with the latest on-point, peng (reminder: Google some Vice articles for some more trendy phrases to add here) food happenings.

So, last Saturday I gave Toby a ring:

We Serve Humans?”

“Yep.”

“Is this like those weird German couples who eat each other’s penises that you’re always going on about.”

“I’ve mentioned it like three or four times.”

“I’m not letting you eat my penis.”

“How many times! I don’t want to eat YOUR penis, I just wonder what they’d taste like and what garnishes would go with them. Anyway, I’ll meet you at the Jackdaw and Star in Homerton at 12:30.”

“Fine.”

“Bring your penis.”

As we approached, we began to debate how we introduce ourselves.

“We can’t just march in there and say we want to gorge on the meat of the slain.” Toby worried.

“Don’t worry, we’ll say: ‘I believe the kitchen is expecting us’.” said Tony.

“Perfect.”

We walked into the bar:

“We’re here for the humans!” Toby barked in a mad panic.

“Oh, of course. You must be the bloggers,” the barman said calmly.

“Shhhh, don’t call us that in public, we’re not monsters.” We responded in unison.

“OK, just a minute. Take a seat.”

We sat ourselves down and nervously waited, the tension was palpable.

“I don’t want to be a party pooper, but I just couldn’t wait…” Toby said as he stared, ashamed, at his shoes.

“You couldn’t wait for what?”

“To try…human flesh.”

“Oh fuck, what did you do?”

With this Toby flung off his left shoe, his left sock, and put a bloodied foot on the table.

“You tried to gnaw your little toe off didn’t you?”

“Yeah.”

“How was it?”

“I could only taste blood and tears really.”

“Shut up! They’re coming!”

A man emerged from the kitchen and walked towards our table. Tony grabbed the ketchup and placed a napkin in his lap.

“Hi,” the human said offering us his hand.

Unsure whether to bite it or shake it, we ignored it totally.

“OK, what can I get you?” The human offered.

“Human, please.”

“Yes, that’s me.”

ANYWAY, long story short, this chap was Paul Human the founder of We Serve Humans.

We then proceeded to feast on NOT the flesh of humans but the flesh of cows, chickens and pigs. Lovely.

Potato

Let us begin with the chips (chips are made with the flesh of the potato). These were covered in beer cheese sauce and we stuffed them in our faces at quite a rapid rate.

Fries with beer cheese sauce

Fries with beer cheese sauce

Chicken

We then had some of the fried chicken wings (chicken flesh) with whisky and ginger sauce. These chicken wings are reason enough why we are better off continuing to eat chicken rather than human. They were delicious. If human arms were this tasty chickens would be eating them greedily.

Buttermilk chicken wings with whisky and ginger sauce

Buttermilk chicken wings with whisky and ginger sauce

Beef

Burgers. This is what We Are Humans are all about. Proper beef, served medium rare covered in some seriously good toppings.

‘The chairman’ was great, but even better was the ‘End of democracy’ which is ‘the chairman’ covered in chilli and jalapenos. NICE.

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The End of Democracy burger

A shout out to the buffalo chicken burger too.

“This is good, it tastes like buffalo sauce.”

“It is buffalo sauce.” Paul Human told Toby.

“But it’s not bright orange like Donald Trump’s penis?”

It turns out they make their own buffalo sauce, rather than use Frank’s like everyone else does.

We then discussed what Donald Trump would taste like until the early hours.

The best burgers and wings we’ve had in Hackney.

Five boys out of five

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FoodieBoys food tour of Kent #LongRead

“There are only so many London restaurants, we don’t want to run out before our domain registration, www.foodieboys.com, expires.” Tony sighed.

“Too true, perhaps we should go and review some places in Kent. After all, Kent is much like London. They have similar accents, for example.”

“I was thinking the exact same thing.”

And so it was we took the evening train heading East, towards a little place they call Birchington Vale Caravan park.

Friday

To get there we alighted the train, with all our personal belongings, at Westgate-on-Sea.

“Okay Google” shouted Toby at his Android phone, “Westgate-on-Sea foodie locations.”

Next thing you know, we’re standing outside Paul’s, which came complete with a 4.2 Google rating from five reviews. We entered and immediately noticed the delightful outside area.

“It reminds me of a Spanish garden,” Tony mused.

“I knew a girl who had her bum hole licked in a Spanish garden,” Toby shouted slightly too loudly as we pulled the door open.

After explaining ourselves we were granted permission to stay.

“Hi, we’re the FoodieBoys and we’d like to try some of your local, seasonal fare,” we said in unison.

“We’ve got burgers,” the barmaid said.

“That is SO London.We’ll have two.”

“How would you like them cooked?”

“Medium-rare please, we’re foodies from London.”

The burgers arrived, topped with blue cheese and bacon. They were perfectly pleasant, although neither of them were medium-rare. Perhaps to be expected in the sticks.

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Not a medium-rare burger.

After devouring our medium-well burgers we asked at the bar for a cab to take us to the caravan park.

“Call for carriages!” Tony shrieked.

“Sorry?” the barmaid responded.

“We need a taxi to take us to the caravan park.”

“Oh.”

And so the taxi driver came, hunched over, into the bar. “TAXI FOR THE FOODIE BOYS!” He was quite the character and even asked if he could work with us on our website. We of course declined.

The Birchington Vale Caravan park came fully equipped with a bar, full to the brim of drunken men and children high on litres and litres of slush puppy.

We perused the menu to see what sort of culinary delights we might enjoy.

Chicago Town pizza or Chicago Town pizza were the options. Washed down with slush puppy.

“We’re going to need that freak taxi driver again,” Toby said with delight.

Saturday

Sure enough Saturday arrived, how predictable.

During the day we ate Hula Hoops, biscuits and Feast ice creams acquired from the shop, as well as some exquisite flapjacks.

When evening arrived we headed to the bustling, seaside town of Margate – FoodieBuoys more like!!

After a pleasant hour chatting to locals on the seafront, we decided we needed to book a table at a local bistro.

“OKAY GOOGLE,” bellowed Toby, much to the bewilderment of the locals.

But before he could complete the sentence, Tony chimed in, “what about this place?”

The website’s mobile site confusingly hid the menu from us so we decided it must be exclusive. We used our influence on Twitter to acquire a table at Giorgios – an Italian/ Greek / Mediterranean restaurant depending on which site you read.

Walking in, we found that a huge stag party had also found their way into the place, but we recognised the commercial imperative that large venues have to get as many people in as possible to make their restaurant economically viable. Plus, we were hungry and didn’t know anywhere else to go. So we snapped up our table.

Cocktails! Personally, we can’t have a meal without having at least one before. That’s because we’re London foodies, you may feel differently. We ordered espresso martinis but received one more than we asked for*! Whether this was a genuine mistake, or an attempt to butter up #FoodInfluencers we can’t be sure.
(*Full disclosure – we did not request this but these “mistakes” are a perk of the job.)

We ordered our food.

Starters: Tone opted for scallops with bacon and asparagus, while Tobes went for a mozzarella and tomato salad.

“It freaks my nut every time I piss after asparagus,” Tony told the owner.

Mains: Sea Bass with lemon and white wine jus and a ‘Grigliata Mista’ – steak, chicken, sausage, aubergine and chips.

“I can see why you call it a Mista!” Toby said to the waitress as it was placed before him.

“Sorry?” she replied.

“I can see why you call it a Mista!”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

“You wouldn’t called it a Missus, would you?”

“Erm, no. Can I get you any more drinks?”

“Because it’s too big for a woman isn’t it? Really. Unless she had a particularly large appetite, which is fine, I actually like women who eat more than me. Have you ever been in a Spanish garden?”

“JUST some tap water please!” Tony interrupted.

The food was fine. Look at the pictures and taste it for yourself. Do we really have to explain everything to you?

Although we were stuffed, we thought we’d order dessert. Chocolate fudge cake and a chocolate fondant.

Sadly, when thrusting my spoon through the fondant it did not deliver a gooey ending. If this had happened in London I would have demanded to see the chef, but I presumed the ovens in Kent may not work as effectively, so let them off.

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Solid fondant

Sunday

Another day of eating like four year old children left to their own devices for the first time at the caravan park left us hungry for more of Kent’s foodie scene.

So, obviously we went to Broadstairs.

We were busy debating our favourite type of sausage in the back of the taxi when the driver began to talk.

“Charles Dickens used to live here you know.”

“I think the Lincolnshire is better than the Cumberland and you’re never going to be able to persuade me otherwise.” Tony declared.

“Charles Dickens used to eat sausages here.” Said the driver, desperately.

“Bollocks.” Toby said, we threw a tenner at him and jumped out. He shouted, “THIS HAS GOT CHARLES DICKENS ON IT” as he drove away.

We walked around the corner and BAM! The Charles Dickens pub.

“He was right!”

What does Sunday say to you? To some it would say “church,” others would say “The Observer,” but to Tobes it would say “Roast.”

So he ordered the lamb roast but Tony went for the fish and chips, as he’d spent the day looking at the sea and wondering if fish eat potatoes.

We had a top seat, right next to the kitchen. An exclusive spot! We saw our food being plated up which was a real treat.

“HEY! What are you doing to his fish?” Toby yelled.

“I’m just checking its temperature,” the chef said as he removed the metal thermometer from the cod.

“Bit late for that, mate, it’s already dead!” Tony quipped, but sadly they’d disappeared around the back of the kitchen so they couldn’t hear it.

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Fish with lemon in a little bag, “the best invention I’ve ever seen,” – Toby.

Monday

Time to go home.

We bid farewell to the oddballs at the caravan park ( including the topless man shouting “this is the life eh mate?” as he drove past on a sit on mower) and headed back to Westgate-on-Sea. With an hour to kill before our train we spotted an opportunity for one last foodie adventure.

We approached the man working at the train station.

“Hello, do you know anywhere we can get a coffee?”

“I’m not from here,” he barked at us.

“Oh, so you don’t know anywhere that sells coffee near the station where you work?”

“No.”

With this horrid interaction ringing in our ears we disconsolately trundled up the street. Fortunately, about 200 metres from the station were three cafes.

“Perhaps he’s blind?” Toby tried to justify the station master’s actions.

“He wasn’t blind! He was just a massive twat.” Tony shouted as we flung the door to the Beano cafe open.

“I’ll have the breakfast special and a flat white please.”

“A flat what?”

“White.”

“Make it two coca cola, a special breakfast and a sausage and chips please, buddy?” Toby interrupted, bored of this second difficult interaction of the day.

“Look at that plastic washing-up bowl full of bacon,” Tony said, for there was one.

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Mmm special

We speculated as to why the cafe was called the Beano cafe, and settled on the fact there must have been a character who made shit breakfasts, maybe one of the minor ones in the middle you didn’t read. Like Beryl the Peril.

Kent’s food scene clearly wasn’t prepared for us and we’ve come to the conclusion that London is better than Kent.

Kent gets two boys out of five.

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Review: Niche – Toby

Picture this: you’re standing in Leicester Square. Throngs of people-crowds push past you. Probably going to see a film I expect.

And quickly, unbeknownst to the hundreds, even thousands of people around you, you start to shit yourself. What a terrible dream.

But this was no dream for Tobes, it was a very real reality that happened to him (me) not so long ago.

Since then I have been diagnosed, among other things, with a gluten intolerance. I simply cannot tolerate gluten.

IMG_20160202_183504So with that in mind, I was delighted to find out that a mere stone’s throw from my place of work (I do digital) was a gluten free restaurant by the name of Niche.

Its promise? All the normal comfort foods you love, but completely free of the “wheaty terror,” as I call it.

So, I got on the phone to my digital girlfriend (she also works in digital, she’s not a virtual girlfriend but sometimes I think it’d be easier if it was hehe!) and said “can we go to this restaurant one day? It’s in Angel.”

Well, I don’t need to tell fellow Londoners that the words “date,” “restaurant,” and “Angel,” are like catnip to women. So off we went.

We started with a small cocktail (not pictured, I was spending this time scouring the menu for wheaty errors.)

One of the things I’d missed since becoming gluten free was the humble burger. Some people have pointed out “just get it without the bun,” but that’s missing the point.
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The burger was absolutely fine, if a little bland. Having paid around £13 for it, I did expect a little more.

The dessert, however, was much less disappointing. It was, if anything, appointing.

You’re looking at a blurry photo of a chocolate mousse, with a salty caramel base. I’ll say this for niche; they may hate gluten, but they’re absolutely fine with dairy.

Unfortunately, dairy (or “creamy terror,” as I call it) tends to upset my stomach as well, so this was not a wise choice.

Luckily my girlfriend lives nearby in trendy Hoxton so it was a short journey back to relieve myself on her toilet (which is handily near the bedroom so I could pop out in the middle of the night when the cramps and bloating troubled me.)

All in all, I enjoyed Niche for what it was, a restaurant that absolutely detests gluten.

My girlfriend was more critical, complaining that it was a little expensive for a restaurant that served basic stuff. Sometimes, though, you can’t quantify the value of a meal that leaves you with a healthy stomach.

Three and a half boys out of five.

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Review: Lucky Chip @ Birthdays, Dalston

On hearing that Lucky Chip were transporting their patty offerings from Hackney to trendy Dalston, our Foodie Senses went into overdrive.

After a few well-placed calls, we hadn’t really got anywhere, so it was fortunate that a work colleague mentioned he could get us on the guest list for their opening night.

When we rocked up to Dalston, enjoying the vibes of East London (I saw some fantastic hats) we approached Birthdays and couldn’t believe the queue!

Obviously some other well-connected foodies had got wind of the opening and were on the hunt for their beefy produce. After a brief moment of confusion on the door, when Tony was nearly refused entry, we were shown to our table of four.

As you can imagine, the venue was heaving with people – and balloons! There must have been at least 100 helium balloons in that room, which actually reduced your headspace because of the string dangling from the ceiling. They would be well advised to avoid using these in future.

The deal was, you got a free cheeseburger each with an accompanying bottle of Peroni lager. Our lactose intolerant friend requested the cheese to be removed, but the waitress kindly explained this was impossible because of the recipe.

This was queried, but having the knowledge of the food industry as I do, I quickly stepped into explain that making a cheeseburger wasn’t as simple as cooking a beef patty and putting cheese on top of it (or not).

The Peroni lager we got was interestingly 250ml, as opposed to 330, the more common measurement. I enquired as to the reasons for this with the waiter but she was very busy and didn’t seem to hear.

The fries arrived a short while after – one basket between a table of four. Which caused this little amusing quip:

“Never mind Lucky Chip, I’ll be lucky if I GET a chip!” – Toby

Small fry

Small fry

Toby actually ended up eating more chips than any of us, enjoying their dry texture, as he had been suffering from an overly wet mouth all day.

Next up, the burger!

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With cheese fully intact (our friend was able to peel it off with relative ease) they eventually arrived at our table in charming little red baskets.

A lovely touch which reminded me of mother bringing in the washing on a summer’s day, except nestled among the laundry was a cheeseburger.

After we’d finished, we were about to ask for the bill, when we remembered it was free! I asked the waiter to bring a receipt for what we would have paid anyway, but she was understandably busy and couldn’t do this.

And with that, we left to give another of London’s food-fanciers a chance to taste Lucky Chip.

Papa Del’s Takeaway, Review

Owing to an non-forecast hangover, I found myself in the mood for a takeaway this evening.

Perusing the options on the excellent JustEat app, I found myself curious about the option of burgers, delivered! Well, I’ve tasted burgers from my own grill, vans, kebab houses, street vendors and fast food outlets, but never have I before received one direct to my door without so much as a nod and a wink to the staff.

So when I saw Papa Del’s American diner style offering just a click away, I took the plunge. You certainly get spoiled for choice when it comes to customisation. Once I’d selected my American style cheeseburger, I was able to opt for brioche over ordinary bun, jalapenos, onions mustard and mayonnaise at no extra cost. I was also offered mushrooms, but I said not on your nelly!!

The delivery stunned me as it was near on 25 minutes earlier than originally estimated. I gabbled my thanks to the delivery driver; thank Heavens he had a motorcycle helmet on or I might have kissed him I was so elated.

Before he left, he said in a muffled voice what sounded like “cah yoo refuse us?” I begged his pardon and he was able to communicate that he’d like me to review them.

Well, I was even more impressed that he knew that I was a food critic and assured him that the Foodie Boys certainly would be reviewing his work to which he said “okay, bye.” Lovely man.

So what did I think? The burger stood up to the best of the takeaway burgers I’ve ever had. It was kept warm with a neat tin foil wrapper. It was a proper dripping burger, packed to the rafters with toppings and taste. Excellent.

Now to the chips. These are pretty bland and tasteless, despite being salted. They also came loose in the bag, which I didn’t expect. With this in mind, I’d recommend being ready with CPR (Condiments, Plate & Ranch Dressing) for resusci-TASTE-ion!

All in all, Papa Del’s have proved to be the Daddy of all burger delivery services in the North London area!

I fully recommend. 4/5

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A successful purchase

Honest Burger – 16th September (Day before my birthday)

Hi guys, Toby here. Just back from a stag weekend, what happened in Manchester stays in Manchester! Although I’ll probably blog about some food I had there at some stage.

Last month I visited Honest Burger, and HONESTLY, it’s one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

The scrummy menu on offer

The scrummy menu on offer

Being the adventurous type, who doesn’t like to eat the same old foods every time, I went for their special. Not your average burger, it features beef, chorizo, manchego, chimichurri and jalapeno puree. I didn’t stop there, I also had onion rings and coleslaw. #sides

What did I think of the burger? Well, it was nice and certainly had a kick to it. However, I personally would prefer to pick the safe option next time and go for the classic Honest Burger. You can’t go wrong with that.

Nearly finished!

Nearly finished!

One of the sides on offer, nom

One of the sides on offer, nom

One qualm I would have was the inconsistent drink containers. While some soft drinks came served in a can (like Coca Cola), others came in small glasses (water) and another (lemonade) came in a jam jar.

Dinner should be a communal experience and having different beverage receptacles only to serves to drive you apart, a point I repeatedly made to anyone who would listen.

Service was good, and they were very accommodating with my request to have the full menu (with prices) read aloud.

Jam jar? Can? Glass? Come on.

Jam jar? Can? Glass? Come on.

All in all, I enjoyed my visit and would have liked to have stayed a great deal longer but my colleagues had too much work on at the office. 4/5