BURGER. (as they refer to themselves) opened up in The Gate a few months ago, and many were wondering if Newcastle needed another burger joint. There are plenty to choose from, some doing it rather well (and some less so). The people at Burger were obviously confident that their patties would measure up, so we thought we’d put them to the test.
We wandered into The Gate with it’s array of bars, chain restaurants, cinema and casino. It’s a place that attracts a lot of hen and stag do’s, cinema goers and those on nights out and struck us as a strange choice for a place like BURGER. They have 3 locations, one in Edinburgh, one in St. Andrews and Newcastle is their first venture into England. Their space in The Gate is big and industrial looking, with colourful lamps and chairs which soften it slightly but it still feels draughty and exposed. I wish they’d picked a smaller, quirkier location; there are plenty of vacant buildings in Toon that would have been way more suitable. I hope they don’t suffer due to their choice of premises as it turns out that their food is pretty damn good.
Their menu is short and to the point – basically if you don’t want a burger you’ve come to the wrong place! There are veggie and vegan options however as well as some non burger options on the starter menu. To begin proceedings we settled on buffalo wings with ranch dressing (£5.75) and sweet potato falafel with harissa mayo (£3.45).
Now for the service. Sebastian was so warm, friendly and helpful from the minute we entered the quiet restaurant. He chatted to us like we were old friends and gave us lots of recommendations. We learned that he had commuted between Newcastle and Marbella (!) to see his girlfriend, which is apparently quicker and cheaper than you’d think!
They have a short and simple cocktail list and we both opted for a Pear Mule – JJ Whitley vodka, pear simple syrup, ginger beer & fresh lime (£4.95). They don’t have mocktails but suggested leaving the vodka out of this for me and it made for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.
Our starters arrived promptly and we wasted no time getting stuck in. The buffalo wings were succulent with crispy skin and plenty of hot buffalo sauce. They came with a cooling ranch dip and quite honestly we couldn’t get enough of them. Properly finger lickin’ good!
The falafels were equally delicious, with plenty of flavour and bite thanks to the contrasting soft chickpea, cubes of sweet potato and crisp deep fried outer layer. Mr TLC declared them to be the best falafels he’d ever tasted, and I was very impressed too.
Next for our mains. Before they arrived I took a look around the restaurant and couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t a scrap of tinsel or a Christmas tree in sight. The only nod to Christmas was the music, which could only be described as ‘A Hip Hop Christmas’ and was a nice break from the norm! I think they’re aiming for a bit of a chilled haven from all the Christmas commotion in the city centre.
They did however have some festive specials on the menu and my eye was drawn to the ‘St Nicholas’ burger – secret recipe Scottish beef with gouda, red leicester, bacon jam, sautéed mushrooms and sage and onion mayo (£10.50). The Mr went for ‘The Capital B’ – Scottish beef piled high with slow cooked brisket, French brie, pickled red onion, beef tomato and BURGER. sauce on toasted brioche (£11.65) We decided to sample some sides to share, opting for brisket cheese fries (£5.65), chicken salt fries (£3.45), onion rings (£3.65) and chipotle slaw (£2.75). Sauces are £0.95 each and we went for garlic mayo and smoked chilli ketchup.
I have to admit that the St Nicholas burger was something special. That combination of gooey cheese, a juicy succulent burger and sautéed mushrooms was exquisite. Add in the bacon jam and festive mayo and you’ve got a winner! I don’t know if the brioche bun craze is going away any time soon but it definitely worked with this combo.
The Mr’s burger arrived looking like a food challenge, piled high with brisket and bright pink pickled onion. Again, a well cooked patty of quality beef and a great balance of flavours. He claimed that he couldn’t imagine it tasting any better with cheese on it (I on the other hand beg to differ, cheese makes everything taste better!)
Now for the sides. The all important french fries were crisp on the outside, fluffy in the middle and the chicken salt was new to me and incredibly tasty and moreish.
The brisket fries were a meal in themselves (hence costing more than your average side dish). Classic fries are smothered in grated cheese, pulled beef and thick gravy. It was tasty but a bit too much for me to handle and not as good as the poutine we’ve had in Kracklin.
The onion rings and chipotle slaw were probably the least impressive part of the meal. While they were both inoffensive, the rings were pretty standard and the slaw was lacking in chipotle flavour.
We struggled to finish our meals, you definitely get a lot of bang for your buck here. We went for the premium burgers but also tried the Classic burger – Scottish beef topped with pickled gherkin, beef tomato and BURGER. sauce on toasted brioche which is only £6.50 and offers great value for money. This place is one for the lovers of proper burgers with great ingredients and flavour combo’s. They are a real contender for Newcastle’s burger crown, even though competition is fierce.
We ended proceedings with a shake for me and cup of herbal tea for the Mr (he’s so manly). All of their desserts are in shake form with options including sticky toffee pudding and banana split. Sebastian told us they do have plans to add some non-shake desserts to the menu, which I think would be a good alternative option. I opted for New York Cheesecake, as much to sample their homemade ice cream as anything. Vanilla ice cream is blended with cream cheese and poured over a biscuit base, topped with whipped cream & raspberry sauce (£6.95). You could taste the quality again, there’s no scrimping on ingredients or shortcuts taken here.
We finished the meal with a chat to Sebastian about Bitcoin and his native Munich. We got on so well with him and wish him all the best with BURGER. Newcastle. I really hope the location doesn’t end up hampering their success, as the food and service they’re delivering is fantastic and they deserve to do well. Only time will tell!
We were provided with a complimentary meal for the purposes of this review, however the opinions expressed in this article are honest and true to experience.