What can I say – I like Burgers!
I won’t lie – I eat a lot of Burgers. On a walk in Derbyshire the other day, the cows gave me a wide berth and whispered, in cow accent ,
“Doris, that’s her!”
It’s a nice hobby to have. One which takes great skill and dedication, but like I’ve always said: ‘burgers aren’t just for Christmas’ (Now there’s an idea Annie, prime British Beef topped with turkey and eggnog. I’ll let you have that one).
So, it’s with great pride that I can reveal the results of the last 6 months of my burger-testing hobby, here in the foodie city of Nottingham! I’ve done the hard work, you can just sit back with your knife and fork and enjoy the fruitage of my labour.
First off, I’d just like to say that I haven’t listed them in order of preference because, actually, all these burgers are great and it just depends on what I fancy on the day, but rest assured – you won’t be disappointed with any of them.
Nottingham’s Best Burgers…
The Nottingham Street Food Club is for those in the know – a relative newbie on the foodie scene of Nottingham. Tucked away behind the immaculate storefronts of Victoria Centre it takes a down to earth establishment like this to remind you about unpolished reality after an afternoon of retail. Great food on cosy armchairs served to you by men who are 3 parts beard, 1 part face and whose tattooed knuckles say MEAT and PIE. Pull up a leather Chesterfield and create the best mixed-race feast from whichever food-window takes your fancy.
The perfect combo of meat to fat – 80/20 apparently and beef aged for at least 28 days. So there you go, it’s no ‘secret’ anymore but you get the distinct feeling that a lot of love and thought has gone into this tasty meat assemblage. And to join the ‘club’ you just need to admire the craft of the Secret Burger. You might not get a members badge but you will undoubtedly leave with a bit of secret recipe burger sauce on your chin – a little trophy memento for how fast you wolfed it down!
So you’re going to have to hop in the car for this one, but I assure you it’s worth the drive. Situated in a pretty village in North Nottingham, the Four Bells Inn is the kind of establishment that makes everyone feel welcome, no matter who you are. It’s a good pub that does good pub grub. The rooms are cosy, there are some great nooks and crannies and the landlord, Craig, is a down to earth kinda guy. The place won “Best Pub” in the 2015 Nottinghamshire Food and Drink Awards, and I can honestly say everything we’ve eaten here has been top nosh!
A grilled 8oz piece of juicy loveliness, made in their kitchen, from local produce. If I was to ever master the perfect burger at home, this is what I hope it could look like : a rather large chunky English style pattie in a fresh (baked in-house) sesame bun, finished with the modest and simple garnishes of Cheddar, lettuce and tomato. Perfect and in need of nothing else. The meat juices soak into the bread and the herbs and spices give it its own unique Four Bells flavour. The ketchup is there if you want it (Heinz ain’t good enough – a handmade English sauce has been, well, sourced) and the chips are chunky and crispy. Order yourself a bowl of onion rings too – they’re as big as your face but they won’t last long!
Well, of course, Annie’s is on the list – what do you think I am, some kind of minced beef novice!? Here you have your authentic American burger experience being that Annie herself is from across the water, Rhode Island to be exact. She’s owned her shack since 2009 (more recently in the city centre) and actually, it is JUST like some of the diners we ate at in New England on our trip in 2011. She got the brief spot on! Her other love is real ale, which pleases my Mr MLLH no end. The place has a buzz about it and oozes confidence, with a sign above the bar ‘Best Burgers In The Land’ – well it’s on my list isn’t it!?
A serendipitous mix of 85% Beef, 15% Pork, combined with paprika – you’re presented with a pink luscious cylinder caught in a sesame bun. Absolutely cooked to perfection, and that’s the key: it’s not fast food here, excellence requires patience. The garnishes are your standard fare: lettuce, tomato and mayo. But, I guess what brings the crowds are the Burger combinations you can choose from. Title’s like The Big Breakfast (a burger topped with a sausage pattie, bacon, egg and mushroom) or The Caribbean (topped with Jerk Sauce, peppers and a pineapple ring) or The Elvis (topped with peanut butter and jam) or even The Sunday dinner, with its very own Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes in tow. Whatever your tastes, there’s a combination playing your tune. The hardest part is choosing from the 32-strong manifesto – good luck! Or stick with the ‘Bacon Cheddar’ and see for yourself that it lives up to and kicks the ass of many other inferior Nottingham burgers.
Red’s boast loudly about their skills with meat. They claim we Brits need an education in their ways of smoking and rubbing and glazing, and that our sausages and ribs need a bit of attention. And I have to agree with them! (not the sausage bit though) I’ve been to the States and tasted their wares over and over, and each time we exclaim ‘Oh if only in Nottingham’. (O.K., so maybe we’ve caught up a little bit, of late – before I start getting hate mail!) And, aside from the fact it has the coolest backdrop of rough wood and metal-work, and you think the clientelle should all be wearing bandana’s à la Axel Rose, it smells like the best aromatic medley of cremations and candyfloss. But, we’re here to test the burger, right – does it live up to their hype? Hell yeah!
A Yorkshire sourced chuck, brisket and beef rib mix, pit-fired over charcoal. The meat has a depth of flavour – I’m guessing from the triple combo of meat cuts – which is unique to Red’s and tells you they really know their cows inside out. It’s succulent and juicy but still chargrilled, much to the pleasure of Mr MLLH (he’s the one who puts our toaster on the number 5 setting!) Accompanied by the obligatory slice of lettuce and tomato but complemented by a tasty relish and the choice of 6 different flavoured sauces (Judas Ketchup my favourite). Plenty of options to dip your ‘skin-on’ fries in.
On a quest to make Tuesday’s the new weekend, we stumbled across this fifth masterpiece whilst playing a game of mid-week pool. Recently refurbished, this sports bar is actually not full of sweaty Football fans scratching their bellies, it’s popular and inviting with a nod to its home city in the surrounding decor. The beer’s great (Mr MLLH’s favourite in the whole city *big words* is Navigations American Saviour), the bar staff are super friendly and if sport’s your thing well you’re in the right place! But if burgers are your thing, then you’re also in the right place.
Expecting mediocrity (seeing as they don’t brag loudly about their culinary competence) we looked up from our first mouthfuls in unison with enthusiastic surprise – Southbank City, Nottingham, have nailed a great burger! It’s your standard wedge of minced beef, not the American thin style, more the chunky gastro-pub style, mixed with herbs and finely chopped onions. Cooked faultlessly to that perfect chargrilled finish but retaining its juices. It’s served with the usual accoutrements but’s it’s served well. There’s not a lot more to say other than that you’re not in some posh place here but you can expect surprising quality when it comes to their burger.
So there you have it, not a comprehensive list – just my list. I’m sure there are a few more excellent burgers out there in the foodie city of Nottingham so please let me know if I’ve left off your favourite. Leave me a message below…
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