Sunday, 24 March 2013

Gourmet Burger Kitchen / Westfield Stratford

Who are they?

Gourmet Burger Kitchen are a rather well-known chain of burger restaurants and you will have to live in quite a remote place to not trip over one of their outlets that clutter up nearby shopping malls and high streets. I've held off of reviewing GBK in any kind of form, mostly because they are quite an easy find and at least initially, this blog concentrated on specialist burger restaurants that are perhaps not as easy to find or are perhaps small chains, rather than large behemoths.


As readers of this blog will be used to, I do try and enjoy what could be considered the best burger that a restaurant offers: in the case of GBK, their Mighty burger. This is a two-patty burger enclosing a lovely slice of mature cheddar cheese, together with sliced gherkins, tomato relish and lettuce in a sesame seed bun. looking to the sides, I opted for the chunky fries as an able accompaniment to the burger and as you can see, this is both appealing to my eyes as it is to my appetite. Lovely stuff!

While waiting, it's worth going over what sets them apart from other large chain burger restaurants that ask for your money up front. A nice touch is that they offer table water and condiments such as mayonnaise (available from a large Smeg fridge, no less), hot sauces and mustard to all, with as many complimentary monkey nuts to crack open and enjoy with your beverage.

One thing I would like to mention is the service, which I find a double-edged sword. This is the sort of place where you pay in advance in an approach similar to Nandos chicken restaurants. Service is a fast and smart affair, with the food arriving about 10 minutes after ordering, though this is tempered by staff who are eager to take your plate within about ten seconds of finishing. I don't know if this is just classic table turning or not (we were testing on a relatively quiet Wednesday evening) but it is a bit disconcerting once you have finished to be given the impression that the restaurant would have you order dessert or leave.

Luckily, this is of little consequence to the burger, which arrived promptly and looked great - a lovely tower of patty and bun, with plentiful bacon and cheese so melted that it oozed lovingly across the meat. What I also found great about the burger is that it is dominated by the meat while the salad and bun plays second to it - at the least, GBK have their priorities the right way round (I had tried to stop myself making a comment about how it's better than the proportions of the Burger and Lobster experience, but I'm still sore over that and it bears repeating until restaurateurs understand).

Taste-wise, the burger stands head (though sadly not shoulders) above mainstream offerings, with above-average beef put into their burger, although it didn't strike me with any kind of massive taste sensation. With a GBK beef burger, it seems that you get just a beef burger - no more and no less - and this left the cheese, gerkins and bacon to do all the talking instead. The bun was nicely toasted and certainly size-wise, the whole ensemble makes for an enjoyable dish: you are certainly not going to go hungry after eating this meal. Perhaps the biggest criticism I had of it was that the burger did seem to go cold very quickly. I'm not the type to stand on ceremony with a meal, but this is what I found when I ate their.

A word or two needs to be said about the chips as well. While nicely cooked, theirs were just on the side of slightly crispy on the outside, but remained hot and fluffy inside and were the right amount as a side dish to join the burger, especially given the somewhat large size of the burger itself. Also on offer are their skinny fries: the diametric opposite of my choice, with long, extremely thin and wisp-like chips briefly fried with rosemary. With the herbs and salt, these set off the same taste sensations as well cooked, Sunday roast potatoes, so it's no surprise to hear that they are a popular choice.

In comparison with others restaurants, it's definitely better than the Prezzo offering but then again, for a specialist burger restaurant this should be the case. I get the impression that Gourmet Burger Kitchen is firmly aimed at the middle of the road crowd who want a sit down, slightly tastier burger meal quickly and in a restaurant where the seats are not plastic buckets bolted to the floor.


As burger restaurant chains go, you can do a lot worse than Gourmet Burger Kitchen and it's pleasing to know that a distinctly above-average burger can be quickly procured for a decent price. Also encouraging is their special offerings and differing meat selection that change regularly so new choices are always available, though perhaps connoisseurs may be lowering their standards.



Where can I find them?
Honestly, you can't go five minutes without finding a GBK restaurant.