THE best burger I’ve ever had was a half-pounder, served in a Boston bar, which didn’t come with a welter of sauces or garnish.
Patted into shape before my eyes, it was served up with nothing fancier than a slice of gherkin in the bun. The bar was famed for its burgers: a puck of lean steak mince, dense enough to fit into your palm.
The handmade burger Co, which has a home in Aberdeen’s Union Square, takes the same approach. Its burgers are also made from scratch.
The meat is prime Scottish beef. The cows, according to the table-top literature, are grass-fed – 167lbs of the green stuff a day.
Much the same approach is taken with the other food on offer, evidenced by the 25kg bags of Maris Piper tatties sitting at the entrance. I guess some people might prefer that to a freshly-slaughtered cow.
Handmade, then, relies on the quality of its ingredients.
There’s a sprinkling of funkiness about the company too. The literature looks hand-written and carries an invitation to text your feedback directly to the owner. The informality extends to the way you order, which you do at a counter. That means you don’t have to wait for service. On the downside, it can mean queuing as you’d do in a take-away.
I ordered the Classic, the most basic burger presentation. It came with mayo, relish and salad. I wished I’d asked them to leave sauce off, not because they made the bun a little soggy, but because they weren’t needed – these are burgers to be enjoyed for their wholesome taste.
My wife described them as “meaty” – and her surprise said plenty about what’s now accepted as a burger across the country. Handmade’s are nothing like the rubberised discus of meat people routinely settle for.
It doesn’t cheat children of quality food, either, offering junior-sized burgers.
For all its championing of pure beef, handmade isn’t ready to send its burgers into the world wearing nothing more than gherkin. There are around 20 different burger meals – hot chilli, avocado and bacon, and so on. Chicken is done in similar ways, and there are also fish cakes.
My wife picked the Milano burger, served with pesto, mozzarella and rocket and a flat mushroom was added.
We also ordered side dishes of flame-grilled vegetables, which included peppers, courgettes and onion rings.
Vegetarians are well-catered for with a range of patties, such as spinach and lentil or spicy vegetable and bean. Desserts are limited – it’s a choice between ice-cream or real-fruit lollies. The staff were prompt and efficient, but then the customer is the one who does the queuing.
We returned to the counter for a second time for a tea and coffee, having ordered a Diet Coke and sparkling water with our food.
The restaurant lacks any character, but the simple decor – no Americana on the walls, for example – is in keeping with the good old burger in a bun recipe.