When I decided to accept an invitation to the newly refurbished Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Manchester's Trafford Centre, I was fully aware that I was ticking all the boxes for "Things Most Likely to Annoy Twitter": a freebie, at a chain outlet, in a soulless location, specialising in something that has apparently overstayed its welcome. To be fair, I rarely visit the Trafford Centre, but I have nothing against chains per se, and will actively defend the burger until the end of time - it is one of my favourite food items, and the one on which I am most likely to gorge at barbecues and other social gatherings involving men and fire.
And actually, GBK is pretty good, particularly for a lunchtime catch-up with a friend who works at the Trafford Centre (and who often eats at GBK) - with its canteen-style decor and the requirement to order your food at the bar I can't imagine coming here in the evening, but as a daytime venue it works well. Having never visited before, I couldn't really comment on the refurb, but my friend is a regular here and was impressed - she thought it much brighter and lighter (always a challenge for Trafford Centre restaurants), and we both liked the upstairs eating area and balcony.
We both have a burger (naturally) - I have The Taxidriver cooked medium-rare (American cheese, an onion ring, Cajun relish, smoked chilli mayo, dill pickle and salad on a brioche bun) whilst Miss Lucy has the Kiwiburger cooked medium (beetroot, fried egg, pineapple, aged Cheddar, house mayo, relish and salad). I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy the burger - it is pink in the middle but with a satisfyingly tasty crust on the outside, and strikes the right balance of being moist without being too sloppy. A Manchester diner doesn't necessarily want to be eating "beef from South West counties", but a lack of local product sourcing is a familiar issue with many chain restaurants and I know that individual outlets are generally powerless to do anything about it.
The side orders are a little more variable. My skinny Rosemary Fries are just TOO skinny for me, whilst the Sweet Potato Fries (which come with baconnaise) are excellent; Lucy's Blue Cheese Slaw is just a little claggy for me, whilst my GBK Homeslaw (cabbage, spring onions, carrot, celeriac and vinaigrette) is light, fresh and a perfect foil for a fat meaty burger. Pudding comes in the form of milkshake - there are very few sweet options available at GBK beyond frozen yoghurt, but we both have a child-sized glass of dairy goodness in lieu of dessert. As you can see from the photos, GBK's idea of "child-size" is a generous one - and I could develop a serious addiction to the Peanut Butter milkshake, a simple but literally heart-stopping combination of peanut butter, ice cream and whole milk.
Would I go again? Yes, but I would order carefully - the fact that sides cost extra means that it's pretty easy to run up a substantial bill here with really realising it. There are plenty of offers available though (see website for more details), and it's worth remembering that this NZ brand has been around since 2001 - long before burgers became so ubiquitous.
- GBK is at 117 The Orient, Trafford Centre, Manchester M17 8AA; tel. 0161 749 8465. We were invited in as guests of the restaurant and would like to thank manager James (a man who clearly enjoys his job) for making us so welcome.