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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Byron: Patty Meltdown at Manchester Piccadilly Gardens

There has been plenty of chuntering recently that Manchester has too many burger joints; that the market has in fact become somewhat saturated (there is surely a laboured joke to be had here involving saturated fat, but I will forgo it on the basis that I'd feel even guiltier about what I ate on Thursday night). I consider this to be total nonsense; I frankly can't get enough of a decent burger, and as restaurants tend to offer what people want, it seems that plenty of fellow Mancunians feel the same.

I had, however, been a bit sniffy about Byron. What need have we of some London chain, coming up here with its fancy Southern ways and trying to take business from our proud independents? So even though I heard lots of good things when it opened on Deansgate, I didn't go. Now there's one in Piccadilly Gardens too, and as it last week played host to the Byron Burger Club, a one-night only set menu cooked up by head chef Fred Smith, this seemed as good a time as any to check it out.

The venue itself is a bit canteeny for my liking, with small tables crammed pretty close together, but it does have a great view of the Manchester Wheel (well, for the time being anyway) and the staff are pretty ace. The idea of the Byron Burger Club is to offer a handful of items created especially for the event - this time, £15 got us spiced popcorn, a Patty Melt served with sweet potato fries and a sticky toffee rum hard shake to finish - things not normally on the Byron menu. This is a shame, as I would gladly eat any of them again and could indeed develop an embarrassing addiction to the Patty Melt - two slices of rye bread with caraway seeds fried in butter, sandwiching a loosely-ground beef patty, topped with slow-cooked red onions and Swiss cheese, grilled in a heavy-duty iron griddle. It's essentially a cross between a cheese toastie and a burger and is therefore to be applauded heartily - we all thought it very impressive too, with plenty of cheese and a really good quality burger served perfectly pink in the middle. The fries were great and the rum shake pleasingly boozy and thrillingly calorific.
Byron also offers some interesting drinks options, with a good range of bottled and canned craft beers as well as a couple on draft - we had the very refreshing Camden Hells Lager. The beer isn't cheap mind, and I can see how you could easily rack up a bit of a bill in here bearing in mind that most burgers are £9-10 and that sides are extra - not everyone will want to pay this in a canteen-style restaurant. On Thursday's evidence though the food is worth it - we were invited as guests of the restaurant but I was sufficiently impressed to want to go back and try one of the burgers as soon as humanly possible (in fact, I fear that every time I just miss a tram from Market Street I'll find myself in there). As for the Patty Melt, Northern Quarter institution Home Sweet Home has been doing a similar cheeseburger toastie for years and Manchester loves it - so fingers crossed it returns as a permanent menu item (I'm having the placards made up as we speak).

- Byron is at One Piccadilly Gardens Manchester M1 1RG and 115 Deansgate Manchester M3 2NW.

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