Once upon a hungover Wednesday, we ambled around the side streets of Manchester, near St. Anne’s Square, pushed forward by the promise of hamburgers and milkshakes. I am not usually one for the ‘dirty burger’ trend–it is alarmingly overdone in Manchester, as the burgers also often are. But the claims on the website of burgers to beat all others (plus my insatiable evening-after-the-night-before desire to sink my teeth into a hunk of meat) caused me to gleefully silence my usual protestations and see just exactly what ‘Filthy Cow’ had to offer.
Welcomed by a hanging sign of a cross-dressing cow, we opened the door and stepped into a casual haven. Tables and chairs of varying material and size (stripped wood, wrought iron) are imposed upon by exposed-brickwork walls, with an ordering-station-cum-kitchen set back from the dining space. We approached and were warmly greeted by a waitress, who served my companion a crisp white wine and myself a Diet Coke, enquiring as to whether I wanted it in a glass or just the can (feeling fancy I went for a glass).
We climbed upstairs and found the same pared-back, almost farmyard chic on the second floor; the space is great for chilling out, not feeling pressured to either stay too long or outstay your welcome. Having chosen our seats, I leapt up and made a beeline once more for the bar, where I ordered two burgers, fries, coleslaw and two milkshakes. I was issued with an extra-terrestrial looking LED-fitted plastic disc, informed that when the food was ready it would light up and vibrate.
The milkshakes arrived promptly after ordering–supplied by Ginger’s Comfort Emporium (based in Chorlton, can also be found in Afflecks), their thick and sweet creaminess was medicine to my fragile state. The chocolate was lovely and fulfilled expectations (and stomachs), but the peanut butter and salted caramel version–officially named ‘Chorlton Crack’–was really and truly something to behold. If that’s what drugs are like south of Fallowfield, find me a dealer and my nearest vein.
Jordan, the 23-year-old creator and owner of ‘Filthy Cow’ came and sat with us for a while, discussing her accountancy past, her numerous jobs in different burger joints (learning what and what not to do), and her fervent passion for finding the precise and top-secret temperature at which to cook her pure steak burgers. When we jumped at the buzzing of our digital alien dinner disc, she headed back down the stairs, returning a minute later with a plastic tray brimming with paper packages, wooden cutlery and an armful of condiments.
We frantically fumbled to unwrap our burgers, revealing shiny buns sandwiching overspilling fillings. The first, their signature ‘Filthy Beast’, was a beautiful marriage between tender, pink-in-the-middle steak burger, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and gherkin. Waylaid temporarily by logistics of working out how to a) hold and b) bite into the burger, its freshness and lack of grease was a real pleasure to eat once achieved. The second burger, their vegetarian offering, was a halloumi and mushroom stuffed bundle of joy. As Jordan had promised, the power couple managed to deliver a meatiness that would defy any vegetarian critic out there. The fries were crispy and golden and perfectly shaped, thanks to the professional potato cutter they employ specifically for that purpose. The slaw was light and crunchy and refreshingly restrained on the mayonnaise front. We squirted all manner of sauces onto our tray, troffed to our hearts content in a very inelegant manner (warning: not one for a first date), and turned our napkins into balls of saucy filth.
With only three beef burgers on the menu, the halloumi and mushroom and one monthly special, plus three sides (we missed out on onion rings), the selectiveness is testament to Jordan’s passion for quality and fresh, local ingredients. Bar the freezer full of ice cream, everything is delivered and prepared onsite daily; the veg comes from Bolton and the wines and beers are specifically selected on a rotating local basis.
Having finished in record time, we asked about the dessert menu, which rolled off Jordan’s tongue (unsurprisingly, considering it consists of one dish at a time). The 100% vegetarian lemon cheesecake currently featuring was very light and moussy, with a nice level of citrus zing. She also brought us her favourite of the Ginger’s ice creams they stock – Lyle’s Golden Syrup. We were not disappointed and, slipping into a dairy-induced coma, marvelled at the gorgeous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc she cracked open a bottle of, especially for our degustation.
Wiping our hands on the wet towels provided, we made declarations of return visits. It is neither difficult nor unlikely to imagine ‘Filthy Cow’ becoming a regular spot for crowds of diners. Its laid-back, unassuming atmosphere and menu makes it the perfect place to zip in for a pre- or post-activity bite, and the takeaway-safe packaging of the food means you can just as easily pick up and indulge in the comfort of your home or on a street corner. In a market oversaturated with expensive and hyped-up burgers, ‘Filthy Cow’ delivers honest value and honest taste, flipping this epidemic on its head, as competently as it flips its burgers.
10 Tib Lane, Manchester M2 4JB
0161 839 5498
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