When seeing the Honest Burger chain open the doors to their newest branch in Manchester, I was admittedly unphased – just another burger joint, I thought. With a city that has burger giants like Almost Famous, Byron Burger, and Five Guys – to name a few – is there any room for more? I went down last week to find out whether Honest Burgers cut the mustard.
It’s light and open décor is reminiscent of Byron Burger, but it has more personality with the suitably kitsch, bovine touches like cow horns above the door. A butcher-style blackboard details the hand-written, chalk menu evoking that ‘artisan’ feeling, which is always nice.
Honest Burgers pride themselves on their sustainability, using locally sourced products to comprise most of their menu; a green ethos that I really applaud. This ethos is something that the hospitality industry overlooks a lot, being one of the most environmentally unfriendly sectors with its wastage and carelessness. Honest gain major brownie points for that.
The menu is minimal with five beef burgers, one chicken, one vegetarian, and one vegan. Concerning sides, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the usual suspects of onion rings, chips (which in this case are rosemary-salted), and buffalo wings were joined by something more original.
The typical inclusion of a green salad, in this case, was pimped with shaved, raw fennel which is both crunchy and mildly aniseed with its fellow side the humble coleslaw, improved by the addition of kohlrabi and pumpkin seeds. Kohlrabi for those who are interested – which I lovingly nicknamed the disco cabbage – is a funky looking turnip with a definite resemblance to a cabbage: Definitely the kind of vegetable you’d invite to join the coleslaw mix. Kohlrabi’s aside, my guest and I went classic with onion rings and wings.
In terms of our burgers, the lovely waitress recommended we try the limited edition ‘Good Karma’ burger; a medium-rare patty with Karma Cola candied bacon, shoestring fries, American cheese, karma bacon gravy, red onion, and pickles. We also opted for the vegan ‘Plant’ burger; a plant-based burger with vegan smoked Gouda, Chipotle ‘Mayo’, mustard, red onion, pickles, and lettuce.
The food came quickly, and was presented beautifully: Sexy enough to Instagram but not so preened that it seems unnecessary in a burger joint.
The Good Karma burger was all the things you want from a naughty burger: Rich, umami and pink in the middle, with the slightly sweet candied bacon giving you that salty-sweet we all crave. My one gripe with this burger was that a lot of the ingredients added, like the bacon and gravy, were quite similarly umami. The burger tended to become quite monotonous and ‘samey’ towards the end. However, this did not stop me polishing the whole thing off and being super content.
Equally, as a meat-eater, the ‘Plant’ burger was also very good. I could fully appreciate the meat-like qualities of the plant-based burger, with it’s ‘bleeding’ appearance and savoury flavour. The addition of well-seasoned, home-made sweet dill pickles made this even more perfect. If I had one criticism I would say that the ‘Plant’ burger was ever so slightly dry next to the moist whopper of the other burger we tried. However, if I was vegan, veggie, or just not fancying meat that day, I would still be wholly, wholly satisfied.
Excellent. Absolutely 10/10, the waitresses we had were knowledgeable about the products and were able to give fantastic recommendations, with genuine enthusiasm and friendliness.
The vegan ‘Plant’ burger was £13.50, which at a luxury burger restaurant is admittedly pricey, however, I think many vegans would pay that price considering the quality of the patty compared to so many boring under-seasoned, afterthought offerings elsewhere.
The ‘Good Karma’ burger was surprisingly cheaper than the ‘Plant’, being £12.50. This is incredibly reasonable considering you’d be paying a similar price at Five Guys for an ugly sister version of what you receive in Honest.
I was thoroughly happy with this visit and content in saying that Honest Burgers have definitely earned a place in the Manchester burger scene. Though I’m not sure whether I’d need to go back anytime soon, it executes its burgers well and gives excellent service alongside them.