We’ve never been massive burger fans. With many fast food offerings, a burger was simply a snack we’d eat on the go or pick up after a night out. However, Nottingham seems to have undergone a revolution of the humble burger with eateries like Annie’s and Five Guys turning the fast food burger concept into a gourmet option – our cheap, tasteless snack has been well and truly ‘pimped’. Suddenly, we’re actually excited by the promise of the ultimate burger. Therefore, when we heard that new Griddle & Shake was boasting the ultimate, customisable meatwich our ears pricked up. Soon after, we were invited to their opening event so we could pig out and see if they live up to their ‘best burger in Nottingham’ promise.
Located on Fletcher Gate, Griddle & Shake is absolutely massive. It’s unbelievable that an independent can open such a large premises, it shows confidence in what they’re offering and we hope they can fill the place! The decor is interesting without being overly cluttered, with some ‘bringing the outdoors in’ design quirks, not forgetting the bright orange cow in the window; let’s call him Sats-moo-ma (orange…cow…geddit?)
On arrival, we were welcomed with a pint of Freedom pale ale – their craft beer partner. We were thrilled to see they served beers and ciders at all as you can’t beat a pint with your burger. Although the Freedom lagers and light pales aren’t really to our taste, they produce other good beers too so we’ll be keeping our eyes out to see if any of those are introduced. We were then given a wildly passionate introduction to the Griddle & Shake concept and ethos by Michelin-trained founder Ed Halls.
He explained the inspirational lengths to which G&S have gone to produce tasty yet responsible burgers, from sourcing sustainable Red Tractor ingredients to acquiring a unique mincing machine that works differently to make the perfect patty. Pretty impressive.
The burger menu is straightforward but offers a wide variety of flavour combos – it all depends on how you want to build yours; your burger will be completely personalised to you. Patty options include beef, chicken, pulled pork or tempeh (vegans, rejoice!) and you can ‘go large’ to double up. Next, choose from a variety of cheeses and an addition of extra pulled pork or bacon, all served on your choice of bun. Then you move along the line (subway-style) to add your choice of unlimited, free toppings to really make your burger an affair of skyscraper proportions.
I ordered the large beef burger in a pretzel bun with Stilton, bacon marmalade, lettuce, red onion, gherkins, grilled mushrooms and ketchup. Emily ordered the same burger but with bacon, rocket and tomato relish.
After unwrapping the burger we knew we were in for a treat – even in the paper it looked monstrously packed. It looked amazing so we wasted no time getting our mouths around it (an impossible task unless you can unhinge your jaw). Even though it looked amazing, I was still unprepared for how good it tasted. For me it was perfection and Emily heartily agreed. The meat tasted so rich and flavourful without being greasy (a complaint we do have about Five Guys). The toppings were all really fresh, interesting and well prepared by the staff (although special mention must go to myself for picking the perfect flavour combinations). The mild stilton added flavour without overpowering the whole meal and I’m still unclear as to what bacon marmalade is, but it was great. The squidgy mushrooms and the crispy red onion worked really well together. So in short, we loved it. If you’re looking for a cracking burger, you’ve found it.
But, it’s not just burgers they will be famous for here. We also got to taste their shakes, fries and chicken. We sampled the american-style ice cream milkshake made with Biscoff (also known as crack spread due to its addictive nature), Maltesers and strawberry/nutella – both flavours were sublime. I’ll admit that my taste buds have never ventured much further than a McDonald’s offering (and a crazy summer I once spent on the Yazoo) but to us, this was a revelation. This is how milkshakes should be. The thick, creamy goodness mixed with the strawberry was fruity and rich while the nutella and caramelised biscuit was pure indulgence. We’ll be back for the shakes alone.
On to the rosemary and garlic oil fries. As I’m sure I’ve bored you with before, I like my Sunday roast potatoes with lashings of garlic and rosemary so I knew these fries wouldn’t disappoint. They had just the right level of flavour and you can choose from sweet potato or skin-on chips, both of which were really good.
The chicken wings that we tasted were coating in a spicy salt mix (we want to try the buffalo wings!) They were tasty and the spice level was just right, but they were a little dry and over salty – great to have chicken wings as a main or side option, though.
As we were invited to the event as guests we were not charged for our meal but it is worth mentioning the prices. A meal that includes a burger with cheese, a regular side and a drink (which can be a milkshake) starts from £9.50. Obviously, this is above what you would pay for your average MaccyD’s but we are talking top end here and a quality difference that is well worth paying for. Compared to Five Guys, it is cheaper by a few quid and, in our humble opinion, even tastier.
As we stepped out of the restaurants with our appetites and curiosity satisfied, we discussed between us that Ed is a brave restaurateur to open a burger restaurant in Nottingham. Facing competition not just from Annie’s and Five Guys, but also the huge range of American BBQ joints nearby they will need good word-of-mouth to stand out in such a crowded market. If our word-of-mouth is worth anything, we say “give it a go”. We’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed. We will definitely be back and I vow you will never see me inside Five Guys again (despite how much I enjoy cracking that gag).