Glasgow used to be known for its pubs. Now the city of the stare has swapped pints for burgers and bars for restaurants.
St Vincent Street is a case in point. Slap bang in the centre, yards from George Square, two upmarket burger chains have recently opened next door to each other, just yards from several longer-established independent restaurants.
You can imagine the tourist information leaflets: come and visit Glasgow’s historic Burger Quarter; sample half-a-dozen varieties of mayonnaise.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen is one of the big boys now muscling in on the local scene. Established in London in 2001, it’s slowly been expanding north since.
The decor is predictable; a mishmash of vaguely-retro furniture, leatherette booths and exposed metal. It resembles practically every other burger restaurant or craft beer bar in the UK.
The menu shows more innovation. After some deliberation, I opted for a relatively simple bacon and cheese — smoked applewood crispy bacon, barbecue sauce, pickle and salad — tagged on the menu with the words ‘meat is might’.
The beef patty was moist, pink through and very tasty. The smoky BBQ flavours proving a classic combination — although the bacon lacked that crispy texture.
Gillian opted for an apres ski-themed creation called the St Morish. This time the same pink, juicy burger came loaded with Swiss cheese, truffled mushrooms, baconnaise, chilli chocolate ketchup and onion jam, all packed into sturdy brioche.
Although I wasn’t a fan, she said the chilli chocolate ketchup hit just the right note between sweet, spicy and bitter and truffled mushrooms provided depth of flavour beyond the usual burger topping.
We shared skinny fries — the crunchy shoestring kind — and decent sweet potato chips with more of that rich, smoky baconnaise; an American excess craze we’ll all tut at, but secretly enjoy.
None of this comes cheap. Many people will rightly balk at paying more than £9 just for a burger, with sides extra. And you’re expected to place your order at a counter instead of table service.
But Gourmet Burger Kitchen is obviously confident it’s a winning formula that can withstand a saturated local market.
Time will tell.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
65 St Vincent Street, Glasgow
0141 248 2037