Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Almost Famous NQ - Manchester

Suffering from one of the worst hangovers of my entire life, what better time for me to head to my local burger bar and see what they've been up to? To say the previous 7 days for Almost Famous had been a week to forget was something of an understatement and I was intrigued to see whether all this bad publicity may have had much effect on business.
Over the past week they'd suffered from the following horrendous press:

First, the Great Northern branch was shut for 24 hours after a visit by the Councils Environmental Health Team (as reported by the MEN here)

Then they were hammered by various bloggers and the national press for a dubious display in the toilets of the new Leeds branch, here and here amongst others.

Personally, I think there has been more than enough commentary on both of these issues and (for now at least), this blog is solely focused on restaurant and food reviews so forgive me for not wading in this time and instead trying to focus on any positives I could find. 

Having been to the Great Northern branch of Almost Famous on several occasions (including a visit which I blogged about previously here) I decided to stumble into to the latest addition to their family at the far end of Edge Street, which is above another restaurant in their ever-growing empire - Lust, Liquor, Burn. Strangely, the entry is slightly tucked away in that there is no clear signage above the door and the only give-away as to where the entrance was hidden was a doorman and member of staff armed with a clipboard directing people upstairs. I suppose they're still in that situation where being even vaguely hidden is all part of the excitement but when you've got a giant restaurant at the other end of the city personally I think that boat has slightly sailed. 

So had the press they'd had to deal with made much of a difference? It was actually quite difficult to judge as I was in and out fairly quickly (quite literally fast food) but it was very quiet early evening on the Friday night. It was the usual order at the bar with your table number job and for 2 burgers, a side of fries, a cocktail and a soft drink the bill came to £27 which was certainly reasonable. 
Burger wise I went for the Famous Burger - their 'standard' toned down burger consisting of a beef patty, american style burger cheese, a bit of salad (lettuce, sliced tomato and red onion) then the big mac style burger sauce bringing everything together nicely.
Triple nom - this one is a double burger, with cheese slices, then a big helping of pulled pork soaked in barbecue sauce and then more of the big mac style 'famous sauce' jammed into the brioche bun.

It probably helps that I'm familiar with the menu now so know what to order, but the burgers seemed a lot more under control and not bursting at the seams like they used to be - a real positive for me of this was that the great flavour of the meat was not completely overwhelmed by the toppings.  The options seemed to be almost identical burger-wise to that in the Great Northern branch (albeit burgers cooked rare are an option here) with a few new sides and a special burger of the week which in this case was a Greek option which definitely including Tzatziki - the mind boggles. I appreciate that they know their market and a lot of the attraction to AF is these over the top too big to eat jaw locking burgers but they just leave me totally cold. 

The unexpected highlight of this whole meal was the "Love Hate" fries which appeared to be normal French fries mixed with a few sweet potato fries and then absolutely lathered in a mixture of meltd butter and Marmite. I adore Marmite and this took me immediately back to 1000's of slices of toast I've eaten over the years with exactly the same topping - it's total genius for Marmite lovers out there.
I have a giant soft spot for MeatLiquor who are now just a short train journey away in Leeds (as of the 9th September) and since they are heavily rumoured to be rapidly approaching Manchester I'd assumed in all honesty this would probably be my last visit to AF. But despite all of the self-induced bullshit that seems to be surrounding them at the moment at the heart of things they're still churning out fantastic tasting burgers and those Marmite fries alone will ensure I'll be back for some more before long.  

  Almost Famous on Urbanspoon

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