Famed for their for their no-frills 100% British beef patties made in their own butchery, Honest Burgers opened last year on Bridge Street, creating a new burger just for Manchester.
Collaborating with local producers, the original Manchester special featured a signature beef patty, served pink (or however you prefer it), as well as Bury black pudding, Runaway beer cheese sauce, mini roasties, bacon gravy, rocket and pickles.
It came, as all Honest burgers do, with homemade rosemary salted chips, which were described by food critic Jay Rayner as “edible crystal meth”. It was, frankly, magnificent.
But now, it’s time for a new special. So we headed over to the Manchester Hall branch to try it out, and to see what goes on behind the scenes as a brand new burger is invented.
The new creation is a Beef Wellington burger. The aim is to capture all the flavours of the classic British dish, but in a burger.
Honest’s Manchester chef Kris Coulton, who is also a musician, presented the prototype for the panel – including Adam and Ellis from the Honest team in London, as well as lucky old us – to try.
On the bottom is earthy mushroom duxelles, made with chestnut and shiitake mushrooms with fresh thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, sweated down to get rid of the moisture and to intensify the flavours.
Then there’s spinach and sharp, crunchy homemade pickles, topped with a juicy signature beef patty served perfectly pink.
Next is a homemade garlic butter and Dijon bearnaise butter spiked with fresh fragrant tarragon, with melting cheese and smoked bacon on top.
It’s crowned with gluten-free puff pastry shoestring fries, an innovative, crunchy take on the pastry you’d usually find in a Wellington, with a pot of gravy to pour at will over the top before replacing the lid.
It’s a unanimous hit round the table, rich and just the right side of messy with all the flavour elements coming through individually as well as working seamlessly together.
We try the sample burger with Cheddar cheese, but as ever, Honest are working with local suppliers and want to use a regional product in the finished burger.
So it’s time for a guided tutorial from Jonathan Pearcey, also known as The Crafty Cheese Man, who has brought a collection of local cheeses to see which might work best with the burger itself.
Chef Kris is ideally after something buttery to bring out the butteriness of the puff pastry and the bearnaise butter.
The forerunner is a Garstang White, made locally in Lancashire with creamy rich Jersey milk. Essentially, it’s like a Lancashire Brie.
The rich, slightly gooey cheese pairs perfectly with beef and with mushrooms, says Jonathan, which makes it a great match for the key burger ingredients.
We also try a more familiar Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese, as well as a proper apple wood smoked Cheddar (home smoked, unlike the supermarket version), a local blue, a semi-soft mixed milk Crofton made just outside Carlisle, a not-so-local but delicious buttery French Reblochon style Rollright, and St James, a washed-rind sheep’s cheese that’s deep, punchy and almost meaty.
The smooth, creamy Garstang White ‘Lancashire Brie’ is looking like the winner at this stage in the tasting.
The next step, they say, is to take chef Kris to London for more tastings with the team there, and a photo shoot. But if all goes to plan, the new Beef Wellington Manchester special should be available in the Bridge Street restaurant very soon.
We can’t wait to try the finished version. From what we’ve seen so far, it may just be their best burger yet.