Over the last couple of years, high end burger restaurants have popped up all over Manchester, providing the city with a wealth of variety, choice and locations. The latest arrival is The Handmade Burger Company who have just moved into The Courthouse on the corner of Deansgate and Hardman Street, on the edge of Spinningfields.
“a selection of over 40 burgers available…”
Outside the grade II listed building, there was a sack of potatoes in a wheelbarrow, more of which later. Inside, the decor is distressed whitewashed wooden floors, arched windows with worn away paint, tiled walls, high ceilings and an original rustic green fireplace. Light, spacious and open.
The Manchester restaurant is Handmade Burger’s twentieth in seven years. Not bad for an idea that originated in the kitchen of co-owner and brand advocate Chris Sargeant, a Brummie who is no stranger to Manchester- his first job was at the Midland Hotel.
“That’s why coming back here is so special to me,” he told us. “Manchester has such a good vibe it should be the second city! We are very happy to be here.”
It might be a chain, but all food is prepared fresh on site using only local produce. “Everything is butchered and brought fresh into the restaurant every day,” co-owner Chris Sargent continued. “We’re a family business and we only work with other family businesses.”
With a selection of over 40 burgers available, from Aberdeen Angus beef, to lamb, chicken and a wide selection of vegetarian options, there’s something for everyone. Our table of seven tried a little of everything.
First up, the American cheese beefburger (£8.25), handmade from scratch using 100% prime Scotch beef, mixed with a selection of fresh ingredients and seasoning before being flame grilled to order. Topped with onion rings, handmade gherkin and American mustard relish, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and red onion.
This was my favourite. The taste took me back to my summer in New York in 2010. The gherkin and mustard relish made it for me and the beef was tasty, well seasoned and fresh.
We also sampled the Moroccan lamb burger (£7.75) with traditional spiced Moroccan relish, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and red onion. The burger was juicy, had a lovely, fresh flavour and was served on sourdough bread. The Moroccan spice lacked a little oomph.
Finally, and most popular on the table, was the stuffed beefburger, a handmade classic patty stuffed with cheddar and chilli and served with red and green hot chilli salsa, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and red onion (£8.25).
The only time I’ve eaten a stuffed burger was when I bought one from Marks and Spencer a couple of years ago. I overcooked it and ended up with all the cheese oozing out so I was keen to try one in a restaurant rather than at home. This was very well balanced, the heat of the chilli complementing the burger without taking away from the taste of the beef. The cheesy filling spills out as you cut into it- very tasty but a little messy. I ended up with a soggy bottom on my sourdough. As all the food is handmade on the day, there are only a limited number of stuffed burgers made, so make sure you order yours before your friends!
Accompanying the mains was a selection of side orders and dips which are perfect for sharing and proved very popular with our party.
With eyes bigger than our bellies we had. wait for it. fresh cut chips, (£3.15), peri-peri seasoned chips (£3.35), handmade coleslaw (£2.95), Cajun onion rings (£3.35), corn on the cob, (£2.25) blue cheese mayo, chipotle, sweet chilli, hot chilli dips and a side of avocado.
The chips had been peeled and cut on site then double fried to make them fluffy and crispy.
The dips that really stood out were the blue cheese dip, crumbled directly off the block and blended to make a chunky moreish addition, and the very well spiced and addictive chipotle dip, of which we had two. We were soon fighting over who got to finish them off.
To complete our meal we indulged in the selection of sundaes and milkshakes on offer. And you guessed it, all freshly made right there in front of you. In fact the only freezer on site is for the storage of the ice cream as all other produce is delivered daily.
My colleagues and I had a variety of sweet treats including a banoffee pie sundae (£3.95), a ginormous brownie and waffle sharer sundae (£6.95) and, best of all, a premium handmade Oreo cookies malt milkshake.
Our verdict: a great selection of tasty, fresh food and good value, too. We recommend you go see for yourselves.
By the way, in case you’re wondering why there was a sack of potatoes in a wheelbarrow outside, it’s because there was nowhere else to put them. That’s what Chris told me anyway.
The Old Courthouse, 184 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB
0161 832 0708