Review – Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Yesterday, Mr Thrifty and I spent the day in London. On my list of possibilities for lunch was Gourmet Burger Kitchen, who have outlets across Great Britain. Of the 27 burgers on their menu, five are vegetarian:

Falafel – Handmade falafels with homous, cucumber raita, fresh chilli sauce, salad & relish

Puy Lentil Burger – Puy lentils, potato, green curry, spring onion, salad, mayonnaise & relish

Aubergine & Goat’s Cheese – Aubergine, goat’s cheese, sun-blushed tomatoes, mixed leaf salad, mayonnaise & relish

Veggie & Camembert – Portobello mushroom, aubergine, red pepper, sweet potato, camembert, rocket, mayonnaise & onion jam

Portabella – Whole portabella mushroom, sweet red peppers, rocket, mayonnaise, red onion & pesto

The day before our trip, I called GBK’s head office to ask which of the veggie burgers were (or could be made) vegan. Unfortunately, only two of the five fit this bill, the Veggie & Camembert (without the camembert or mayo); and the Portabella (without the mayo and pesto). This was somewhat disappointing, as I’d read that their Puy lentil burger was outstanding (turns out it contains eggs, alas).

Since we happened upon a GBK on our way to find a bite to eat, and armed with a two-for-one coupon, we decided to give it a try anyway.

The two veganisable options are priced at £7.75 and £7.45. Pretty pricey for burgers, but with the coupon, a good deal (especially for London).

We both opted for the Portabella burger, sans mayo & pesto.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we ended up having to do the burgers as takeaway. Although orders are usually filled quickly — the table next to us ordered immediately beforehand, and received their burgers in about 15 minutes — ours took half an hour. (Apparently, a large order for 32 burgers had arrived in the kitchen and really slowed things down.) On the plus side, the waitress was extremely helpful and apologetic, getting updates from the kitchen regularly as well as offering a complimentary beverage.

Finally the burgers arrived and I carried them away in their little brown bag. It was about an hour later before we were able to actually chow down on them.

So enough of the preamble, you say, how were they?

Well, firstly, they were HUGE.

GBK portabella burger

(Appy polly loggies for the blurry photo… my camera refused to cooperate.)

To say the portions were generous would be a bit of an understatement. I mean, you’d risk dislocating your jaw trying to wrap your mouth around this sucker.

The three portabella ‘shrooms on each burger were cooked to perfection and were juicy with a bit of a smoky taste. The large pieces of roasted pepper had been peeled and so didn’t have any of that tough skin that’s unpleasant to chew on. There was just enough red onion. The rocket was a bit wilted, and the bottom bun a bit soggy, because we hadn’t eaten the burgers fresh. But a very tasty burger which both Mr Thrifty and I would order again (although being the cheap thrifty souls that we are, not at full price).

Yet it could have been better. I can see how mayo and pesto would have pushed this burger from “really good” to “fantastic”. It’s a shame that GBK didn’t go that extra distance and have vegan mayo and vegan pesto as options… most particularly vegan mayo, commercial versions of which are widely available.

Similarly, their Veggie & Camembert could offer the option of vegan replacements for the mayo and cheese (Sheese’s Blue Style would be a great substitute).

And surely the other three veggie burgers could be made vegan with just a little thought.

But all in all, a nice try by GBK to cater to vegetarians. Now if only they would take that extra step and truly cater to vegans.

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