We spend a while trying to decide where to go to eat. We want burgers and have been told that Five Guys and GBK are both the places to be. We are virgins to both. After some deliberation we decide that GBK looks a little nicer so in we walk. ‘We’ is Tyler and I. He’s my fiancé and he’s taking me for a burger as a birthday request. Easily pleased, me.
So we are greeted by one of the hipsters who seem to like working here, very pleasant, and taken to a nice booth where we are presented with the menu. My heart is beating faster now as I am so close to burger time and have been waiting all day for this. But then, it hits me, the sudden crushing realisation that there are a multitude of burgers available and I can only choose one. Well, obviously if I wanted to I could ask for one of everything but I do have some dignity and the restaurant will only be open for another few hours. Panic sets in. I brush off the chicken burgers with no hesitation. The salads don’t even deserve a glance. I want beef. That decision was easy. The rest, it appears, is not. I’ve heard great things about the Kiwi burger, but I’m not in the mood for egg so that gets ditched despite the initial interest. I seriously consider the Taxidriver, with its tempting inclusion of an onion ring then decide I can order onions rings anyway. The Don burger is a real contender at this point, as is the Blazing Sombrero. I mentally prepare myself for the fact that I have to make a decision and eventually I play ‘ip, dip, doo’ and find myself ordering the Blazing Sombrero, a beef patty with smoked Applewood cheese, chorizo relish, tortilla chips, mayo, rocket and pickled onions, along with some sweet potato fries and a portion of onions rings. Oh and a strawberry and elderflower fizzy drink. Decisions are tough and in one single train of thought I hate the fact that I’m an adult and have to choose things myself then realise that I would never have such excitement in my life if I didn’t. I mean, as a kid I really only ate a limited number of things and didn’t eat my first burger until I was 19. Weird, right?
We sit and wait. I’m excited, full of eager anticipation of what’s to come. Thankfully the hipsters are on the ball and we get our food really quickly. My strawberry and elderflower drink is delightful, but it’s a drink so let’s move on. The sweet potato fries have arrived with a baconnaise dip. Yes, you read that correctly. The fries and dip are amazing; sweet, salty, soft, crispy, baconny (made that one up), and everything else you want from a good chip. Tyler has skinny fries, also good but hard to dip as they are so thin. The onion rings are crispy and the onion within still has some bite. And here it is. The birthday burger. The pinnacle of birthday lunches. I could have chosen to go anywhere and I chose to be here. My hands are itchy and my legs are restless as I prepare myself for this moment.
The bun has a wonderfully glossy finish, I can see the cheese oozing over the beef patty and it is well stocked with delicious goodies. I pick it up and juice runs down my hand like a flowing river of beefy goodness. I forget where I am and lick it off, earning a scornful look from Tyler and completely disregarding it. I’m in the zone. This is my moment. My teeth sink into the bun, a sesame seed clings to my cheek. I don’t care, I will deal with that later. More juice runs out of the burger and soaks into the bottom of the bun. I feel the patty crumble beneath the weight of my bite and can taste the salty, smokiness of the cheese, the intense savouriness of the beef and a little tingle from the chorizo relish. This is pure burger pleasure. I rest the burger back on my plate as I enjoy my first bite, relishing in all the flavours and textures that come with it. Tyler realises how much this means to me and leaves me to it for a few moments before he brings me back down to reality and we discuss the merits of my burger compared to his chicken option. It does look good, I give him that, but I think mine is better. I continue to munch my way through my burger, fries and onions rings, feeling a huge burden of sadness once it is all gone. I’m so contently full, as one should be on their birthday. I want a milkshake but give it a miss at the risk of my stomach exploding. I spend the rest of the day looking back at my GBK experience with fondness, telling all who will listen about my incredible burger.
There are, of course, other great burgers out there but they can be really hard to get right. I mean, I love a McDonald’s as much as the next person (is there a petition out there somewhere to make the Big Tasty permanent?), but I wouldn’t choose to go to McDonalds on my birthday, Big Tasty season or not. They are just over processed and mass produced. Tasty, without doubt, but not special. I do love a good homemade burger too. The appropriately named Insanity Burgers from Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food book are out of this world good. I could eat burgers on a weekly basis and love mine with as much crammed in as possible. Give me bacon, tomato, lettuce, cheese, more cheese, pickles, sauces, onion rings, the lot. The way to my heart is, without doubt, via a good burger.