So is Honest Burgers Brightons best burger? Agents Hasburglar and Big ‘Mac’ Dave are on the case.
To say i had been looking forward to Honest Burger opening in Brighton would be a bit of an understatement. Could this be Brightons best burger? My plan had been to wait until the main restaurant opened to get the full effect. Alas I couldn’t resist so I had already been to the pop up at Holler Brewery to try their wares from the burger truck.
I had enjoyed my burger truck meal, as did my family who I was with at the time. We all thought however the chips were so salty we couldn’t finish them. My wife is south American and they smother their food in salt so for her to struggle you know somethings up. Thankfully, it was a different story in the main restaurant. But I will come to that later.
Honest Burger has a slightly more upmarket feel to it than say Patty & Bun or Meat Liquor. It actually feels quite civilised.
A nice warm wooden interior combined with the welcoming friendly staff was great. The tables of two do feel a bit on top of each other so don’t expect to have a private conversation. The menu is presented on nice wooden clipboards as well as on a large blackboard on the wall. We finally got to peruse the full menu.
If you follow our instagram account @brightonburgerbureau you know we initially had a few concerns about the signature ‘Brighton Burger’. A burger with cod’s cheeks and tartar sauce? We weren’t sure if this sounded like the creation of a madman or a stroke of genius. However with some sterling ‘research’ undertaken by Agent Big ‘Mac’ Dave we had high hopes for this before our arrival.
Unfortunately however, when we arrived five days after they opened at lunchtime, we are told they had run out. This was a disappointment. Quite how one can run out of your signature burger on launch week is beyond me. One can only assume the week had been an outstanding success and the demand must have been higher than expected.
With our planned choice off the menu we had to choose something else. The very pleasant lady informed us that they were doing another special, the ‘Cheese Truck’. A burger with a huge slab of breadcrumb covered Mozzarella on top.
Personally this didn’t really appeal. Mozzarella is a bit of a plain cheese, so I went for a Tribute Burger instead and Agent Big ‘Mac’ Dave went for the Cheese Truck. We also ordered a chicken burger to share.
We love a side, Honest Burger are famous for their rosemary salted chips. These come included. We had to ask for them not to come with the chicken burger, which they happily did and deducted it from the bill.
A nice array of reasonably priced sides were on offer. I love an onion ring so we went for those. I’m also a sucker for gravy and curry sauce, both of which were on the menu (whats not to love about beef and bacon gravy?).
Drinks wise I opted for a simple diet coke, Agent Big ‘Mac’ Dave went for a can of their Beer brewed in conjunction with Holler Brewery, ‘The Duke’. The beer arrived with a nice little glass tanker. My diet coke arrived with a straw in a can…. wheres my glass with ice and lemon? Philistines ;0)
TIN PLATES AHOY
What is the current obsession with tin plates? We are sitting in a lovey looking new restaurant and the food comes up on tin plates. Feels like being on a campsite. The food did look good though. Although the beef and bacon gravy I had been looking forward to had been somewhat sparingly supplied. It tasted great though.
First I wanted to dive into the fries as they looked just how I like them, fairly thick but not overly crisp. Thankfully they were seasoned perfectly unlike my previous experience from the truck. When dipped in the gravy or curry sauce they were my idea of heaven.
I would have preferred more of the larger softer chips, as there were quite a few scraps of little tiny crisped up chips. Bit like you get when scraping out the frier. Not sure if this was planned or not?
I also enjoyed the onion rings, large and light, although they benefitted from the sauces. I really enjoyed all of the sides, just would have liked more gravy.
Rare burgers are my fave, So it was refreshing to finally find somewhere that gives you the option of how you want your burger cooked. Pink is what I ordered and pink is what I got. Heaven, although a bit of extra char on the outside would be perfect.
The main issue I have with the Tribute Burger is that the extras inside, in particular the mustard, really overpowered the meat. Mustard was pretty much all I could taste. The pickles and onion also tasted just off the shelf. I was really missing the excellent sweet pickling seen at Humble Kitchen which has set the standards so far.
One thing I was not massively keen on were the Buns. They were much firmer than we have been used to of late. This is great for holding things together but were quite chewy.
I also managed to grab half of Agent Big ‘Mac’ Dave’s ‘Cheese Truck’ which by the time I got to it was more of a cheese brick. The Mozzarella had concealed and was just like a solid lump and wasn’t very pleasant to eat. Where was the dripping gooey cheese you expect? Not sure why they chose Mozzarella, surely a drippy camembert or brie would have been better and more flavoursome. The sweet chilli jam inside the burger however was amazing. I literally could have eaten a jar of that on its own.
That just left the chicken burger to share. This was one of the few chicken burgers we have had with no breadcrumb coating. This was very pleasant and refreshing but there was nothing particularly wow about it. You wouldn’t go here just for the chicken burgers. Nice but not wow.
To be fair ‘Nice but not wow’ is kind of how I feel about Honest Burger as a whole. Whenever we go somewhere to review a burger, we always ask ourselves, ‘What would you go back for?’ At Patty & Bun its the amazing sides, Humble Kitchen it’s the, well pretty much everything. With Trollburger it’s the unrivalled patties.
So what would we rush back to Honest Burger for? Hmmmm well maybe the chips and gravy or curry sauce and the pleasant surroundings but other than that, not a lot really.
AGENT BIG ‘MAC’ DAVE
If my positive review of Honest Burgers was a colour, it would be a shade of beige… & summed up with ‘nice’…
Honest Burgers has a strong reputation and has been rapidly expanding across the UK, so it’s been a great cause of excitement for Special Agent Ben Hasburgular that Honest have chosen to open a restaurant in Brighton (maybe surprising that it’s taken so long with the founders roots in Brighton… . & yes, I know they’ve had a food truck operating at Holler!!)
I’ll admit to some excitement, I’ve started to lose the motivation to continue reviewing following some previous Burger experiences…. In the midst of the frenzy of anticipation, I decided to mash-up a Fillet-o-Fish & a Quarter Pounder with Cheese earlier in the week, to have a baseline to assess the Honest ‘Brighton’ meat & fish Burger against.
The restaurant is nice… it’s just opened, so everything looks clean & well presented. The 2 members of staff greeted us as we walked in, so a very good start!
Menu’s were brought to the table – unfortunately the ‘Brighton’ burger was not available, but another special burger ‘Cheese Truck’ was available.
We ordered with a range of sides & the now obligatory chicken burger to share… there was a bit of confusion over the chicken burger, as you have to have fries with your burger & we wanted a chicken burger on it’s own, but the server said they would apply a discount, all sorted without too much fuss..
I was interested to see an Honest branded beer on the drinks menu, so I ordered.
THE CHEESE TRUCK
I like cheese, cheese on burgers is a match made in heaven – right? Not if it’s the Cheese Truck! I almost respect the fact that Honest could add cheese to a burger in probably the only way that does not work!
The mozzarella brick started soft’ish, but within 30seconds had turned back to a thick rubber mozzarella brick. The rest of the burger was pleasant enough, but kind of a struggle to eat with a rubbery block of cheese. The mozzarella overpowered the burger, while – quite remarkably – not providing any real cheese flavour.
A smaller amount of strong rare/signature cheese would have worked well in a burger named Cheese Truck… the brick of mozzarella did not work for me.
Was more than glad I’d agreed at the beginning with Special Agent Ben Hasburgular to swap half of our burgers … winner, winner, burger dinner!!
Though Special Agent Ben Hasburgular managed to give me the empty half-bun remains of his burger.. too little to review & a clear indication of why he struggles in relationships..
ROSEMARY SALTED FRIES
I didn’t like the potato variety used, had a funny taste to me, plus 50%+ of the fries were fry-ends – so largely unpalatable, I would have been more disappointed in the latter if I’d liked the fries.
These were greasy & slightly overdone. Greasiness is generally a sign that the oil was not hot enough, so to be overdone as well – I’m wondering whether because we were the first in, they were heating the oil while cooking them. They were flavoured nicely, but would have struggled to eat more than 1 onion ring without the.. .
BEEF & BACON GRAVY
… to dip them in. The richness of the gravy masked the greasiness of the onion rings.
One of the best gravies we’ve tried in town!
This was a chicken sandwich, not a burger. Light & fresh grilled chicken, with salad in a bun. As a side, made a refreshing end to a rich meal…. Ordered on its own, would have been a disappointment under the disguise of a burger on the menu.
The Honest branded beer was pleasant enough.
I like to leave a pause between the burger experience & my reviews.. I find reflection answers a simple question ‘would I go back ?’…
Not especially, it was nice, but largely unmemorable.
The Honest branded beer, the rapid expansion, the hype… Honest to me looks like a successful PR machine, where PR people in nice clothes go to eat & don’t want to get messy.. there’s no soul in the food or the experience… that said, it was nice & I would never suggest not going there…. The search for the Centurion continues..
Nice. Its funny thats the word we both chose to describe our trip to Honest Burger. Shame the signature burger had run out by day 5 which seemed a lame but the food was… well, nice! Everything was nice. Nice burgers, nice fries, nice sides, nice venue, nice atmosphere.
The problem is we don’t want nice. We want WOW! Burgers, fries, sides and flavours that leap out and grab you and make you want to drag your friends down there for the best burger they will ever taste.
Nowhere in town as yet has really knocked it out the park across the board for us so far. If we could roll a Beef Burger from Trollburger, in a Bun from Humble Kitchen (with some of their home made pickles). Throw in some Burger Brother sauces (and service), one of the Humble Kitchen Korean Chicken Burgers on the side. Add that amazing chicken side dish from Patty & Bun, and the Frickles from The Bok Shop we would be pretty close to the perfect meal.
Surely, a centurion exists….