“ 88 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1RH, Tel: +44 (0)20 8540 3300 „
INTRODUCTION Ms Larsbaby had her brother and nephews visiting her and we had to find somewhere to eat in Wimbledon to match all our tastes. She had been to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen there before and thought it was good. I have seen various incarnations of this kind of upmarket burger bar and have been curious for a while to try one, so I agreed with her choice. THE RESTAURANT The branch of Gourmet Burger Kitchen I am reviewing is located down Wimbledon Broadway, which is a five minute walk from Wimbledon station. As we entered, there were a lot of small tables for 2 arranged in several configurations, depending on how many people were dining in a group. Our particular group consisted of 5 people and so we had three of these tables pushed together. To the right of the entrance, a red wall was half covered with a large menu board towards the back of the room, containing many (but not all) of the burger options on the menu. A couple of them were pasted over with small notes saying they weren't available. Against this wall was a long bench, with red leather upholstery that looked pretty comfortable, and in line with the burger menu. Nearer to the entrance on the wall were a couple of paintings of VW vans; I don't quite understand the significance of this, perhaps there isn't any. To the left of the entrance, the wall had wood panelling (to go with the light coloured wooden laminate flooring) and a magazine rack with a few magazines in to browse. I spotted GQ and What Car. To the back, facing the entrance is the till and bar. Behind this, to the right were several shelves of neatly arranged beers. Further back was a wooden wine rack. Behind this to the left was the kitchen area, so the vigilant would be able to see what was going on there. I had a peek and could just see some burger rolls arranged out to serve. The restaurant reminded me somewhat of Nandos, in as much the method of paying as anything. On the menu board on the wall, it clearly stated "Please order & pay at the counter", and I must confess it was after a while that I read this, as we sat waiting for someone to serve us. You also leave tips there. I feel a bit sorry for the staff as I can imagine many people would forget to do this, seeing as you pay before you have your meal. There was a lot of light coming in to the restaurant, as the whole of the front was given over to several high windows. On each table were salt and pepper pots and a round, tomato shaped tomato sauce dispenser. I used the gentlemen's loo and that was clean and well kept, with some white sink fitting against a red tiled wall. THE MENU Well this should be easy - it's more or less burgers. They're advertised as Aberdeen-Angus Scotch beef and there as several toppings to make each variant, such as garlic mayo, Cajun, satay, chilli, avocado bacon, blue cheese, Mexican and barbeque. There are even other meats, with Greek and mint lamb burger, a chorizo burger and satay, avocado and bacon and camembert and cranberry chicken burgers. The premier range has buffalo, wild boar and pork and leek burgers. And for any vegetarians there's a decent range; you have falafel, puy lentil, aubergine & goat's cheese, veggie & camembert and butternut squash burgers to choose from. You can even build your own burger with toppings such as beetroot, cheese, sweet potato and hummus. There are smaller burgers available, "not just for kids", in the form of beef, chicken and puy lentil burgers and Cajun chicken pieces. For the more health conscious, GBK, Moroccan and chilli chicken salads are on the menu. Side orders comprise of GBK fries, rocket & parmesan salad, GBK coleslaw and mixed leaf salad. There are also some sauces such as garlic mayo, blue cheese, chilli, barbeque, sour cream and smoked chilli mayo. The drinks menu comprises of several white, red and rose wines, New Zealand beers such as Steinlager and Mac's Gold as well as Budvar, organic ale, fresh juices such as apple, orange and cranberry, a couple of smoothies, carbonated drinks, mineral water and a range of teas and coffees. There is also some energy drink called Shark which I've never heard of, and several flavours of milkshake such as chocolate, vanilla and banana. THE FOOD To drink, I ordered a mango, pineapple and orange juice which was nice enough. It tasted like the standard kind of blended fruit juice. In its favour it was quite thick, not quite a smoothie but on the way. To eat I ordered a burger with blue cheese. This looked pretty big when it arrived. The burger was served in a big white bun with sesame seeds, with the blue cheese smothered on top of the burger, and a huge piece of lettuce resting on top of this, finally topped off by the top part of the bun and held in place in the middle by a cocktail stick. It says ciabatta on menu but didn't really look like it to me. At the back of the bun was some pleasantly tangy tomato relish. I only chanced upon this towards the end of eating the burger. The blue cheese was nice, creamy and in fact quite mild, not really tasting so much of the blue cheese. Maybe this was because it had been melted into a sauce, and the strength of the blue mould was lost as it melted into the rest of the cheese. The colour certainly seemed to suggest the blue bits having melted to make it totally homogenous. The lettuce was pleasant and crispy, a nice offset to all that meat. As for the burger itself, it was lean, thick and tasty. I noticed that it was a little raw in the centre, and I don't know if this was deliberate or not. I would assume not, but I haven't been ill since and so I won't hold it against them. I ordered some chips as a side dish (they don't come included) and these were chunky, crispy chips, not at all greasy, with a pleasant crispiness on the outside and softness on the inside. I was pretty full after my burger and chips. Ms Larsbaby had the aubergine and I tasted a bit of the aubergine, which was pleasantly grilled and of a good texture and taste. There was also mushroom, peppers, camembert cheese, a lot of rocket piled on top, some pesto and (she thinks) a sweet potato at the bottom. This was all packed into a bun and held together at the middle with a cocktail stick too. I am informed that this was tasty and very filling. There were lots of flavours and the melted camembert added texture and flavour. Her brother ordered the sate burger, which he liked a lot. He was particularly impressed with the way the sate sauce complimented the mango served with it. The kids meals came in the same white bun as the adults portions, but with a smaller burger, which looked about the size of normal sized frozen burgers once cooked, if that makes any sense. On the side was a kids sized portion of chips. One of them ordered a milk shake which came in a large metal shaker, with a glass with ice. The waiter didn't bother pouring it into the glass for him, which I thought was a bit of a poor show as the poor kid ended up just staring at it until one of us did it for him. There was enough for 2 glasses full of drink in the shake, and he finished it with no problems, so it must have been OK. It certainly looked very nice from where I was sitting. It was hard to tell how good the kids thought the burgers were; they're a bit quiet when I'm around, but they nodded reasonably contentedly when I asked them what I thought of them. One struggled with finishing the burger, the other had some chips left over, but I'll conclude that they liked their meals. SERVICE I found it to be a little impersonal, as the only real interaction you had with the waiting staff was when ordering. When they brought the food, they were courteous but we weren't asked if everything was OK as far as I can recall (good job it was, then). As I already mentioned they could have poured the milkshake. I think the staff are more the losers than the customers, as personally I just want to be fed decent food, they don't have to fawn over me, but in order to get decent tips they'd have to engage the customers which they don't really have the opportunity to. I'm sure this is a deliberate ploy from their employers, as in Nandos I would imagine. CONCLUSION This was a pretty decent nosh up and everyone was happy enough with their dishes. The bill for an apple juice, fruit juice, beer, Sprite, milkshake, 3 adult burgers and 2 kids meals was just under £50 (not including tips, I assume). This isn't the price you'd expect to pay in Burger King I grant you, but the comparison would perhaps be unfair. For a decent quality burger at a premium price, I would recommend this place. CONTACT INFORMATION Gourmet Burger Kitchen, 88 The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1RH Telephone (020) 8540 3300 Fax (020) 8543 1947 Website : http://www.gbkinfo.com/ OPENING HOURS: Monday to Friday 12pm to 11pm Saturday 11am to 11pm Sunday 11am to 10pm
The Wimbledon branch of the upmarket Burger chain.