“ Address: 5-6 South Street / Chichester / England / Tel: 01243 788398 „
The Real Burger Kitchen in Chichester has obviously modeled its menu on the more famous chain of burger outlets known as Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK). However The Real Burger Kitchen in Chichester is a one-off, is not part of any burger chain, and the prices are a LOT more reasonable. Whereas a burger at GBK will cost you anything between £6.50 to £8.50, in Chichester you'll only pay from £5.50 to £7.50. As I've eaten there twice this summer, I thought it was about time I put pen to paper and reviewed the place.
~~~ Location, Location, Location ~~~
The Real Burger Kitchen is located in South Street, a short distance from the very heart of Chichester, known as The Cross, and a stone's throw from the Cathedral. In recent years South Street has become a bit of a hot spot for a night out, with loads of different restaurants and pubs crammed into one smallish area; it's really turned into the heart of "social" Chichester. In South Street itself you get to choose from Pizza Express, The Slug & Lettuce, Prezzo, Zizzi, and Café Rouge, and if you carry on a bit further you'll reach Nandos, Frankie & Benny's and Lloyd's No 1 Bar. There are, of course, many independent pubs and restaurants in the street as well, and that's where The Real Burger Kitchen steps in.
One word of caution about a meal out in Chichester is that you should be aware that it can be a nightmare to park (especially during the day), so you may need to locate the nearest pay and display car park before you choose your venue to dine in. On a weekday night, it may be a bit easier, as there is a bit of parking available in South Street itself (see end of review for further details).
~~~ Ambience ~~~
We were initially tempted to try The Real Burger Kitchen by their May special offer of any burger on their menu for £4.99. I'd always been put off visiting in the place in the past as it's up a flight of steep stairs - hence you cannot see inside the venue as you walk on by. I don't know about you, but I like to have a good nose at a restaurant from the outside before I venture inside. I like to see how happy people look whilst eating, and indeed, whether there are plenty of other diners enjoying the food. There's nothing worse than being the only pair of diners in a huge restaurant chock full of sad empty tables - it immediately implies that you've made a bad choice and everyone else knew better!
Anyway, I digress. You can't see what you're going to let yourself in for at The Real Burger Kitchen, so you just have to bite the bullet, climb the stairs and open the door at the top. I need not have worried what I was going to find, as it's a nice venue. It's not particularly big, but it feels quite light and airy due to the huge windows overlooking South Street below.
The décor is modern with light oak coloured wooden floors and matching tables and chairs. The oak colouring is complimented by jade green cushions on the chairs, and paler green tiles on the walls. To one side of the room you have 3 or 4 booth type seating arrangements with some larger free-standing tables to the middle of the room. All in all - it's light, bright and welcoming. The atmosphere is laid back and very casual and this if definitely a jeans and t-shirt type venue rather than one you need to dress up for.
The Real Burger Kitchen offers free WiFi access and several of the booths also have a keyboard and screen you can use in case you don't have a laptop. However, the internet speed is rather sporadic to say the least. It worked fine the first time I dined there with the page showing the property my friend was buying loading quickly and easily. However, when my partner and I dined there the following month, the internet connection was worse than dial-up ever knew how to be. I decided to check my emails between placing our order and waiting for our food, and the page still hadn't loaded properly after ten minutes :o(
~~~ The Menu ~~~
The clue is in the name of the venue here - if you don't "do" burgers then you're in the wrong place. Despite a cursory nod towards a very small salad selection, the over-riding theme to The Real Burger Kitchen is burgers, then burgers and some more burgers.
There's a choice of burgers made from beef, chicken, lamb, fish or a vegetarian option. Prices range from a plain beef burger at £5.50 up to the most expensive option of a char-grilled tuna burger at £9.50. All burgers include a generous portion of shoe-string French fries (which are very nice indeed - just how I like them). All the beef burgers are made from cuts of meat sourced from local Sussex farms - all good for the old carbon footprint. Most of the burgers are 6oz in size and are served in a bun with lettuce, beef tomato, red onion and mayonnaise. They cook all burgers as medium (unless you ask them to do it another way). All burgers are gluten free (apart from the bun obviously....but they can serve a gluten free bun if you request one).
It's worth checking their website for their current special offers (http://www.burgerkitchen.co.uk) as they often seem to have some kind of deal of on the go. For example in May, all but the most expensive of burgers were on offer at a fixed price of £4.99 (and that included chips too). In June, they were offering a Meal Deal of two burgers and two side dishes for £12.00. This month and next they're not running a special food promotion, but there is a free entry into a prize draw to win an iPad instead.
The burger selection is like a brief trip around the world, as many of them seem to have a country theme to them. For example you have The Spanish which is accompanied by chorizo sausage and saffron flavoured mayonnaise, or The Bombay Burger - chicken marinated in curried spices and served with mango chutney, or how about The Greek - a lamb burger with halloumi cheese, hummus and minted mayonnaise.
All in all I'd say there are at least 20 to 25 different types of burger on offer, with a variety of different meats and themes. If you really don't like burgers, then there are a choice of three different salads to choose from instead (Tuscan Bread Salad, Chicken and Chorizo Salad and Warm Goat's Cheese Salad). If you think your portion of burger and chips is not going to be enough, then they also do a range of side dishes like corn on cob, coleslaw and onion rings. Obviously I'm not going to list the full menu here, but if you're interested you can download it as a pdf at http://www.burgerkitchen.co.uk
The choice of desserts is fairly limited at The Real Burger Kitchen, but there's a range consisting of ice-creams, sundaes and sorbets, chocolate profiteroles, lemon tart and cheesecake. Dessert prices tend to be around the £5.00 mark. The usual range of teas and coffees can be ordered too. Drinkwise, the venue is fully licensed with a selection of draught (Pilsner and Peroni) and bottled beers, red, white and rosé wines as well as a goodly selection of soft drinks (including a rather nice Elderflower Pressé).
~~~ The Experience ~~~
Both times I've dined at The Real Burger Kitchen we've gone straight to main courses. Although there are a few starters on offer, it's not really the kind of place where a starter is necessary. The seating is reasonably comfortable for a burger joint, but it's not a venue for a long, leisurely meal where you linger over liqueurs and tantalize yourself with an amuse-bouche between courses. You're there for a burger and chips, and starter is somewhat superfluous. However, if you really want to push the boat out they do offer fried calamari, filo tiger prawns, nachos, marinated olives and a range of garlic breads, with prices ranging from £2.00 up to £5.50.
~~ Trip One ~~
On the first occasion I dined there, there were three of us in our party and we all chose a different burger. We chose to dine at The Real Burger Kitchen due to their May offer of a burger and chips for £4.99. To be honest I didn't pay a great deal of attention to the menu as I was meeting two friends who I hadn't seen for nearly a year, and we were too busy catching up on all our news to be distracted by the food.
I chose a burger called Vive La France which came served with garlic mayonnaise and onion rings, my friend had one called The Italian Job - beefburger with basil pesto and mozzarella and my other friend had the Club Tropicana - beefburger with chargrilled pineapple, bacon and cheese. All three burgers arrived very promptly and were all a huge plateful of food. All burgers are served with a shoe-string French fries and a soft-floured bun and garnished with red onion, mayonnaise, beef tomato and lettuce. My burger was deliciously moist on the inside yet nicely char-grilled and crispy to the outside. The bun was nice and crispy to the edges but quite soft and floury to the centre. The red onion, lettuce and beef tomato were all perfectly fresh and satisfyingly al dente. However, the piece de resistance were the chips - a huge portion of the crispiest shoe-string fries you could imagine. I'm not a fan of chunky chips so there were my idea of chip heaven. The onion rings accompanying my burger were large and obviously home-made - none of your Mum's-been-to-Iceland rubbish here! My friends also pronounced their burgers as being equally as delicious, and I must say that Italian themed one did look rather nice with its bright green basil pesto burger topping. The Tropicana aka Hawaiian burger looked just as good, but it's not the most of adventurous of choices and always strikes me as a bit of a banal topping.
As we were talking far too much as we had so much news to share, we decided to prolong our evening by partaking of desserts. I had a chocolate and raspberry torte, and my friends had cheesecake and banoffee pie respectively. All were nice sized portions and delicious. On this occasion, the bill came to £36.00 for the three of us - a very reasonable £12.00 per person for main course, drinks and dessert.
The following month, my partner and I popped in to The Real Burger Kitchen for a quick bite to eat after hospital visiting hours. At the time we were unaware that they were running a special offer of two burger and two side dishes for £12.00.
On this occasion we both chose The Real Deal with Cheese, which is 6oz of locally sourced beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion and smoked cheddar served with fries. The beef was as plump and succulent as before and the melted smoked cheese made a nice tangy accompaniment. The French fries were just as good as I remembered them to be. As our meal deal included two side dishes with our burgers we both chose something different so we could share. Himself had onion rings, a huge portion of homemade crispy large battered rings, which were really rather Moorish. I chose the crunchy coleslaw, and this was somewhat of a disappointment compared to their usual standard of cuisine. The coleslaw lacked bite and seemed a little tired. Either it had been drowned in too much mayonnaise, thus loosing it's crispiness or it was simply rather tired and old. It was edible - it just lacked pizzazz.
On this occasion we forgo dessert as we felt rather full after our burgers and side dishes. This time the bill came to a very reasonable £23.00 - the burgers costing £12.00 and the rest made up of two and half pints of lager (but no packet of crisps).
~~~ Recommended? ~~~
Yes indeed. The Real Burger Kitchen offers a good plate of food and at a reasonable price. If you like a tasty, authentic burger every now and then this is definitely a good place to dine. It's unpretentious and not at all fussy. The burgers are good, the portions generous and their chips are wonderful. The venue is relaxed and laid back and it's a great place to enjoy a catch up with friends and family. The service was spot on both times I ate there. The staff were attentive, yet not obtrusive. Glasses of tap water were fetched with a smile and conversations between dinners remained uninterrupted.
Recommended, but always remember "The journey of a thousand pounds begins with a single burger"
~~~ Other Details ~~~
The Real Burger Kitchen is a part of The Sussex Pub Group (http://www.thesussexpub.co.uk), which also includes four local pubs: Trents of Chichester, The Royal Oak at Lavant, The Halfway Bridge at Petworth and the renowned Crab & Lobster at Sidlesham. The Real Burger Kitchen is not really a reservations kind of place, but you can reserve a table if you call them; I'd say this place is really the sort of venue where you walk in off the street and see if they can fit you in.
The Real Burger Kitchen
5-6 South Street
* Please note that this venue is located on a first floor location up a rather steep flight of stairs, so it's not really suitable for the infirm or disabled.
* Children are welcome with a special menu at £4.95 consisting of a choice of burger, a soft drink and an ice-cream to finish.
* Parking may prove a problem during the day and at the weekend. The nearest pay and display car park is at South Pallant or South Gate (both a two/three minute walk away). However, mid-week evenings are not so much of a problem, as you may be able to park in South Street or nearby West Street.