“ 217 High Street / Royal Mile / Edinburgh / EH1 1PE / Tel: 0131 2258770 „
Located in the middle of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland (and just up from North Bridge on the right hand side from Princes Street) it's so easy to walk past this bright orange restaurant without giving it a second glance, and to be honest I'm not a frequent eater at many restaurants. It was just luck that a friend of mine happens to know a staff member at this restaurant and from its reputation as being one of the most popular eateries on the Royal Mile itself, and with our University being so close, it made sense to consider a good day out!
Upon entering, you will be faced with what looks like a modern restaurant, flush and laminated wood surfaces, far and away from what you would expect in terms of a burger joint such as Burger King or McDonalds. Move over the pair of them, I've found a better burger restaurant which makes burgers from real ingredients which are NOT heated up in a microwave!
This restaurant is called "Wannaburger," and it is so aptly named even though its original roots lay in the previous name of "Relish". Using a mix of brushed stainless steel, pine wood and mahogany it beckons you to come in despite the orange slogan of "Wanna Burger" in large lettering on top of the main building and remains very light and airy thanks to the tasteful décor, clean tables and clean wooden chairs, clean floors and good lighting. Background music happens to be popular choices but it seems to bring in some families, business men and students young and old.
Needless to say the staff there are very friendly and will follow your every need even though essentially during busy periods there are a number of staff members ready at hand. Naturally there is a license for alcohol at this bar but you can't help but try the milk shakes instead, which add to the Burger experience, and let me tell you the milk shakes are out of this way; gone is the Mr Whippy bland vanilla taste you associate with McDonalds, replaced by Mackie's Luxury Ice cream filled shakes in a myriad of scrumptious and novel flavours such as the ordinary list; Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate whilst for the more daring, Chocolate & Coffee, Peanut Butter & Banana or Strawberry Banana. You'll just have to wait later on until I tell you about my chocolate shake!! ** Please note this is a long review! **
** The Menu **
The menu is quite a busy piece of kit, even though it is essentially four sides of a long tall card menu and at first I was confused due to the fact that 10 hungry students kept asking the friend who knew the staff, the best burger to go for. I like a side salad for example with many dishes, particularly when I eat out but I was warned in advance that the side salad is quite a large portion by its own accord and to choose carefully before I roll out the door.
There are three basic burger choices you can select which cover most consumer's type preferences;
Bean (a homemade preparation all bean burger); on recall, I tried this from a friend's plate and found that it was very delicious and void of the standard Veggie burgers you find in chain restaurants and even Linda McCartney type products (yes I was a Veggie once!).
Beef (100% Scottish Beef); this is what I chose, not just because the menu promised, like all the other options that it is 100% but it is cooked from raw on the premises and the smell of sizzling beef surrounded me as I was closest to the open hatch-arch looking into the kitchen.
Chicken (Free range char grilled chicken); like the Beef and Bean burgers, the chicken is also char grilled there and then and cooked on the premises.
With that out of the way and once you have made your decision there are several type burger toppings that you can choose. You can choose for example set menu burgers such as "The Blue Cheese," or "The Chicken Camembert," burger, but this is just two options available out of five specials.
The toppings however add versatility; instead of choosing a special you can opt for one of the toppings; or for extra toppings add £1 each;
Cheese (Cheddar cheese)
The Blue Cheese (self-explanatory!)
The Italiano (Mozzarella cheese)
The MOS (Mushroom, Onion & Swiss cheese)
The Bacon & Guacamole (self-explanatory)
The Aussie (Fried egg, pineapple, cheddar cheese & beetroot)
The Hawaiian (Bacon, pineapple & cheddar cheese)
The Mexican (Cheddar cheese, roasted peppers & chilli sauce)
The BBQ bacon (BBQ sauce, bacon & cheddar cheese)
The Chilli (Chilli sauce - is Veggie friendly)
Confused? I was until I asked a member of staff to help me out and she dutifully assisted. In the end I was torn between so many choices partially because they sounded so good from the menu, but also due to the fact that the in-house kitchen was a few feet away where you could see Chef and assistant cooking the meats and other burgers for other consumers at the time. This does not however mean that the restaurant fills with the smell of cooking oil and indeed there are a number of air con units located in the ceiling which takes away the other odours of general kitchen cooking. There is also a large commercial kitchen air hood viewable from the kitchen which further benefits cleaner air.
What I saw was shocking in terms of the actual size of the burgers though. My friend wasn't joking when she said "don't have any breakfast!"
Each burger is delivered with a cocktail stick driven through the top to ensure that it sticks together. The size of it is unbelievably large, nearly taking up the whole rim of the dinner plate it is served on and needs either huge hands to hold the burger or as many did at the table when our orders came, a knife and fork to cut the actual burger up before some of it can be consumed.
** The Taste Test **
What I ordered was the BBQ Bacon with extra cheese on a Beef burger. We had to wait around 15 minutes for all 10 people to be served and I liked how the staff asked if we wanted our food individually or for all 10 people at the time. Whilst we were starving, we all ordered different drinks whilst I got a glass of Diet Cola which by the menu's price (£1-75) looked a bit overly expensive. However when the glass arrived, it was about the same large pint sized glass which Hoegarden beer drinkers will be familiar with - bloody huge - and seemed to take an age to wash down, even after the food had arrived and been polished off.
** Accommodation **
When the burgers arrived, there wasn't much table space for 10 people even though three tables had been pushed together to accommodate us fully. At the back of the restaurant for example there are 13 tables with a minimum seating area of 36 people, whilst at the front there are 7 tables. We were situated at the back of the restaurant and although floor space wasn't exactly tight, there was a cosy feeling between us all which didn't bother us due to the large booking. So whilst on average there is floor space, table space for a large group is considerably cosy given that the plates and drinks took up most of the space. This meant by the time my side salad arrived as well as shared portions of fries, space was really an issue to fit it all in.
** The Taste Test **
Amongst ten different aged students, from young to old students (ahem) I was faced with what could be described as a TGI Friday's rivalling mass of burger. I looked lost as I tried to cut up the burger but the tip here is to leave the cocktail stick in and slice the burger up like a cake around the stick - that way - as one of my other friends found to his cost - the burger doesn't fall apart due to its mass shape and contents.
Indeed on first inspection, all the burgers were served on heated baps, although this could well have been the sizzling heat coming off the contents themselves rather than the bread - but everything more importantly was extremely fresh, right down to the "side salad," which I mistook for a shared portion until I was told that this was a side salad, contained in a large bowl, a mixture of beef cut tomatoes, crispy lettuce and some red onion rings as well as fresh herbs (leaves not the dried papery stuff!) and a good drop of homemade dressing!
My burger for example contained BBQ sauce onto bacon with the extra cheese atop the beef burger. Upon cutting it open, the burger revealed a healthy pinkish centre, just the way I like it, because the staff ask you how you like your burger when you first order it. Slicing a piece of it and popping it into my mouth, softness and a strong taste of well cooked Beef came across here, much unlike anything I had had for a very long time, and decided by the time I got to half of the burger that I should share out my salad instead of wasting the burger - I had already got full! The taste that my burger in particular imparted was one of full enjoyment whilst other friends seemed to share the same experience.
Another variety that I tried on tasting was a bit of a friend's "Aussie" burger as I was intrigued to see how this would taste, with the weird combination of beetroot, fried egg, pineapple and cheddar cheese. Whilst I felt that it may have been a touch too greasy with the fried egg, deep down I was glad I had picked the BBQ Bacon burger as it did not contain much grease, more often than not natural meat juices left the bottom of the burger slightly soggy but not overly so. None of the burgers themselves fell apart - my own homemade burgers however are a different story!
We all tried to be dignified with our burgers but I was having the worst trouble of eating the last part of mine, as delicious and as wholesome as it felt, I found the last quarter really tough to manage although the meat itself was succulent and quite soft. Infact I was the last to finish, having made the decision to sit and relax after the whole ordeal!
As mentioned already the Chilli burger and the salad dressing (and all other sauces) have one thing in common; they are all made on the premises and are not bought in. The fries are also chunky and this is the only option and I'm glad of it as it adds to the pleasure of eating and enjoying a home made burger.
** Desserts **
There is a list of desserts available but these change and whatever you can have on the day you just need to ask or view the desserts board. There was no way I had space for a dessert although I eagerly watched a friend take his time with a much recommended milk shake and watched his face light up as he slowly drew the creamy thick shake from the glass up the straw and into his mouth. After he ordered a second milk shake, I just knew that some how and some way I had to try one out! Men just can't help be competitive!
** Other drinks **
Aside from alcohol, there is a list of soft drinks you can have such as Coca Cola, Diet Coca Cola, Lemonade, Fanta, fresh fruit juices or one of their delicious milk shakes. You can also order other drinks too depending on the day. Tea and coffee is also available although I think Wannaburger should sell Peppermint Tea to alleviate the pains for over fed consumers!!
** Costs **
Based on the 10 seat booking, our bill (which included two drinks, burgers and side options such as salad or fries) came to just around £90-00 and when the bill came back, we all received loyalty cards and a little shot glass full of Peanut M&M's which went down a treat, not just offering chocolate but in a fun way since they are coloured!
Individually however the prices for the burgers in my opinion are justified. They aren't cheap but then again for homemade cooked food which has attention to detail you would expect to pay some heavy charge on the food if not for the sheer size. Burgers for example cost between £6-50 and £7-95. The milk shakes cost £3-50.
Upon leaving Wannaburger, I really wanted a milkshake and ordered one to take away. What I got was a large Starbucks styled plastic acrylic lidded and accompanying cup with a straw. I had waited right up until the moment I left to sample this drink and when I did I thought I had died and gone to heaven!! There are several ingredients in their super milk shakes other than just heavenly Mackie's of Scotland luxury ice cream, but being a chocolate fan I had to try the same flavour and I was not disappointed!! Took me a few good hours to finish off though!!
** Kids Menu **
There is a set kids menu but importantly all children's meals come with Fries and a small salad as standard.
** Anything Else **
If for example you have a wheat allergy you can order the burgers without buns and you will get a side salad in lieu of the bread.
** Downsides **
Unfortunately due to the lack of space there are no toilets located on the main floor as you walk in plus you do have to step up one step to get into the restaurant itself from the cobbled streets on the Royal Mile itself. Toilets are located downstairs, and whilst it is a short walk down, for the able bodied it can be a long way up particularly after consuming so much food! Due to a lack of space then there are no disabled toilets either.
There is however, a large changing room for parents which is located next to the toilets on the lower ground floor.
And as of recent, another restaurant in Edinburgh has opened up in the west end. I shall of course be trying this out as soon as I find it to see if it has a similar or same experience.
** Conclusion **
Wannaburger is the perfect burger restaurant which serves up an experience you won't likely to forget. Open everyday except Sundays it is a real treat to visit if you enjoy burgers and want something different against the McDonalds and Burger King chain places. Infact the more you go there, there's every likelihood that you won't ever want a BK or McD' burger ever again! This restaurant is privately owned and the owner also uses the same menu in another bar located in Edinburgh called the "Cambridge Bar," as well as the newer restaurant elsewhere in Edinburgh.
So if you're ever in Edinburgh and feel the need for a real burger, try Wannaburger. You won't want anything else...or perhaps just a milk shake too to wash it all down! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007.
Wannaburger is located on Edinburgh's Royal Mile near the North Bridge.