Sunday, April 16, 2006

Gourmet Burger Bank, Belmont Road – worth the wait

UPDATE: If you've read this and been to Gourmet Burger Bank, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of your meal. It did get better!!!

Given that this blog is called “Alan in Belfast”, all this talk of Manchester and Segwaying across the USA needs to come to a stop!

At last, there’s somewhere to give Bennetts a run for their money on East Belfast’s Belmont Road. Bennetts is packed out most lunchtimes, so there is plenty of trade to share around.

Gourmet Burger Bank - the name gives away so much about this newly opened restaurant on Belmont Road:

  • the menu revolves around burgers;
  • good ones at that;
  • and they’ve gutted a bank to create a warehouse-feel, with heavy wooden furniture and off-white (light grey) walls, leaving the cash machine still in the wall outside to point to the building’s previous occupants.
They offer about fifteen different types of burger – beef, duck, venison, as well as vegetarian alternatives – and some salad dishes. These aren’t fast food burgers. Think instead of a big hunk of meat, cooked, sitting on a toasted bap, piled high with salad, thick cheese, and with a wooden skewer holding the 4 inch-high creation together. A burger will set you back between 6 and 8 pounds; chips – chunky hand cut or thin – another £2.

It was quite busy at 1pm on Good Friday when we called in, so we sat on the comfy sofas in the holding area perusing the menu and order a drink. After a while we moved to a table ... but no one could take our order. “You’re in the queue for ordering, there are other people ahead of you.” Turns out that although the waiters and waitresses can serve food and take drink orders (presumably to keep you in the building!), only one guy can come alongside your table to scribble your order onto his magic pad.

For the record we ordered Duck burger, The Works, and shared a chunky chip.

Forty-five minutes after arriving, still no food on the table. When it eventually arrived, it came with onion rings, an apology, and the news that the meal was on the house. The food was excellent, well cooked, tasty, good flavoursome ingredients, if a little slow.

So despite the bad start, I’d recommend you give the Gourmet Burger Bank a try. But go early before the main lunchtime rush!

Update from 9 May - we went back!

35 comments:

Phil said...

Unfortunately im never around that way. But maybe i'll give it a go sometime.

colletteoneill said...

Have been to the Burger Bank a few times now, and its fantasic! if you're in the area, and even if you're not, head over and try it. I'm a vegetarian, and having a choice of 3 mains is pretty good. Try the tear and share bread for starters, yummy! The other half usually orders the Works burger, and hasn't been disapppinted yet. The bring your own drink is right up our street, makes for an extremely well priced meal.

Anonymous said...

do you have a telphone number for it?

Alan in Belfast said...

Unfortunately not - since we left without getting a bill and having to pay!

Hang on ... www.118500.com says ... (028) 9047 3333

Anonymous said...

Love the place... best burger in Ireland, great atmosphere!

Gillian from belfast said...

Went to Gourmet Burger straight after my Weight Watcher weigh in (bad I know) but well worth. Went about 6.00pm not a bad crowd and was served very quickly. The burger (blue cheese burger) was to die for. Although a little expensive when bill was added up but definately worth it and would go back again. If anyone is looking for the number here you go:028 90 473333. No website address and don't think you need to book. Enjoy!

John Self said...

I've been twice, once in the evening and once at lunchtime. I'm not actually a huge fan of beefburgers so I had the Chicken Club second time and it was fantastic: crispy bacon, avocado and salad with relish.

As for slow service, I'm not surprised as every time I've been past (several times a week) it's been bunged. One of the waiters told us that they hadn't advertised in the hope that things would build up slowly by word of mouth; but right from the opening day they've been flat out.

I do wonder though how long it will last: will the novelty of burgers (despite the variety of salmon, duck, chickpea burgers etc) wear off after a time? I'd still want to go to Bennett's more often.

Oh and someone told me it was set up by a former chef from Cayenne, which would explain the quality of the food.

jen_2297 said...

my visit to gormet burger was during a week lunch (1-2) and i have to say that i was not overly impressed with the place.
i'm being fair but honest here when i say that the majority of my party (6 people) seemed pleased enough with their meal but the general consensus was that it was too expensive. a burger, whatever way you dress it up, is a burger and should be priced appropriately so. I feel that £6-8 may be an appropriate price for a wholesome, hearty lunch, but when accompanied by costs for a side and drink, you're paying the miminum of £12 for what is essentially, burger and chips.
As for my own meal, i ordered the scallop burger. i thought this would be an apt choice as it's something different than your average run of the mill beef burger and thus I was looking forward to the Gourmet Burger experience. i was disappointed. Despite the two scallops which topped my burger being cooked to perfection, i found the dish as a whole, slightly bland and somewhat stodgy. My burger was essentially this - the bottom of a bun lightly smeared in tomato sauce, with a large slightly overcooked mushroom and what i can only describe as a heavy, overly eggy scallop like omlette affair, topped with lettuce and 2 deliciously cooked scallops.
i found the burger as a whole quite dry and would have liked a little dressing with some tasty salad leaves, as opposed to the mass of stringy tasteless lettuce strung on top. i would be the first to pay for a nice treat which incorporated scallops, but sadly, i didn't think this was up to the challenge.
I would suggest to the owners of Gourmet Burger that they incorparate a side in their burger prices. They should appreciate that there is alot of competition out there, especially for us lunchtime crowd, and i certainly woudln't be persusaded to go there again.
Saying that, there were those at my table who thoroughly enjoyed their lamb burgers. my other friend however, had the black pudding salad but was not overly enthused about it either and described it as a 'bowl of flymo cuttings'.
Again on the upside (and im trying to give a balanced review here) the service was excellent and the surroundings were trendy, funky and comfortable.
By no means should you let my review set you back from going - because i have heard rave reviews from others. It's also good to support local businesses and Gourmet Burger should be applauded for tapping into a niche market. i just don't think they have tapped in as well as they could.

Alan said...

Another satisfied customer of the Burger Bank. We had a very pleasant meal for two and I disagree with other posts about the price. At £23 for a two it was very reasonable. Recommend the olives and spicy chicken starters. I hope they dont get a licence to soon BYO keeps the cost down.

John Self said...

In London this week we visited Burger Shack in Charing Cross Road, which seems almost bizarrely similar to Gourmet Burger Bank (and may have been an inspiration for it, along with the Gourmet Burger Kitchen chain). The meal - chicken burger with brie and cranberry - was entirely fantastic, easily the best burger I have ever had, and rather superior to GBB. Largely this was because of the roll, which was firmer and held together better than GBB's (though like theirs, it was described as 'sourdough roll'), making it possible to eat it in your hands, burger-style, instead of with a knife and fork. Prices were the same as GBB.

Anonymous said...

I was thoroughly satisfied with the Bank! I ordered the Gourmet Burger with comes with a slice of Angus Beef Steak and Foies Gras Trufflé. I washed this delicious meaty burger down with a thick, home-made ice-cream milkshake - excellent! Their desert, cookies and home-made ice-cream, were to die for. The cookies were big and jam-packed with white chocolate. The service was excellent; very friendly and responsive!
There were a few incidents however. The chicken (soaked in olive oil and garlic all day) was overcooked (a decision by the chef to reduce order-returns); the cookies were "not up to [their] standards" because someone put them in the fridge; and there was a limited amount of food left from the menu (they were closing on the Monday due to the 12th July holidays). However, the waitress took the time to explain the reasons adequately and apologised. I recieved the desert for free and, had something not happened with an acquaintance, discount on the meal due to the chicken.
The place looks great and the staff are very helpful. The standard of service allows customers to feel very relaxed, special and empowered to deal with any lapses in service.
Two weeks later? I'm bringing 10 of my closest and dearest friends to the Bank. I'm proud for the bank at the moment and proud my city can produce it. I hope it maintains its quality and twinkle.

pyssed_off_resident said...

I won't deny that Gourmet Burger looks the part and on the few occassions that I have been in when it first opened, the food was fine, but you wanna try living in the surrounding streets.
Try stepping out your back door to the smell of burning meat EVERY day!
Try living around the corner from this place when they leave out their empty glass bottles much to the amusement of the local kids who use them as ammo and throw them at the cars parked in the surrounding streets. And what's the attitude when you ring up to ask if they can store their empties more carefully ? [Quote] The kids were here before we (Gourmet Burger) were, so I think you shall find it is not us (Gourmet Burger) who is the problem, it is the kids [Unquote]. Nice attitude eh ?
Try walking past the end of the alley way to see the chef sitting on the ground of the dirty alley having a quick break and then getting up and going back into the kitchen to prepare your meal. Nice. Hygenic too.
Try getting back to sleep at 6am in the morning when the industrial bins are being wheeled out into the next street to be emptied - have you heard the noise a full to over-flowing industrial bin makes?
As well as looking after the customer, the staff are very well looked after too. They have been provided with a large smoking area straight out the back door in the dirty alley way beside the stinking bins. It's very well equipped - deck chairs beside the bins for them to have their fag breaks and then go straight back in and serve you your food.
So, yeah give Gourmet Burger a go if you want your food cooked by someone who sits in an alley way and is "Assistant Managed" by someone who doesn't give a toss about the local residents. Oh yeah, and if you are lucky enough to take up one the parking spaces in the surrounding streets, cross your fingers that the kids who pile in from other areas don't use your car as target practice with the glass coke bottles that Gourmet Burger kindly leave out. You can always resort to what the residents have to do if you come out and find the kids sitting on your bonnet (glass bottles in hand) - ring Strandtown PSNI station and they shall come and move them on.

10 out 10 - keep up the good work. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

i am a resident ove the surrounding area and think gourmet burger is a lovely place 2 go for sumfing 2 eat the prawn burger and salads are 2 die for all the workers r so layed bk and make u feel comfortable and the building looks great so clean inside and out and 1 other thing i have never heard the bins getting emptied at 6am in the mornin and if the place was so dirty the eho would close the place down

Anonymous said...

love the place salads r great so is the spicey chicken and ribs yum yum xo

Anonymous said...

service is great was served very quick and food was delicious

Anonymous said...

i went in on a saturday served very fast kitchen looked spotless and the chicken club was great price was fine didnt mind paying for quality service left good tip lol

Anonymous said...

loved the salads ribs spicey chicken were great so clean

Anonymous said...

place was great loved the food

Anonymous said...

Jeez, what a numb skull. Do you not realise Mr "October 18" that it logs the time you post a comment, so obviously the previous 6 comments posted on Wednesday 18 October within the space of 20 minutes have all been posted by the same person. Just shows you the intelligence of the people who eat there.

Anonymous said...

One thing I forgot to say, maybe you should pick up a copy of "eats shoots and leaves". It'll teach you all about punctuation, Mr/Mrs October 18 !

Anonymous said...

I've been to the gourmet burger a number of times now and I have to say I think it's one of the best restaraunts in Belfast. The food is well-presented, original, fresh and always good, so good I'm now a regular. I have to say that one of the main things that brings me back is the service. The staff are friendly, polite and actually willing to chat to you - it's harder and harder to find a restaraunt where seem actually pleased to serve you.

I can't believe some of the comments left about the staff sitting out the back smoking. Would you rather they smoked in the restaraunt over you whilst you ate?! They deserve a break too.

Anyways, as for food - a wide range of vegetarian options and a kids menu keeps everyone happy. I personally reccomend the avocado bacon or the chicken club, with a delicious serving of onion rings.

This place can only get better.

Anonymous said...

I have given this place a go twice and i doubt i'll be back. The service is good and it's a nice looking place & a nice idea but for a place specialising in burgers it's just a pity they don't make a good burger! The meat was bland & flavourless - thankfully i got some flavour from the cheese and bacon which accompanied it. I've had better burgers out of a dodgy chippy van! (and they were far cheaper!) The last time i went with a party of 8 and - except for one person - no-one was overly impressed with what they got - especially considering the price. On the plus side they do make lovely milkshakes!

Anonymous said...

Went to Gourmet burger last night, and was really impressed, not only by the food ~ which was fab ~ but by the friendliness of the staff who were extrememly friendly and welcoming. I was totally impressed that a member of staff knew about my pregnancy dietry requirements i.e. raw egg in coleslaw, and informed me that all restaurants should now only use pasturised egg in their coleswlaw under new health and sefety law ~ well this is not the case in all restaurants. Restaurants in Belfast should take a leaf out of here. Great food accompanied by great service ~ just how a dining experiece should be! Oh and if you possess a pair of Joey pants i would wear them...big feed!

Anonymous said...

What planet are all you people on these burgers are processed crap the skinny fries are matchstick fries and the crispy onion rings are soggy greasy lumps (but apparently thats the way we always serve them so eat up and shut up!!!!) Tried both (for my sins) branches Belmont rd and Malone Rd both consistently crap will never go back regretted that I had eaten (albeit partially) such processed rubbish home-made? trading standards should be called

Anonymous said...

For anonymous, 9.11.07, your comments are untrue and unfounded, maybe you'd be better off at McDonalds. Twit!

Anonymous said...

have just been to new gourmet burger restaurant on lisburn road Relish its much better, better service tastier burgers and better value

Anonymous said...

Went to new gourmet burger bank on malone road, and i must say, i will DEFINATELY be back. The staff are friendly, and were ready to answer any questions we had! We have also been to their original restaurant on the Belmont rd, and the service was exactly the same. i am over the moon that they have decided to open this side of town. With wonderful staff, amazing food, and a great atmosphere, not to mention the to die for home-made deserts (be prepared to not be able to move for some time after you eat!) what more could you want for such a great price!

Anonymous said...

Went to GBB for the 1st time yesterday & we were really impressed. Great food & great service. Initially we thought it seemed quite expensive for what in theory is only a 'burger & chips' but when it arrived we realised why it was a bit on the pricey - this was not just any burger & chips - this was a GBB burger & chips!!!! They were both dressed to perfection with delicious sauces & dressings. Our bill cost £24 which included a bottle of beer & a small glass of wine which in our minds wasn't bad at all for not only good food but also a very pleasant experience. We'll definitely be back!

Cat said...

atmosphere, wine and side orders all great but disappointed by the burgers- they tasted processed!!!! disappointing for a restaurant that speciality is burgers.

Anonymous said...

processed burgers with toppings, burger bun bland , a very poor attempt at gourmet, says more about N I taste buds than actual taste

Anonymous said...

Belmont Road Burger Bank is great, not only is the food great, the atmosphere chilled and the beer/wine list excellent..... the waitresses are pretty excellent as well ;)

Anonymous said...

The restaurant isn't one of my favourites. It doesn't produce anything wow worthy. I have to agree with the other posters who said that the burgers tasted very processed as I'm afraid all the times I have been in their burgers have tasted this way. The chips are poor and I wouldn't advise ordering them as they taste half cooked.
The look of the restaurant is nice very open and airy, slightly cold if you are sitting for a while. The choice of burgers is very good and as I was there with a vegetarian she appreciated the choice. Don't go near it on a Sunday or Saturday afternoon as everytime I have it has been packed with screaming children. I know many parents like the fact the restaurant has lots of toys to amuse the kids, but if you are after a nice relaxed meal Sunday or Saturday afternoon is not the best time as out entire meal seemed to be dominated by screaming children from the tables around us throwing the plastic bricks the restarant provides as toys.

It isn't bad price wise but there are better out there.

Alan in Belfast said...

Anonymous - funny, on a Sunday afternoon, we're probably one of those tables where the (adults and) child are enjoying playing with the toys!

Haven't had a bad meal in it now for years!

Anonymous said...

Yeah - well good luck if you eat there.
Have you looked at the rear of their premises ? FILTHY. I would never go there. We changed our minds when we approached the premises from the street next to it. Staff in the alley way smoking - LOADS of pigeons / droppings ! and cigarette ends etc etc drains were flowing with something that looked horrible and had obviously emptied out by the staff. - looked like a tip - all the bins were overflowing and the stink was something else.

Like I say - if you fancy this - then go ahead - my advice is have a quick peek "behind thwe scenes" before deciding.

No stars from me as I didnt even try the food - a BIG minus for hygiene and looks outside - Come on clean up your act for goodness sake.

Alan in Belfast said...

Anonymous - I think you've made a similar comment before on another post.