SPECIAL FEATURE | The Manchester Burger Scene in 2015

January 22, 2015


Will 2015 finally be the year of the much talked about ‘burger crash’? The humble burger restaurant seemed to reach an almost unsustainable peak a number of years ago, with more opening in Manchester than all other cuisines combined during 2012.

But the rise of the burger has seemingly continued unabated, with 21 new Manchester burger restaurants opening in 2013 and 2014 topping that with 26. 2015 is set to see over 30 new burger joints open across the city.

Here we meet the individuals behind what we think will be the four hottest Manchester burger vibes this coming year.


1. Trough

No, not Trof, Trough.

The brainchild of recent Salford University graduate Ed Hooper, Trough aims to take the ‘filthy’ and ‘dirty’ aspects of the early 2010s burger scene to a whole new level.

“I was sitting in one of Manchester’s burger joints which proclaimed to offer the usual dirty, filthy, meaty, juicy experience. And sure, the meat tasted good, but I found myself thinking, “just how filthy is this, really?”, and at that moment I started scribbling down the initial ideas for Trough on the back of my napkin.”

Trough has no menus, bar, tables or cutlery. Instead, diners walk in and sit on the floor beside huge, wooden troughs strewn haphazardly around the stripped-back, industrial room. The troughs are then filled to the brim with random burgers which fall from perspex tubes connected to venue’s upstairs kitchen. Everyone simply digs in with their hands from a sordid mess of meat, bread and sauce.

“It’s totally animalistic”, grins 23-year old Ed. “And it strips back all the unnecessary shit that gets in the way of you just forcing meat through the holes in your face.”

Trough, 62 Jersey Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6JW


2. YOU!

“Jesus, chefs”, muses Tom Yamoth, the brains behind social-burger-approach YOU!. “Fuck ‘em, you know?”

YOU! is a pretty revolutionary concept for dining, let alone burgers. Eschewing the concept of a permanent chef, YOU! invites a different member of the public down each night to create, cook and serve burgers to a point-scoring audience.

“It’s pretty simple”, explains Yamoth.

“Send us a YouTube video explaining your burger concept. If we like what we see we’ll invite you down for the night and you serve it up to hungry punters. The only rule is that you’re happy for the diners mark you out of ten. We’ll have a league table on our Facebook page.”

“Chefs always think they’re reinventing the burger. But we’re reinventing the very concept of how a burger is invented. Then we’re going to reinvent that.” states Yamoth proudly.

Starting off as a pop-up in the back of a pub in Urmston, YOU! will open a permanent space complete with craft beer menu in St Ann’s Square in March.


3. The Burger Lecture Series at Manchester University

‘Slut Sauce – sexist or delicious?’ – a recent fully booked talk as part of the Burger Lecture Series.

Dr Jane Copeland’s day job is Associate Professor in Nutrition, Food and Cultural Studies at The University of Manchester. But as a self-confessed burger freak, Dr Copeland was inspired to set up the Burger Lecture Series during her spare time. Now in its’ third month, the fortnightly Wednesday-evening talks are attracting so many people that they’ve been upgraded to one of the largest lecture halls on campus, a 300-capacity space.

“We cover a different burger-related topic each fortnight”, Copeland explained.

“Recent talks have included ‘Almost Famous: Pre and post-fire hegemony’, ‘Meat Sluts – the violent, sexually aggressive history of burgers’, ‘Breaking down the burger-blogging machine’, ‘Nom – the history and development of burger talk’ and ‘Algorithms and data-sets: a mathematical analysis of the pop-up burger street queue’”.

Copeland reckons that whilst most of the audience hail from Manchester, an increasing number of tourists from Europe, Asia and America are attending to gain an insight in to Manchester’s mature burger scene.

“In my view we’ve overtaken New York and Dalston as the world’s premier burger destination”, added Dr Copeland.

Talks are normally followed by a pop-up burger cook-out and minimalist DJ set in the University car park.

The University of Manchester. Free, but booking in advance usually required.


4. Burger & Chips

The ‘Burger & Chips’, available soon at Burger & Chips.

Fed up of burger concepts? Then meet Burger & Chips, the anti-concept burger concept.

The creation of former burger-blogger Laura Stokes, Burger & Chips sets out to fill what she sees as a gap in the market.

“Oh, from 2011 to mid-2013 I was all about the filth and dirt of burgers, just like everyone else”, she admits.

“I liked things stuck in the top of burgers, burgers that were bigger than my torso, meat served in sweet items like doughnuts, menus that had prices like 6.5 instead of £6.99, re-tweeting a picture of a silly burger in an attempt to win it, eating burgers off anything other than a plate and enjoying them in front of an industrial brick wall with a picture on it of a topless Myra Hindley made of Big-Mac wrappers.”

“And then it hit me: why can’t we all just get back to basics?”

And basic is exactly what Burger & Chips will be. Serving up oven cooked chips and supermarket burgers, it really will be nothing special.

“We’ll just get everything from Asda”, explains Laura. “Buns, meat, salad – not the value stuff, but not the fancy stuff either. We’ll heat it in an oven. And then we’ll serve it to you on a plate whilst sitting at a table, rather than, say, on the seat of a child’s tricycle whilst perched against a reclaimed ship’s barrel.”

Opens March 2015 at Arndale Food Court, Arndale Centre Manchester M4 3AQ


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