I had read many things about Almost Famous online (where else? The web and social media is their only publicity) and I was Almost Prejudiced against it. Why? Because of several enjoyable visits to the other, apparently rival, burger restaurant not 100 yards away. I Almost Wanted to dislike it, but a friend of mine said that the burgers were probably the best in Manchester so last Wednesday we climbed the stairs of a run down northern quarter warehouse . As it was lunchtime, there were no bouncers and no queues (either of which would have driven us immediately away). There were still no signs to this meat speakeasy as we passed through a nondescript wooden door with a sign saying simply ‘No Photographs’.
Inside , at 12.30, it was relatively busy and we were shown through a bar area into one of two connected dining rooms furnished with junk store cast-offs, some tatty sofas and enlivened by various ‘objets trouve’ that young NQ hipsters seem to find so amusant. There was a strange piece of somewhat self indulgent graffiti on the wall in the form of an enormous risk assessment form which I suppose some would find witty. But it did nothing for me; what was it too with the strange Charlie Sheen quotes?
This predilection for quoting from films made me think of a line from Carlito’s Way. The eponymous hero played by Al Pacino observes,when confronted with a more youthful culture than the one he remembers, “Times have changed. What happened to the miniskirts? Where’s all that marijuana? Now everything is platforms, cocaine, and dances I don’t dance. What a man gotta come to when he loses five years.”
We found a table with help from a young lass who doubled as a greeter and waitress and advised us to place our order at the bar. We chose our burgers and fries, elected to drink coke and duly delivered our choices to the helpful chap at the bar.
I went for the DD Burger, described as an ‘all natural juicy meat heavy shirt popper’, and the Trailer Trash fries. The OH settled on the Famous Burger, the entry level offer with cheese , lettuce, tomato, pickles and famous sauce accompanied by Winning fries, the basic ones. I had to seek out the knives and forks in another rooms and fetched back a roll of kitchen towel and two bottles of sauce: one Suicide (presumably chilli) and one Redneck which was barbecue.
The food was delivered and could only be described as excellent. The juicy beef patties are from a local butcher and came in a brioche bun. Mine was dripping with thick onions, cheese sauce and chipotle ketchup and was a hearty meal. OH was busy making serious inroads into her burger which was described as good it it gets, and she should know, as she was serving up burgers in the Northern Quarter before these kids were born. ( You need to be of a certain vintage to remember the Posh Potato on Back Piccadilly which sold Chilli Burgers in 1977! ) As for the fries, substantial portions with tasty, interesting sauces,and the odd but nice renegade sweet potato one thrown in to the mix. The only criticism would be that the fries were very heavily salted.
We liked: the food, the reasonable prices, the sauces, the free jukebox with music we recognised and the quirkiness of the place, We were less than enthusiastic about drinking from jars ( albeit with a straw) the plastic baskets and the annoying little flimsy napkin which disintegrated as soon as the ‘dirtiest, gooeyestburger with its animal onions and slut sauce’ came into contact with it. What was onion and what was paper? But hey ho, we are enjoying our seventh decade, these young ‘uns probably think this is cutting edge.
Would we go back? Most definitely but probably always at lunchtime. The wider choice and preferable ambience of the Other Place on Turner street would get our vote in the evening. But well done to the owners for the bravery in opening somewhere like this on an obviously limited budget and providing us with such excellent food.
Urbanspoon still confusing City Centre Manchester with forgotten tumbleweed towns in south Lancashire !