Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Queen St – by Chris Gower

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Burgers are highly subjective things to write about. I spend a lot of time talking about burgers as they are one of my favourite foodstuffs.  Some love them and talk about them with a passion, they would be happy if every single restaurant had an extensive burger menu and would most probably be equally happy if every restaurant was a burger restaurant too.  These types of people are called Burger-nerds (I’ve just made that up) and although I am objective about the role that different types of restaurant play in the dining scene of any town or city, I am fully supportive of burger restaurants – So long as there are not too many of them – and would consider myself a Burger-nerd.

Depending on who you talk to will give you a variety of opinions, but the general opinion is that there are too many burger restaurants in Exeter.  If you read my article in Exeter Living last year on this matter, I stated that I believe that anymore of this type of restaurant will saturate the dining scene in Exeter and I still hold to this.  Since I wrote the article we’ve not gained anymore, but we have gained a Five Guys as a replacement to Ruby Modern Diner that closed last year and moved operations down to Exmouth.  We now have an equal number of chain burger restaurants (Byron, Five Guys, GBK) to independent (Urban Burger, Hubbox, Zita’s) so it will be interseting to see what the landscape does in the coming years.

When GBK opened, we were invited to their launch night which I am using a few photos from in this article.  Everything was manicured nicely, the food was quick and everything was free.  The meal that we had was north of £50 for two of us, but it didn’t matter as it was the launch night.  We were impressed with the decor, in fact I fell in love with the pseudo-sixties modernist features and the speakeasy lighting.  It was mostly cosy and had perfect windows for people watching.

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When we visited this week, we had different things in mind.  Like most of the world, we’re January-Poor so can’t afford to splash out on a full meal and we really didn’t want to go home and cook.  So I downloaded the GBK App and up popped their latest offer, two burgers for £12! Upgrade the Resident Heroe burgers to £1.50 and off you go.

We arrived at GBK as ungalmorous as you could imagine.  Bags of shopping, slightly dishevelled and absolutlely starving.  We were greeted at the door by guy who looked casually managerial, he was dressed differently from the others and was really friendly throughout our visit as were all of the staff who served us.

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The menu is quite straight forward and follows the general format of burger restaurants. Choose your burger, choose your side separately and choose your drink.  Tori went for THE STACK (£10.95) which featured Grilled chorizo, Red Leicester cheese, house onion ring, smoked chilli mayo, rocket, pickled onions and house relish with a side of small skinny fries. I went for THE CAJUN BLUE (£9.15) which featured Cajun marinated chicken, blue cheese slaw, jalapenos, pineapple and sriracha mayo also with skinny fries.

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We both went for the refillable Fresh and Fizzy drink options which were essentially non-alcoholic cocktails for very little.  £2.45 got us an Elderflower and a Ginger & Lemongrass pint of fizz that was – get this – REFILLABLE!

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Some of my foodie friends had commented about the time that it took to get their food on their visits to GBK.  The delivery of our food was swift, there wasn’t much waiting for our drinks either but we did go before the peak evening rush, so bear in mind that this restaurant can get busy at times.

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I was happy with my burger generally, although the chicken was a little overcooked.  The taste was something else, and the pineapple sitting happily in the middle of the whole burger added a different perspective to each mouthful.  Tori felt although the burger was nice, it hadn’t matched up to the one she had during our previous visit.  We asked for medium-rare but it was more well-done.  Our skinny fries were super skinny, but also very tasty and well seasoned.

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For the price you pay GBK isn’t mind-blowing. It is acceptable, it is very nice, it is most pleasing and I am sure I will go there again.  The interior is lovely, the staff are friendly but it is expensive (but not as expensive as other places).  But let us compare it to Byron Burgers… it is cheaper and the burgers are on a different planet to the quality of Bryon and the prices are much better.  As chain burgers restaurants go, it is pretty much the best;  they’ve been doing it since 2001 and it has some mileage in their experience.  They have a successful format which is oft replicated and burgers that are firm classics in the eyes of their many followers across the UK.

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