According to no less an authority than Beardy McPirate, we have reached "peak burger". Burgers are on less menus in the UK than they were a year ago, although you'd be hard pressed to tell that from a quick mooch round recently opened restaurants in these parts; that down n' dirty menu vibe just keeps on trucking. If however at some point in the not-too-distant we see a move away from Americana to whatever's trendy in London three years prior (something that looks like the Clove Club please), some of our less brilliant burgeries may be in trouble.
Fat Hippo Underground is not among this number. We had a go at their wares not long after opening. There was promise aplenty, although a few things were a bit off. A more recent meal had here was, however, more than good enough to justify this addendum. It was a genuinely great burger, not just "for Newcastle", but by any sensible standards. Let me tell you about it.
One of the things the burger has in its favour is, in common with so many comestibles that aren't very good for you, the knack of shutting your brain down to the possibility of any other foods once it has been considered itself. This happened to me on the way back from the driving range. "What about a burger?" I'd said. My golfing companion was unconvinced, but all other foods now seemed shit and pointless to me in comparison. I stood my ground. Burger it was.
|A crap picture of a great burger|
Firstly, the patties. Despite being quite thin they were charred on the outside, blushing in the middle and seasoned just right. Perfect then. Done like this, I'm a definite fan of the two patty approach. The rib meat added an extra texture without detracting from the main flavour of beef. The bun held together just long enough and not a moment longer. The chilli jam provided a backbeat of sweetness and spice while the jalapenos hit the top notes. Admittedly I was pretty hungry, but this didn't just hit the spot; it smashed it, in a torrent of meaty juices, utterly out of the park. My companion, a veteran off such stateside outlets as In and Out Burger, was initially sceptical but had to admit this was one of the best burgers he'd had. I concurred enthusiastically.
I was pissed off at myself for forgetting that they do thick cut chips as default here, when skinny fries to my mind make the more righteous accompaniment. You can get them if you prefer, and remember to ask for them. I will one day. I had a pint of something IPAish by Allendale. I like their beer, both the traditional ales and the more outre numbers they've started doing.
There's always the temptation when eating out up here to say something like, "yeah, it's pretty good, you know, for Newcastle", which always feels a bit mean and snobbish. This is why it's so gratifying to find somewhere that does something really great, not just by local standards, but by any. I hope it's as good next time I go.
The Fat Hippo Underground, 2-6 Shakespeare Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6AQ