For many Millennials, the phrase “surf ‘n’ turf” was first heard watching Skins when wide eyed Pandora quizzically asked Effy what it meant. But for most of us, thankfully, when we hear or read these three words, we know we’re in for something special. A bit like Lennon and McCartney, surf ’n’ turf are great individually, but together they’re on another level.
Since 2011 Burger & Lobster have been bringing glorious burgers and luscious lobster to the masses; dispelling the notion that lobster is only for the upper classes, they are making it an everyman’s food again. Starting out in London (where else?) there are now 10 spread across the capital, two in New York and another eight restaurants dotted around the world — including Manchester where my trusty companion Calum and I enjoyed a light lunch…
Manchester’s food scene has seen something of a revival over the past 10 year or so as diners leave their culinary comfort zone, sprawling out from Deansgate and around the Arndale shopping centre, transforming areas such as the Northern Quarter and Spinningfields. Burger & Lobster however, bucked this trend and set up in a admirably large site on King Street. Your first challenge is finding the entrance; we made our way into the marble reception of Ship Canal House (as I’m sure countless others have before us) only to do a quick 180 and make our way round to what feels like a back entrance.
Stepping into Burger & Lobster, the first thing you notice is a luminous wall of tanks, filled with lobsters of varying sizes, the largest on this day was an enormous 2lb 8oz! Unlike some of their lobster loving competitors, here they have managed to strike a great balance of celebrating the main ingredients, while maintaining a modicum of decorum. There’s plush leather seating throughout, much of it a deep, meaty red contrasting against the dark wooden tables. Lobster cages provide a smattering of wall decoration, as well as encapsulating a raised private dining space. They have got it spot on, in my humble opinion — I’m no Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. (Although my friends would attest to some of my shirts being of his style.)
The menu at Burger & Lobster is almost as simple as the name; you have three choices of burger, fiver lobster dishes and, of course, the B&L combo, each choice is accompanied by fries and a salad. If this is your first venture into the world of lobster the immediately friendly staff are more than happy to provide guidance. At £32 the combo is hard to ignore for a 6oz burger and a 1lb lobster, especially considering a 1.5lb lobster on it’s own is only £1 less! Calum wasn’t drinking on this day (he’s the type to have none, or 100 drinks) so I was left to peruse the cocktail menu myself. I chose an alcoholic take on lemonade; a refreshing mix of homemade lemonade, limoncello, prosecco, ginger ale, rosemary, and some other bits which escape my memory, but my God, this cocktail was made for summer days!
Before the combo arrived, fantastic host Tom handed us our bibs and left us to see if we could do a better job of getting them on than Mario Balotelli — we passed the test. As our individual trays were placed in front of us, we knew we were in for a mammoth meal and immediately set about stripping as much lobster meat as possible from the claws. Whether it’s your first or four hundredth time eating lobster, I don’t think the joy of cracking claws and skewering out every morsel will get boring. Tom soon popped back to check on our progress and was glad to see we had started with the claws, recalling the occasions where he’d found customers absent-mindedly tossing them to one side! Not to mention the “little old ladies who come in and order lobsters bigger than them!”
The burger, topped with: lettuce, tomato, pickles, melted cheese and Burger & Lobster’s secret sauce, was a solid 7/10 — not the most mind-blowing I’ve ever eaten, but it draw a “mmhhmmm, this is a tasty burger” from myself, Calum just wolfed his down with minimal fuss or comment. The lobster is cooked to your liking: grilled, steamed or, as we opted for, half and half. If this is your first time, I recommend trying it both ways and then returning at a later date with your preference. The steamed half serves to accentuate the freshness of the ocean and intensifies the already rich meat; the grilled half added a smokiness, masking the aforementioned flavours. Steamed lobster will always be my preference, especially when doused in the deep lemon and garlic butter! The fries naturally were dipped in the butter too and the side salad was magnificently dressed with balsamic vinegar and a more than generous amount of parmesan. Somewhat ashamedly the sheer amount of food got the better of me, not that Calum minded one bit as he mopped up!
Should you have room for dessert (we didn’t despite taking a break to wander round and admire the lobsters awaiting the pot) there are just two choices: brownie or Eton mess. Spying a few going past our table, the brownie looked a decent size and drenched in a chocolate, caramel sauce. The Eton mess on the other hand appeared to be more of a sundae — I’ll have to drag myself back to try them sometime, it’s a hard life this food writing malarky!…
As we made our way out into the May sun before heading to Old Trafford, Calum and I remarked on how ridiculously full we were, but also how we were already looking forward to our next sampling of surf ’n’ turf. It’s a food addiction, and Burger & Lobster is just the gateway drug.
Photos by Todd Riddiough Robinson.