I am probably one of the last invited bloggers to re-visit Twisted Burger Company at its new residency at Aire Bar in Leeds. Invited at the beginning of the month to the press launch night, it was extremely busy, hyped and not a great chance to test the food so I was asked to come back to do a follow-up review.
I'm just going to say this now. I have honestly not eaten or ordered a burger in about four years.
I also find the 'lets stick everything greasy and crazy' burger phase which has been sweeping Leeds for a good year or two now extremely unappetising, overdone and unnecessary.
...so why did I accept this review? I genuinely wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Hopping over to a new city, Twisted Burger Company which is usually found in The Harley in Sheffield has now taken up a residency at the riverside basement haunt Aire Bar in Leeds. Bringing the same menu to Leeds, the burgers of giant proportions and of quirky combinations join the Leeds burger gang with the aim of going bigger and offering more beserk options than what the city already plays host to.
Seeing on other blogs a mixture of all singing all praising reviews and then some which were less than impressed, I could see an inconsistency emerging. Going with as an open a mind as one can, I went with my friend Liam (not a burger fiend but one who most definitely enjoys and knows a good burger) and we ventured down to Aire Bar after work on a Wednesday evening.
The menu at first glance is garish, bold and at times a little headache inducing. A bit overwhelmed by the menu we worked our way through slowly to make sure we both ordered exactly what we wanted.
I went for the Baby Got Guac burger (£6.50) one of two vegetarian burgers on offer which contained a Porcini and Button Mushroom Patty, Grilled Mushroom, Asian Slaw and Guacamole. The "no mayo, no cheese burger" appealed to me as I was not after something that could have a high possibility of busting some arteries in one sitting.
Arriving, my burger resembled an overflowing tower of Pisa. The bun was a nice consistency, hefty enough to wield the filling it contained but also soft and buttery in the mouth. The asian slaw was lovely, not too overpowering but had a nice crunch and filled out the burger well. The guacamole was smooth and creamy, usually a fan of a chunky guacamole this didn't bother me too much as it complimented all the flavours really well. A grilled portobello mushroom added a nice texture and chew.
The main man of the game however was of course the porcini and button mushroom patty... Piping hot, this was a dark, earthy and extremely powerful and flavourful beast. It's hearty meaty texture was also welcomed. I was very impressed by the strength of the flavour. For most it might be too overpowering, but as a vegetarian burger, for me it had a confidence and an air of 'oomph' which I think similar burgers in other places would lack.
Liam went for the Holy Cluck (£7.50) which was described on the menu as Double Chicken, Chorizo, American Cheese, Guacamole and Jalapeno Salsa. Arriving before us was again another impressive looking burger.
On doing a little deconstruction, Liam was in fact rather a tad disappointed. What was this double chicken that lay before him? An unidentifiable mass of processed meat topped the burger. Certainly not what he had been expecting at all. Upon taste it was even more of a disappointment. Rubbery in texture and anonymous in any chicken way, Liam's closest resemblance was to a cheap 'chicken' takeaway burger or even a vegetarian 'fake meat' burger... in all honesty, for my recollection, it reminded me of a spam fritter (which I have unfortunately had the displeasure of trying).
I can actually tell you that this burger was made of 80% chicken thigh and 20% chicken livers to give it a bit of mojo. However the appearance AND the taste certainly did not make ones mojo jumpstart at any rate.
On to the sides! I went for the Harley House Fries (£2.75) which come as skin-on fries with cajun seasoning. On all their fries they have an option to upgrade to sweet potato fries for an extra £2 and I decided to go for this so the portion would have been £4.75 in total.
These were bloomin' FANTASTIC. I have thought hard and strong about this and I can truthfully say these are the best fries to have ever found their fatal plight in my mouth. They were fluffy, crisp, golden, rugged, well-seasoned and addictively moreish. Everything fries aspire to be but usually fall short at on one level or another. The portion sizes were indeed made for sharing. A huge basket piled high of these wonderous creations even two of us struggled to get through. These were great and I would definitely go back just to have more chips...
Liam went for the Crack 'N' Cheese (£3.75) as his side which is essentially Macaroni Cheese with Bacon Bits and Diced Jalapenos. Disappointment round #2 for Liam - ding ding (the poor sod)!
Rather than any macaroni cheese we were both familiar to, this was more of a pasta in a white sauce job. For starters the pasta was overcooked and then the sauce on the pasta had only the faintest taste of cheese.
Macaroni cheese to us is also a pasta bake of sorts - pasta part-cooked then added to a sauce and baked in an oven to be served up in crispy glutenous wedges. But that was not the state of affairs here. The bacon bits added a bit of a texture and jalapenos made for a new and interesting take on the dish. Edible and filling, Liam devoured this, but again it left much to be desired.
On to pudding. Both pretty full we had a good breather. On to the puddings we then went.
I ordered the Brownies with Ice Cream (£3.25) and Liam went for the Rocky Road Dessert Pot (£4.25).
Both puddings were served in a matter of minutes. My brownies came out on a hot plate (from what I could tell they were fresh out the microwave) with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.
The brownies unfortunately were not like any brownies I have ever tasted. They reminded me of the chocolate traybake puddings you might have once had with your school dinner. Liam's description summed it up nicely with him wondering which packet mix they were from. A disappointment for both of us.
The rocky road dessert pot was described on the menu as brownies, cream and chocolate. The chocolate was the only component of the traditional rocky road that I recognised. The dessert came in a chilled glass topped with a generous layer of whipped cream and a glace cherry.
Too much cream for my liking. After finally a lot of scraping we both got into the dessert itself to find a dessert which I can only describe as a cold cookie dough/mousse. There was no crunch or rocky road texture to it. The odd cherry popped up here and there but there was nothing rocky road about it in the slightest. It was too sweet for me but Liam appeared to enjoy it. An interesting dessert indeed.
So we've got a pretty mixed review here. All in all not a bad experience but an odd one to say the least.
I'm still not a burger convert and probably wouldn't find myself out ordering a burger any time soon... but saying that, these guys have also produced the best fries I have eaten to date.
I am still as confused over the whole ordeal as I was when I first entered... but then again, maybe burgers are just something I will never understand?
Disclaimer: I was invited to review this restaurant with a complimentary meal for myself and a guest, however all the views within this review are my own honest opinions.