Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gourmet Burger Kitchen - the vegan burger that isn't on their menu

Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) has been on our list of places to try since we visited the UK in 2012. A bit like Zizzi and Pizza Express, it is a chain restaurant that defies traditional fast food expectations. In other words, despite there being 60 stores across the country, the restaurants are attractive, the burgers are handmade, and there is a focus on fresh ingredients.

Packaged up burgers

The GBK franchise was started in 2001 by three New Zealanders. It has grown to include the aforementioned 60 stores, as well as a menu that seems to cover all possible taste preferences. There are four vegetarian burgers on the menu, as well as a wide range of meat options and a variety of sides and salads.

Whilst the chain is very vegetarian friendly, it is quite hard from the website to determine what burgers may be made vegan. There is an ingredient guide that specifies what is egg free, dairy free and vegan, but it provides details for the burgers as made - so, for instance, with mayonnaise. I was pretty sure the vegetarian falafel burger would be vegan with mayonnaise and raita sauces omitted, but needed to ask in store to check.

Opening up

When I did ask, I sparked a 5 minute search process among the staff, as they tried to find details of each specific component of the burger. In the end they took the sensible route of asking the cooks if the falafels were free of dairy and egg. They are, so the burger would indeed be vegan if you left off the mayonnaise and raita (the other ingredients include a vegan sesame seed bun, chilli salsa, onion, tomato and alfalfa sprouts).

I was all set to order the customised falafel burger, but the person serving us then let me know there is a vegan burger not listed on the menu, known as the 'hippy dippy' (!). He couldn't remember the exact details, but knew it was vegan, had aubergine and pineapple, and included a tahini sauce. I happily switched my order to that option.

'Hippy dippy' vegan burger; £7.25

I don't know why the burger isn't listed on the menu, and at the time didn't think to ask. Possibly it isn't available everywhere, but it does seem odd not to highlight it as an option where it is. Whatever the reason, I would encourage you to ask about it if you find yourself at a GBK! It was a fantastic burger, and a nice change from falafel which is more commonly available.

The burger came with a generous amount of aubergine, perfectly grilled, and was rounded out with pineapple, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, and a slightly spicy tahini sauce. It may be my Australian streak, but I am always happy to have pineapple in burgers as well as on pizza,

'Californian' veggie burger; £8.75

Mr Bite ordered the Californian veggie burger, which includes a pan-friend bean patty, cheddar cheese, avocado, mayonnaise, onions, relish and salad. He rated it highly and said he'd be happy to have it again.

We both agreed that Australia's Grill'd burgers remain the best we have had, but GBK provides a great runner up. Probably the only disadvantage is that the burgers aren't great value if you are buying them to take away, as we did. The price is the same to eat in or take home, and as the GBK restaurants are generally attractive and well set up, if you eat the burgers there the cost would seem quite reasonable. As take away, they are on the pricey side although still not exorbitant.

What is your favourite burger option, if you eat burgers?


  1. I love pineapple in burgers and pizzas too! Sounds like a great burger - and with a name like that it should be on the menu as it would give a smile even if people don't order it - I love a menu with some poetry or humour.

    I had a similar experience with hidden ingredients the other day when I was at a thai place in a food court and they had a sign saying ask about our veg options so I asked and the woman turned around the menu to show a list of 5 or 6 dishes - it seemed odd they were not displayed as they were all written up - maybe it is a pain to make them from scratch (and I wish I had quizzed them on shrimp paste to check if they really are vegetarian)

    1. Isn't it bizarre when places hide their veggie options! I just don't understand it. Thank goodness you noticed the sign at your Thai place. Sometimes I too find it too hard to ask about specific ingredients though - especially as language can be a barrier at Thai places, or I find myself confusing people and wishing I'd never embarked on my detailed questioning!

  2. ha! Thats really good news! I've been to GBK before and I had the veganised falafel burger and it was fine, but nothing that rocked my world. If I'd have known there was a hippy dippy on offer, I would have had that without a second thought. With you all the way on the pineapple.

    1. I hope your local one has it! We were at Canary Wharf :-)

  3. Pineapple in burgers is awesome but beetroot is blergh!

  4. Gotta love a burger place that has lots of veg options! That hippy dippy sounds awesome!

  5. WOW! This looks amazing! YUM!....and it's vegan?? Sweet! I would love one of these for dinner tonight!! :) Delicious!

  6. How bizarre that it wasn't on the menu! Good of them to offer it to you though :-)
    I agree that Grill'd burgers are pretty awesome - though my fav burger shop in the world (at least that i've tried yet) is in New Zealand. It seems that those Kiwi's are pretty good at burger making hey!!!!!


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