You know the score, right? There’s a few of you trying to decide where to eat, which is difficult enough in the first place, when you realise such-and-such is vegetarian. Or worse, vegan 😉 If you’re organising the get-together, this means phone calls and/or checking online to see whether there’s option available other than chips or salad. This is why – as sniffy as some folk are about eating in chains – we have no objections to visiting restaurants that offer consistent menus that factor in those with an intolerance and other dietary requirements.
The news that Handmade Burger Co (see their website here) were starting to offer vegan-friendly milkshakes in their chain made us sit up and take notice. While they had served up veggie and vegan burgers for a while, this was a big deal. We decided to pay them a visit at their MetroCentre location, especially as our last review had focused on Handmade’s meatier options.
With a wide range of patties available for vegetarians and vegans which are helpfully marked on the menu, along with knowledgeable staff, the only difficulty is choosing from the list! I opted for the Falafel, Mr. Canny the Cajun Vegetable and Bean, while the Teen decided to try out their Halloumi and Vegetable skewers instead of a burger. Shocking, I know!
Of course, after reading about the milkshakes we had to give the new soya milk variety a try. Mr. Canny was a bit dismayed to find an extra 30p charge for using the plant based milk instead of dairy, and for that reason abstained. He feels very strongly about this, as I have mentioned before (see here for a post about a local coffee shop doing the same & how they changed their policy after we had blogged about it). It isn’t just something that impacts on vegans, many children have dairy-related allergies too. We were told they would waive the 30p, but he was indignant because others would still have to pay.
I tried out the Peanut Butter and Banana shake, which was creamy and delicious. The salty peanut butter was definitely there, but thankfully didn’t overshadow the sweet banana. You can tell they use fresh ingredients, rather than relying on packet mixes to make up their drinks. I would have presumed, from the list, that their Oreo would be suitable for vegans too, but apparently not according to our server. As Oreos are a product that are ‘accidentally vegan’ normally, we wondered why. Still, there’s a wide range still to chose from regardless. At £4.25 or £4.50 (+30p for soya milk) these are on a par with other burger chains such as Byron for price, but should be seen as a treat.
The Teens skewers (£4.25) were on the dry side, as really should be expected with halloumi and griddled vegetables. Dips are usually served alongside, but he smothered his in ketchup instead. Heathen.
My Falafel burger (£7.65) was delicious, and I say after trying many it was one of the best I’ve eaten. The coating gave the patty a slight crunch, the mix held well together, and there was a mild spicy kick. I added halloumi, although it really wasn’t necessary with the cooling and creamy raita topping.
Mr. Canny’s Cajun Vegetable and Bean patty (£6.95) did fall apart once he picked the bun up, which made it a messy eat, but he enjoyed it regardless. It was more spicy than my burger, so spice wimps should approach with caution. We were happy everything was clearly labelled as vegan, right down to the sauces on the table. Even meat lovers would like these options for something a little bit different, as they aren’t as heavy as their meat counterparts. They certainly didn’t lack in flavour, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Special mention goes to the Peri-Peri chips (£3.45) that we had, which were just as proper chips should be. Don’t be put off by the name, they aren’t as spicy as you’d think!
I asked about the buns they are served on, as they appeared to be glazed. I wondered if they were brioche, which seems to be the way these days. We were assured by Jackie that they weren’t, although other Handmade Burger Co menus say that these burgers are only vegan bunless. It seems a shame that there isn’t consistency between branches like this, but I suppose they can serve what is available to them. The ethos of Handmade is to have fresh produce where available, and it seems like they receive deliveries from different suppliers round the country depending on location.
We’ve put in some feedback regarding the alcoholic menus as although Handmade are fantastic at labelling normally, there is no mention of what beers and wines are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. There are very few places that do this, but I feel because these guys are usually on the ball they may take this on board. Even if staff are given the heads-up on this it would save us an awful lot of time searching online as we usually do. Mr. Canny was going to order a Flying Dog, but they had none in stock. Peroni is a safe option though, if this is something which concerns you.
Overall, we were very impressed with Handmade. Yes, we’d much rather support local independents such as Burgerstop, but until they serve up a ‘proper’ vegan burger without the brioche we don’t feel we can as it seems unfair all of our family are not adequately catered for. There may have been niggles regarding the additional charge for soya and the uncertainty between locations about buns, but I still feel they have adopted the right approach when it comes to catering for those with dietary requirements. I hope other restaurants follow suit.
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