It was with some sadness earlier in the year that we discovered chain Handmade Burger Co had fallen into administration. It was with a little bit of selfishness on our part as this one of the few restaurants that had several vegan options available. We’d visited on a few occasions and, while it wasn’t perfect, had one of the better offerings in the overly saturated burger market of Newcastle.
Some of their restaurants remained open while a buyer for the chain was sought, but the branches in the Metrocentre and both Newcastle locations closed their shutters. This was in July, and things had been quiet for our Northern branches even when a new owner took over. It was during a visit to another restaurant in the Qube that I saw some movement in the Handmade Burger unit, alerting me to the fact that the restaurant was about to open its shutters again! You can see a list of locations here.
The menu has been streamlined, although if you were a big fan Veg-Mex and Falael you can breathe a sigh of relief as they’ve been retained. Our surprise was the mention of vegan cheese on the Goats’ Cheese Stack. We were disappointed to find that Handmade are still charging extra for using soya milk in their milkshakes, although I was pleased to hear they also are adding Swedish Glace to the mix to make them thicker and creamier.
All of the vegetarian options can be veganised now, which is definitely a step in the right direction for the chain. As stated on the menu, the burgers are sealed in a fryer before they are grilled. This fryer is used for other items, so if cross contamination is an issue you may have to quiz Handmade further as to what they will be cooked alongside.
There’s still no labelling on what alcoholic drinks are suitable for vegans, despite many of us raising it. There are vegan wines and beers available, and my friend opted for a Brewdog to accompany his vegan Goats’ Cheese Stack. I chose to pay the extra and try out the thicker dairy-free milkshake in Banana. They still haven’t stated which flavours of shake are vegan-friendly on the new menu either, which is something that is super frustrating.
Our food arrived quickly but unfortunately this is where the problems started. We’d ordered a Corn on the Cob side for Dinky to chew on and despite mentioning being vegan it arrived covered in butter. It was taken back and an alternative was prepared for her without the dairy. Then my friend’s burger arrived with goats’ cheese instead of the vegan cheddar he’d requested. It’s good job I’m observant as he would have eaten it without giving it a thought.
Knowing my vegan cheeses as well as I do, I was aware there wasn’t a realistic Goats’ Cheese substitute on the market. We raised it with staff and a vegan version was made for him. This was an error on the part of the kitchen and the manager apologised profusely for the mistake. The dairy-free cheese used was pretty good, although we weren’t taken with the fact it was grated. The burger was quite sloppy and the bun seemed to disintegrate under the greasiness of the mushroom and pepper mix.I was very impressed with the Falafel and found the spiced relish worked really well with vegetable patty. I don’t think the burgers are particularly big for the price and the fact you have to pay for sides additionally means Handmade aren’t exactly a budget-friendly place to eat. Our meal totalled just under £30 and I definitely felt like I could have eaten another. I think we’ve been spoilt by Grumpy Panda in Gateshead!
We had to ask 3 times about my milkshake which meant by the time we’d finished our food it had finally arrived. Because of the other issues we’d encountered we were paranoid about whether this was dairy-free or not, especially on account of how creamy it was.
We were assured that they had used the soya and we have to take Handmade at their word. It is a concern, especially when mistakes have already been made, and if this was an allergy I’m not sure we’d have felt comfortable giving this to Dinky.
It is great to have more vegan-friendly options available in the Metrocentre – alongside the likes ASK and PizzaExpress – especially as it offers something other than pizza or pasta. It’s a shame our experience was marred by issues, and this is perhaps due to teething problems since its reopening. We raised these with management and received an apology, so hopefully these feedback will help in the future.
Thanks for reading,