Burgers are everywhere.
Manchester is awash with menus chock-full of meat treats and the most common item of all is the burger. To name just a few of the best, there’s Almost Famous, Byron and Solita. And now, tucked down Tib Lane, within spitting distance of Albert Square, sits Manchester’s newest spot for a burger – Filthy Cow.
Jordan Gallimore reared the Filthy Cow. As a burger entrepreneur at the tender age of 23, comparison has already been drawn between her and those colossuses of the industry, the McDonalds brothers. “We are not a restaurant,” jokes Gallimore. “We are more like a takeaway that just so happens to have seats.”
McDonalds eat your heart out! But one look at the place and you’d be hard pushed to find any more similarities. Soho-neon beckons you from the end of Tib Lane and, once inside, the lights shine off industrial iron features reclaimed from pig pens. It’s ‘farmyard-industrial’ with everyone’s favourite friend: red brick.
Cow fetishism abounds – cows with udders flung akimbo; cows with whips; cows with gags. There is something particularly disturbing about this last one. Whether intentional or not, irony pervades. One cow is being consumed as its wall-mounted counterpart winks down at you. If you threw in a few of those ubiquitous golden arches, it could be deemed interactive modern art. But this is no gallery. Filthy Cow knows exactly what it is: a back street burger joint.
“I am big believer in simplicity,” says Gallimore. So rather than the usual headache-inducing quantity of choice, the menu is kept unashamedly simple, based around only five burgers: a classic beef burger, a cheeseburger, a cheese and crispy pancetta bacon burger, a veggie with grilled halloumi and mushrooms, and the Filthy Special.
Particular menu mention has to go the onion rings which were a perfectly crispy deep-fried dream containing nigella seeds, which you might recognise from Naan bread. While the onion rings were other-worldly, the fries were disappointing – seasoned well, but soggy and soft.
It’s all self-service so after ordering at the counter your personal buzzer will alert you that your food is ready. All the burgers come in paper wrappers and are suitably chubby, satisfying chunks of cow and not towering, unmanageable messes where the meat is lost in a plethora of other flavours. The filthy sauce is applied moderately, the cheese is suitably melted, the tomato and gherkin fresh, and the bacon crispy. But here the patties are the real pride.
“It’s about integrity, it’s not about piling stuff on. We want you to be able to taste the burger meat and we just want to make the burger itself the best it should be. Part of this means not buying pre-made patties, but instead getting minced steak and brisket from our local supplies in Irlam and then we cook the burgers like a steak.”
The burgers are not the only local items at Filthy Cow. Gallimore is intent on milking home-grown produce as much as possible. Excitedly listing her sources, she tells me that “there’s ice cream from Gingers Comfort Emporium in Afflecks, wine from the Hanging Ditch, beers from Green Quarter’s Runaway Brewery. See, I don’t want to use the big suppliers because I want to be able to have a personal relationship with them and I want to grow with my own suppliers.”
Due to her age, Gallimore admits that “to start with it is difficult for people to take you seriously. I sort of felt that suppliers didn’t believe me when I told them how much I was going to sell. But then I came back for more.” So not only has she proved her own entrepreneurial strength, she’s also proved the continuing strength and popularity of the humble burger.
Many may have prophesised its death, but on this evidence an injection of fetishism and fornication have helped to quicken its pulse once again.
What: Filthy Cow
Where: Tib Lane, Manchester
When: Mon Closed; Tues-Weds 12:00-21:30; Thur-Sat 12:00-23:00; Sun 12:00-20:00
More info: www.filthyfood.co.uk