Gourmet Burger Kitchen was one of the first burger joints I was taken to when I moved to London. They are also one of the first truly successful non-fast food burger chains in the UK and have grown to almost 60 locations.
Three New Zealanders moved to England in the early 2000s and quickly saw the gap in the UK market for a respectable non-pub burger. They founded the first GBK in Battersea, London and have grown to locations that span Brighton to Edinburgh.
On my first visit, I gotta say they were really good; massive burgers with American-style shakes and great onion rings. Everything I wanted from a burger joint. Then, a short time later, they changed up their menu. They all but eliminated the fun and interesting burgers that they offered on their menu and opted for an a la carte approach.
This meant that every topping and add-on set you back another 50p or £1. To reconstruct one of their signature burgers meant you were paying more than a £1 on top of the old price by piecing it together a la carte. I began losing the faith in their ability to keep up with burger places like Byron and the like.
But just when all hope was lost, GBK did a 180 on their policy and reintroduced their specialty burgers.
They hit back with a new set of specialty burgers such as ‘The Don’ with bacon aioli, blue cheese, American cheese, an onion jam, rocket, and mustard/mayo on a brioche bun (£9.95). Another favorite is ‘The Taxi Driver’ with American cheese, an onion ring, cajun relish, dill pickle, salad, and smoked chilli mayo on a brioche bun (£9.45).
They regularly have special seasonal burger like ‘The Capital’ which was rolled out for July 4th. And in keeping with their New Zealand roots, they take pride in their ‘Kiwiburger’: Beetroot, egg, pineapple, aged Cheddar, salad, mayo & relish. Whenever a customer orders the Kiwi, they can choose to help save the kiwi by adding a 25p voluntary donation (£8.95).
GBK also offers a good selections of sides including chunky fries, skinny rosemary fries, coleslaw, and onion rings (£2.75-3.25). A new addition is sweet potato fries with bacon aioli; I haven’t had the chance to try them yet – but I will!
GBK’s are slightly pricier than the average with those specialty burgers clicking in at almost £10, but if you love their burgers, you can find them in most nooks of London. I would classify them as my fall-back good burger – I like them but will mostly end up in one if I can’t spot something else decent nearby. That’s not a knock on GBK, but the price does make them a little less attractive.
GBK – 29/50
Beef (7): Good, juicy meat that gets the job done. Changing my mind.
Bun (8): A nice brioche bun, but feels a day old.
Toppings (6): Good selection of custom burgers, but not one that seems to have just the combination I want. But they are getting better!
Value (4): Expensive for this kind of chain I feel.
Ambiance (4): Stock ambiance with uncomfortable wall benches.