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Sunday, 3 February 2013

Review: Franks Hamburger House, Northampton

I'm going to go ahead and declare the 2010s The Decade of Meat.  This is unashamedly carnivorous, American-style, hulking, slap you round the chops, slabs of meat; there is nothing that's dainty or subtle about The Decade of Meat. Our inner cave-people would be highly satisfied; although they may raise an eyebrow about their meat being served on chi-chi wooden boards. 

And so to Franks of Northampton; two restaurants (the Steakhouse and the Hamburger House) dedicated to worshipping good meat. And (spoiler alert) what very good meat it is.

The decision to go for the Hamburger House was purely based on economics; with steaks from £14-£38 the Steakhouse may have to be saved for a (very) special occasion. However with starters from a cheery £2.50 and a burger for a blindingly good £8.50, the Hamburger House is more of a budget choice.

Now there is something I have to point out before I continue: if you don't like Radio One, you won't like sitting in Franks for long. Because there is a soundtrack to your meal, a rather loud one in fact, and it consists of Wiley and Cheryl Cole. There should be a sign outside warning you of the risk of prolonged exposure to Flo Rida. It's all a bit...youth.

Maybe the Wild West-esque wooden cladding on the walls is an attempt to dampen the sound system. Nevertheless the interior is comfy yet whimsical; rough wooden cladding, rough wooden tables, rough wooden benches, and, er, Union Jack cushions to pull it back from the brink of cowboy. 

All served on the now-obligatory wooden boards we got a selection of starters; deep-fried whitebait with aioli, garlic ciabatta, and the Franks scotch egg with an onion relish. The whitebait were crispy perfection, the scotch egg lacked a bit of flavour but was saved by the spiky relish and gooey yolk. 

And so to a quick note before we get to the burgers: all the ingredients (including the beef) are locally sourced, the burgers are all 100% steak mince (and gluten-free; ring ahead if you also want a GF bun), and the meat is all cooked over charcoal giving it an authentic taste of smoke. This passion for locality and quality is the main reason I wanted to go to Franks; it's a rare focus in this neck of the woods but the difference in taste is astounding.

The burgers are awesome. I could just leave it at that but here's why; the charcoal, the quality of the local beef, and the use of 100% steak mince with no bulk like breadcrumbs mean that the burgers are juicy, tender, and full of beefy flavour. All the burgers come in ciabatta rolls with different toppings (some, like the Express Lift Tower, named after local landmarks); I went for Swiss cheese, smoked bacon, and a spicy tomato relish. The chilli and lime in the relish cut through the rich juice of the burger a treat. By the way, as the name of the place suggests, all the mains are some form of burger; if you don't like burgers, well then you're in the wrong restaurant.

There was, however, a bit of a bump in the road: flaccid fries. Luckily I kind of like them like that but T wasn't a fan and a couple more minutes in the fryer wouldn't have hurt. 

Somehow there was room for dessert, although I'd eaten enough to see me through the Winter. The dessert menu consists entirely of sundaes (all for around £5); the Banoffee Pie Sundae featured the most lustrous toffee sauce over fresh banana and a (disappointingly small amount of) biscuit crumb. 

Three courses, two people, two drinks: at Franks Hamburger House that'll be around £35. For that price the quality of those ingredients are too good to miss and Cheryl Cole can be tolerated. The Hamburger House may be a budget alternative to the steaks, but it's a star in it's own right rather than the supporting act. Everyone just go; do it for the meat. 

Franks Hamburger House 
159 Wellingborough Road, Northampton.


01604 948 904           @Frankssteak

Please note: there is no private car park and parking outside the restaurant is very limited; use the pay and display around the corner, about a 1 minute walk away.

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