Review of Dive Bar NQ – The Original Burger
What they say:
Ground beef pattie served with tomatoes, lettuce, onions, salt ‘n’ pepper & Dive burger sauce.
Price: £9.00 (£5.00 with fries weekday lunch).
I’ve been to Dive before, just for drinks, so I know the place. It does almost hit the right notes for a “dive bar experience” – metal and wood décor, all-concrete floor, rock music. The deliberate graffiti in the toilets is probably trying a bit too hard. The place is also in a basement so the lack of windows adds to the effect.
The food offering is all American comfort food – the things you would expect – Nachos, tacos, wings and of course burgers. The burger section isn’t huge – I think there are about five, including the obligatory chicken and vegetarian options. They are all priced at a fairly usual £9.
However, an added bonus is, if you want the regular cheeseburger, you can get it for £5 during weekday lunchtimes, and that includes the fries. I must say that is a pretty great deal. A deal I wasn’t immediately drawn to though, because the description of the original burger didn’t include cheese, so I’d more or less selected a £9 one that did. Until we asked, that is. Apparently the original burger does come with cheese (and bacon) but neither of those ingredients have made it onto the menu. I do hope that is fixed forthwith, because it’s pretty fundamental.
One slight caveat is that the £5 version doesn’t include the bacon. That’s an extra £1 if you want it. I chose not to this time, and got a fast-food-joint-defeating burger & fries for £5.
From the get-go, as the Americans might say, the service was top notch. The young lad waiting our table was very attentive, helpful and polite, and the whole experience was very comfortable – it wasn’t busy at all, so this ended up being a terrific lunchtime find.
Before getting into the burger, there was the small matter of the enticing small dishes of Americana. We had some boneless chicken bites and bacon-wrapped meatballs, both of which, while probably not the all-time best examples of their type, really went down well, especially with the selection of dipping sauces. The crisp coating on the chicken, although it was a little prone to falling off, was very fluffy, light and crunchy, pretty ideal all round.
The burger arrived, presented on a board with a fairly substantial portion of fries. Immediately I saw that £5 went a long way. There’s not a lot to say about the fries – they were generous, hot and well-made (that is to say, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside – exactly how they should be).
The burger itself was a nice stack, contained within a very shiny brioche bun. My eyes were drawn first to the red onion and tomato. I’m afraid on this occasion the tomato had to come out. It’s personal taste, and I can just about put up with them if they are thin, but this wasn’t so out it came.
On top of the patty was the cheese and the burger sauce, kind of mixed together in an off-orange/beige sort of blob. Visually I think this could be a little more interesting if one of them had a stronger orange colour.
Getting down into the tasting though, and as £5 cheeseburgers go, this was getting thumbs up. The faint hint of pickle in the burger sauce, and the usual red onion tang, worked well together to keep this interesting, and the bun was strong enough to keep it all in. That brioche was also visibly eggy with a distinct yellow tinge inside, and it was also toasted perhaps a few seconds too long, as there was rather more crispness than I might have expected. Minor stuff though.
The beef patty at the core of this was pretty knobbly – usually a sign that it has been made in house. I did check and it was confirmed that they had Aberdeen Angus beef brought in and made the patties themselves. I could see that significant onion had been added to the coarse blend and it also had that good fat-stickiness in the biting. Well made and enjoyable.
While there was a hint of pinkness in the middle of the patty, I did feel that it could do with being a bit juicier somehow. I was sure glad there was cheese on here, because I felt (again, personal preference) it might have been a little on the dry side without it.
Even at £9 this is pretty decent for Manchester’s Northern Quarter and for a fiver it’s a steal these days. The burger is decent, the menu is interesting, the venue is fun and the service is great. I’ll definitely be back.