Review of The Courtyard Wigan – This is Wigan Burger
What they say:
Meat and potato burger, brioche bun, mushy peas, HP sauce, Garstang cheddar. Side of gravy & chips
Back to Wigan’s dirty food emporium, The Courtyard – please see the earlier reviews for notes on the venue.
This time round, a minor gripe to begin with before we get to the good stuff. It’s freezing in here. I had to keep my coat on all the way through the meal, and so did the other two tables I saw in the downstairs section. I know it’s cold outside, but surely central heating is the way forward?
Anyway, the burger in question is a special, obviously a play on the “This is Sparta” film line. The bun is normal brioche but the patty is “meat and potato”. Meat is presumably beef, and other than that, it’s a cheeseburger with mushy peas and HP sauce. I’ll tell you now – you NEED to like HP sauce if you’re going to order this one.
Accompanying it today is the current side dish on special – Chinese chippy fries – cheese, chicken and curry sauce topped. The menu here does include a number of “dirty fries” options and this special continues that trend.
When the burger arrived, the first things I noticed (apart from the super messy chips and paucity of napkins to deal with them) were a) the HP sauce smell and b) the burger being served in pie case.
Now, Wigan is known for pies, obviously, and this plays to that stereotype visually, but in practical terms it’s a bit awkward to eat as a burger because it needs to be lifted out. It’s a nice touch though. It also had a bit of a sausage roll on top which was very interesting.
The chips, first of all, were rather good. A decent heat, pepped and pieces of fried chicken in here, along with a rather delicious sauce (developed I assume by owner James, rather than bought in). I’d probably prefer to have crispier chips but the thing is with dirty fried, you can’t get the full texture of them as much as you would if they were plain. They are often a meal in themselves and this was no different. I really enjoyed this.
But you’re here to read about the burger, so I lifted it gingerly out of its pie casing and it was slipping and sliding all over the place, due most likely to the bed of mushy peas and topping of sauce.
The latter, particularly, was what I’d say is the defining feature of this burger. As I said, if you don’t like HP, even just a little bit, then you’d have to steer clear of this. It dominated the nose and the palate so much that other ingredients almost don’t get a look in.
I say “almost” very deliberately because with a bit of concentration I got them all. Under the HP, the strongest note was actually the potato. For a meat and potato pie, that’s definitely important – the only small issue with it is that it does mute the beef a bit.
That said, it wouldn’t do if everything was the same and I rather enjoyed that for a change – it’s nice to have a burger that actually lives up to its description.
Mushy peas aren’t a particularly strong flavour, I find, but they are distinct and noticeable on this burger.
Holding all this in was a nicely rich coloured brioche, better looking than previous visits I seem to recall, and strong enough for the sauce.
It’s an uncomplicated burger with lashings of northern charm – yes that’s clichéd but that is very much the prerogative of burger specials – just wait til the Manchester and London big hitters start bringing out the Christmas specials.
Not flawless then, but pretty unique, enjoyable and very filling (although the loaded fries have a lot to do with that. There’s no shortage of innovation here at the Courtyard and I look forward to seeing what James has up his sleeves next.