I'm a big burger fan. I've written about them quite a few times and they're something that I make and eat pretty regularly.
The thing is though, you'd be surprised how difficult it is to find a decent simple burger. So many so called gastropubs or restaurants get it so wrong, with too much chopped onion, herbs, spices or other junk that just isn't needed inside the pattie. I like my burgers to be good quality meat, a touch of seasoning and not a whole lot else.
With that in mind, when I heard Johnny Fontanes was opening up I was hoping in the back of my mind that finally there'd be a place in Leeds where I could grab a good, simple, tasty burger and have a few beers to boot. Well after being invited down to try their wares at one of their many trial runs (follow them on Twitter and keep an eye out for an invite) I'm happy to report that this is definitely the case.
It's a proper American Diner that takes the quality of it's food seriously and still manages to be ridiculously good value. A good sized bacon cheeseburger (patties made fresh in house daily and cooked on a real American flat top grill) along with your choice of side, such as fries, cajun fries, chicken wings or homemade onion rings, and a bottle of beer, wine or spirit and mixer will set you back the wallet friendly sum of £9.99
The beer menu is short, sharp and well chosen, and all will go pretty well with most of the food. There's a few working class American suds like Lone Star and Pabst Blue Ribbon (neither great) alongside some American Craft beers; Anchor Steam, Brooklyn Lager and Brown Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Oh, and Blue Moon, which I'm not a big fan of.
I went for the Bacon Cheesebuger and Cajun Fries and a bottle of Brooklyn Brown Ale. The burger was tender and gnarly with a slightly pink middle and meat which fell away with ease, just like it should. Everything else is just there to support that meat and it did the job perfectly. Good quality bun, crispy, smokey, streaky bacon, and good sticky American cheese.
The sides are great too. Particularly the cajun fries and onion rings which are both excellent and obviously homemade, with the onion rings having a really good, dark, herby and crunchy coating rather than the generic batter you see so often.
It has to be said that they are still ironing out a few of the creases on the service side of things, and I'm not sure the 'order at the bar' system is my favourite, but on the whole things look to be shaping up nicely. The food came quickly, was exactly as we ordered, and all tasted great, and thats all that really matters.
Oh and their Beers and Bourbons (of which they have some awesome aged varieties) are ALL £2.99, and they even do hard shakes.
I'll be back.
Beer, Bourbon and Burgers at Johnny Fontane's, Leeds
Beer, Bourbon and Burgers at Johnny Fontane's, Leeds Reviewed by Neil, Eating isn't Cheating on Sunday, April 22, 2012 Rating: 5