Food&Drink News&Reviews

Wannabe We’re used to cheap fast food burgers and posher ‘gourmet’ burgers. Is there a gap in the market between them? Edinburgh operation Wannaburger believes so, as Donald Reid found out


W e do seem to love a firmly burger: embedded in the high street, any out-of-town retail or entertainment complex, most event catering and on the menu of a large percentage of pubs, cafés and bistros. A few years back Jon Clemence started up Wannaburger in Edinburgh as a local gourmet burger operation. For various reasons, austerity economics among them, Clemence didn’t feel that the gourmet burger route was working for him, and so he recently set about remodelling the West End venue into something offering cheaper self-service burgers. He was keen, however, to keep quality and ethics within the equation.


‘People are in traceability and quality, even when it comes to fast food,’ explains Clemence. ‘At the same time recent economic pressures mean good value remains paramount. Surprisingly there are no burger restaurants that cater for both.’

Wannaburger now offers a 24 THE LIST 2–16 Dec 2010


A better approach to burger ethics A reminder of America’s cultural domination

decent, if unremarkable, ‘Classic’ hamburger for £2.95. It contains a 3oz pattie of Aberdeen Angus beef from the Scottish Borders, plus lettuce, tomato and gherkin garnish, while a half chicken breast (a little more at £3.95) is also Scottish as well as free-range. The roll, crucially, is not the pappy, sesame-covered sponge most commonly served with burgers, but something more robust and chewy, a locally made potato flour sour- dough. Good bread makes any sandwich, and a burger is simply a warm meat sandwich, after all.

You can pick out one or two other distinctive elements, including Brewdog lager on draught, but by and large this is a well-presented fast-food joint with shakes and sodas and booth seating, bound together with uncomplicated red-and-white branding that’s neat enough but suitably anonymous for rolling out if the blend proves successful. It may not be revolutionary, but a local venture trying to do the right thing with a populist product should be welcomed there are plenty of operations (often betrayed by self-appointed ‘gourmet’ or ‘gastro’ labels) that would do well to take note. Not all wannabes recognise that doing simple food decently has significant merit.


7/8 Queensferry Street, West End, Edinburgh, 0131 220 0036 Food served Mon–Wed 8am–9pm; Thu/Fri 8am–10pm; Sat 9am–10pm;

Sun 9am–10pm. Ave. price burger, fries and drink: £7


FAVOURED Hyndland hang-out and cultural node Cottiers has revamped its

food offering with a change of direction from South American to Scottish under new chef Jonathan McFarlane, previously of the Ubiquitous Chip.

CHEF Andrew Fairlie, Witchery proprietor James Thomson and

broadcaster Fred MacAulay are part of a team of 20 planning to climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro for a Burns Supper in January. They’re doing it to raise funds for the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT), which provides scholarships to help raise standards and ambitions in Scottish catering and tourism. To make a donation or to follow preparations visit the website www.hitscotland IN THE heart of the landmark Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street, the Palm Court Bar has been transformed into the Tanqueray No.TEN martini cocktail bar, with black-and- white Art Deco styling to remind us of 1930s high society. Or the Depression.

SHOP WINDOW For a traditional family firm, Welch Fishmongers is bucking retail trends by opening new premises. They already have four high-street shops around Edinburgh; their latest is right by Newhaven Harbour in the former fishmarket building alongside Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. North Sea landings, exotics, own-smoked and shellfish (kept in live tanks) can be found in a large and well-stocked displays.