The New York feel to this year-old burger restaurant in the Brussels neighbourhood of Ixelles lured us with its bright yellow neon sign, reminiscent of New York’s Broadway theatre district. Manhattn’s is the brainchild of Jerry Vandermeulen, a Belgian whose love of New York began when he moved there to sell Belgian waffles in the streets of Manhattan. There he was exposed to the city’s food truck scene and now he’s returned to Belgium with the goal of bringing the New York city experience to his home country.
Manhattn’s uses grass-fed matured beef for its burgers, which are served on homemade buns with a side of hand-cut Belgian fries. They offer a range of beef burgers with New-York inspired names: the Empire Burger with secret sauce and pickle relish, the Rockerfeller Burger with caramelised onions and smokey bbq sauce, and the Gatsby burger with sautéed mushrooms and a truffle glaze. They also offer a chicken option called Tribeca with a pickle relish and pepper sauce.
I opted for the Brooklyn Veggie Burger with goat’s cheese and salsa verde and was very pleasantly surprised by the amount of flavour they were able to pack into the vegetable patty. Delicous and tender, the patty was perfectly complemented by the warm goat’s cheese, roasted red capsicum and tangy salsa verde. Light and refreshing, yet completely filling, I was sad to reach the last tasty biteful. Washed down with a Belgian beer (what else?), there was little room left to sample one of the items on the dessert menu, which included a speculoos ice cream sandwich and a Liberty milkshake. They will just have to wait until the next visit!
The buzzer beeped and vibrated in my hand, signalling that our burger order was ready. From the pick-up counter I had a great view of the kitchen, which looked more like a fine dining kitchen than a humble burger joint – it was organized chaos with bodies in motion and the occasional yelp from the head chef barking the next order.
The burgers were served in a little basket, emphasising their generous size. The fries were golden in colour and looked great in their square cardboard containers, a nice variation on the paper cones more commonly used to serve up Belgian fries. With the option of bundling your burger with the Godfather Deal, including fries, sauce and a soft drink, there’s no excuse not to sample a side of fries!
So how does the Manhattn burger stack up? I ordered the Gotham Beef Burger with reblochon cheese and pepper sauce. The patty was moist, packed full of flavour and the pepper sauce was damn good! The cheese was nicely melted which indicates they actually placed it on the patty while the meat was still being grilled, a nice touch. The bun was nicely flavoured with plenty of sesame seeds, and was toasted and dense enough so that it didn’t collapse in my hand whilst I was eating it – bonus points. The lettuce, which had been placed beneath the patty rather than on top, was a little on the soggy side as it captured the patty juices but on the plus side this only added more flavour. This was a perfectly enjoyable burger, and one I would definitely go back for.
Avenue Louise 164, 1000 Brussels