Chris Malpas tucks into “Wirral’s best burger”
Merseyside has no shortage of top notch burger spots, and you could be forgiven for overlooking the small Wirral town of Heswall in pursuit of meaty satisfaction a little closer to Liverpool city centre.
However, a quick glance at Born Up North’s menu and the promise of “Wirral’s best burger” is enough to entice me and my partner onto the 471 bus from Whitechapel. We arrive with half an hour to spare, just enough time for a quick pint of Azvex at The Beer Lab a few doors down.
The trendy exposed-bulbs-and-fake-plants interior of Born Up North – more commonly referred to as 'bun' – is packed with tables, but the large front window manages to save it from feeling cramped. The bar area and the open kitchen behind appear well-staffed, but at times this comes at the expense of service on the floor.
We start off with a cocktail. My Strawberry Negroni (£10) is a little lacklustre; I’m always tentative about twists on such a classic, and unfortunately Born Up North’s version falls on the wrong side of gimmicky. By no means unpleasant, the strawberry vermouth simply isn’t prominent enough in the mix to warrant its title.
My partner hits the jackpot with her Candyberry Collins (£9). Packed full of raspberry and pomegranate, it teeters on the edge of becoming too sweet, but lemon and rose water pull it back from the brink.
The main event begins with 10 buffalo wings (£8). Delivering a slight kick of sweet spice, and smothered in just enough sticky sauce to ruin the romance of any date, we’ve got no complaints. We could, and perhaps should, have ordered more, but our sights were set on a greater prize; all regrets subside in the wake of a colossus of beef and potato.
Alarm bells ring when My Surf ‘n’ Turf burger (£18) violates an unspoken burger law: its elements aren’t all contained within the bun. Two battered prawns are impaled on top, and I’ve no feasible way of getting them in the same mouthful as the rest of the burger. They’re perfectly cooked, but come across as an afterthought. Lashings of lobster Thermidor tick the surf box, so the prawns are a tacky flag atop an otherwise balanced bite.
My partner’s Wolf (£16) – a bacon cheeseburger to everyone else – is a simple classic done right. Neither of us were asked how we like our meat cooked, which wouldn’t be a major issue if the cookery was consistent. I look on with envy at the pink centre of my partner’s burger, then back at the pale brown of my own. Uniformity aside, both are undeniably juicy, but when you promise the Wirral’s best burger, a little more attention to detail wouldn’t go amiss.
Born Up North exhibits an absolute masterclass in chip cookery: the perfect crunch to fluffiness ratio. I’m not sure exactly when truffle parmesan fries took over the world, but it’s hard to find a menu without them these days. Often overpriced, and even more often disappointing, Born Up North proves to be an exception. They’re an additional two quid, and the burial mound of cheese justifies every penny. For an extra pound, my partner’s rosemary fries are, likewise, nothing short of perfection. We’re not quite sure how bun. has managed to distil so much flavour into the humble chip, but we’re too busy shovelling them in to care.
It takes a while, but we manage to flag someone down and order another drink. I go for a pint of Alhambra (£5.75) – I’m too fixated on my burger to dissect another cocktail – and my partner opts for a Jam Daiquiri (£9). It’s the sort of concoction that I’m sure Elvis would’ve loved. Unsubtle and inelegant, and completed with a ludicrously long straw, it’s exactly what it should be.
Born up North isn’t doing anything I haven’t seen before, but there’s nothing wrong with that; burgers and cocktails are a tried and tested combination, and when done right it’s hard to beat. A few elements could do with fine-tuning, particularly the meat cookery. It’s not make or break like it is with a steak, but when the menu proudly states, “We work closely with Hassey’s of Heswall who supply all the meat,” then greater respect is due. Despite that, bun. is definitely worth the hour-long bus ride from town, and its burgers have earned their place on Merseyside’s culinary map.
Born Up North, 69 Telegraph Road, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 0AD
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Surf ‘n’ Turf 6, Wolf 7, Buffalo Wings 8, Truffle Parmesan Fries 9, Rosemary Fries 9
Food came quickly, but a member of staff is needed on the floor
A cool, comfortable place to spend a Saturday evening