Call me a whistle-blower.

Or a sneak.

Maybe call me a food correspondent uncovering the truth on the food frontline. But let's not be absurd. 

Confidential has come across a food secret the city needs to know about.  

The Triple Nom was the best burger I've had in ages, makes GBK's versions look boring and last year's news. There is nothing as good in any chain or independent in the city.

Not that the place might agree.

On the coy venue’s webpage it announces in shaky capitals, as if tapped out on Hemingway’s old Olympus: ‘NO PRESS NO PHOTOGRAPHY NO BLOGGERS NO BLAGGERS NO KETCHUP. EVERYTHING ELSE GOES.’

Ernest Hemingway With Almost Burger Drink Finishes Off The Almost Burger MenuErnest Hemingway with cocktail in hand finishes off the menu

Boo to that.

It’s time to spread the word. It's happening anyway. Welcome to Almost Famous Burgers (AFB).

Almostfamous 028Horror stairsTo sample the joys of this place, first locate the anonymous, unmarked, brown door next to Socio Rehab on High Street in the Northern Quarter. Push it open and take the long horror movie staircase past cheap wooden doors of the type in B-movies featuring US motels and unknown horrors.

At the top of the stairs there's a riddle of more cheap doors. Guess right and you enter one of the smoothest places in the city, one that carries that whiff of people knowing what they’re doing and getting it right.

We found a table straight away but we’d got there at 5.05pm on a Friday and AFB only opens on a Friday and Saturday from 5pm-1am. By half past five it was filling with bright looking people in their mid-twenties and mid-thirties decked out confidently and casually. From the window a very different crowd could be seen yawing and yapping at Blu.  

Interior chicInterior chic with no photography signs

Boss of AFB, Beau bowled over as soon as I started to take pics and said with a wink, “Hey, no pics, can’t you see the no photography signs.”

People who know cocktails will know Beau Myers from Socio Rehab the bar in the same building on the corner with Edge Street. He's turned his attention to burgers in AFB.

“I wanted the best quality, real deal American burgers, my parents are from California, and I just couldn’t get them in Manchester. We’re seeing what we can do here, seeing if we can get close.”

He’s got close.

I had the Triple Nom Burger for £6.50, my nineteen year old son, Jacob, had the Double Burger for £5.50. Side order of the crack wings (£3.50) between us as well, 'the red-neck' ones, with a good hot sauce for licking off your fingers and plenty of flesh to get your teeth into. 

Look at the prices. The food is good value even if it does come served in a plastic peg basket.

Heaven comes in a plastic peg basketHeaven comes in a plastic peg basket

The Triple was a beast. It had beautiful fresh ground steak, 100% all meat, cooked pink so the meat seemed to float inside a semi-brioche bun, which holds together beautifully and then adds a delicate sweetness. Aside from the steak you get a layer of melt-in-the-mouth exquisite rib meat, slow cooked and bursting with animal flavour. Along for the party there was cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and of course 'a secret sauce'.

Another peg basket appeared with more sauces. “What’s in that yellow one aside from the mustard?” I asked. “It’s a secret,” came the reply.

Shush it's a secretShush it's a secret

The fries with the burgers should be mentioned, nice combination of spud and sweet potato for dipping in the mystery sauces.  

The Triple Nom was the best burger I've had in ages, makes GBK's versions look boring and last year's news. There is nothing as good in any chain or independent in the city I know of.

Jacob had finished his burger quicker than me, not letting the pater familias and critic get a look in.

“The verdict?” I asked.

“Juicy. Meaty. Great," he said. He looked at me as though, yeah, and?

I’m reckoning that by 25 years of age we’ll be back to full sentences.

Sticky good wingsSticky good wings

The whole AFB experience was excellent, the clever novelty thrilling.

From the anonymous entry, to the location in the rafters of an Edwardian market building with exposed brick and cheeky airbrushed posters of naked girls riding cigars, to the glorious burgers, this is a winner. Easy-going, but artful and carefully planned as well.

We drank Dos Equis beers from the ice bucket, Mexican lager which suited the food. There are bourbons galore here, and a million cocktails, as you’d expect from this upstairs relation of Socio Rehab, but cocktails ain’t my field so I’ll leave that to other foragers. The drinks come in old-fashioned jam jars, AFB will have to take care it doesn't take it's determination to be edgy too far. 

I glanced at the specials as we left.

Next time I might go for the Lucky Pig Burger at £7.50, this time on a limited edition run of fifty: ‘Double burger and cheese topped with spiced potato, hashbrown, smoked back bacon, pokey bbq sauce, finished with bourbon maple butter and mini cinnabon topped bun.’ Hashbrown on a burger. Outstanding.

As we walked down High Street with the Friday night bustle starting to kick in, Jacob said, phone in hand: “What’s the address of that place again? Going to take my mates, they’d love it.”

“I think you’re supposed to find it for yourself,” I said, wiping a last bit of sticky crazy wing glaze off a finger.

He looked back.

“Which door was it again?” he said.

But AFB had disappeared. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield


Almost Famous Burgers, 100 High Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1HP Click here

Rating: 16.5/20
Food: 8/10
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 4.5/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

Coke in a jarCoke in a jar


Menu againMenu again

Blu getting busyBlu getting busy

Almostfamous 006Burger temple


Tom from the Liquorists was in and said the wings were needed and we'd need the kitchen roll. He is a wise man, we did indeedTom from the Liquorists was in and said the wings were messy and we'd need the kitchen roll. He is a wise man, we did indeed

Liberated bottle of lethal that's bigger than two whole peopleLiberated bottle of lethal that's bigger than two whole people