I talk a lot about healthy vegetarian food and almost all of my recipes, desserts included, are pretty damn good for you. That doesn’t mean though that I don’t sometimes want to get my hands messy (literally) with some seriously dirty food. Step forward Almost Famous Leeds.
The Manchester-born Almost Famous set up in Leeds last year bringing their bold branding, bolder decor and even bolder burger combinations with them. Previously Almost Famous’ vegetarian options consisted of one not-on-the-menu veggie burger. This probably goes a long way to explaining why I had never visited before, but I’m not one to hold a grudge and when I heard they were adding (a modest) vegetarian section to their menu, I happily accepted the invite to pop along to the new menu launch to try it for myself.
As luck would have it, I found myself sat next to the only other vegetarian in the room – the lovely Mary. This had the added bonus that we could share Almost Famous’ two veggie burgers between us and get to try both of them!
To go on the side, Almost Famous’ vegetarian options are the mac and cheese balls and the mixed potato and sweet potato fries served with Marmite. They definitely could up their vegetarian game on the sides and offer more chips without meat (so easy to do guys!), but fortunately, I’m decidedly in the ‘love’ camp when it comes to Marmite so there’s a good chance I’d have chosen these anyway. Both sides were exactly what I soon came to expect from Almost Famous: full of flavour, cooked to perfection and big enough to feed me for an average week.
Moving onto the vegetarian mains, the ‘Anna Nicole’, a three cheese toasted melt, was more akin to a giant toastie than a burger and full of pineapple, jalapeños, sun-dried tomato, cooked onions and BBQ sauce. Gooey and crisp in the right places, it certainly beat anything you could come up with in a sandwich maker.
The other veggie option, the ‘Brittany Murphy’ consisted of two breaded mac and cheese patties, sun-dried tomatoes, jalapeño relish, lettuce, onions and BBQ sauce served in a brioche bun. A messy, gluttonous delight, the burger did a good job of avoiding the typical veggie burger pitfalls. You know what I’m taking about: dry patties, burgers with no toppings or the ubiquitous bean burger. It did feel like a slight cop-out recycling the mac and cheese ball recipe into a burger – but it did work and tasted amazing, it just means that I wouldn’t go in and order both the side and the main.
Almost Famous have a seriously good cocktail offering to wash the burgers down with too. We were firstly treated to a special fruity not-on-the-menu creation, served with a glow stick(!), that tasted like a sweet I couldn’t quite identify! Next up was the Famous Frickin’ Swizzle, a refreshing fruity cocktail made with mango jam that was perfect after the much sweeter concoction.
Finally, we tried the Soda Shack Gimlet, a mix of Portobello gin, cream soda cordial and lemon, that tasted just like liquid cheesecake (imagine the best lemon cheesecake you’ve ever had – now imagine drinking that flavour). Honestly, I don’t think it would be an overstatement to declare it one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had.
Overall, I was impressed with Almost Famous – I’ve been raving about it ever since to anyone who will listen (especially the Soda Shack Gimlet) – and hope they’ll make veggie options a permanent fixture on their menu from now on. It was also great to hear from their staff and see how passionate they are about what they do. I’ll definitely be heading back next time I want to get my hands dirty!
What’s the best veggie burger you’ve had lately?