Always willing to accept a gastronomic challenge however, I was more than willing to sample the offerings of a new contender. Swimming against the tide of rustic, organic, credit crunch friendly consumerism, Scottish giant G1 have unveiled their new Ashton Lane premises to reveal a cute American diner style burger bar, Ketchup.
Except, not exactly. The booth seats and chequered floor scream 50s kitch, but the theme stops short of delivering a real diner experience. Far from juke boxes blasting Billie Holiday, the New York cheesecake and hot cherry pie desserts felt like little more than half hearted token gestures.
Tempted by chocolate and lemon cheesecake milkshakes, we were disappointed to find them more powdery than Pete Doherty’s pocket, served in a plastic cup more suited to an arcade than Jack Rabbit Slim’s.
The burgers themselves, whilst enormous and beautifully presented, come without sides or fries, leaving the meal lacking in balance. After wading through the dauntingly large menu, passing wild boar, mushroom and kangaroo choices, I opted for an Italiano chicken burger, whilst my date plumped for a more traditional bacon and guacamole beef version.
Both were admittedly very tasty, but so laden with condiments and extra ingredients that they became nigh on impossible to eat. A terrible location for a first date, we struggled to wipe the mayonnaise from our faces to answer the many, overzealous enquiries from staff members asking whether everything was alright.
Whilst each of the individual components of both our meals were excellent, there was a definite feeling of too many cooks spoiling the burger. Perusing the extensive options on the menu, one got the feeling that perhaps it would have been better to stick to a classic burger with one or two extras per dish, allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves, rather than attempting to pack the maximum number of add-ons into each bun.
This lack of knowing when to stop gave the menu a similar feel to that of the décor, as one of a slightly confused identity. This could well display the hallmark of a company diversified into so many styles of cuisine and entertainment that it ends up so diluted between projects so as not to do any one justice.
That said, Ketchup still has all of the novelty appeal of a brand new eatery with a distinct and cute theme. It also has the appeal of a 2 for 1 burger offer with a matric card, which come 1am on a Friday night, may be enough to forgive the split personality inside.