Burgers used to be fast and cheap. But with more and more consumers wanting to know where their food comes from, the ‘better burger’ is gaining popularity. If you are prepared to pay more and wait longer for a more upmarket burger, you have quite a few options in Antwerp. My thoughts on three big players in Antwerp: Burgerij, Manhattn’s and Ellis Gourmet Burger. Enjoy 😉
- Locations: Sint Laureiskaai (Eilandje) & Leopoldplaats
- The Meat: Freshly ground beef of the breed ‘Blanc Bleu Belge’, with livestock mainly in Luxembourg, Hainaut and West Flanders
- The Bun: A pistolet
- The choices: About 12 burgers to choose from, with either beef, lamb, chicken, fish and falafel
- Website: www.burgerij.be
Great burgers that you can eat with your hands
I’ve never tasted a bad burger at Burgerij. Never ever. Although they come in different styles, from classic to more ‘exotic’, I like them all. The best feature of Burgerij burgers? You can easily eat them with your hands. The bun is a firm pistolet that holds all the ingredients in place.
One of my favourite burgers at Burgerij is the Dolce Vita. It’s made with freshly ground beef, provolone, tomatoes, rocket, pancetta, grilled vegetables and tasty basil mayonnaise. There are no (non-vegetarian) burgers with more veggies out there. The basil mayonnaise is phenomenal, and the pancetta gives the burger oomph. The Smokey Bacon is a favourite to many of my friends. It has freshly ground beef, bacon, melted Cheddar cheese, lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, gherkins, fried onions and bbq sauce.
- Locations: Groenplaats (city center)
- The Meat: After 2 years of trial and error, they’ve perfected their beef blend using daily fresh Grass-Fed Irish Angus beef. Their burger patties are flame grilled.
- The Bun: A Brioche.
- The choices: About 9 burgers to choose from, with either Irish agnus beef, chicken or falafel
- Website: www.manhattns.com
Grilled taste for the win
Manhattn’s is not yet well established in Antwerp, but the owners have been doing their thing in Brussels since 2014. Manhattn’s is different when it comes to the better burger movement. At Manhattn’s, there’s no wining and dining. Nor being served. You order at a counter. Just like you would at any fast-food burger chain.
However, the burgers are not comparable to those of McDonalds, for example. Manhattn’s serves premium burgers with grass-fed Angus beef. The meat is flame-grilled.
On my first visit to Manhattn’s, I ordered the Gatsby Burger. It’s made with Irish agnus beef, Dutch cheese, sauteed wild mushroom, truffle mayo, crispy bacon & lettuce. I’m crazy about the grilled taste of the meat. But I’m not mad about the bun. The soft bun, combined with sauteed wild mushroom, made this burger almost impossible to eat. I had to take out my knife and fork. But even then, it was a challenge to eat. Manhattn’s serves their burgers in a basket lined with paper, so I had no firm base to cut, and I kept cutting my knife through the paper. Furthermore, my mushrooms lacked flavour and I could hardly taste the truffle mayonnaise that I was so excited about. A slight disappointment. Especially considering this was the most expensive burger on the menu (12.5 euro without fries). My total order (burger + iced tea) set me back 16.1 euro, which felt very pricey for a burger in a restaurant with no service whatsoever.
Nonetheless, I’d like to give a thumbs up to this restaurant. Many others who visited Manhattn’s recently, agreed that it’s slightly overpriced, but they all absolutely loved their burger. And it’s a lovely place right in the city centre.
#3 Ellis Gourmet Burger
- Locations: De Keyserlei, Sint-Aldegondiskaai, Leopold De Waelplaats
- The Meat: They work with Holstein cattle, which are so-called dual-purpose animals After they have spent their days providing litres of milk as dairy cattle, at the end of their career their fine, juicy meat is processed. Pieces from around the neck are particularly rich in flavor and it is these pieces that are specially selected for the burgers.
- The Bun: Soft with an outer crisp
- The choices: About 14 burgers to choose from, with a big variety of vegetarian options, chicken, lamb and salmon
- Website: www.ellisgourmetburger.be
Flavorless and uninteresting burgers
I visited Ellis Gourmet Burger for the first time a few years ago. The experience was not great. We were asked if we would like to wait at the bar for a table. So we went ahead and ordered cocktails. Unfortunately, the restaurant was so busy that they completely forgot about our cocktails. We eventually got our cocktails with a delay of 20 minutes. It was completely understandable, but later on, they forgot about our food order. So we spent a lot more time at Ellis than we’d hoped for.
Recently we decided to give Ellis Gourmet a second chance. We did however try their latest restaurant at De Keyserlei. Not the one at Sint-Aldegondiskaai we previously visited. This time, the service was excellent. Unfortunately, the burgers did not live up to the standard. I ordered the Lovely Lamb, with Torta de Oveja, rocket, lettuce, paprika tapenade and grilled paprika. The cheese dominated all other flavours. The lamb itself was pretty bland. The Meatlover by Dierendonck was not a much better choice. Not enough spices, not enough sauce. In short: flavourless and uninteresting.
I’ll stay away from Ellis Gourmet burger in the future. As long as the Burgerij exist, this will be my number one choice for a burger.