Birmingham’s Mailbox is currently a resurgent hotbed of activity. Not one to be left behind, Gourmet Burger Kitchen throw open the doors to their newly renovated restaurant. It’s the industry pre-opening, and the place is bustling with a veritable who’s who of press and hospitality heads. Greeted at the door by a frenzied yet friendly and composed Paul Bishop, myself and the NUBI team are asked to grab a drink at the bar whilst our table is being prepared.

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Led through to our seats, the busy chatter of the restaurant is tempered by its sleek new makeover. Dark oak panels stretch from floor to ceiling, a curved feature wall behind us wrapped in a beautiful art deco wallpaper lends well to the retro feel.

A sensible table plan means both customers and staff can traverse the space with ease, and a good mix of chairs and leather backed benches make for ample seating. Whistling to the supposed tune of £350,000, the renovation is meticulous in its pursuit of that genuine burger joint feel, all the while keeping in mind its surroundings in the luxury Mailbox development.

Seeing a tray of ‘shakes whiz passed our table in traditional metal cups refocuses our attention and we get down to the nitty-gritty of ordering.

With 5 of us dining and a vegetarian reviewer (hey if they can impress me, they’ve won half the battle) we spread our bets with a mixture of burgers and sides.

GBK6Informed of a potential food delay, our waitress Chloe offers us another round of drinks and of course, the authenticity of the ‘shakes has to be sampled. With the well-known and accepted industry-wide ‘free standing straw test’ passed, classic flavours like strawberry and honeycomb were winners, whilst the intriguing lime certainly piques our interest, one to try for yourself.

An appetiser of halloumi bites arrives first, served with an excellent hot green sauce of kiwi and habanero. The balance of fruit and heat complimenting the chargrilled halloumi perfectly.

With the rest of the food arriving in good time, we tuck into our respective burgers. Covering all bases, three of my colleagues opt for meat, another fish, and vegetarian for myself.

Aptly named ‘The Mighty’ two 6oz beef patties, mature cheddar, crispy bacon, garlic mayo, relish, dill pickle and salad made up this monster. All sandwiched between a classic sesame-seed bun. A big eat and classic flavours, burger aficionados will rate its simplicity and filling power.

One for the De Niro fans, ‘The Taxi Driver’ ups the stakes with a beef patty, American cheese, onion ring, Cajun relish, smoked chilli mayo, dill pickle and salad in a gleaming brioche bun. The smokey mayo and Cajun relish flavours working in tandem with the fresh, charred meat.

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Our final carnivore and resident spice merchant opts for the ‘Blazing Sombrero’. Smoked Applewood, chorizo relish, tortilla chips, house mayo, rocket and pickled onion on a brioche bun and topped with a chilli. A subtle heat married well with the smoked cheese and peppery rocket.

Listed under their speciality section alongside the likes of buffalo and lamb burgers, ‘Captain Hook’ features Panko-crumbed cod, tartare sauce, pickled onion and rocket, again in the slightly sweet brioche bun. Again a classic but executed superbly. Panko crumbs offering that extra crunch, whilst the fresh tartare dovetailed seamlessly with the picked onion.

Last but by no means least the vegetarian. Often just a big mushroom with a lump of cheese, the dizzying four choices GBK offer is immensely satisfying. The new ‘Californian’ consists of a homemade & pan-fried bean patty, mature cheddar, avocado, smoked chilli mayo, crispy onions, relish and salad. Fresh, firm avocado and crispy onions varied the textures, and the bean mix used for the patty is flavoursome and holds together well.

Sampling a range of sides, the skinny fries are actually skinny, maybe even too skinny, you can practically breath them in. But the rosemary version, bright green with scattered herb adds real vibrancy. The GBK ‘Homeslaw’ is raw, crisp and fresh, combining cabbage, spring onions, carrot, celeriac and vinaigrette. Homemade onion rings are again panko-crumbed and freshly cut as opposed to minced.

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After inhaling enough food to feed a small country, dessert is an afterthought that none of us can stomach.

With two of our party hospitality veterans, we are well aware that these openings can be stressful, to say the least.  Nevertheless despite being extremely busy the staff are engaging, informative and friendly.

The new surroundings add real verve and ambience, hanging shades lighting individual tables and snooker hall-esque lamps casting a warm glow in the bigger spaces.

With The Mailbox seeing a raft of new openings and revamps in the guise of Gas Street Social, Everyman Cinema and Malmaison to name a few, Gourmet Burger Kitchen have ensured they are leading the pack, with their innovative redesign and a bountiful menu to boot.

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