Good looking internet pictures. That is pretty much how people find out about places to go eat food now. Gone are the days of informative long-form reviews full of context and through evaluation. Something to make you ponder, occasionally chuckle, and consider whether you actually want to visit the place. These very sentences are probably redundant, unless we were to tack them on to an Instagram picture with a fuck ton of hashtags like a ridiculous and unnecessarily long word-beard. #burger #burgers #burgerporn #hamburger #cheeseburger #food #foodporn #yum #instafood #yummy #photooftheday #dinner #lunch #tasty #eating #foodpic #foodpics #eat #hungry #foodgasm #foods #nom #foodstagram #foodie
Original Patty Men materialized to us in this way: Perfectly-lit glistening beef, glossy and practically reflective bun, presented like a big meaty smile. Instagram is now our ringing bell, our involuntary dribble creator. We had to try them. Could it be? A burger place in the Midlands that could challenge the absolute bangers dished out in the Capital? Birmingham is fucking miles away, so fingers crossed.
Tucked into the railway arches in Digbeth, Birmingham's emerging version of Hackney Wick or Greenpoint, O.P.M. has created a nice simple space. With scaffolding constituting the upper storage level, and temporary-looking walls separating the kitchen from the dining room, it looks a bit like the set of an immersive theatre experience. Plenty of windows let loads of light in during the day and there are enough trendy light fixtures to provide illumination past the twilight hours.
Unwrapping one product revealed a very promising Bacon Cheese indeed: The bun was glossy, the American cheese was melted to perfection, wavy nuggets of bacon poked out, splatters of abundant red and yellow sauce seeped from above chopped lettuce and red onion. Worthy of food stylist applause. We prepped for a glorious launch into our mouths.
The bacon was crisp, salty with a sweet back up from the maple coating, the bun was squishy, nicely taut but not overwhelmingly doughy, the cheese was tacky and smooth. The patty though, whilst fairly juicy, lacked seasoning and any flavour. Quite tightly packed and formed into a compact puck, it nestled into the overhanging bun. The close packing of the meat combined with a watery lack of beefiness and barely any salt meant the patty was a disappointing chewing task. The ketchup, mustard and red onion performed their duties in vain, as the center of attention was not on form.
The Cheezy-E cheeseburger suffered the same issue, and was not helped by a watery Boss Man sauce that lacked the piquant, sweet notes you would hope for in a burger sauce. The special on the day, the Salt Bae, had a layer of thinly sliced and oddly-brown, salt beef - it was really dry and lacked any nuance of flavour, simply overpowered by salt more than anything else which the Swiss cheese on top could not dampen.
The Alabama Slammer was the most successful sandwich: The chicken thigh was wonderfully moist inside and the buttermilk really stood out in a great way in the crisp and crunchy batter. The ginger and lime slaw freshened the sandwich and popped a little zing in there too. Great combinations in a bun which seemed to compliment a chicken sandwich better than it's compact patty counterparts.
The fries in the O.D.B fries were crunchy and deeply satisfying, but the toppings of slaw, springs onions, sriracha mayo and fried onions felt a little lightweight and kind of healthy. Like having a dressed salad on top. We probably like our dressed fries a bit dirtier to be fair, if you're going to pimp something then fucking pimp it, or at least throw some meat on it.
As it had been touted as the best Birmingham has to offer by a country mile perhaps our expectations were too high, and so our disappointment was proportionately weighty also. The fare here is above and beyond your average pub burger, you get a decent enough feed for sure, but it falls short of the standard of the top offerings the capital has to offer. When we're ever in Birmingham again, we'll give these guys another go, if we have any room after hitting up the grill at the Indian Brewery in Snow Hill - we went there for a pint before getting our train home and the food looked seriously brilliant.
Side note - We tried another 'Top 5' Birmingham burger at Nosh and Quaff but it was so fucking bad it doesn't warrant your eyeballs seeing or reading about it. Brum needs to up its burger game.
Side side Note - Meat Shack just opened up. We are going there real soon.