Whenever I think of Ad Lib, I immediately think of burgers. After all, for years their speciality has been authentic soul food and big handmade burgers. Tucked away in the heart of the city centre on Glasgow’s busy Hope Street, you could easily walk past Ad Lib without even noticing it was there. If you did, however, you’d be missing out on some of the best burgers Glasgow has to offer, served up in a laid back, New York City-esque atmosphere. Pamela and I have been regular visitors at Ad Lib for many years – it was even where we had dinner together for the first time and the burgers have never let us down.
We hadn’t visited in some time and it was actually work colleague who pointed out that Ad Lib were doing a burger challenge and had mentioned that it would be a good addition to the site. I was actually surprised when I found out, as normally something like this wouldn’t go unnoticed by me – I had to find out more. I immediately called Ad Lib and asked about the challenge. The assistant manager explained the rules – one 3lb burger covered in 1lb of cheese and topped off with a giant burger bun. I’d have two hours to finish the entire thing and in that time, I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the table. If I managed, I’d eat it for free. If I didn’t finish it all or took longer than two hours to do so, it would cost me £35. With that, we booked the table and started preparing for the challenge.
Approaching a challenge like this is tough because it’s really always about finding the right strategy. I had thought about trying to go in and eat as much as I could, as quickly as possible. Then I thought about eating slowly and really using up the two hour time limit. I couldn’t quite decide on how to tackle the challenge and just figured that it would come to me when I was sat at the table and the burger put in front of me. I decided to eat as little as possible the day before, trying to consume as much water as possible. On the day of the challenge, I ate nothing at all and drank pint glass after pint glass of water in an attempt to expand my stomach as much as possible without having to eat lots of food.
I decided to invite my good friend Simon along with me to attempt the burger too. For being extremely skinny, Simon can put away a scary amount of food. I thought that if I wasn’t able to finish it, Simon certainly could. Pamela also joined us to photograph the event and have some food, although she did not participate in the 3lb challenge and instead opted for the Ad Lib lamb sliders, which we’ll review later in the week.
When we arrived at Ad Lib, we were able to grab a few words with the chef, Mike. He told us that the idea for the burger came from his love for the TV show Man vs. Food. He also talked about the burger bun, which is the same type of bun as the ones normally used for Ad Lib burgers, but specially made from scratch to accommodate the 3lb beast. He even showed us the extra large spatula that is used to flip the burgers (pictured) and just from seeing the sheer size of it, we knew we were in for a challenge!
With that, Mike wished us good luck and headed back to the kitchen to begin cooking the burgers.
When the burgers arrived at our table, all three of us started to laugh pretty much immediately – what had we let ourselves in for? Each burger was almost the size of a human head and probably heavier! Just looking at the amount of cheese and onion relish on each one was almost enough to give me a heart attack!
The burgers certainly looked very impressive, but how did they taste?
I’m happy to report that as well as being the biggest burger I’ve ever seen, it was also extremely tasty! I was a little concerned that such a huge burger had to be a little dry, but I was wrong. It was easily one of the juiciest burgers I’ve ever had and the caramelized onions on top, combined with the cheese and flavour of the beer made me want to finish the entire thing.
We decided to cut the burger into four quarters and eat it in sections. Each quarter was roughly the size of a regular Ad Lib burger, which are very big themselves. Simon and I both started off well, demolishing just over a quarter of the burger pretty easily after 20 minutes. As we started on quarter number two, we started to slow down. I was beginning to sweat and feel a little uncomfortable. Despite this, I kept going because it really just tasted THAT good. I managed to finish the second quarter after 45 minutes or so, however by that point I was really starting to struggle. The heat didn’t help matters much, with Glasgow in the middle of a rare heatwave. I was feeling full and sweating pretty badly. I decided I’d try to keep going. Simon and I decided to slice the burger into even smaller sections and eat it that way, but it simply wasn’t to be. After one hour and ten minutes, we both decided to throw in the towel and give up. Despite being absolutely delicious, I simply couldn’t eat another bite. Going into the challenge, I initially feared that the real challenge would the bun and the cheese, but the 3lb patty itself was what really led to my downfall. It was simply too much and after chewing through beef for what seemed like an eternity, I was on the verge of vomiting all over the camera. I managed around 1.5lbs but it wasn’t physically possible for me to eat another bite. Mark came over to check in with us and we informed him that we couldn’t go on.
With that, we went to pay our £35 losers fees and head off home to die, just a little bit.
The Ad Lib challenge burger is without a doubt the biggest I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if it’s the biggest in the world, but certainly the biggest in Scotland – perhaps even the UK. For being such a big burger, it is incredibly juicy and full of flavour. If you are a fan of Ad Lib’s regular gourmet burgers, just imagine the same thing but roughly ten times the size and you’ve got the challenge burger. To date, nobody has finished it, but the staff at Ad Lib are confident that someone out there can do it.
Could it be you?
Price: £35 (free if finished within two hours)
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Ad Lib is located in the heart of Glasgow’s City Centre on Hope Street, directly across the street from Glasgow Central Station and located on several major bus routes. Check out Ad Lib’s Facebook page by clicking here.
111 Hope Street
Phone: 0141 248 6645