American-style diners are a growing trend in the UK. Usually offering a 50’s New York retro look, throwback music and good old fashioned burgers and shakes, these establishments have been popping up all over the country over the last few years. Anyone who lives in Glasgow will tell you that the most unpredictable thing about our fine city is the weather. Sunshine in March and cold nights in July, it all happens here. Imagine my delight when, after being caught in a heavy rain shower on Saturday afternoon in Glasgow’s West End, I spotted an extremely cool looking new US style Diner on Byres Road. At the time, our options were to stay out in the rain or get inside and grab some food. With the rain soaking through our shoes, the decision was fairly easy!
Inside, Charlie Rocks is super-stylish. Small and spread across two floors, each table features retro coca cola chairs and the walls are painted with American flags. I’ve been to several US style diners in London and Dublin and all have been great. I was excited to finally have one come to Glasgow and had high hopes from the moment we stepped in the door. On the specials menu was a beef burger advertised as being topped with black pudding, goats cheese and apple sauce. I’d never had apple sauce on a burger and since I absolutely love goats cheese, it was a no-brainer for me. Black pudding, beef, cheese, apple sauce….it had to be good, right?
I don’t really know where to begin with this burger. The patty itself was so flat that it looked like it had been attacked with a rolling pin (and not in a cool, ‘smashed’ patty way), was beyond overcooked and flavourless. It’s clear when you are eating a burger that is handmade and well seasoned and while I may be wrong, these burgers did not appear to be handmade at all. The black pudding was fairly small, rock solid, extremely overcooked and flavourless – it resembled a hockey puck more than a slice of black pudding. There was also no apple sauce present whatsoever, which was unfortunate since it was the main reason I decided to order the burger from the menu. The goats cheese was the only redeeming quality of the entire dish; however, I didn’t pay £8.95 for a small slice of melted cheese. I also noticed two types of cheese on the burger, despite the fact that the menu only advertised one. There was the goats cheese and then something that resembled applewood smoked cheddar. I’m unsure whether the staff had written ‘applesauce’ on the menu when in actual fact they should have written ‘applewood’ instead. Either way, the burger wasn’t as advertised and even if apple sauce had been included, it probably wouldn’t have saved this one. The bun was fairly standard, felt cheap and the entire thing just seemed like it had been thrown together very quickly without much care.
The burger was served with a large portion of fries, which were so oversalted that they looked like they had frosting on top of them. I was actually able to run my finger along one of them and watch the salt fall off the edge and on to my plate. I ate just under half of the burger before giving up and just picking the goats cheese off instead. The entire thing resembled something that had been cooked earlier that morning and then briefly re-heated before being sent out. Simply awful.
I really wanted to like Charlie Rocks. The look and feel of the restaurant was excellent, however the food couldn’t have been more of a stark contrast to that. For £8.95, I expected a lot more. I don’t enjoy witing bad reviews and would much rather spend time focusing on Scotland’s best burgers rather than their worst, however I can honestly say that until Charlie Rocks takes a serious look at the food being served up to customers, I’d sooner eat just about ANYTHING else than go back here for another burger. I’ve spent a lot of time in the States and have eaten some of the best burgers that cities such as New York and Philadelphia have to offer and despite offering a cool, hip New York City vibe, Charlie Rocks has a long way to go if it wants to bring a true taste of America to Glasgow’s hungry West End.
Quite easily the worst burger I’ve ever had.
– No positive notes whatsoever. Without a doubt the worst burger I’ve ever eaten.
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Charlie Rocks is located on Byres Road, just a few minutes walk from Hillhead Subway Station.
337 Byres Road