Located just footsteps from the busy Mitchell Library sits the Black Sparrow – from the outside it’s a rather unassuming place, however on the inside it oozes class with 1960’s American vibe, it’s massive leather boothes, quirky wall paintings, huge windows and inviting fireplace that gets switched on in the winter. Oh, let’s not forget the sneaky beer garden area at the back! I immediately liked the Black Sparrow as soon as I walked in the door. We went along on a quiet Sunday afternoon and opted to sit near the back next to the large windows looking out over the beer garden. After taking in our surroundings and salivating at one of the most well stocked bars we’ve ever laid eyes on, it was time for food.
We opted for, what we were told was the most popular burger on the menu – ‘The Black Sparrow’ burger, consisting of a 6oz beef patty topped with smoked cheddar, caramelized onions and jalapenos on a sour dough bun. We spoke with the assistant manager, Lynsey, who informed us that the Black Sparrow sources it’s beef from local butcher G H Davidson’s, located on Dumbarton Road in Glasgow and that the Black Sparrow burger itself has gone through a few changes since it was first put on the menu in an attempt to find the perfect combination for their signature dish.
As I took my first bite, the first thing that hit me was not the jalapenos or even the smoked cheddar, but the intense flavour of the patty itself. I could immediately taste cumin in the beef and when asked, I was informed by the staff that the chef prepares the patties each day and seasons them using cumin, english mustard and paprika. The combination gave the meat a very deep, rich, blackened, smokey flavour and I found that, with each bite it was the flavour of the beef itself that continued to shine through. There are times when I love nothing more than several crazy topping combinations on a burger because when done right, they can help really enhance the overall flavour, however if the beef itself is badly seasoned or cooked, no amount of toppings can save it. The patty at the Black Sparrow was so well seasoned, that I’d have happily eaten it just with some cheese on top and nothing more. The jalapenos gave the burger an even hotter kick, which was mellowed out by the onion relish, however it was the cumin, mustard and paprika seasoning that left a lasting impression. We always make sure that we sample the patty on it’s own when trying a burger, especially if the burger comes with a lot of toppings, so that we can really get an idea of how good it actually is. I’m happy to report that the one served at the Black Sparrow is one of the best I’ve had so far.
Glancing at the menu, I noticed that all of the burgers come served with hand-cut fries, however the option to upgrade to sweet potato fries for an extra £1.75 is also available. Not that I needed to like the Black Sparrow any more than I already did, but the inclusion of sweet potato fries only furthered my appreciation! Being regular visitors to New York City, both Pamela and I will always go out for a burger and a huge portion of sweet potato fries any time we arrive there and of all the great food I’ll devour when in the US, sweet potato fries are what I miss the most. I’ve tried making them at home, but it’s just not the same. We opted to upgrade to sweet potato fries but also asked for a portion of the regular hand-cut fries too so that we could sample both. The regular fries tasted great and were so huge, I felt like I was eating an entire potato every time I ate one, however the sweet potato fries were simply fantastic. Where as the regular fries were thick and chunky, the sweet potato fries were thin, light and crispy. Absolutely perfect. I very much hope that the Black Sparrow keep their sweet potato fries on the menu until the end of time – it’ll make landing back home in Glasgow that little bit easier in future!
The Black Sparrow burger weighs-in at £9.25. If you stop by between Sunday and 5pm on Fridays, you can enjoy all burgers on a 2-4-1 deal, which is perfect if you and a partner or friend are looking to grab a burger but don’t want to spend a lot of money. With twelve different burgers on offer, you’ll have plenty to choose from on the menu. If you aren’t in the mood for a burger, there’s plenty more on offer. You can view the full menu on the Black Sparrow’s website, listed below.
If I was asked to highlight any negative aspects of the burger, I’d be hard-pushed to find any whatsoever. Personally, I’d rather eat a beef patty of this quality and one that has been seasoned so well simply with cheeese on top and nothing more, however the caramelized onion relish was delicious and helped mellow out the kick of the jalapeno peppers. We were told, however that diners can customize any of the burgers as they please so if you’d like to try it with only cheese, you can.
I was guilty of having never set foot in the Black Sparrow prior to it being recommended to me by one of our readers as a place that did a great burger. After this visit, I was left wondering why it had taken me so long. Between a delicious, well seasoned burger, relaxed but classy surroundings, super friendly service and a vast selection of drinks on offer, I can’t recommend the Black Sparrow enough.
Oh, and lets not forget those sweet potato fries!
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The Black Sparrow is located on North Street, just a few steps from the Mitchell Library.
The Black Sparrow
241 North Street
Phone: 0141 221 5350