Meet the gastrosexual. He’s the younger cousin of the metrosexual, that groomed and glamorous boy about town. Except instead of clothes and a careful beard the gastrosexual expresses himself through food. He hangs on Heston’s every word. He has cured his own fish, made his own cheese and planned his next holiday around a table booking in Ferran Adria’s brother’s Barcelona tapas bar. He remembers to feed his sour dough starter more often than he remembers to feed the dog. He’s currently eyeing up the understairs cupboard as a potential meat-hanging room.
And, yes, the gastrosexual is male. In the carve-up of domestic duties he’s plumped for the stove over the washing machine. Air-drying your own beef is so much more impressive than air-drying other things. Like socks, for example.
One of the gastrosexual’s many obsessions is his quest for the perfect burger, the Platonic ideal of a burger, the burger that will taste as good as his first New York burger. The Gastrosexual’s Guide to the Galaxy (his blog which might one day swing him a global book deal) has a whole page devoted to the meat pattie served between two halves of a bun, which brings us to Dublin’s newest burger bar.
Bunsen Burger is on Wexford Street, Dublin 2, sandwiched between the butchers, bars and bike shops on this busy strip.
A young man called Tom Gleeson has given the front a grey paint job. More importantly he's given his new burger bar a back story. His Facebook page has YouTube clips of the baker making the buns, from a recipe that he says has been painstakingly tested. They contain flour, fresh yeast and some "secret ingredients", we're told. The beef is minced Black Aberdeen Angus. When the burgers are flipped they're topped with cheese and a bun and finished on the hotplate under a steel dome.
First off I fear I may have picked the wrong friend for this venue. Anne’s in a nearby bar, she texts: “Having a real drink before my milk shake.” Neither of us can remember when we last drank a milkshake.
When I arrive she has already picked up the menu. It consists of five things (only three of them food items) and is printed on the back of a business card.
Inside Bunsen Burger the long narrow room still smells of fresh paint: glossy grey on the floor, beige on the walls. There are two lines of wooden tables on either side. The schooly wooden chairs came from a salvage yard, a job lot apparently, from a church hall in north Dublin. Exposed copper pipes run along the wall.
The food is served to the table on small trays, and has a feel of Mickey D’s off it. Yes, the trays are zinc rather than plastic but the milkshakes are in cardboard cups with straws and plastic lids. The chips are thin shoestring fries which someone has already salted. In a blind test I think they would be indistinguishable from the golden arches version.
The burgers take us to a different place, in a good way. My medium-rare burger is a large chunk of good mince, pink inside and juicy as a great bit of gossip. There are proper chunks of gherkin, a thick slice of tomato and shards of iceberg lettuce covered in mayo and mustard. It’s a drippy mess that leaves my wax paper covered in meat juices and burger droppings. The bun has a sweet brioche-y feel and flavour. I’m guessing one of the secret ingredients is sugar. It’s baked to a shiny conker brown on top.
The milkshakes are fine, milky rather than sludgy. My strawberry is better than Anne’s chocolate, which tastes like cold hot-chocolate.
Dirty burgers are last year’s London food trend and now they’re here in dirty old Dublin. I’m not the target market. I don’t like having to use five paper napkins to wipe down after scarfing some fast food. It’s never appealing to see a crescent of your own lipstick imprinted on your next mouthful of food. Asking for a fork and a plate would be like going clubbing and asking them to turn the music down. Anne thinks it’s too pricey for her teenagers (a burger fries and a shake comes to nearly €14). Most of the customers the night we visit are young blokes in suits. Will Mr Gastrosexual love it? Probably, like a guilty hit of junk, only better than a Big Mac.
Two burgers, one order of fries and two milkshakes came to €25.25
The verdict: 7.5 if you like fast food and 5/10 if you don't
Facilities: Basic, unisex, verging on prison chic
Music: Rock and pop
Food provenance: None
Wheelchair access: Yes
I wonder what some of the artists whose work used to be sold in the Apollo Art Gallery on Dublin's Dawson Street would make of the fact that the building is now a yoghurt "pop-up shop". A pot of natural yoghurt topped with tasty savoury ingredients is a surprisingly good snack option. I dropped in with my sons and had a smoked trout yoghurt which was tasty. The boys went for one o f the fruit options . Both came to €7. You can also buy pots of yoghurt to bring home and recipe cards which are pretty appealing. I picked up the one with marinated figs, honey and toasted almonds – and it's still gathering dust on my desk.
Glenisk Upfront and Personal, 51 Dawson Street, Dublin 2