Readers will be aware of my fondness for Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I love American food and I’m only glad I don’t live there because if I did I would be needing a whole new wardrobe. I like the idea of the cuisine too. It’s about in-your-face flavour which will taste of exactly what it says on the menu. It’s not hung up on “diet” and “lite” or scared of butter, oil and cream. Instead it relies on the individual to exercise a little restraint. One of the challenges is that the “doggy bag” has gone out of fashion in the UK. We seem to assume that we’ve paid for it and therefore we have to finish it there and then before we waddle out in discomfort. I dread to think what most UK restaurants would even make of the request whereas I’ve seen plenty across the Atlantic which not only pack it in sensible containers but also do it in a way that ensures you’ll get a decent second meal rather than take one look in the cold light of day and drop it into our canine friend’s bowl.
On my most recent trip to Hull I ate at a new American-themed diner called Branded. It seems to be a real feature of the Hull student areas – no restaurant is worth visiting unless it has a theme. I love El Chupitos, I was less enamoured with The Boathouse.
Branded is a smart dark-glassed restaurant with walls decorated with bumper plates, posters and a couple of pieces of paintwork. There is nothing over the top and, visiting in daylight it looks like a slightly more upmarket TGI Fridays. It’s spacious and stylish. The menu is following the usual formula for these type of restaurants – a small range of dishes with different formats. There are burgers, foot-long hot dogs and BBQ specials including steaks, ribs, chicken and wings. There is a nice-looking configure-your-own-salad option but today was not the day!
We skipped starters and chose three interesting looking mains – two burgers and a chicken wings and ribs platter. The burgers were in very good sesame seeded brioche buns. The Spiced Chicken Melt burger had a deep fried chicken breast topped with tomato salsa, mayo, jalapeños and chilli cheese. The chicken was tender and it all tasted “fresh”. The Trailer Trash burger featured a large deep fried brick of mac’n’cheese. There was some pulled pork open top, some dill pickle and “hot sauce”. This tasted very processed but just what you’d expect and therefore just what you want. Both burgers were had a tub of decent chips and some “chipotle slaw” which was pronounced excellent.
The Big Meat Platter costs £65 and features many, many items including a fully boned chicken, sausages, wings and loads more. Thankfully I went for one of its baby brothers – the Rib and Wing Combo. The ribs were meaty ribs rather than spare ribs. Basically this tasted like boneless belly pork with layers of white and dark meat. I had three ribs but it was an enormous slab of pork with a delicious barbecue sauce (heaven knows how you tackle six of them). It was easy to cut slices off the well cooked meat. I got nowhere near finishing it. The accompanying four wings were either hot or smoked and I chose hot…they were very lip-zingingly hot. It was just as well I had a pint of Budweiser to go with it.
All together the burgers and platter with a pint and two soft drinks came to £41.
Branded delivers exactly what it promises. It reminded me of the holidays in Florida where I can’t wait to taste steamed veg and greens again. I can’t eat like this often but I’d go again happily to Branded…just let me have a lie down first.