Before my most recent visit to the city of my birth in November 2012, if you had told me there was a restaurant offering 10,888,869,450,418, 352,160,768,000,000 menu options I would have said you were mad. If you had further told me that the same establishment served spicy chicken wings that would break me out is a sweat, I would have been sure of your insanity. However, such a place is not actually the stuff of legend, it exists, I have been there and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The place in question is Build-a-Burger on Botanic Avenue, right in the heart of studentland.
OK, let me explain. The staggering number of options is simply a matter of maths and undoubtedly a statistician or mathematician could explain it much better than I will. It all revelves, as the name suggests, around the building of burgers. You start off with a choice of four buns, then choose from four burgers (beef, chicken, venison or veggie) and a further four choices of cheese and then it gets interesting. You are presented with 27 toppings and 17 sauces of which the most bizarre for me was "gummy bears". On a burger? You then have a further choice of seven other additional toppings including the slightly improbable nutella or even peanut butter and there you go. Multiply all the permutations together and you come up with the apparently ludicrous figure above. You simply chooes as few or as many as you like. My choice (as I remember it) is reproduced in the favourite dish section of this tip.
Normally a burger and chips would have been enough for me. I am ot a big eater but it had been a long day and I was ravenous. Naturally, when I saw "Hammer Wings" offered in a choice of mild / medium / hot / dynamite, that was a challenge I could not resist. Five dynamite wings and proper Belfast chips (not French fries) was ordered for a starter. Whilst waiting for my meal to be served (the place is self-service) I got talking to the boss, a very friendly American chap. This period also gave me the opportunity to examine the extensive photo board on the wall including some complete lunatics who had atempted, and in some cases finished, the "Big Lad" challenge. Perhaps due to the American influence of the boss, this is one of these idiotic and undoubtedly injurious eating challenges. It is effectively a 36 ounce burger with a shedload of toppings. Should you be interested in attempting it, it will cost you £20.
Back to the meal and it is not often I am asked to sign a legal waiver before eating. This one states that I would not sue the place if I burnt my guts out. Undoubtedly a bit of a publicity stunt but after the first wing, I could see some sort of logic behind it, the were volcanic. I eat a lot of curry, my favourite Thai dish is Isaan jungle curry (hot) and so on, but this really was a challenge. Apologies for the image but I had torn into the meal before I remembered to take one. It is not a pleasant image I know if you are reading a restaurant tip, but I had broken a bit of a sweat by the time I had finished and my eyes were watering a bit. As far as I could see through my teared eyes, at least one of the staff was giving me a knowing look.
I eventually negotiated the chillifest that constituted the starters and took into the burger. I suppose you cannot really complain if you don't like it as you have designed it yourself but, if I say so myself, it was rather good. I had watched the burger being cooked from scratch, the whole thing was finished off double quick and I left a happy and well-fed man.
Certainly, this place is not haute cuisine, it is not meant to be. As alluded to above, the main portion of the clientele seem to be students and younger people. It is not licensed but if you want a good, honest, fun and relatively inexpensive feed, this could well be the place for you.
Favorite Dish: The hammer wings, as mentioned in the main text, were brilliant but to be treated with great respect. The burger (my own creation obviously) was lovely. as best I can rmemeber it was a Belfast floury bap, beef patty, fried egg, jalapeno and chilli sauce. Delicious.