Food review: Wimpy, by Erik Petersen
I logged into Facebook the other day and immediately knew I must go on a quest. For there, sitting in the middle of all the announcements about which of my friends were expecting a baby and which ones were irate about politics, stood a challenge.
"Our belly's are already rumbling!" the challenge read. "Who's tried the Megaburger?!"
I ignored the incorrect use of "belly's" and the frankly unnecessary interrobang, and instead focused on the more personal aspects of the query, which came from the Facebook page of Wimpy. I was then forced to admit that in fact, I had not tried the Megaburger.
And so off I set to that great hall of life quests, the Broadmarsh Centre.
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I brought Anya, my daughter, who is two and who had never been to Wimpy.
It had been a while since my last Wimpy experience, but as we walked in I immediately remembered what I like about the place. Here we were at a fast-food burger joint, and we were greeted and shown to a seat by an actual human.
The human interaction continued as we were waited on. Right there at our seat. In a fast-food place. Remarkable.
Since I didn't have to jockey for position in a queue below a giant glowing godlike menu, I had time to look around. And from my admittedly unscientific eyeball poll, I believe there can not be many restaurants in Nottingham with as diverse a clientele as Wimpy.
In the corner sat a teenage couple having what looked to be a fairly successful date. Near them sat a pair of pensioners and across from them, a mum and grown daughter. Three lads near the front compared mobile phones. At a table across from me were a small group of Chinese students taking pictures of their food. All of human life was there.
But I wasn't there to make a demographics pie chart. I was there to answer a call. A call to the Megaburger.
Scanning the menu, I realised that the Facebook taunt had glossed over what a Megaburger actually is. The menu offered a more complete definition.
It is a standard Wimpy burger topped with the iconic Wimpy sausage, the Bender in a Bun.
I worried. Is this not the hubris of man? To take burger and sausage and just put them together under the same bun – could such a thing truly be possible? Cow does not lay with pig. I was venturing into a dangerous place.
And frankly, I was worried about the whole "mega" thing as well. Hear the word "megaburger" today and you'd be forgiven for thinking you're about to be served four-fifths of a cow slathered in three kinds of cheese, a field's worth of onions and enough bacon to make a heart artery file a complaint with its union.
There's some show on one of those channels – "Dave" or "Dave 2" or maybe "Gary", I honestly have no idea – that features an American man travelling his country, visiting eateries and consuming burgers and other creations with names like The Violator. Every episode seems to end with a shot of him sweating and needing the toilet. It's horrific.
That's sort of what I had in mind with the Megaburger.
But that's not the Wimpy Megaburger. It is a reasonable size. Note that by "reasonable," I do not mean "small". It is the size of other Wimpy burgers and a perfectly normal amount of food for an adult human to consume at a sitting.
And like other Wimpy meals, it is served on that civilising conveyance, the plate.
There's just something pleasant about going to a fast-food place and being served at your table with cutlery and food on a proper plate.
It's a much better all-round experience than being thrust over a counter a paper bag containing your food in a way that implies you should go find the nearest park bench to consume it on.
So finally, knife and fork in hand, I got down to my Megaburger.
The red bender's a bit like the polser sausages that are ubiquitous in parts of Scandinavia. It's not dissimilar to a hot dog, but a bit meatier and less limp.
Only moderately spiced, it played nicely with the burger, which avoids the strangely sweet misadventure you sometimes get with big-brand fast food burgers. Anya addressed herself to a mini-bender with chips, and needed little persuasion.
For dessert we opted for a shared Rocky Road Sundae. Mini Oreos, mini-marshmallows and lots of chocolate sauce over vanilla ice cream, served up in an old-fashioned long-stemmed glass sundae bowl. Luxury.
I don't always do exactly as Facebook instructs, but on this occasion it served me well. What they do at Wimpy's isn't new or complicated – but as it turns out, people still like human contact and reasonable portions of comfort food served properly.