Build Your Own Burger At The Hurt Arms In Ambergate
Don’t ask me why, but I got to dinner time and just couldn’t be faffed to cook if I’m being totally honest. Instead of admitting to defeat (or laziness!), I styled it out and casually suggested that His Nibs and I go out for an impromptu meal; thankfully he fell for the cunning plan I’d come up with and booked us a table at The Hurt Arms in Ambergate.
If you haven’t been here before, you certainly won’t fail to be impressed by the imposing stone building – you can’t miss it either, as it sits right on the A6! Dating back to 1874 the building had, sadly (like many others) fallen into a state of disrepair until the current owners bought it in 2018. As well as extensively refurbishing and decorating the downstairs they created six suites of accommodation, including a bridal suite. There is a decent sized car park at the side of the venue, so The Man Bird slung the jalopy into a vacant one and we headed inside. We used the hand sanitiser at the entrance and dutifully scanned the ‘track and trace’ QR code onto our phones.
The tables are nicely spaced out and we had one in the corner, which was lovely. I did my usual thing and nebbed around at the decor, noting the mix of warm-toned terracotta tiles and wooden flooring. There was a mix of painted and papered walls (and an assortment of patterns to the paper) that followed a monochrome colour palate.
A lovely young lady came to take our drinks order and we looked through the menu whilst we were waiting for them. When she returned we were ready to place our order: Spicy Shrimp Taco with shredded ‘slaw (£6.50, me) and Cumberland Scotch Egg (£5.95, him) to start, followed by our choices of ‘Build Your Own Burger’ which come with 2 sides each. We didn’t have long to wait for our food to arrive, thankfully; I was hungrier than a scabby dog, as they say!
My pair of soft Tacos were housed in a metal rack to keep them neat until I was ready to tuck in and each one was stuffed full of plump, juicy prawns, that rolled gently over my tongue. In complete contrast to the prawns’ soft sweetness was a fabulously kicking sauce that more than made its presence known! To provide some respite was plenty of shredded, cool Iceberg Lettuce; this also gave a nice bit of crunch to this starter dish. Gotta say, I really enjoyed this.
His Nibs licked his lips in anticipation when the Cumberland Scotch Egg was placed before him, marvelling at the ridiculously deep golden, soft yolk at the centre of it all. Not only was the eggs’ yolk stunning in its colour, it was just as delicious in taste; its richness balanced the robust seasoning in the sausage superbly, too. Looking at the Cumberland sausage outer, I decided not to chance a nibble – you all know what I’m like when it comes to sausage, and The Man did say that he thought the ‘repeat factor’ would be high so I trusted his judgement. A bed of crispy, shredded fried Leeks gave a great crunch when eaten and His Nibs loved the way the Mustard and HP sauce ramped up the spice and flavour even more.
Our server was too late with her check-back –we’d finished our starters by the time she returned! With our initial hunger satiated we were both looking forward to our burgers; I’d chosen the Spiced Salmon Fillet, Stilton cheese and a Black Treacle Bun, and The Man Bird selected the 7oz Beef Patty, Mature Cheddar and a Sourdough bun. For our sides (you get two, from a selection, with each burger) we chose Buttered ‘Corn, Spicy Wedges, Parmesan and Truffle Fries, and Onion Rings. I liked the fact that everything was included in the price rather than having a cheaper price for the burger but you then have to add on the cost of sides etc – make it an easy, one-step process, I say.
The Salmon fillet was a proper chunky number with a good blast of spice so you certainly get the taste coming through amongst the other elements, and there was plenty of melted Stilton detected on my palate too. I absolutely loved the black treacle bun: you got a fab smoky undertone coming through as well as a hint of sweetness, and it seemed to enhance all the other flavours in the burger. As a final flourish, the bun had been topped with oats and seeds and these both gave a gentle taste and texture to the meal.
Needless to say, I scoffed both the halves of glistening, butter bathed Sweetcorn; His Nibs was having none of that healthy stuff, thank you very much! Instead, he busied himself with the thick Onion rings, crunching happily away on their super-crispy batter outers. Presentation-wise, the team at The Hurt Arms serve their burgers in triple-tiered metal stands that look like bird cages with their enclosed backs; these house the burger and both sides on each tier. Now there’s no denying that this is an exquisite way of presenting food, but there was just one snag: the bowls were quite shallow and the skinny fries have a large surface area over which to lose heat. The fries were simply too spaced out and cooled down far too quickly; a cover over the bowl would solve this little hiccup I think. We both really rated the Parmesan and Truffle fries though; even when cooler they had a great earthy note from the truffle and pungency from the Parmesan.
For those with hearty appetites may I recommend the 7oz Beef Patty as your burger of choice? When His Nibs cut the bun in half, we both said “ooft!” as its sheer thickness was revealed. Not only was it thick, it was beautifully tender, juicy and full of flavour in the mouth – everything you could ask for really. There was plenty of melted mature Cheddar cheese in evidence – you couldn’t miss it oozing down the side when brought up to the mouth. The classic burger staples cool Lettuce and sweet slices of Tomato rounded off this bobby dazzler of a burger. For a dash of spice His Nibs had chosen the Spicy Wedges, and these didn’t disappoint with their distinct punchiness.
Our server had made sure to check back quicker whilst we were tucking into our mains, and was pleased to hear how much we were enjoying the burgers. The team was certainly on the younger side, but what they perhaps lacked in experience they made up for in their friendliness – and friendly service plays a large part of a dining experience.
We couldn’t manage dessert after the hefty burgers and starters, but it’s a good excuse to go back isn’t it? Hot Wings awarded here.