“For us the perfect burger is about taste, texture and succulence,” says Ben Abbot, owner of The Lioness of Leith bar. “We start with quality raw ingredients and try to perfect each element in turn. When it all comes together the garnish should elevate rather than overpower and a great bun is a must”.
In 2018, Abbot and his business partner Danny Zyw launched Lioness Burgers in their Duke Street pub, which opened back in 2013.
During lockdown, they decided to rebrand this popular “gourmet burger” offering to Burger Mama, offering delivery and takeaway from this venue, and now they’ve taken the next step.
In early February, they’ll be opening a stand-alone burger joint Burger Mama, at 16 Haymarket Terrace, which, ironically, is in the former premises of healthy eating cafe, Grams, now on Hamilton Place.
Starting this sideline to the main business helped pull them through the pandemic.
“Lockdown was awful for the licensing trade as a whole - but having an established food line allowed us to shift focus solely onto that”, says Abbot.
The new space will offer takeaway and delivery but also allow 25 covers to sit in, and its owner describes the fun look they’re going for as “neon-rattan-jungle-chic”. They’ve already hung a couple of bright pink signs, one of which tells customers, “It’s burger time” and another featuring their logo.
The menu will be similar to what will continue to be offered at The Lioness of Leith, which they describe as Burger Mama’s “spiritual home”, with burgers made from skirt and flank steaks sourced from butcher Findlays of Portobello. “We only use natural ingredients and quality is paramount”, says Abbot.
At the original venue, their bestsellers are the fried chicken burger that is Buttermilk Chicken; the classic Oldskool, with a 6oz house pattie, baby gem, tomato, red onion, cheddar, mayo and dill pickles in a brioche bun, as well as the Future burger, which features two patties, bacon and cheddar, as well as their selection of sides, which include kimchi and sriracha slaw, and chicken, beef chilli or veggie nachos. All the burgers sell for around a tenner, except the £15 number that was created for the larger appetite. The Behemoth features three 6oz patties, crispy bacon, cheese, and chilli. Using Portobello mushrooma, halloumi, bean burgers and falafel instead of the usual beef, they’re also constantly growing their vegetarian and vegan lines, and will also be designing a few more meat and meat-free burgers for their Haymarket debut.
“We have a few new creations in the offing,” says Abbot. “The ‘West End GRL will be launched for our west end debut - it involves grilled cheese is all I’ll say”.
For fans of Burger Mama, this might not be their final outpost.
“We’d love to grow steadily taking on the right new opportunities as they arise”, says Abbot. “We want to be the go-to local burger joint”.