Sean Dodson, Restaurant Critic
The music critic Charles Shaar Murray once wrote that the eighties were the decade that never ends. It's as if the things that defined the decade -- individualism, conspicuous consumption, a focus on convenience -- remain as powerful today as they were 30-odd-years ago.
Paxman sharpened his knives under the tutelage of Marco Pierre White at L'Escargot, before opening the nearby Eric's, recently listed in Good Food Guide for the fifth consecutive year. Pax Burger is his latest venture, situated a few doors along from his eponymous restaurant in the handsome Huddersfield village of Lindley. It takes some of the flamboyance and originality of his gourmet dining room, but in a more casual setting, offering only burgers and sides.
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The menu is replete with sticky-fingered sides: salty chicken wings, glossy ribs, onion rings as big as pram wheels.
Veggies should worry not, they get two options, and both dairy and gluten intolerances provided for. Kids are offered burger, fries and a drink for just £6.
Adults choose from 10 regular hamburgers, with seasonal specials on the board.
Blue cheese, pulled pork, fish goujons and breaded Portobello mushrooms all tempt, but it is the middle-eastern-inspired "Lamb One" (£10) that gets my order.
So, soon arrives a lamb patty, gently grilled all grey-pink and peach-like, contained in a ever-so-slightly glazed brioche dome. The meat is outstanding; the lamb well hung and coarsely chopped, but with that earthy tang you don't get with beef. Even so, it is the extra ingredients that offer the true measure of Pax: feta, zaatar, lettuce, tomato, red peppers, ribbon-thin slices of courgette, juicy aubergine and a touch of coriander. My burger is intensified with a trio of sauces: aioli, chef-made ketchup and a piquant pomegranate-seed pickle that spills all sequin-like across the plate as soon as the burger is picked up. I think the feta is a bit bossy as its flavour threatens to overpower the delicate mix of Levantine flavours, so I scrape it off.
Across the table my lovely wife coos over the "hello halloumi" burger (£8) warming to its creamy/salty balance, but with a hint of sweetness. Again the extra components are noteworthy: a pile of smashed avocado, roasted squash, sweet-chilli coleslaw and tarragon mayo, all held together with a precariously placed wooden skewer. She says it's one of the best burgers she's ever had, second only to Bacoa Kiosko in Barcelona, high praise indeed.
The restaurant itself is a two-deck affair, with a bar downstairs and a larger dining room above. It is packed on the Wednesday evening we visit. The upstairs room is a tidy mix of Americana: Its reference points, moreover, also evoke eighties chic. The Roy Lichtenstein pop art prints, the yellow booths of faux leather, the squeezy ketchup bottles and attractive yellow neon sign are straight out of Miami Vice. Only a bottle of malt vinegar on the table betrays that we are actually in Yorkshire.
Drinks are novel too. My glass of sangria (I was fooling myself it was still summer) is so laced with booze that the mixing spoon stands practically bolt-upright in the glass. While the desserts deserve praise as well. A slick wedge of peanut butter and chocolate tart (£5) is tastily bitter, the accompanying strawberry sorbet provides a soothing counterpoint. A warm sweet waffle (£5) completes a fine meal.
Pax is a welcome addition to the burgeoning food scene in Lindley. Already there are plans to beef up Mirfield, a small town on the other side of Huddersfield, with a second branch. We'll certainly be back for its re-imagining of all things eighties. Perhaps greed is good after all.
Pax Burger 103 Lidget Street, Lindey, Huddersfield HD3 3JR
Pax Burger, 5th October 2017, 16:26 PM