13th Element – Burgers/Vegan – Nottingham
13th Element have been around a while, predominantly servicing the people of Nottingham through street food popups and deliveries. They’ve owned this site on Castle Boulevard for some months to service their delivery offering, recently opening it as a fully fledged restaurant. Interestingly its not really near any other bars or restaurants and a unit that’s struggled in other guises before. I have higher hopes for 13th Element, them already having established strong following from building up their brand over the last few years. The restaurant itself is set up with a somewhat sparse welcoming area and most of the tables tucked further back. The walls are adorned with quite striking artworks, a stylish and contemporary space. The menu follows their successes and keeps it simple with a handful of burgers, a few sides as well as the, now compulsory, option of some more small plates too.
It was one of their first services so I forgave a little slowness from the kitchen although what actually irked me more was their flagship “element of smoke” burger. It looks the part on their Instagram, a cloche filled with smoke is removed tableside… a bit of theatre yes but when you’re in closely packed tables it becomes a quite overwhelming experience every couple of minutes if you get a waft in the wrong direction. I’ll put my grumpy old man routine to one side and say when food did appear it was well presented, with minimalist, modern plates making both the burger and sides stand out on their matt black background. The buffalo burger itself (£11) was really rather good. The “chicken” patty a nice texture but most importantly the sauce had bags of flavour, I’m a fan of keeping it simple and a handful of slaw and a few pickles let me wanting nothing more. Great for a vegan burger, very good for any burger (in Nottingham at least). Corn ribs (£4.50) had a little smoked paprika for an extra depth of flavour and were well cooked and sweet, a nice foil to the rich buffalo sauce. I had also opted for loaded shawarma fries for £7.95. These felt a bit pricey vs others I’ve had around Nottingham but the quality was good. Their shawarma itself was well flavoured but didn’t feel like it went particularly well here, the salsa, aioli and chilli sauce needed a softer element than the quite large shawarma pieces. I’d recommend just getting their normal fries for £3.50 unless you’re feeling particularly hungry or decadent!
I really enjoyed the food at 13th Element, they have refined their offering well and not fallen into the trap of offering a big menu or things beyond their means. The setup was polished but felt a little lacking in soul, the staff well drilled and suited but not yet found their ability to be more relaxed. It compares fairly favourably on price to the likes of Bohns and Fat Hippo but a little more than the cheaper options like Ohannes although really it could only be compared to the former. It should be a spot for vegans and/or burger lovers, on the evidence of my visit it would be hard for anyone not to enjoy the offering here.