Vimto is a Mancunian staple and the fruity drink has now become the unlikely star of a national pub chain’s bonkers new food menu.
Hungry Horse has become notorious for its calorific creations over the years and its newest offerings are no exception, with delights such as a cheesy chip butty with a jug of gravy, a ‘crown of burgers’ and a ‘sweet cheesecake kebab’.
Two other options that jump out straight away are those incorporating the unmistakable flavor of Vimto.
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The most eye-catching is, without doubt, a multi-colored burger titled ‘The Berry Cheesy Vimto One’, consisting of a bizarre-looking rainbow bun, two beef patties, bacon, a baked Camembert, jalapenos, red onion, tomato, baby gem lettuce, and Vimto onion BBQ chutney.
Customers can also treat themselves and a date to a ‘Loaded Cheesy Vimto Loaf’ sharer – a full Coberg loaf drizzled with garlic glaze, filled with a whole Camembert and topped with Vimto onion chutney.
As a Vimto fan and a sucker for getting out and trying weird and wonderful foods, it only seemed right that I go down and see how they actually taste.
It has been a long time since I last visited a Hungry Horse pub as I still have flashbacks to spending the entire day in one, severely hungover, after a friend’s birthday.
In total, there are 10 of the pubs in Greater Manchester and my local is The Red Lion, in the Over Hulton area of Bolton.
As a child, I spent countless hours in the adjoining Wacky Warehouse but have not really visited the pub many times as an adult – instead opting to head into Bolton town center or Manchester.
Despite this, upon entering there was a comforting sense of familiarity about the place.
The pub also allows ordering through an app and although not for everyone, I certainly enjoy the convenience.
Another perk is being able to see if certain menu items are off-limits and to my great shock, the Loaded Cheesy Vimto Loaf was a total sell out.
I opted for the burger and it arrived around 20 minutes later, brought over by a very pleasant and honest member of staff who informed me that they wouldn’t order it themselves because they hate Camembert.
Seeing a whole Camembert wedged into the middle of a burger is a sight to behold but the rainbow bun was far less appealing to me.
For some reason, the top bun is served upside down and so when I flipped it over, the burger became a bit soggy to hold as the traditional outer edge had been touching the fresh salad below.
As for the Vimto onion BBQ chutney, most of it had made its escape from the burger onto the plate.
Once I got stuck in and past the soggy bun, it actually tasted decent enough, if distinctly lacking in Vimto flavour.
The Camembert was the star of the show but it did make it incredibly messy and tricky to eat.
Still needing my Vimto fix, I took to the app to scout out the nearest Hungry Horse pub that had the Loaded Cheesy Vimto Loaf in stock.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to travel far and made the relatively short journey over to The Parsonage, in Leigh.
The pub is built on the former site of the Parsonage Colliery and its decor has plenty of nods to the history of the old coal mine.
Service was slightly quicker with the meal coming in the space of 15 minutes and the sight of a huge Camembert in the middle of a freshly baked loaf was extremely tantalizing.
This time, the Vimto onion chutney came in a separate pot – a wise decision after the burger travesty.
It tasted unbelievable and if shops started selling it, I would go out and buy a jar straight away.
The chutney really complemented the flavors of the Camembert and the bread was beautiful and crusty.
There’s also not many better food-related sights, for me, than oozing cheese.
My only question would be why is it also served with carrot sticks and cucumber? Surely we’re all ordering this for indulgent, bready, cheesy, Vimto-ey goodness.
Aside from that, it put me in such a good mood that I went against my better judgment and decided to get one of the ‘sweet cheesecake kebab’ desserts.
The dessert is even more bizarre than it sounds – a chocolate tortilla filled with sweet potato fries, salted caramel, vanilla ice cream, a vanilla cheesecake and raspberry compote.
According to the menu, it is meant to be served in a sundae glass, and topped with a strawberry.
Instead, I decided to get it to-go and used my experience of working in Nando’s to wrap the kebab into something much easier to pick up and eat.
The mixture of flavors is interesting to say the least and the combination of the hot sweet potato fries with the ice cream is a strange sensation.
For me, it just about worked but I only managed to eat around a third of it, as it became incredibly sickly.
On the whole, the new menu items are not going to be for everyone but there are enough pub classics to keep others happy.
It cost me just under £30 for a three-course meal and a drink and if they keep the Loaded Cheesy Vimto Loaf on the menu, I definitely won’t be leaving it as long to make another return visit.
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