When you first meet James Tabor you’re instantly aware of an infectious energy and passion for anything that he talks about, and, if I’m being honest, that could be absolutely anything.
During our chat we talked about everything from Hugh Grant’s Ferrari to the American fast food joints, via COVID and even my favourite Ancoats charity shop – Mustard Tree. We were only chatting for about 10 minutes too – we managed to fit A LOT in there.
I was down at the fantastic Society, the new(ish) street food and entertainment venue over on Barbirolli Square next to the Bridgewater Hall, pumping James for information on the arrival of his burger and loaded fries brand – Slap & Pickle.
What a name eh?! With a name like that I’m already invested and want to know what it’s all about. Well, James started Slap & Pickle back in 2017 with his partner Zoe, but it was a completely different animal back then.
“We took a temporary pitch in Trinity Kitchen in Leeds and we were selling hot dogs. I was so nervous about it doing well, but everything came together and it was brilliant.”
Quickly making the move into burgers, James and Zoe moved to their first permanent site in Assembly Underground a year later, and it’s here where they really honed their new offering.
The main focus of their burgers is the meat, the aim is to let “it sing” using the finest 40-day dry-aged beef from Swaledale in Yorkshire, which is ‘smashed’ directly on the grill to yield juicy patties with caramelised crusts.
James’ passion for his meat and his burgers is, as I mentioned, infectious. He absolutely loves the products he makes. And it’s hard to disagree with him, not only is it easy to catch the contagious enthusiasm, but once you actually taste one of these burgers – you’ll be a convert.
But haven’t we already got enough burger joints in Manchester?!
Good question, and yes indeed, after the 2013/14 burger ‘revolution’, the city is still awash with some seriously good burgers, but James is undeterred and wants to get everyone in Manchester (and beyond) to try his creations.
So even though you’ll find a bunch of weird and wonderful toppings on Slap & Pickle’s burgers, it’s the signature ‘Personal Cheesus‘ which remains his favourite – a simple double cheeseburger with lettuce, pickles and S&P burger sauce – that really lets the quality of the ingredients shine through.
With Slap & Pickle’s recent arrival at Society and in the city, this brings their number of venues to an impressive seven (Beer Hawk and Assembly Underground in central Leeds; The Fleece in West Leeds; Vocation & Co. Hebden Bridge; Cheeba Cheeba Café and the soon-to-open mega site at Heist Brew Co. in Sheffield) so he must be doing something right.
In addition to the burgers, Slap & Pickle also serve up an amazing selection of ‘Loaded’ Fries, of which their Chicken Kiev Fries are a MUST. They also offer up the majority of items on their menu in veggie or vegan versions too – catering for all.
I think it’s at this point that I should slip this in here: their Vegan Duck Fries are absolutely superb and a must for anyone, meat-eater or not.
James is also keen to point out that Slap & Pickle is also operating a delivery service using the usual ‘big boys’ but also the radical new, local Foodstuff – a company that has reacted to the “big problems in the delivery industry” and offer a simple flat fee for restaurants, and pay their eco-friendly riders a National Living Wage and benefits.
What’s more, Slap & Pickle is also pledging 10% of profits from its Foodstuff sales to Mustard Tree, a charity looking to combat homelessness and fight poverty in Manchester.
So S&P has landed here in the city with a hearty big ‘SLAP’ and doesn’t look to be going anywhere. Not that we would want it to, not with burgers as good as this! Head on down to Society, grab a Personal Cheesus, a pint of Vocation and have a bloody good time out in the sun this weekend. You won’t regret it.
Slap & Pickle is located within Society, which is open for walk-ins every day of the week from 12pm.