Can a burger joint be classy? Yes, says Amanda Wragg, if it’s in the capable hands of Eric Paxman.

Pax Burger, Huddersfield
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Pax Burger, 103 Lidget St, Lindey, Huddersfield. Chefs Eric Paxman and James Thompson. 29th June 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Five years ago I wrote about Eric Paxman’s eponymous restaurant in leafy Lindley. I remember clearly the rain falling steadily on the grey rooftops. It was midsummer, after all. But the sunshine on the plate more than made up for inclement weather. To recap, Eric spent some time travelling and cooking before ending up in Bill Grainger’s Sydney kitchen. His wanderlust quelled, he returned, and whilst happily “borrowing” from Grainger’s style, he made the menu very much his own and he’s won many a gong in the intervening years.
Eric isn’t a man to let the grass grow under his feet. Since he opened in 2010 he’s hosted tasting menus, brunches, lobster and champagne nights and you can score a mean afternoon tea. He’s never been shy of linking food with events – coming up in the next month or so, an Olympian Superfood Brunch and a Bond night.
And now, a couple of doors down, a burger bar. Not just any old McBurger of course, this is planet Paxman, so it’s done with panache, style and a side of humour. It’s themed, but it’s classy. If that’s hard to imagine, think 50s American diner brought bang up to date by someone with a decent budget and good taste.

Pax Burger, 103 Lidget St, Lindey, Huddersfield. 29th June 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

We’re led upstairs to an airy diner where cool tunes float on the air; Bill Withers, Hendrix and Velvet Underground; groovy! Along a couple of stone walls are buttoned banquettes with Lichtenstein-style pop art posters above them. Our charming waiter Callan moves tables around so our party (visiting Aussie rellies) can sit comfortably. It’s Monday teatime and the joint is jumping.
Pax Burger is of course a single-concept place, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it’s good. Fortunately it is. There are beef ones, The Lamb One, Licky Lips (chicken), Something Fishy and The Big Veggie, and for “a limited time only” Zorba the Greek. When was the last time you took the lid off your burger and found pomegranate seeds? Also present in The Lamb One, Za’atar and cumin, courgettes, aubergine, coriander, aioli and feta – all the flavours zinging through. The “Pax a Punch” does exactly that – it’s satisfyingly fiery without blowing your socks off, the smoked BBQ pulled ox cheek adding a nice bit of texture. Uncle Jack’s Oozy Bluezy with Yorkshire blue cheese, house ketchup, peppercorn sauce mayo and pink pickled onions is a “belter”. Non-meat-eater cousin Anna’s fish one is “awesome!” but needs a bit of crunch, sorted easily by adding a handful of Kimchi Chinese cabbage slaw.
Sides-wise we’ve ordered BBQ ribs (six- hour, slow-cooked short rib) and they’re gratifyingly sticky, the meat falling away from the bone. You can’t do justice to a burger night out without beer-battered onion rings and they’re perfect; the batter shatters on impact and they’re the size of Coleen Rooney’s hoop earrings. It’s posh KFC for people like me who’ve never ventured through Colonel Sanders’ door.

Pax Burger, 103 Lidget St, Lindey, Huddersfield. Sweet & Spicy wings, Beef short rib and Beer battered onion rings. 29th June 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Sweet & Spicy wings, Beef short rib and Beer battered onion rings.

I “upgrade” my fries with chicken skin and thyme salt but can’t really discern between mine and Mum’s regular fries – but they’re good nonetheless; skinny, crispy, perfect for dunking. Talking of which, squeeze a blob of Eric’s homemade weapons-grade chilli sauce on the side of your metal tray with caution; you’ve been warned.
Go large with a double patty for an extra three quid, or choose a gluten-free bun, or do it entirely breadless and have your burger served between two Gem leaves.

Pax Burger, 103 Lidget St, Lindey, Huddersfield. Baked New York Cheesecake, Tilly's Key Lime Pie and Pax Brownie & Honeycomb. 29th June 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Baked New York Cheesecake, Tilly’s Key Lime Pie

Finish up with a scoop of Oreo cookie ice cream, a slice of Tilly’s Key Lime Pie or Baked New York Cheesecake with popping candy. There’s a short but affordable wine list, with a decent Pinot Grigio coming in at £17 but the cocktails are fab and pun-tastic: Rob Roy (Jim Beam with a twist), a boozy milkshake called What the Fudge and a Pickled Pink consisting of a shot of Mescal with pink pickled onion juice.
Long before it was fashionable, Eric sourced his ingredients carefully and locally. His beef is 35-day aged, grass-fed Aberdeen Angus from Saddleworth butcher Jack Wood, and the ribs and chicken come from Bolster Moor Farm in Golcar. Everything has been Paxmanned – the menu, the paper on the tray your food comes on, even the wipes. And you get a cute little yellow Pax badge as you leave. Oh and did I mention it’s a take-out too?
It’s an indecent amount of fun from start to finish. The burgers are great, service is lovely and unflustered and the vibe is lively. Did the Aussies approve? Like home from home, but without the 80C in the shade. I think that’s a thumb’s up, Eric, and a sassy addition to the Paxman empire.
Pax Burger, 103 Lidget Street, Lindley, Huddersfield HD3 3JR. 01484 943019, paxburger.co.uk. Open: Monday to Friday 12-2pm; Monday to Thursday, 5-9pm, Friday 5-10pm, Saturday 12–10pm, Sunday 12-6pm. Burgers around £10, sides between £2 and £4, puddings £5.

About The Author

Amanda Wragg

Mandy Wragg is a freelance food journalist, writing and inspecting for the Yorkshire Post, Alastair Sawday, the Morning Advertiser, the AA, Cool Places and David Hancock's Inn Places. She co-writes www.squidbeak.co.uk, an independent guide to eating, drinking and staying in Yorkshire.

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