The restaurant at SoLITA is based around their Inka Grill, a British rival to the Josper, and the menu is therefore centred around burgers, steaks, and all the usual accompaniments. But Franco has an eye for making a splash so as well as classic style burgers (Bacon Double Cheese), there's amusingly quirky additions (The Big Manc is a Lancashire Big Mac) and some new, off the wall stuff, such as The Ramen Burger. Throw in on top of that a nod to popular culture, the Breaking Bad was on specials during our visit, and what you have is a place that is a whole heap of fun so long as the food is good enough. The only way then was to try a whole lot of everything.
We start with a small plate of deep fried mac n cheese and while this is popular on many a menu now, here we think they got just about everything right. These little mac and cheese balls were a perfect size to provide the right balance between the crisp outside and mac and cheese inside while striking the right cheese and texture balance inside. Quite frankly I could just visit SoLITA and order a giant plate of these every day and be happy; if that seems an unhealthy idea, wait till you see what's coming.
Rooster scratchings are super salty but moreish and provide a nice alternative to jaw breaking pork scratchings, though a few people have do have issue with eating chicken skin as a snack like this. But yep, tick, ate quite a few of these. Bacon fat popcorn sounds amazing but we don't want to fill up on the snacks but sitting here writing this, I now really wish I had ordered it. A whole fried flowered onion arrived next which is nothing like an onion in a restaurant that I've seen before though it is more familiar to MrsCC as it is seen more often in the US. It is both a visually more stunning treat than onion rings and certainly here, kept more moisture in the onion which again made it a plate you could get deep into before realising there is still a lot of food on the way so you should probably stop.
Next up is the buttermilk fried chicken burger. It's a beautiful thing, coated in a bright golden batter and is very nice indeed but also (by some measure at least) squeaky clean. If you're wondering what measure that could possibly be, our comparison is the Dirty Chicken Burger from MEATliquor which in many ways is properly dirty. Eating the chicken burger here, I don't feel dirty, possibly why I polished it off, arguably foolhardy given what we still have to come.
The Reuben didn't really work for us with doorstep wedges of bread too dominant, something which Franco himself spotted immediately when he approached our table to ask how we were finding things. But the really big guns are yet to come.
Arriving at the same time we get a Manc-hattan and a Do-burg. The Manc-hattan is one of only two items on the menu to carry a red 'recommended' sign next to its name and is a burger that is topped with of pastrami, melted Lancashire cheese, panko fried black pudding, Lancashire sauce, Coney Island mustard. It's a big bite, a culinary nod to Manchester and understandably popular. But my eyes are set on the Do-burg and if you are wondering what that is, think Donut meets burger.
Some quick research online tells me that the doughnut burger is also called the Luther Burger in the US (after Luther Vandross) and Health.com ranks it number 11 in their top 50 of the fattiest food in the States. It screams Adam Richman at you and The Sun reports that a Donut-Burger can have up to 2,000 calories. Here however, it's a little different than the traditional variety that generally uses a Krispy Kreme doughnut instead of the bun. Rather, it's a burger with cheese inside that's breadcrumbed and deep fried with cheese then melted on top and sprinkled with candied bacon. Since deep frying anything makes it better and a burger is pretty damned good to start, I actually enjoyed this so much an intervention was staged from across the table to 'save my life'.
There's a side salad on the menu here but I wonder how much of that they sell for unless you wander in by accident, SoLITA is a place to come while leaving your guilt at home and just enjoy all that's good about what comes off a grill or out of a fryer. Even their mash is called 60-40 mash as it is billed as 40% butter. SoLITA is a guilty pleasure to the power of a googol but that's okay because we like those. It's fun, reasonably priced, offers really quite a lot of options and never takes itself too seriously except in wanting to deliver good food to its customers. What's not to like?