I have strong memories about eating at Wimpy in Nottingham from my childhood, I would like to say that it is nostalgia but I am not sure that I was old enough to really remember properly. What was it that triggered the need to return and try it again? I remembered a ‘massive’ chunky type of sausage that they did, a sort of frankfurter with chunks cut out so that it looked like a truck tyre, and I also recall that the sauce on the quarter pounder with cheese was the best. Even when McDonalds reached Nottingham we all agreed that they could not beat the Wimpy sauce. So in true MyFoodHunt fashion I just had the need to take on the mission to rediscover my youthful Wimpy eating days. Will that be a mistake? well only time (or the length of this blog) will tell.
The picture on the menu was closer to my memory of the ‘Original Quarter-pounder with Cheese’ than the burger that appeared on my plate. The positives were that it still had that sauce that I remembered from my childhood, it was just as good. Now that I have eaten around a bit I can recognize it as something like a thousand island sauce but with something else a little sweeter hidden in there at the background. The bread was still a brown wholemeal bun, which is a good thing. As for the rest of the dish I was back in the darker days of the 1970’s and not the part that we now fondly reproduce and call retro. Not a terrible meal but one that was best left locked in the memory vault of my childhood.
I was really quite sad when my “famous bender sausage” arrived, it looked nothing like as big as I remembered or even as big as that on the menu pictures. Was it the same sausage, was I just really small when I last ate one (could be I was probably about 7yrs old) or is the Wimpy food photographer just really good at their job? I think we all know that it is going to be all three. It was with this dish that nostalgia and reality collided and popped that bubble. I can still remember that Childhood dish, but now I also remember this dish too. I prefer my childhood memory. On the more positive side It tasted fine, in fact it was a bit like one of those all beef hot dog franks that you get in America and it had the same sort of snap to the bite. I would not mind getting a packet of these ‘bender’ sausages to cook up on my own grill for 4th of July.
Wimpy is probably remembered most fondly by those of us who predate the rise of McDonalds to the UK as the ‘American style’ restaurant that we went to as kids. Back then I had no idea that I would ever travel to America to see the real thing so this was as close I thought I would ever get and I believed that this was what it was really like eating over there. When McDonalds and Burger King moved in to plaster the high street with their brands it all changed. When Burger King bought out the Wimpy Chain in the 1980’s they took over most of the Wimpy resturants and those that remain such as this one in Nottingham were just those with table service.
I don’t think that it helped my nostalgia that they brought out a computer game based on the Wimpy Franchise called Mr Wimpy. I had a copy for my Sinclair Spectrum 48K and can remember playing this around my mates house on a Friday evening after school. That would probably not be allowed these days with the mother coddling ethical advertising standards that abound. It does probably account for that brand ‘branding’ to my brain that clearly had an influence on my return to the scene of those childhood meals.
In some ways I am happy to see that the Wimpy in the Broad Marsh centre has survived all these years, but in other ways I wish that it was no longer so that it could be consigned to my childhood memory and left tucked away in the attic of my mind along with my Beano comics, Action man, and packs of Top Trump cards. Having said all that it is still there, and people are still frequenting it. The food may not be quite as I remember but the table service is still good. On both my visits the manager and waitresses were very friendly and were doing a good job of making everyone welcome.
This Wimpy Branch is on the top floor of the Broadmarsh Centre just at the top of the escalators. There is a take out section as well as the table service area, so you can get a quicker meal if you do not want to sit down. Wimpy fits in quite nicely with its current surroundings, I wonder if it will survive the ever unlikely refurbishment and modernization of the Broadmarsh centre? Well it has survived for this long so maybe it will, time will tell.
Wimpy Burger – Classic, Retro, or Dinosaur? – The Jury has retired…. and is not considering its verdict…case acquitted