A collaboration with former The Truscott Arms owner Andrew Fishwick and former Smokehouse executive chef David Lagonell, Simplicity Burger is expected to open at an as yet undisclosed location in Shoreditch's Brick Lane in October.
“Everything will be made fresh by hand in the restaurant,” says Rankin, who is something of a meat specialist having held senior roles at Barbecoa and Pitt Cue before going on to launch the Smokehouse brand and Temper, which specialises in whole animal barbecue.
“It pisses me off that vegan has gone down the processed route. Our burger tastes great so we won’t be hiding it with lots of sauces and other things like most people serving vegan burgers do.”
The two-storey space will be small with a tight menu of burgers available upstairs in a diner-style restaurant and a cocktail bar below.
Rankin says he's 95% of the way through creating the burger. The recipe and make-up of the patty is a closely guarded secret, but it involves three cooking stages and dehydrating and rehydrating some of the ingredients, which Rankin says are largely sourced from the UK. "There's currently only one thing in it that needs to be sourced from abroad, a widely-used soy-based ingredient. I want to be able to grow my own burger in my back yard.”
Unusually for a restaurant focused on vegan burgers, Simplicity Burger will offer some of its burgers with high quality butters and cheeses, but the menu will still be around 90% vegan.
Rankin says the business could scale and that the burger could eventually be made available to other restaurants, but he is concentrating all his efforts on the inaugural site for the time being.
"It won't be a finished product when we open. It's something that will be developed over time. We need to take it slowly.”
Rankin will work on the project full-time. The Scotland-born chef says he is still involved with Temper but has taken a step back from the three-strong business. "Temper is going through a period of time when it doesn't need a creative chef involved with it. Sam Lee runs the company as managing director and always has done. I have spent the last six months getting the menu to a point it can be rolled out across the whole group.”
“There needs to a period where I don't go in and fuck with the menu and piss people off. But as a director and shareholder I’m still very much involved.”
Rankin, Fishwick and Lagonell are also eyeing the launch of a second concept called Nuclear Banana, which is likely to open next year following a deal on a site falling through earlier this year.
Rankin describes the project as a pure vegan restaurant with an entertainment element.
"It's a restaurant based on the end of the world," says Rankin. "It's a bit fucked up. We had the right space for it but unfortunately it fell through. I want a really beautiful space for it that allows me to do live entertainment, and a few other thing. I want to take the concept of vegan dining but present it in a way non-vegans will like. It will have an edgy vibe.”