Milan | Ham Holy Burger

Milan‘s latest burger joint is doing very well. Not a fast-food chain outlet, but a trendy gourmet burger eatery with a very Italian flavour and a somewhat baffling name.

Ham Holy Burger guarantees 100% lean meat from Piedmontese cattle (the breed is a Slow Food presidium), and it comes in real bread buns with a variety of fresh Italianate trimmings. The optional fries are strictly home-cooked and the side-salads lavish and creative.

This and other tasty fare is prepared and served in an original setting which is both bemusing and amusing, somewhere between a rustic tavern and the inside of a submarine. The eclectic mix includes natural wooden flooring, benches and table tops; white tiles with red grouting on some walls; what looks like galvanised metal sheeting but is apparently silvery plaster on others. Then there’s the open-kitchen counter where they prepare cold cuts and salads, overhung with Parma hams and Auricchio cheeses, stringed red onions and braided garlic as well as tin utensils. They got the lighting right too.

A real novelty is the iPad ordering system: there’s one at each table in lieu of a menu, an interactive experience which trasmits your every desire to the kitchen. And if you’re alone or unsociable, you can take advantage of the wireless internet connection while you wait.

Ham Holy Burger is in a great position in Via Palermo, in the fashionable area just north of what is strictly Brera. Prices are reasonable, considering, with burgers from €9 to €15. It’s open for lunch and through to midnight every day. If there’s a downside, it’s that the place can get crowded and noisy, with small tables and some incommodious seating making you feel a trifle cramped.

Nevertheless, it’s doing so well they’ve just opened a branch in Rome, in Via Brescia 24/32. Same concept, different décor.