I went to Karen’s Diner in Sheffield, England, which promises “great burgers and very rude service.”
It absolutely fulfilled that brief.
The social-media-fueled novelty may wear off in time, but the food was tasty and I had a lot of fun.
Karen’s Diner is an Australian chain of burger restaurants where the staff are guaranteed to be insulting — and the customer is invited to channel their inner “Karen” and be rude back. They’ve opened two in the UK, so I tried out the Sheffield branch.
If you’re actually called Karen, fear not — they’ll give you a free drink if you produce some ID.
The two UK diners are in the northern English cities of Manchester and Sheffield.
Source: Karen’s Diner
Karen’s Diner Sheffield is right next to the railway station and a short walk from some popular gardens and art galleries. The diner itself is on a distinctly unmemorable main road, and our route to get there from a big parking lot was a bit less salubrious.
We got a warm welcome on arrival.
As we walked in, the vibe was upbeat and borderline chaotic. An MC was loudly roasting a diner’s fashion sense.
Karen led us toward our table, which was past the bar and directly by the open kitchen. The interiors leaned heavily into a fun, neon-chrome-and-checkerboard classic diner style.
They tossed some menus in the general direction of the table and walked off.
“Sit down and shut up,” said our host, who proceeded to criticize me for taking longer than two-and-a-half seconds to decide what I wanted to order.
You can read the full menu — albeit with prices in Australian dollars — here.
The crowd was mainly groups of young people, who were chatting over the sound of cheesy 80s music and loud profanities.
The dirty menus were a bit offputting and I’m not sure that was a deliberate part of the vibe.
A Karen’s Diner spokesperson told Insider that this was not their usual standard and that they were working to improve this.
For cocktails, we had a Tropical Karen and a Sour Karen, which came with a sherbet candy. One of the waiters stole that and even it in front of us while we just watched.
The Tropical Karen, basically a piña colada, was tasty, but lacked oomph in my opinion. The Sour Karen, their take on a whiskey sour, was tangy, refreshing, and notably boozy. They were both priced at £9, or around $11, which is definitely towards the upper end of what Sheffield bars charge. But I was sorely tempted to get another.
We ordered Karen’s American cousin beefburger, the Royale Karen chicken burger, and a side of beer-battered onion rings. Everything was dumped unceremoniously on the table in plastic baskets with a choice of fries.
The US-themed beef burger was a Wagyu patty loaded with Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion, and truffle mayonnaise. At £14, around $17, it came with fries included, and my friend chose French fries. The portion sizes and the fries made the price tag feel worth it in my opinion.
The chicken burger, for £9, around $11, was a tender fillet with iceberg lettuce, red onion, tomato, truffle mayonnaise, and avocado. My sweet potato fries — also included — were super hot and crisp when they arrived. Both burgers were served in toasted brioche buns.
We really wanted to try the Karen’s chicken bingo wings, which looked well-priced at £6, around $7, for five, but they had run out.
My friend said her beef burger was among the best she’s had. The beef was cooked just right — slightly pink inside — and she enjoyed the big crisp chunks of lettuce hearts that added crunch.
It’s a distinctly messy experience. Juicy tomatoes, piles of sauce, and a generous amount of avocado in the chicken burger had me seeking out napkins (and then getting yelled at by the staff).
The onion rings were the highlight.
The beer-battered onion rings, at £5, or around $6, were massive, with thickly cut and still-crisp onion inside the crunchy batter. They had quite a chili kick, so avoid them if you don’t like spice.
We didn’t taste dessert, but the offerings looked sticky and basic, in a good way. This was “Karen’s marvelous churro surprise,” and was loaded with Nutella, ice cream, and assorted toppings.
People at a nearby table kindly let me photograph their dessert.
The churro dessert was £8, or around $9.50. It’s the same price as the other dessert on offer — a waffle bowl topped with crushed cookies, ice cream, a churro, ricotta cheese, and maple syrup.
A lot of people had their phones out to take pictures and videos, and it seemed pretty clear that a big part of the appeal is to help you feed the social-media content monster. I after if the novelty might wear off after repeat visits.
The staff kept up a running stream of snark, insults, and petty harassment which, I quickly realized, is far harder than it looks. You have to be pretty creative to roast someone entertainingly for an entire evening.
The shoddy treatment was wild and varied, but the most comprehensive burn was when the kitchen staff figured out I’m a reporter and asked me what publication I write for.
“Insider? Fucking love that, I read it all the time,” said the cook.
Me (completely reeled in): “Really? That’s great.”
“Yes, because I’m a loser virgin and I’ve got no friends,” said the cook.
That’s it. I’m dead. She killed me. I’m writing this from my grave.
Do not, under any circumstances, get in their way.
We completely failed to offer even a hint of pushback. My friend turned into an outrageous flirt. I spent most of my time giggling or apologizing.
I failed miserably at the “be rude back” part.
Despite the invitation to be just as awful back to the staff — or maybe because of it — Karen’s does have a code of conduct that forbids guests from making a lot of identity-based comments and sexual remarks, which I found sensible.
From what I could see amid the clamor, I didn’t see anyone break that code, but it was hard to know.
The MC declared she was “bored now” and hauled me up to take a spin on the Wheel of Misfortune, which assigns party games like charades, but the main point is to humiliate you in front of strangers.
I asked what the comedy horn next to the retro telephone was for and learned that it was for honking at my face.
They gave me a takeout box for my leftovers. They told us to leave a “massive tip, in cash,” before telling us to fuck off and get out.
All in all, Karen’s Diner Sheffield was decidedly trashy and super fun, and I’d recommend it for a bachelorette party, or to get the party started before a big night out — if not for a romantic date or a deep conversation. The staff have massively committed to being awful, and I respect that. I have to. I’m terrified of them.
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