Archive | March, 2014

Highland Burger with Korean Pulled Pork at Smokehouse N1, Islington

17 Mar

LOCATION: Smokehouse N1, 63-69 Canonbury Road, N1 2DG [map]

PRICE: £15.

BREAD: Seeded burger bun.

FILLING: 5 year old Highland cow burger, pulled pork, lettuce, gochujang mayo.

PROS: Right, RIGHT! Listen up. Listen good and listen hard, because this is important. I do not give out full marks lightly. I hope you weren’t waiting for that bit at the end? Oh. Well anyway since you’re here I might as well tell you that this is one of the best burgers in London and you must go and eat it immediately. Usually I can’t stand pulled pork on a burger. CAN’T. STAND. IT. Then I remembered that’s because there is so much terrible pulled pork out there. You know, cotton wool mushy wush; squeaky flossed fibres. Then I remembered that this is cooked by one of the best BBQ chefs in London. The best, probably. Actually. Neil Rankin. As an aside from the sandwich, Smokehouse N1 is just a fabulous place to sit and eat, particularly if you get a space around the back by the kitchen, where the Big Green Eggs waft their ghostly gusts through the open door. It’s the best BBQ you’ve never been to.

So the burger is made from the chuck and carcass offcuts of 5 year old highland cow and the flavour is intense. It was described by my mate and I as ‘sick’ which is what people younger than us say instead of ‘top brass’ or ‘fookin ace’. It has me scooping at the fall out with my fingers. It’s rare as hell inside and, at the risk of sounding ‘a bit Rayner’ awakens something primal within me. I should probably say something here about needing a cardiologist.

The stuff that looks like cheese, isn’t. ‘What’s the cheese?’ Asks my friend. ‘It just looks like cheese so you think it is’. Huh. It’s mayonnaise and gochujang mixed together, which is just bafflingly tasty considering, well, it’s just mayonnaise and gochujang mixed together.

CONS: Nothing. Honestly nothing. I went on about this sandwich so much during the eating and the digesting that my friends started to blatantly ignore me. I never thought I could be excited about a burger ever again, considering, well, you know, the whole Burger Trend business but fuck my hat if this isn’t the absolute biz.

SCORE: 10/10

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Croque Monsieur at Le Peche Mignon, Islington

14 Mar

LOCATION: 6 Ronalds Road, Islington, N5 1XH [map].

PRICE: £5.50.

BREAD: White sourdough.

FILLING: Ham and cheese, bechamel on top.

PROS: The state of croques in the world is dire. In London it’s bad but in Paris? Even worse. Seriously. It’s depressing. This presented me with a dilemma then, about the criteria against which to judge this sandwich. Should it be judged relative to all croques in London that I know about? Or all other croques in the world, including theoretical not in actual existence yet croques? I decided upon the latter. The opinions expressed on this blog are based upon nothing if not whim, fancy and my highly variable mood, as ever.

This was one of the best croques I’ve ever had in London actually, which isn’t saying much (check out this abomination) but then it’s very surprising considering what happened when I arrived at Le Peche Mignon. I’d gone halfway up the ginger line to eat this bastard, and so when I spotted a pile of pre-made croques upon entering the cafe well, you can imagine, my little heart sank into my biker boots. I wasn’t leaving without trying it though, considering the effort of sitting on the tube for a whole 20 minutes. ‘What actually happens to cheese if you melt it twice?’ we pondered. Turns out, not a lot apart from melting, again. With reflection, I think the inside had only been melted the once, and it was just the sauce on top that had been pre-applied. Okay so it was a little crusty in places, but the sandwich in general was soft, the bread really decent, the ham perfectly good and the side salad of a little lettuce with a mustard heavy dressing, exactly as it bloody well should be. Few people seem to adequately understand that last element; there should be just a few leaves of soft, inoffensively flavoured lettuce (i.e. no sodding rocket) and a bitey dressing. No more, no less. Very well judged, Le Peche.

CONS: Okay so there’s no ignoring the fact that this was pre-made. Why won’t someone open a croque cafe? And no I don’t mean one where they start tinkering about with weird additions and combinations; I mean one that just does perfect croques, with maybe a madame and one option for the crazies. WHY?! Someone should just get the hell on with that.

So this isn’t a croque I’d ever travel to, say, North London for, but it’s certainly one I’d eat again if I lived nearby, particularly if I was hungover and had a pot of mustard in my bag which, incidentally, I often do.

SCORE: 6.5/10 (extra half point for getting the side leafage right)