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Holy Burger at Ham Holy Burger, Oxford Street

15 Aug

Ham Holy Burger
LOCATION: 3rd floor, John Lewis, 278-306 Oxford Street, London W1A 1EX [map]

PRICE: £8.95.

BREAD: Un-seeded burger bun.

FILLING: Piedmont beef burger, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, red onion, holy sauce.

PROS: Meh, I dunno, sometimes I tie myself in knots with my own format, here. I’m just going to whack it all under the cons, which to be fair, isn’t that far off anyway.

CONS: Ham Holy burger is full of really irritatingly bouncy, cheery staff, presumably because they don’t need to do a great deal. When I arrive, a woman at the door screeches at me “whaddya want?! PIZZA? PASTA? BURGER?” to which I reply “burger! Burger! Burger!” in the manner of someone trying to calm a person who is having a panic attack, and she ushers me towards Ham Holy Burger.

All the food is ordered on an Ipad. What? What’s that? Yes yes, I said everything is ordered on an Ipad. It’s saving staff costs and is more efficient, you see. PAHAHAHAHAHA. Just kidding on the last part. A very young, very enthusiastic Italian man is telling me how to use said Ipad. This takes a while. The obvious thought occurs to me: it would have been much quicker if he could just take my order. “Can I have a glass of Chianti please?!” I blurt out, desperately, confused by the fact I have been sat at this table for a while, talking to a waiter, yet he hasn’t offered me a drink. At this point, he turns his head from the Ipad to face me, bares his teeth in a sort of dazzling, threatening smile, and says ‘”OOOOH!” as if I have just suggested we have a threesome with one of the waitresses. He then stabs at the Ipad and someone else brings the Chianti, which is grim.

The Holy Burger is made from Piedmontese beef, which is criminally under seasoned. Perhaps because I am so discombobulated by the whole experience, I forget my Maldon pinch pot nestled in my handbag, but obviously I shouldn’t need it. Bun = fine. Lettuce = fine. Onions = fine. Tomato = fine. Cucumber = weird. Usually, of course, they’re pickled, but in this case thick slices of plain old cuke bring a sort of odd freshness, like I’m supposed to be eating a lamb pitta with tzatziki. The ‘Holy Sauce’ is rather nice actually, but there isn’t enough of it to bring the richness and pickle flavour that the burger so desperately needs.

As our hearts slowly sink and we contemplate asking (an actual person) if we can have the bill, my mate decides to take revenge. I snap a picture of him on the Ipad which he sets as the wallpaper and home screen, before password protecting the Ipad so they can’t change it back. We walk away, chuckling, and head straight around the corner to MeatLiquor.

SCORE: 3/10

 

 

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

The Devastator, Red Dog Saloon, Hoxton

21 Oct

LOCATION: Red Dog Saloon, 37 Hoxton Square, N1 6NN [map]

PRICE: £22.75

BREAD: Seedless burger bun.

FILLING: 3 x 6oz burgers, 200g pulled pork, 6 rashers applewood smoked bacon, 6 slices American cheese, lettuce, onion, pickles. Some sort of generic BBQ sauce.

PROS: Sweet titty Jesus, this is big.

CONS:  Sometimes I see something on a menu and it just looks so ridiculous that I can’t resist trying it even though I know it will be bad. It’s like gastronomic self-harming.

I mean, look at it. LOOK AT IT.

I round up 3 others – full informed consent obtained – to eat this with me. It arrives, skewered down the middle out of genuine necessity, which makes a nice change. We quickly decide that separating it in the traditional way is not an option so we just push it over and pick out bits of each filling.

I am assured by the owner of Red Dog Saloon that the meat is of high quality, which is a shame because I couldn’t taste it due to the sheer quantity of ingredients piled inside. The overall effect was the way London looks on a really shitty overcast day; dreary, grey, nothing. The pulled pork is what really annoys me though, particularly considering their claim to ‘authentic BBQ’. It’s a lesson in how not to do pulled pork; cooked for too long and saturated with sauce, leaving it with that curious texture , like chewing on wet cotton wool. The bacon is….I can’t remember.

They’ve tried to make a man vs. food style challenge here and have ended up with, well, a man vs. food style challenge, but one from the later episodes  – you know, when they’d run out of good places to visit and just ended up doing challenges with any old joint serving food in large quantities. Poor Adam Richman got tired of it and started approaching the challenges with a weary look; not just because he was tired of the sheer vast grotesque amounts of food but because it didn’t even taste great any more.

I’ve got nothing against food challenges per se, and this is obviously intended as a bit of fun. Fine! Great! No problemo. What I REALLY have a problem with is claims about the quality of the food. It’s AUTHENTIC! This is PROPER BBQ! That’s the real killer. Serve whatever food floats your boat but do not start pretending you’re something entirely different. There’s a handy little phrase that sums up what exactly what you’re doing and it is this:

‘Taking the piss’.

SCORE: 2/10

Cheeseburger at Garfunkel’s, London Gatwick Airport North Terminal

4 Dec

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A guest post for you today, from Donald E. He suffered so you don’t have to. 

LOCATION: Garfunkel’s, North Terminal, Gatwick Airport, RH6 0PJ [map].

PRICE: £6.95.

BREAD: Sesame seeded white burger bun.

FILLING: Grilled beef burger, mayonnaise, dill pickle, lettuce, tomato, red onion.

PROS: I really wanted a burger, actually I take that back, I really wanted a McDonald’s cheese burger, something quick and cheap to tide me over while I waited for my flight. I was, unfortunately on the wrong side of security at Gatwick airport and as such my options were limited. I’m still having flashbacks to the terrible mint yoghurt addition that I was once served in a Jamie’s Italian burger, so the Jamie’s whatever that I walked past was firmly off the cards.

I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten at Garfunkel’s, I imagine that I must have done, so prevalent are they in the departure terminals across the land, I must surely have darkened their doors early one morning in a sleep deprived hungover fug and demanded scrambled eggs, beer and coffee. I’m sure you can imagine why I might not remember.

But anyway, Garfunkel’s was there, I could see a picture of a burger, what could possibly go wrong?

Fuck, sorry I’ve got slightly ahead of myself and completely forgotten to list the pros:

1)       They had chairs.

2)      They had tables.

3)      There were windows through which I could see out of the restaurant.

CONS: Firstly, to drink I had a very expensive 250 cl plastic bottle of Magner’s cider, which once I’d finished was followed by the ignominy of my desperately gesticulating for someone, anyone to furnish me with another, the service staff having evidently decided to add insult to the injuriously minute serving measure by ignoring my pleading for a second.

Secondly, the burger, which, I ought add came with some chunky chips of the kind that make you long for some kind of proficiency exam for chip frying, and the usual coterie of sauces (red, off white, and yellowish). The burger itself came in a somewhat oversized bap, which had been finely aged to a state of stale friability. A triumvirate of little gem lettuce leaf, red onion and tomato slice sat atop the over cooked, cheese bedecked patty. To their credit they had melted the cheese rather well, though I suspect that was merely on account of the length of time the patty had been heated. Of the patty, what is to be said? It brought forth a torrent of memories, mostly unpleasant, of school dinner burgers, the frozen, then oven cooked, sorry brown hockey pucks of protein that were dished up as treats post sporting endeavour. The dining hall nod to cool Americana cuisine that, like your headmaster playing rock guitar in assembly, ended up being worse than cringe worthy. Yes it tasted exactly like that, I’m sure all those whose education was in the UK can relate.

Sorry to ramble, but the whole experience was terribly disheartening, I could almost feel the corporate cost cutting chipping mercilessly away at my enjoyment, each snip and tuck taking one more bite of tastiness from the dish, until all that remained was a simulacrum of a burger, something that from a distance might have resembled that which I understood as a burger, but upon closer inspection proved itself mere fraud.

I ate less than half.

SCORE: 1.5/10 (There was at least booze)

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The MO Burger, Byron, Spitalfields

1 Nov

LOCATION: Byron, 3-6 Stewart Street, E1 6FQ [map] (but available at all branches of Byron)

PRICE: £8.75 (or, FREE between 7-20th November, 3-6pm for those who can show they’ve raised £25 or more for Movember).

BREAD: Sesame seeded glazed bun.

FILLING: Hamburger patty, cheddar cheese, pickled red onion rings, salted cucumber slices, iceberg lettuce, mustard dill dressing.

PROS: This is one TASTY BOIGER! I’ve always thought Byron burgers are remarkably good considering they’re a chain; to keep the quality when you’re shifting such quantity must be very tricky indeed. I’m rarely a fan of cheddar in a burger but the richness of it works here, and it’s all down to those glorious pickled onions. I adore pickles of any kind. My mother once told me I used to eat so many pickles as a child that my lips would turn white, which I’d argue raises questions about her parenting but still, it makes my point here rather nicely. Cheers mum. The salted cucumber slices are very crisp, uniform and plentiful. I want them in all my burgers and most of my sandwiches. These, together with the dill dressing (brushed on to the top half of the bun), remind me a lot of the Elliot’s burger I tried (and loved) a while back.

The best thing about this burger is obviously that it’s been created for charidee; 50p from every MO burger sold will go to support Movember, adding to the £60,000 that Bryon has raised for the cause over the last two years. That’s pretty damn impressive. Also, if you’re taking part and have managed to raise £25 or more and can prove it, you can scarf one of these burgers for free between 3-6pm from 7-20th November, every day.

CONS: Nah, it’s a fantastic burger for a really worthy cause. You can hit the road if you think I’m criticising that.

SCORE: 10/10

Burger at RAW and Elliot’s Burger Pop Up, Borough Market

2 Aug

LOCATION: RAW and Elliot’s burger and wine pop up, Borough Market [map]

PRICE: £9.50 for a burger with chips.

BREAD: Linseeded burger bun

FILLING: Beef burger,caramelised onions, Comté cheese, dill butter

PROS: People, especially food people, specifically London food people, have very fixed ideas about what does and does not make a good burger. It must have slappy processed cheese, it must have a light brioche bun etc etc bore bore bore off snooze snore sleepy time. I am of the opinion that there is room in the world for many different styles of burger and yet I was a little worried about trying this one. Comte? Really? Dill butter? Really? Am I allowed to like this? Really?

Well here’s the shocker: this was one of the most delicious burgers I’ve eaten in yonks. Really. The beef is from the Ginger Pig; it’s 40 day aged rib eye cap, which is nice and fatty and therefore tastes of awesome. It’s cooked properly medium rare too. Bollocks to this health and safety rubbish that some places are genuinely, actually taking on board and ruining everyone’s fun in the process. The Comté is, naturally, delicious. It’s salty and really works staggeringly well in a burger. The real stroke of genius however, is the dill butter. ‘Acidulated dill butter’ I am told. So it’s got lemon juice in it. No it doesn’t I’ve just been told it has dill pickling liquor, which they make themselves. Acidulated is a great word however. I rank it up there with other great words like ‘rotisserie’ and ‘blimp’. The bun is brushed with this butter before toasting. Like, really heavily brushed. I could see the butter line on the bun, almost a centimetre deep, like a BBQ smoke ring on meat. It’s a juice bomb. I had trouble containing the juiciness, actually, which reminds me to give special mention to the bun which did not fall apart despite being up against so much tasty. Pickles come on the side. Obviously they went straight into my burger. They’re quick pickled (like, 2 hours), perfectly crisp slices of skinless cucumber, rather than the trad gherkin. They rocked. Basically, I loved everything about this burger. Well, almost…

CONS: The pickles were a touch too salty. I don’t get the point of the linseeds on the bun.

SCORE: 8/10

So I ate this burger at the RAW and Elliot’s pop up which is running until 12th August but the burger is available at Elliot’s permanent site just across the road. The pop up however is awesome. Go, drink some natural wine with your burger. Pop in for a glass and then leave at 11pm having sunk a further 3 bottles like I did. Ahem.

 

Cheeseburger at The Ship, Wandsworth

14 Mar

LOCATION: Legendary London pub The Ship41 Jews Row, London, SW18 1TB [map]

PRICE: £11.50 with fries.

BREAD: Glazed bun.

FILLING: 100% beef patty, pickled cuke, melted cheese, sliced tomato, shredded iceberg, red onion, French’s mustard, some other good saucy stuff.

PROS: The Ship worked on this burger for quite some time, and it shows. The beef is a mixture of 20% forerib, 60% chuck and 20% added beef fat. Tasty, tasty beef fat. That patty was a perfectly medium rare juice-fest and I made quite the mess of myself with it. Happy as a pig in shit. The cheese is ace; proper melty in a slightly ‘that’s so wrong it’s right’ kind of way, which it turns out, isn’t too far from the truth. The Ship make their own super-melting cheese by a method which I was pleased to learn involves adding more calorific goodness, then processing it in-house. The photo above doesn’t do it justice; it was like a yellow blanket hugging the sides of that patty with the slow yet progressive and unstoppable caress of lava over rock. The pickles were crisp, well balanced and sliced to just the right thickness so as to slot into the sandwich without threatening structural integrity. French’s mustard was present and correct; I just can’t do without its sunny mellow tang in my boiger. There’s some other juicy, saucy mastery at work in this sammy too, although I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t try. I just stuffed it in my face as fast as possible then took a breath, looked up, saw some fries on the side and ate them too. They were great. The Ship is without doubt one of London’s most popular pubs, drawing record breaking crowds as soon as the sun comes out. Just make sure you’re down there with the cool kids, pint in one hand, burger in the other.

CONS: The bun was almost on its last legs as I came to the end of the burger. A minor grumble.

SCORE: 9/10

With thanks to The Ship for the photo above (too busy stuffing my face as per)

Double Candy Bacon & Chilli Burgers at Mother Flipper, Brockley

31 Jan

Let’s start with the Double Candy Bacon Flipper:

LOCATION: Brockley Market, Lewisham College Car Park, Lewisham Way, SE4 1UT [map]

PRICE: £6

BREAD: Glazed, slightly sweet, un-seeded.

FILLING: Double beef patty (from Marsh Produce); slappy cheese; lettuce; onion; ketchup; mustard; CANDIED BACON.

PROS: This is exactly the style of burger that floats my boat. Double patty and gooey American-style ‘cheese’ that stays melty right until the end of the burger. American mustard, ketchup, a sprinkle of iceberg for texture (no other lettuce in my burger, thanks), then that all important candied bacon. Did I mention I like candied bacon? It worked really well as a topping, the salty/sweet flavour serving to intensify the dirtiness of the burger experience. A dirty burger experience is a good burger experience, by the way. There was no weird chutney or silly ‘proper’ cheese or other nonsense. They also use the cloche method (briefly covering the finished burger and top part of the bun with a cloche) to get a nice juicy result.

CONS: The patties were over-cooked, well beyond the advertised medium rare (pic here) but then it’s obvious that these guys have yet to find their stride and I’m sure they’ll get up to speed over the next few weeks. I’m not entirely sold on the beef either; it did have fairly good flavour but was by no means the best I’ve tried. I bought some bacon from the same producer and it let out a huge amount of water when cooked, which makes me doubt their quality somewhat. The beef is the most important ingredient! Still, a fine burger experience and, CANDIED BACON!

SCORE: 8/10

And the Chilli Flipper:

LOCATION: Brockley Market, Lewisham College Car Park, Lewisham Way, SE4 1UT [map]

PRICE: £5.50

BREAD: Glazed, slightly sweet, un-seeded.

FILLING: Single beef patty; Swiss (?) cheese; salad leaves; chilli shreds; chilli chutney; micro shoots; mustard; ketchup.

PROS: This burger just wasn’t for me. The bun was nice though and held up well right until the final bite.

CONS: Having eaten the candied bacon burger, I just can’t understand their change of approach here. The chutney doesn’t work because it tastes overwhelmingly of star anise, which has no place – ever – in a burger. In fact, I really wish people would just calm down and step away from the star anise in general. The cheese melted well to begin with but solidified and became unpleasant after a couple of bites. We’ve been through this before. The leaves were all fancy and therefore pointless because they can’t be tasted in a burger and if they could, they wouldn’t work because their bitterness would be unpleasant. Also, MICRO-SHOOTS? I’m not even going there. There was no real discernable chilli heat. My boyfriend and I had planned to swap halfway through but I took one bite and asked him to gimme back my candied bacon double.

SCORE: 4/10

I feel bad for hating the chilli burger because these guys seemed lovely and can genuinely make a great burger. It’s called the Double Candy Bacon Flipper.

Cheeseburger at The Crooked Well, Camberwell

25 Jan

LOCATION: The Crooked Well, 16 Grove Lane, London SE5 8SY [map]

PRICE: £8.75 with side salad garnish and small pot of chips.

BREAD: Glazed, unseeded, slightly sweet bun.

FILLING: Donald Russell beef patty, cheddar cheese (I think), lettuce, tomato and a sort of tomato relish thing (I asked for ketchup on the side).

PROS: The beef had excellent flavour and the patty was a generous size. Bonus points for it coming medium rare as standard. The crisp pickles were nice too, with a good sweet/sharp balance, erring on the side of sweet.

CONS: The bun was a bit stale, had taken on an unpleasant woolly texture and collapsed before I’d finished the burger – the cardinal burger bun sin. The meat was cooked medium rare but not very evenly so, as you can see from the picture. I found the scant smear of tomato relish on top superfluous and the cheese, for me, was wrong; I don’t want to be a Burger Bore but the fact is, I like cheap American cheese in my burger. Perhaps it’s hard for a chef to even consider using processed cheese? I would say to him/her that the best burgers in London are made using slappy yellow slices – at Meat Liquor or Lucky Chip, for example. The ‘cheese’ should be gooey and taste faintly of guilt; a proper cheese like cheddar is too strong – it jars with the flavour of the beef.

I’m sad I didn’t like this burger because Camberwell is just crying out for more decent lunches. For me though, the thinking behind this burger, with its fantastic beef but sad bun and toppings was just a bit, well, crooked.

SCORE: 4/10