Byron’s World Cup Burger – The Ronaldo

Hey there, sexy ;)

Hey there, sexy 😉

*EDIT: It’s been kindly pointed out to me that this burger is about the Brazilian Ronaldo, not the Portuguese one (which frankly makes a lot more sense) but…. being the football expert that I am *cough*, when I Googled ‘Ronaldo’ only the Portuguese one emerged. Sorry folks! It’s still a great burger so you should EAT IT BEFORE THE WORLD CUP ENDS!!*

So I might be a little slow in posting this because apparently England are pretty much out of the World Cup and that has probably dampened football fervour. Or maybe not, judging by the cheering at a screen I passed by this evening.  Continue reading

Patty and Bun, Liverpool Street

Patty & Bun Liverpool Street... looks a lot like P&B James Street

Patty & Bun Liverpool Street… looks a lot like P&B James Street

Warning! There are going to be a lot of BURGERS appearing on my blog on the next few posts. But burger off if you don’t like it!

The burger trend continues and Patty & Bun have *finally* got around to opening up a second branch…right opposite MacDonald’s.

Patty & Bun are well-established on the London burger scene with a branch on James Street, just near Bond Street. I first tried their Ari Gold burger at Feast at Tobacco Dock in March 2013. I found it a little vinegary due to the pickled onions, but I’ve been meaning to give them a second chance ever since.

To celebrate their Liverpool Street launch, they hosted a publicity event of spectacular proportions – not 100 free burgers, not 500 free burgers, but ONE THOUSAND FREE BURGERS were being given away.

Of course, the queues were ridiculous and my co-diners and I shuddered as we worked out the cost-time trade-off of queuing versus just going the next day and buying one. *ahem* Anyway….

We finally got there, ordered burgers to take away, and waited. We peered in the window…

Hard at work

Hard at work

and watched the production process…

The production process

The production process

… and checked out the sauces…

Their chilli sauce is A-MAZING

Their chilli sauce is A-MAZING

And then we got our food!

Ari Gold Cheeseburger - has to be one of the prettiest burgers out there

Ari Gold Cheeseburger – has to be one of the prettiest burgers out there

This is an Ari Gold Cheeseburger (£7.50) with bacon (+50p), salad, pickled onions, ketchup, and smokey P&B mayo served in a brioche bun. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

The consistency was beautiful, the bun held the patty well, and – although still messy – it was actually a lot easier to eat than a lot of burgers I’ve recently tucked into.

Ari Gold on the inside

Ari Gold on the inside

The patty was without doubt the highlight. It was perfectly cooked – medium-rare – and was beefy and succulent. I would go as far to say that it was the most delicious burger patty that I’ve eaten!! <– Yes, everyone, please recover your jaws.

However, the tiny, tiny problem was that the accompaniments just don’t quite cut it. The pickled onions are just far too pickly and all of us picked some – if not all – of them out.

Then, the rosemary-salted chips (£2.50) were soggy and we all sighed wistfully at the thought of Honest Burgers’ (reviews here, here, here, and here. Feel free to laugh at me – I’m already aware I’m a fangirl).

Saying this, I really want to try their ‘Jose Jose’ chilli burger with chorizo (£8.50) and their ‘Winger Winger Chicken Dinner’ (£5.50), a pot of smoked confit wings with BBQ sauce & spring onions, sounds very interesting indeed.

For now, however, the jury is out… but I want their patties oh-so-much.

Patty and Bun 3/5 – Magnificent patty, mediocre chips and maliferous onions. 

Website: http://pattyandbun.co.uk/
Where: Liverpool Street, London
When: Mon – Wed 11.30am – 10pm; Thurs – Fri 11.30am – 11pm; Sat 11.30am – 9pm; Sun 11.30am – 6pm.

The Hawksmoor Five Pork Burger: Bring out your inner pig

That's FIVE kinds of pork right there!

That’s FIVE kinds of pork right there!

Burgers have undergone a transformation in the past couple of years. From an unhealthy option associated – understandably – with greasy fast food chains, they are now so gourmet that Gourmet Burger Kitchen is considered fairly low-end.

As well as touting quality, newly-founded burger joints are fighting to distinguish themselves through their creativity. At one end of the scale, there is Haché Burgers. Their branches are decorated with fairy lights and flowers to add a soft, ‘feminine’ touch and boast an extensive menu with burgers ranging from the ‘Steak Mexican’ (cajun spices, salsa, guacamole, jalapeño peppers, sour cream) to the ‘Steak Louisiana’ with crunch peanut butter. At the other end of the scale, there’s Honest Burgers with its simple aesthetics and a simple menu offering just three kinds of beefburger, and one monthly special.

Of course, any meat-oriented restaurant with an eye on the market will understandably jump on the bandwagon and get their menus on trend. The Seven Dials branch of Hawksmoor, the legendary steak restaurant with four branches across London, offers three burgers – a classic beef version, a kimchi burger that taps the current popularity of Korean cuisine, and a special.

And there have been no holds barred on their most recent offering: the Five Pork Burger. If you’re a self-respecting carnivore who lives in or will visit London in the near future, take yourself to Hawksmoor Seven Dials for a proper pig-out.

I had the Five Pork Burger (£15) last night. I have narrated my experience several times over to everyone in the Wozedu office. And so here I am, sharing it with all of you.

The first thing you should know is tha,t although it’s pitched as the Five Pork Burger, the version I had was a SIX Pork Burger. Oh yes.

The SIX Pork Burger

The SIX Pork Burger

The burger begins with a base layer of greenery and mustard mayonnaise – a variation from the homemade apple ketchup usually served. It then has a succulent Tamworth pork patty topped with smoky, salty pulled pork. Next up is a patty almost as large, which is actually sausage stuffing. This is then topped with rashers of bacon and draped with melted cheese. All this meatiness is contained in a brioche bun and served with beautifully crispy pork crackling and peppery pork gravy. I elected to continue with the gluttony and ordered Hawksmoor’s triple cooked chips on the side.

This burger was delicious in a crazy kind of way. It was a porky flavour explosion, and very decadent and incredibly messy. Each pork product came through at different stages of the mouthfuls and at different stages of the entire eating process but, underneath it all, the subtle sage tones of the stuffing were always present.

For me, the mustard mayo didn’t quite strike the right contrast with the burger; I believe the apple ketchup would have been preferable. Also, the salt content was almost off-the-scale: the Five (or Six) Pork Burger must be consumed with at least 2 litres of water – although this definitely makes it moreish.

One final point – does anyone really need a burger this big? As my co-diner pointed out, he’d happily have paid two-thirds of the price for half the burger. And just as our waiter warned us, consuming this burger will basically write off the rest of your night – the resultant food coma is too intense to be fought.

I’m sure Hawksmoor wouldn’t encourage this, but my advice is to share the burger and order a couple more sides. That way, you can still enjoy plenty of pig and walk out of the restaurant, rather than waddle.

All things considered though, I would definitely pig-out again.

Website: http://thehawksmoor.com/locations/seven-dials
Where: 11 Langley Street, London WC2H 9JG

Gimme pig

Gimme pig

Review: Holborn Dining Room

Roast Rib Eye

Roast Rib Eye

The stretch of road from Holborn station towards Chancery Lane is a bit of a no man’s land. You’ll find the standard lunch time take-out shops, a stationers targeting students and… not a whole lot else. Once the sun goes down, sleepiness properly settles in. It seems strange given that the area is a stone’s throw from Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road. Of course, there has to be a divide somewhere… but perhaps it shouldn’t feel so much like a provincial town. Some people, somewhere, obviously agree as the area is currently part of a ‘Go To Midtown‘ campaign  – an effort to rebrand and invigorate the area.

Perhaps cottoning on this, or perhaps just trying their luck, Rosewood Hotel opened in October 2013. Naturally, this also entailed an restaurant – the somewhat functionally named Holborn Dining Room.

Holborn Dining Room appears every bit the well-furnished modern brasserie in its style – bare bulbs on metal frames throw shadows over the dark wood counters and tables that are surrounded by plush red leather seating. It’s tastefully done and consistent.

Swish interior and dim light aside, on entering the restaurant, we found the atmosphere to be relaxed – Holborn Dining Room could easily be a place to go for drinks and a catch-up with friends but it would equally work for a date. So far, so good.

The staff were on their best behaviour, probably because we were visiting for the soft launch; they attended to us with wide smiles, and created the illusion of automatic doors. Service was just below the overbearing mark, and they’ve probably all calmed down a bit by now.

Hello beef!

Hello beef!

My dining companion and I are FIENDISH meat eaters so there was only one thing on the menu that we were going to be ordering: the Roast Rib Eye ‘Club Cut’ with pepper sauce and crispy onions (£26.50). This is a giant chunk of tender roast beef served up like a steak, topped with thin onion rings. The flavour of the meat was beautiful, but it was a tad overcooked: I asked for mine medium-rare and it came medium, whereas my companion’s came medium-rare, despite asking for it rare. Nevertheless, we happily devoured our chunks of meat with some sell-executed chips (£4.25) and some delicious steamed spinach (£5.50).

Valhrona chocolate

Valhrona chocolate <– order this

For dessert, I tucked into an absolutely brilliant Valhrona chocolate pot with sweet cream (£6.50), which was essentially a very rich chocolate crème brûlée with a fantastically crisp top.

Bakewell tart - modern style?

Bakewell tart – modern style?

My companion was less lucky with her Bakewell tart and raspberry ice-cream (£6.50). In an attempt at a modern twist on the classic, the chef had produced a giant puff pastry version, which inadvertently created the game of ‘hunt the filling’ in the midst of a desert. Thank goodness for the ice-cream.

Holborn Dining Room 3/5 – Whilst the food is of decent quality, it is far from exceptional and, at those prices, it can’t really afford not to be. It made us very grateful for the soft opening offer!

Food 3/5
Value 1.5/5
Atmosphere 4/5
Service 4/5

Website: http://www.holborndiningroom.com/
Where: 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
When: Mon – Fri 7am – 11.30pm; Saturday 8am – 11.30pm; Sunday 8am – 10.30pm

BEER ALERT! Mr Trotter’s Chestnut Ale

Mr Trotter's Chestnut Ale

Mr Trotter’s Chestnut Ale

Just last week, I was invited to a party for the launch of Mr Trotter‘s Chestnut Ale in Waitrose. I must confess that I know very little about beer but little piggy me was intrigued by the event for two reasons.

1) The event was held at The Ape and Bird on Shaftesbury Avenue, which has a reputation for being a bit of a gastropub, run by restaurateur Russell Norman of Polpo fame. I’d been meaning to check it out for a while, if only to be disappointed by the lack of actual apes and birds. (Never believe the signs! Although this could get quite gruesome when considering The King’s Head…)

2) Posh pork scratchings. Yes, Mr Trotter produces little bags of Great British Original Pork Crackling pork crackling (basically pork scratchings) that I really wanted to try. I’m always adventurous when it comes to food, and I was curious and mildly skeptical the concept.

On arrival, my co-drinker (co-nibbler?) and I were delighted that The Ape & Bird were clearly taking their trendy, gastropub reputation very seriously. The door opens to a heavy, red velvet curtain that reveals a desk and a front-of-house. The venue, however, has all styles of dining covered: we were there for beer and bar snacks, so down to The Dive it was, an underground room, with the dim light and small wooden tables of the traditional pub.

I was a little bit distracted by the bowls of pork scratchings before my companion reeled me in to try the beer. I’m very glad he did because I have never tasted anything like it before.

Mr Trotter’s Chestnut Ale is one of the first chestnut ales to be brewed and bottled in the UK. The chestnuts mean that it has a real softness and a mild sweetness in its flavour. My co-drinker was certainly impressed:

“It’s quite a light ale, with a surprisingly subtle chestnut flavour which gives it quite a bit of complexity in terms of taste (I’d expected a much stronger chestnut flavour). The chestnut quality is brought out really well when combined with the original pork scratchings/chips – the salt seems to help that, although I didn’t think the jalapeño married especially well too it.”

Just so you know, my co-drinker is a fusspot – the calorie-paranoid kind that attempts to scrape fat off the bacon (which I always pop straight into my mouth with gleeful defiance). He therefore approached the pork crackling very tentatively, and nibbled a piece… before diving into the bowl.

Jalapeño pork scratchings

Jalapeño pork scratchings

For me, the jalapeño crackling was dangerously addictive – the spice is not overpowering, but gives the perfect amount of heat. Yes, I know that eating bits of crispy pig in a bag may sound unappetising, but you’ll soon convert. They basically scream “Move over, bags of peanuts! We’re here and we WILL be eaten. We’re the best bar snacks ever!”  Once you’ve tried these porky offerings, there will be no turning back.

Unless you happen across Mr Trotter’s jalapeño crisps, which provides tough competition. I don’t even like crisps, but I loved these. Mr Trotter has basically turned me into Miss Piggy, who loves working her way through bar snacks.

The Ape & Bird, however, were not going to be left out of this evening and demonstrated that they were more than just a venue; the food they served up told everyone very loudly that this was, indeed, a gastropub.

A bit of back story: two weeks ago, I had had… a bad pork pie experience. (Yes, sob!) It had seemed like such a good idea at the time – Tesco Finest Melton Mowbray pork pies were reduced and I picked up a pack. Now I know that they were reduced for a reason: they’re terrible. They’re the bland stodgy kind where the meat is nothing more than suspicious grey matter. Consequently, I was really off pork pies.

The Ape & Bird rectified this. In fact, their rendition may have pushed me more towards the other end of the spectrum: pork pie addiction. The pork was… pinkish. It was textured. It was flavoursome and the pastry was perfect – thick enough to encase the meat but still beautifully light.

Scotch eggs

Scotch eggs

Sausage rolls

Sausage rolls

We missed the scotch eggs – fittingly made from trotter meat – but we also tried a very well-spiced sausage roll.

THEN CAME THE BROWNIES. Small, soft, gooey, chocolatey, dense and rich creations with bowlfuls of salted caramel sauce to dip then in. It was practically indecent.

Our minds were made up: we are going to The Ape & Bird and we pray that the rest of their menu is done as well as these porky snacks.

In the meantime, my companion – a big Waitrose fan – is pretty happy that Mr Trotter is now being sold there (£2.15 per bottle) and we’ve both become posh pork scratchings fans.

How one evening can change things.

Thanks to R&R for the invite!

Honest Burgers March Special: The BrewBurger

The BrewBurger - containing four different kinds of beer :)

The BrewBurger – containing four different kinds of beer 🙂

It’s impossible to ignore the burger trend across London. To be honest, if you want to ignore it, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog; I’ve done my best to consume as many burgers as possible in one giant burgery bonanza.

One of my favourite places for a burger in London is Honest Burgers. They’ve got a quality product pitched at the right price, and, as a result, their empire is expanding – expect the sixth branch to open near Oxford Circus later this year.

I fell in love when I first when I went to their Soho branch, and then had a passionate affair with their Christmas special, before drooling over their HOT February special. Their regular menu may only contain three different types of beefburger but their monthly specials really keep the romance alive.

Their latest offering has got me punch-drunk in love. For starters, it is possibly the first burger ever to require an ID to order it.

Honest Burgers have taken things to a new level this March and have collaborated with the awesome BrewDog. BrewDog is a Scottish craft beer company that is taking over the world with quality beer and their very own chain of bars, stretching from Shoreditch all the way to São Paulo! (Japan fangirl squeal: And they’re also in Roppongi in the expat area of Tokyo!) Even if you’re not a beer fan, you have to love BrewdDog because they took on Putin’s homophobia and produced the world’s only beer that’s definitely, absolutely and certainly not for gays – the Hello, My Name Is Vladimir!

Hello, my name is Vladimir and I am zuper hetero!

Hello, my name is Vladimir and I am zuper hetero!

Hello, my name is Vladimir. I am a beer for uber hetero men who ride horses while topless and carrying knives. I am a beer to mark the 2014 Winter Olympics. But I am not for gays. Love wrestling burly men on the Judo mat or fishing in your Speedos? Then this is the beer for you!

I think they’ve got their sales pitch spot on, don’t you? Now onto the BrewBurger itself….

Pervy close-up

Pervy close-up

This is one incredibly boozy beefy treat:  it’s a 150g aged beef patty with Comté cheese and bacon candied with BrewDog’s amber ale, 5AM Saint. It’s then topped with beef dripping and beer fried onions using BrewDog’s flagship Punk IPA and a BBQ reduction made from BrewDog’s Paradox cask-aged Imperial Stout. And, just in case that wasn’t beery enough for you, it’s served with Bourbon Baby, a 5.8% barrel-aged baby scotch ale that Brewdog created just for this collaboration. All this for £15.

More photos make it more real

More photos make it more real

Oh….this was a beery burgery beauty. For me, the bacon got a little subsumed by the other flavours but those  beer-fried onions were fantastic. All of this, of course, comes with Honest Burgers rosemary-salted chips. After a BrewBurger, you will wake up seriously thirsty but smugly satisfied.

Get yourself along to a branch of Honest Burgers before April 2nd. And don’t forget your ID!

Bourbon Baby

Bourbon Baby

British Pie Week: Hello healthy pies from Pieminister!

PIES

PIES

It’s British Pie Week! What greater excuse could you have to enjoy some traditional British grub? Pies are an institution – standard fare at any respectable British pub. Chicken, ham and leek, steak and kidney, or beef and Guinness… the list goes on. A celebration of these hearty dishes is well-deserved!

British Pie Week 2014, however, may feel like one big FAT conspiracy. It happens to coincide with Pancake Day. So either you compromise and prioritise one over the other, or you have a seriously heavy food day, and consume pancakes and pies, and possibly contemplate some pineapple just to create an alliterative hat-trick.

This would be a seriously calorific day. So what if pies could be filling without the hefty fat content? What if I told you that pies could contain less than 440 calories?!

This is no lie or fantasy! Pieminister have created three lighter pies. Although in-keeping with their principles of quality British ingredients, these pies have differ dramatically from pies as you know them: they have no tops! By cutting the pastry off the top, the calories are easily shed.

Light as a feta

Light as a feta

Ugh, you may cry! Anything ‘light’ is always bland! Admittedly, I was also sceptical. But don’t be deterred – Pieminister have put a lot of thought into the recipes. I absolutely loved the ‘Chickalito’ – a a free range British chicken and free range British dry cured ham pie, and the ‘Light as a feta’ had a winning combination by throwing some butternut squash and sun-dried tomato into the mix. There is also a ‘Kooky chook’ pie with chicken, sweet potato, coconut and chilli, although the flavours didn’t quite come together for me.

Beautiful selection

Beautiful selection

I was worried that the pies would be dry as the lack of top would fail to keep in the moisture, but they only need to be heated for twenty minutes in the oven before they’re ready to be served. I was very excited when presented with all of these tempting beauties and SWEET CHILLI CREME FRAICHE, which has basically revolutionised my life.

I HAZ PIES

I HAZ PIES

Hailing from Bristol, Pieminister are keen to support local businesses in the West Country. This meant an astoundingly generous goody bag full of all of these wonders.

*jaw drops*

*jaw drops*

I also sampled Orchard Pig’s Totally Minted – a lightly sparkling pink grapefruit and mint drink with a hint of lime. It was fantastic: very unusual with beautifully balanced flavours and just the right amount of sweetness. Orchard Pig also do a range of cider so I recommend checking out their website.

Totally Minted

Totally Minted

Pieminister have four restaurants in London, and branches elsewhere across the UK, with the more international locations of Dublin and Amsterdam completing the list. I was at their Leather Lane branch where you buy their lighter or usual pies for £4.50 each or tuck into a full meal with sides of mash and mushy peas. Alternatively, buy pies online.

Thanks to Pieminister for the invite! 🙂

Pies

Cider etc