Byron’s World Cup Burger – The Ronaldo

Hey there, sexy ;)
Hey there, sexy ūüėČ

*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 “Byron’s World Cup Burger – The Ronaldo”

Review: Galbi Bros, Dead Dolls House Pop-up

Galbi Bros menu

Please study the menu above. Study it well. Feast your eyes upon it and notice words such as ‘spicy’ and ‘beef, and – for the really observant – “thinly sliced gochuchang smoked pork.”

Then, also notice the word ‘Korea’ and understand: HOW COULD I NOT ATTEND THIS EVENT?!!!

Not only does the menu involve ridiculous quantities of meat, and lashings of spice, but it involves Korean cuisine –¬†three courses of it for only ¬£20. And I’m a sucker for Korean cuisine – I actually don’t remember much from my one-week trip to Korea except stuffing as much food as I could into my mouth from bulgogi (grilled marinated beef) to dakgalbi (spicy stir fried chicken with noodles, sweet potatoes and loadsa good stuff).

Dakgalbi
Dakgalbi

Actually, I lie. I also remember hiking up Hallasan and a trip to Love Land, but that’s probably a story best told another time.

Getting it on at Love Land
Getting it on at Love Land

We arrive at the Dead Dolls House to find a hipster dressed as a soldier(?) acting as security(?) on the door, before being led into a room, with few¬†furnishings¬†as most of the ‘furnishings’ have been painted onto the walls in fiddly, black lines. Cue: discussion about how ‘poor’ and ‘poorly done’ becomes hip. Cue: stomach interrupts discussion and directs attention towards menu.

Lotus crisps and rice skewers
Lotus crisps and rice skewers
Lotus crisps and rice skewers
Lotus crisps and rice skewers

Having sampled the Galbi Bros’ ramen burgers and rice burgers at Urban Food Fest, I knew we were in for a treat. Starting off, we crunched our way through lotus chips, which – to be honest – are more crispy than tasty but great fun nonetheless. Then we sampled the dukkochi – the chewy rice cakes. These were definitely very chewy – perhaps a little too much so – but the spicy sauce from Moses’ hometown Yeokkok was like a drug. I wanted to lick my plate until I wore away the ceramic. Moses – please take me to your hometown. My life will not be complete otherwise.

These photos do not do this beast justice!
These photos do not do this beast justice!
Do I spy some gochujang smoked pork?
Do I spy some gochujang smoked pork?

Next up, the main course – the ‘Invincible Admiral Yi’: ‘beef marinated in homemade galbi sauce topped with thinly slice gochuchang sliced pork, cheese, kimchi, fresh vegetables’… with some ‘secret Brother sauce’. First of all, I should say that the Admiral is indeed invincible – he was demolished well and truly. However, in the flavour stakes, he truly is unbeatable. My dining partner turned to me, brow slightly furrowed in concentration, and announced: ‘This is the best burger that I have ever eaten!’ High praise indeed.

To begin, the homemade galbi sauce, secret Brother sauce or whatever sauce was on there was sweet and delicious with just the right amount of tang to give the burger¬†that umami moreishness (or I could just be blagging it here, but you get the gist – it was awesome). ‘Gochujang’ is the ubiquitous fermented red chilli past in Korea, and it is simply delicious and not overwhelming in its spice levels. Basically, it’s a very good thing to coat smoked pork in. Surprisingly, the kimchi (fermented pickled vegetables, usually involving cabbage) was not nearly as sour or strong as the ¬†kind I’ve previously sampled, but just provided a gentle flavour that occasionally came through the decadence of the rest. The only thing that didn’t quite work for me – whereas it was a high point for my dining partner – was the firmness of the beef patty. It had quite a dense consistency, whereas I prefer the softer kind. However, within the layers and layers of the burger, the consistency was so obscured and mixed with other items that it did not detract from my enjoyment.

Probably the most fattening fries ever. YUM.
Probably the most fattening fries ever. YUM.

The fries were topped with all kinds of amazing things – namely, more smoked pork and cheese – but sadly were a little cold by the time they reached us.

Dessert was:¬†“A trio of handmade ice creams: wasabi with a drizzle of olive oil, almond with a splash of toasted sesame oil and roasted green tea with pine nuts”- and it seemed to divide people. ¬†Many people were very taken with the wasabi, much to their surprise, but I loved the almond, which was far less popular.

Ice-cream
Ice-cream

Fortunately, this didn’t cause any riffs because we were all united: the Invincible Admirable was in our hearts. And he remains there to this day.

You can find the Galbi Bros here or follow them on Twitter here.

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 ‚Äď understandably ‚Äď 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 Hach√© Burgers. Their branches are decorated with fairy lights and flowers to add a soft, ‚Äėfeminine‚Äô touch and boast an extensive menu with burgers ranging from the ‚ÄėSteak Mexican‚Äô (cajun spices, salsa, guacamole, jalape√Īo peppers, sour cream) to the ‚ÄėSteak Louisiana‚Äô with crunch peanut butter. At the other end of the scale, there‚Äôs 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 ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôt 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 ‚Äď although this definitely makes it moreish.

One final point ‚Äď does anyone really need a burger this big? As my co-diner pointed out, he‚Äôd 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 ‚Äď 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: Psyhic Burger at Birthdays, Dalston

Psychic Burger foresees good, burgery times ahead
Psychic Burger foresees good, burgery times ahead

On the ground floor of the bar/venue Birthdays, red triangles with a mystic eye stare from the glass window. On a closer inspection, the pupil of the eye is a burger. That must only mean one thing: they have burgers on the mind. And it‚Äôs true that after you’ve visited Psychic Burger, that you‚Äôll also have burgers in your mind‚Äôs eye for quite some time.

We had a premonition we’d enjoy it because there’s been quite some buzz, especially around a certain item on the menu: the Soft-Shell Crab Burger (£9.50 when we visited, now listed as £11 on the website. Hmm…).

Soft-shell crab burger
Soft-shell crab burger – crunchy legs yum yum

This visually striking burger contains two delicious critters deep fried and served with smoked garlic aioli and sweet chilli. I don’t even like crab but I could appreciate this work of art, whereas my crab-loving companion lapsed into silence as he munched his way through it, eyes closed in appreciation.

Psychic Burger - apologies for the dark photo
Psychic Burger – apologies for the dark photo
Beautifully medium-rare
Beautifully medium-rare

The Psychic Burger (¬£7.50) boasts an aged fore rib and chuck steak patty in brioche with ‚Äėpsychic sauce‚Äô, pickles, Monterey Jack cheese, an, for extra ¬£1, bacon. It was one of the juiciest and most flavoursome patties I‚Äôd sampled in a while, and it was hard to eat it slowly. In fact, I ended up wolfing down all my sides first so I could give it my full concentration!

A snack
A small snack

The burgers come served with a large, generously-battered onion ring, and we also got some fries (£3) and some tasty smoky BQQ beans (£3.50).

Pork skin popcorn and shoe string fries
Pork skin popcorn and shoe string fries

The only underwhelming thing was the snacks/starters. The Pork Skin Popcorn (£1.50) was salty, crunchy and a bit chewy at times, and the Shoes String Fries (£1.50) were essentially very thin crisps that amounted to inhaling salty air.

Nevertheless, I foresee that we’ll be back for some more cows and crabs in brioche, and maybe even a whole rack of BBQ ribs…

Psychic Burger 4/5 ‚Äď Mystically good burgers and soft-shell crab burgers.¬†

Website: http://birthdaysdalston.com/food/
Where: 33-35 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 8BJ
When: Mon 6 Р11pm; Tues РFri 12 Р11pm; Sat 11am Р11pm; Sun 11am Р10pm

 

Review: BRGR.CO, Soho

Hey there, burger ;)
Hey there, burger ūüėČ

After Haché Burgers and The Diner, this blog post completes a hat-trick of burger reviews!

BRGR.CO is the London off-shoot of the Beirut-based restaurant. Judging by the amount of new burger places opening in London, the burger food trend has plenty of mileage in it yet and the wider world is not oblivious to this (US-chain Shake Shack opens in Covent Garden on July 5th). BRGR.CO themselves are expanding further into London, with a branch planned to open in Chelsea.

My trip to BRGR.CO came about due to fortunate circumstances otherwise known as Twitter competitions.¬†I’m a Twitter novice but keeping an eye on the food tweet scene can be very beneficial. In this case, I won a late-night meal at BRGR.CO, Soho, which made me very happy indeed.

The deal is a bargain in itself: a 6oz burger, fries and a beer for £10 between 10pm and 1am.

Not being a beer drinker, I took a trusty friend who happily consumed it on my behalf, whilst I tucked into an Oreo Milkshake (¬£4.50), which was thick and creamy, but couldn’t quite get me over the Hach√© milkshake (although I suspect my current peanut fetish is biasing my opinion here).

Oreo milkshake
Oreo milkshake

Now for the burger itself. The patty is of the thinner variety and was, in short, really quite good. I¬†was surprised by the pure beefyness of the flavour and it was also more succulent that many burgers I’ve sampled lately. The bun was a good consistency and the salad was served on the side, which allows any fusspots to sort out what they want to add.

6oz burger & fries
6oz burger & fries
Proud of their beef
Proud of their beef

The only disappointment were the fries, which were just like crispy air. Such a shame. But the burger kept me happy. And my dining partner said it was the best burger he’d eaten in a long time!

For those who don’t want burgers, there are also hot dogs on the menu, and for the veggies, two rather delicious sounding options that sound as if more thought has gone into them than the usual veggie options:

The Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (£4.95) РSlices of grilled aubergine, courgette and mushroom, topped with fresh iceberg lettuce, rocket leaves, tomato and radish with melted Gruyère cheese.

The Falafel BRGR (£4.95) РFava bean and spices with homemade herb tahini sauce, tomato, parsley and radish.

Interestingly, they also offer an ‘Afternoon Tea’ menu for ¬£17, which includes mini-burgers, mini-cakes, milkshakes, and, of course, tea!

I’ve got my eye on their 8oz steak burger so I have a feeling BRGR.CO Soho and I will meet again. But hopefully not this scary giraffe-cow head on the wall.¬†

Demonic giraffe
Demonic giraffe-cow

BRGR.CO Soho 3.5/5

Food 3/5 – Burger is great but let down by fries.
Value 4/5 – Late night deal is a bargain, otherwise prices are to be expected in central London.
Service – 3/5 – Prompt.
Atmosphere 2.5/5 – A little cramped and loud for my liking. It’s not a place where you can relax.

Website: http://www.brgrco.co.uk/
Where: 187 Wardour Street, W1F 8ZB
When: Mon РWed 12 Р11pm, Thurs РFri 12pm Р12am, Sat 12pm Р1am, Sunday 12 Р10.30pm

Review: The Diner, Soho (off Carnaby Street)

Food

In contrast to my meal at The Diner, I’ll keep this review short and sweet.

The Diner is trying its hardest to live up to its namesake by being as American diner-style as it possibly can. This includes the booth seating and food served in baskets.

Now I’ve never actually been to an American diner, but I was, however, under the impression that American service involves overbearing niceness and smiles, even if it’s accompanied with a healthy dash of fakeness.

Our waitress for the evening wasn’t familiar with smiles. She wasn’t familiar with bringing items on time. And to be honest, I’m not sure she was familiar with her job. She lacked any ability to engage in a personable manner and stared at us with an expression of “Do you know how much you’re inconveniencing me by placing an order?!”

Combine this mildly hostile zombie with a large group of us sat at two cramped tables that could barely accommodate us and some poor acoustics, and the evening was not looking promising.

The food was the ray of hope. Food can make everything all right.

Not at The Diner. It isn’t terrible.¬† It is just so distinctly average that I wouldn’t pay for it again.

Arch Burger

 

Arch Burger

Arch Burger

I took the Arch Burger (¬£8.00), which involves a 6oz hamburger topped with St Louis pulled pork, Monterey Jack, coleslaw and¬†dill pickle.¬†Its appearance is¬†rather aesthetically pleasing. However, it left no lasting impression at all. The burger was a little dry –¬† disappointingly not pink in the middle – and the pulled pork contributed nothing to the¬†overall flavour.¬†

 

Sweet potato fries

Fat fries

The fat fries (£2.90) and sweet potato fries (£3.30) were perfectly fine, and I also sampled Diner Fries (Cajun Spiced Fat Fries, £3.10), which were a little addictive in their salty spiciness.

Inspired by the divine milkshake offering from Haché, I ordered a chocolate and pistachio milkshake (£4.70) which was insipid and sickly.

Sickly

To top this all off, we received a bill with an incredibly patronising “Thank you :-)” written on it. This seems to be the latest trend in some restaurants. A little personal message written on the bill. And if the service charge isn’t included, this fact is circled should we fail to notice it.

As someone who always pays service, this really, really annoys me.

In the case of The Diner, I was left speechless. How was our waitress able to draw a smile yet fail to produce an actual smile on her face?!

We debated whether to actually pay the service charge, and on reflection, we really shouldn’t have done. As was revealed in these discussions,¬†she’d even forgotten to bring one of our co-diners’ hotdog and they’d had to chase it up.

What can save an evening is the company. It was¬†my friend’s leaving party and she had plans. Now that she¬†had fuelled herself on comfort food, ¬†it was gaming¬†time.¬†So we all piled off to the arcade in the Trocadero and shot some zombies.¬†Much more¬†satisfying indeed.

The Diner, Soho 1/5 – Terrible service and mediocre to below average food. Not much comfort from comfort food.

Food 2/5
Value 4/5
Service 1/5
Atmosphere 2/5

Website: http://www.goodlifediner.com/
Where: Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensall Rise, Gloucester Road, Islington, Covent Garden
When: Seven days a week. Exact times vary depending on the branch.

Review: Hach√© Burgers, Clapham

Mexican burger

Burgers. Burgers. Burgers. These are one of the recent food trends to explode onto the London scene. I’m very happy they’ve done so because there is nothing like a decent quality burger.

I’ve already investigated Honest Burgers in Soho, sample Patty & Bun and Eliot’s Burger at Feast, devoured pop-up Two Nights Only‘s Forty Burger, and pitted GBK against Byron Burgers in Spitalfields. (Upcoming reviews: The Diner, Byron Burgers (Westfield), Meat Market and the Electric Diner.)

I decided it was time to investigate Haché Burgers, who are experimenting with a different aesthetic. Whereas most burger places are emulating American diners or promoting themselves as good quality modern chains, Haché Burgers takes a more delicate approach.

An approach that says softly, softly with sophistication. Think of chandeliers and fairy lights, light and airy decoration and plants. That was the inside of Haché Burgers Clapham. The result is a modern brasserie / stylised tea-rooms hybrid that makes for a pleasant atmosphere.

Light and airy

Pretty lights

The trouble was that I was mildly perturbed by¬†the blatant feminisation of the design. Hach√© are trying to call out to women and say “It’s OK to eat burgers – you needn’t enter a greasy dive!” And whilst I’m not a big fan of greasy dives, there is no need for overt girlyness as a marketing model. I am however, a bit of a hypocrite because the fairy lights …were…. so ….preeeeetty.

All burgers at Hach√© are served in a choice of brioche or ciabatta with some crisp salad on the side that you can add to your burger as desired.¬†For our lunchtime feasting, my dining partner and I tackled a Steak Mexican (¬£9.25) with Cajun Spices, Jalape√Īos, Salsa, Guacamole and Sour Cream in Brioche.

Mexican Burger - with guacamole, sour cream and salsa
Mexican Burger – with guacamole, sour cream and salsa

The bun had a surprisingly firm consistency, which was definitely needed for containing all those sauces. The burger was cooked medium-rare and was very tasty, although I found a little dry for my liking. As for the Mexican theme, the chef hadn’t been shy with the spices but I wasn’t sure that the overall combination was the best accompaniment to a burger.

Steak Bavarian Burger - with lots of smoked Bavarian cheese!
Steak Bavarian Burger – with lots of smoked Bavarian cheese!

We also tried Steak Bavarian (£9.95) served with Smoked Bavarian Cheese and Caramelised Onions. This was my favourite of the two because the sweetness of the onions brought the burger alive, although the cheese was a little mild and tended to get a little lost.

On the side, we got some Potato Wedges with Garlic Mayo and Salsa (£3.50), which were really comforting, and some Sweet Potato Frites (£2.95) which could have been a bit more flavourful and required some salt!

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potato chips – salt required
Wedges
Wedges with salsa and garlic mayo

We also tried an Oreo and Peanut Butter (¬£3.95) which was dangerously good. I’ve been having cravings for it ever since!

Hello bad boy!
Hello bad boy!

Haché Burgers 3/5 РFor some unusual burger combinations with tastefully served sides and great milkshakes, this is your place. 

Food 3/5 – Burgers could be a little more succulent but toppings are great.
Value 3/5 – Clapham currently run a 2 for 1 offer that’s worth checking out ūüėČ
Service 5/5 – Great. Our waiter was happy to recommend items.
Atmosphere 4/5 – Chilled and friendly.

Website: http://www.hacheburgers.com/
Where: Camden, Clapham, Chelsea, Shoreditch
When: Mon – Thurs 12 – 10.30pm; Fri – Sat 12 – 11pm; Sun 12 – 10pm.

Review: Street Feast London Opening Night – April 12th

They're almost ready...
They’re almost ready…

Imagine 14 street food traders. Crammed into one yard. Serving up everything from hot dogs to jerk chicken, from scallops to green tea choc ices, from buttermilk fried chicken to tofu and mushroom gyoza. Every Friday night? Does this sound like a foodie heaven? Well, yes. Yes, it does.

When I arrived at Street Feast London at 8.30pm last Friday night, I felt pretty far removed from heaven. It was pouring with rain. The covered areas were so packed with people that rows of umbrellas were lining the fringes. Through the grim darkness and crowds, it was hard to make out what the traders were actually offering. Slowly but surely, we realised, with increasing horror, that many traders had sold out! Spit & Roast was packing up, people were walking away empty handed from Buen Provecho and the Ribman was nowhere to be seen!

PANIC. I’d invited three sets of people who didn’t really know each other. They were all hungry, standing in the rain. Many of them required vegetarian options in the absence of halal meat. I felt severe guilt at leading everyone into what looked like would be a dismal and damp disappointment.

PANIC. Divide forces! Quick! Some of my friends hit Well Kneaded for some ‘firebreads’, which are essentially like a pizza without the tomato sauce. I joined the long queue for Bleecker St Burger. The people in front of us looked round and commented, “The queue doesn’t move forward but it grows longer. So our relative position improves.”

Always look on the bright side of life.

My phone rang. More friends would be joining me soon. I’ll get you burgers, I told them, or you might not get anything at all.

Eventually, I made it to the front of the queue and made my order to be told it would cost ¬£45. I had ¬£35 and I went off friend-hunting to scrounge a tenner. Then I did the maths and realised I’d been overcharged ¬£13.10. Which he was highly embarrassed about. I was just relieved that I didn’t need to pay any more!

We were also very forgiving once we tucked into our Cheeseburgers (¬£5). I had heard good things about Bleecker St Burger but I didn’t realise it’d be this good. The bun was light but held together well. And the patty was one of the more succulent offerings I’ve tried. YUM.

FINALLY!
FINALLY!
YUM
YUM

Forgiveness turned to all-out worship once we tried the sweet potato fries (¬£3). Oh my goodness. We turned to each other with a look of bliss on our faces. These might be the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten. They looked a little soggy but were surprisingly firm. And they were simply exploding with sweet potato flavour.

Sweet Potato Fries imported directly from Sweet Potato Heaven
Sweet Potato Fries imported directly from Sweet Potato Heaven

Sadly, our Beetroot and Goats Cheese Firebread with Watercress and Pea Shoots (¬£5.50) from Well Kneaded was no good, because they’d run out of goats cheese and had used ordinary cheese instead. Which turned into a minor flavour car crash – edible but not particularly pleasant. With goats cheese, however, I imagine it’d be fantastic.

My friends also tucked into some gyoza from Rainbo (8 = £6). Their Chicken and Coriander is really unusual, and they do a surprisingly meaty Tofu and Shiitake Mushroom version for veggies.

Gyoza
Gyoza

To finish up, we ambushed Sorbitum and sampled an array of dazzling flavours (2 scoops = £3.50). I was fond of the Chocolate and Hazelnut flavour Рit was like praline in ice-cream form Рand I also enjoyed some salted caramel. Really intriguing however was the Toffee Apple and Brown Butter and ginger fanatics should not miss the Fresh Ginger and Pink Rhubarb Ripple.

Sorbitum ice-cream truck
Sorbitum ice-cream truck
Hazelnut-chocolate and salted caramel ice-cream
Hazelnut-chocolate and salted caramel ice-cream

So our mood was drastically improved by full stomachs. And the rain having the decency to pause whilst we were eating.

Street Feast has promised on Twitter that traders will bring twice the amount of food next Friday. Phew! Cos I’ve got a lot of eating to do. And if you like food, I advise you make plans to head there too.

Street Feast

Where: Merchant Yard, 317-319 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4DL
When: Fridays, 5pm Рmidnight
Website: http://www.streetfeastlondon.com/

Review: Two Nights Only (Burger Dining Event)

The Forty Burger - Now I'm forty popunds heavier ;-)
The Forty Burger – Now I’m forty pounds heavier ūüėČ

As mentioned previously, I was lucky enough to win two tickets worth ¬£40 each to Two Nights Only, a¬†burger pop-up¬†dining event. Needless to say, I was VERY EXCITED. Ashamedly, I’d been stuffing myself all day at a food trade fair and was not at all hungry. I cursed myself. This was not a good way to start off. Because this evening was all about gluttony…

We entered the Bedford and Strand restaurant, going down some steps into a dimly lit room, where long tables were laid out for feasting. The element of secrecy hung in the air. We were directed to our seats where personalised paper placemats awaited us.

YAY! I'm a winner!
YAY! I’m a winner!

My placemat read “U winner” and made me very happy, even though they spelt my name wrong.

Hoxton pickles
Hoxton pickles

The table was decked with mini jars of Hoxton pickles to take home and eight poker chips, each representing a drink token for either beer or a rum cocktail (being a non-drinker, I just made towers out of mine because no-one wanted more than eight drinks each!)

It was undoubtedly a pop-up event. Food was served on disposible plates and presented without flourish, but this just made it all the more fun. A secret feasting atmosphere was combined with American diner aesthetics and some whacky presentation.

Chicken kiev with lonely sweetcorn
Chicken kiev with lonely sweetcorn
Check out that gooey middle! YUM
Check out that gooey middle! YUM

First up, our starter was buffalo-style chicken kiev, served bizarrely with a single baby sweetcorn that looked a little lost and lonely.¬†I really wanted to stick the sweetcorn into the kiev to make a snowman’s head and nose, but my friend¬†said that that¬†would look¬†like something not quite as innocent as snowman. The kiev itself was very tasty – the chicken was evidently of a good quality and very succulent. This was mixed with some mild spice and blue cheese, and served up in breadcrumbs that were crisp and fresh, and expertly avoided greasiness.

The Forty Burger - 40x your recommended daily calory intake ;-)
The Forty Burger – 40x your recommended daily calory intake ūüėČ

Next, the burger. The Forty Burger as they called it. Yes, it looks gloriously lethal, but we weren’t here for the¬†health benefits.

You can read for yourself what it contained.

Burger made with love
Burger made with love

Burger porn - you have to check out the inside

This was a highly enjoyable and extremely messy affair. As with the starters, the quality of the ingredients could not be faulted. I found the patty tasty but a little bit dry for my liking, although this was not a problem with all the cheese and relishes Рin fact, the bun disintegrated almost immediately! I found the pickles a little fat Рthey were exquisitely tangy, but I like my gherkins thinly sliced in order to spread the potency of flavour and to stop them overpowering the other flavours. However, the bacon was to die for Рso crispy and so moreish, that I almost started on bacon sandwich fantasies there and then.

Without cheese
Without cheese
With cheese
With cheese

We were given a basket of chilli cheese fries. A basket each. Yes, the quantities were ridiculous. The chips were a little light and airy, but the chilli was delicious – very mild but flavoursome, and surpisingly moist given the lack of sauce. The cheese¬†came in a pressurised cannister and sprayed on top. I couldn’t detect any flavour but I was really amused/alarmed by the serving method – apparently it exploded over an unexpecting diner on a neighbouring table!

Yet cheese wasn’t the only thing to explode that evening – and no, I’m not referring to our stomachs from over-eating.¬†We were given garlic mayo in tubes and my friend¬†struggled with opening his, managing to squirt it directly into his eye. Here he is trying to smile while I’m cruelling laughing at his misfortune. I’m a terrible friend.

An exercise in pornstar empathy...
Brave face
Oxtail doughnut
Oxtail doughnut
It's so doughy!
It’s so doughy! And there is meat in there too – I just didn’t bite deep enough!

The garlic mayo came with what was for me the highlight of the meal: an oxtail doughnut, served in a 2NO burger box. It was very slightly sweet and very doughy, filled with savoury meat (that tasted jsut like ordinary beef). This proved the most controversial item of the evening but I loved the sweet/savoury contrast and the texture. It reminded me of kare pan in Japan, a deep-fried curry doughnut, which is a lot greasier and filled with a sweet curry sauce (and is one of my embarrassing guilty pleasures). I managed to blag an extra doughnut to take home, so I was very happy.

Choco dip!
Choco dip!

Dessert was a KP chocolate dip, which had been altered – salted caramel sauce had been poured into the base of the biscuit tub. I’d never had one of these pots before¬† but I wasn’t too enamoured with the concept: I didn’t like the biscuits and there was something disturbing about being given a pre-made dessert¬†that had been opened and tampered with.¬†The chocolate and salted caramel were¬†rather yummy, but I was so stuffed at this point that I couldn’t fully appreciate them (alarming, I know – I only refuse chocolate when I’m in a terrible state).

The evening was¬†incredibly fun, and there was a general party atmosphere as everyone cheerfully ploughed their way through the feast. I shall remember¬†it as¬†a night of¬†relaxing, pleasant conversation and increasingly difficult yet determined¬†mouthfuls –¬†no-one wanted¬†to waste such fantastic food.

2NO
2NO

Two Nights Only deserve a massive congratulations for the effort and imagination that went into the evening, as well as the fine quality of the ingredients used to prepare each dish.

So thank you Two Nights Only for some marvellous meaty mayhem and glorious gluttony.

And thank you again to Hamburger Me for picking me as a winner!

Really cool knitted burger made by Akiko, which won her and Luke tickets to the event. I'm really glad they did because they were so nice!
Really cool knitted burger made by Akiko, which won her and Luke tickets to the event. I’m really glad they did because they were so nice!

Review: Honest Burgers, Soho

The Honest Burger
The Honest Burger

I recently won tickets from Hamburger Me¬†to Two Nights Only, a hamburger dinner event.¬†The brief was to review a burger in 140 characters and I chose the Honest Burger from Honest Burgers. It ended up as a limerick and I couldn’t resist a bit of a pun:

“Honestly not horsing around,
It’s the most succulent that I’ve found,
With rosemary chips,
And mayonnaise lips,
Lots of mess and fun abound!”

So, in case you can’t tell, I loved Honest Burgers. For those of you who want to know why, read on…

The evening on which I arrived at Honest Burgers was not going well. My phone had run out of battery, my friend was missing in action, and there was a queue. Not just any queue, but a waiting list of one hour and 45 minutes.¬†The lady on the door was very charming and friendly as she offered to take my number to call when a table was available.¬†However, I was starving and there was no chance that I’d survive that long. Apparently, this is how popular Honest Burgers is. You have to fight for the seats!

Honest Burgers is always busy
Honest Burgers is always busy

Shivering, I waited for my friend, feeling rather miserable. He arrived just as the friendly lady appeared at the restaurant door again.

See those window seats? she said. They’re not included in the waiting list and those people are about to leave. Would you like them?

Hmm. Would I like to jump the one-hour-and-forty-five-minute-queue? Yes please!

We squeezed in and grabbed the menus. The offerings are simple – beef burger, chicken burger or veggie fritter – although daily specials appear on the board.

The menu
The menu

I needed the Honest Burger (¬£9) ¬†– beef patty in a bun with red onion relish, smoked bacon, mature cheddar, pickled cucumber and lettuce. I dived into a soft, succulent patty that screamed “Hello, I’m good quality beef!” The bacon was well-cooked and also very tasty. Honest Burgers get their meat from The Ginger Pig, a highly renowned butchers (who, incidentally, will be providing the bacon at the Two Night Only Event). The relish was not overpoweringly sweet and the whole thing was expertly executed.

Look how crispy the bacon is
Look how crispy the bacon is
Close up shot
Close up shot – that is one succulent burger!

Whilst I was devouring my burger and wishing I could magically replicate it, my friend contemplated the chips. All the burgers come with rosemary salt chips. These are very good chips. In fact, my friend is normally fairly ambivalent towards his food but these chips possibly made his year.

Red cabbage, apple, and beetroot salad (£2.50)
Red cabbage, apple, and beetroot salad (£2.50)

We also took a Red Cabbage, Beetroot and Apple Coleslaw (£2.50), which is a fantastic flavour combination and made for a very pleasing accompaniment.

Admire Hellmann's mayo (my fave) in the background
Admire Hellmann’s mayo (my fave) in the background

My friend also enjoyed some home-made lemonade (£2.50), served in a jar.

Honest Burgers 4.5/5

Squeezed onto a counter, it wasn’t the most comfortable of meals, but the food couldn’t be any more comforting.¬†

Food 4.5/5 – Absolutely great, but I shall keep my beady burger-hunting eye open.
Service 5/5 – Quick and efficient. And special mention to the lady on the door who is endlessly positive when telling customers the bad news about the wait.
Atmosphere 3.5/5 РNot the most relaxing of places. But the room is united in burger and chips appreciation.
Value 4/5 – Good quality food at a good price. Happy times.

Where: Brixton Village, SW9 8PR; 4A Meard Street, W1F 0EF
Website: http://www.honestburgers.co.uk/