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Filtering by Tag: Opera Tavern

Ben Tish & Ben Mulock's OT Deluxe Burger


Skillfully and oh-so-cleverly putting (Iberico) ham into a "hamburger", Ben Tish and Ben Mulock of London's Opera Tavern have created a dish (never mind a burger) deserving of legend...

For the other week's installment of BurgerMonday, Opera Tavern chefs Ben Tish and Ben Mulock created a beautifully deluxe version (with added truffle) of OT's delicious Iberico Pork and Foie Gras burgers which I raved about back in May here on Burgerac. It was absolutely fucking spectacular...

As is the tradition at BurgerMonday events, there were three courses. To start we were served Gazpacho with spiced green tomato and manteca croutons. The whiteness of the croutons is actually whipped Iberico pork fat (there's a running theme). The soup itself was heavenly - although the more of it I ate, the more I thought the balance leaned a little heavily towards being slightly too acidic. A minor quibble. It was top drawer. 

Ah, the main event hoved in to view looking like this. But before I focus on the burger, let me tell you that the fries were cooked in – wait for it – Iberico Pork fat! They were really, really good. OK, now let's consider the burger, a full size beast accessorised with truffle pecorino and aged jamon....

Just look at it. Wow... And it tasted DIVINE. Even as I tried hard not to audibly moan in gastronomic ecstacy whilst masticating on this hammy treat, I was in awe not just of the deep rich and brilliantly balanced flavours, but of the ingenuity of the thing. This really is a cleverly conceived burger, and without a doubt the most technically brilliant piece of cooking I've encountered in all my burger-scoffing jaunts.

Instead of the aged manchego that appears in the OT mini pork and foie gras burgers, this burger sported truffle pecorino, and lurking underneath the melted cheese, was a thin slice of aged jamon, which had practically melted into the burger patty. The patty's deliciousness is hard to define in mere words and I was keen to chat to the affable Ben Mulock who very kindly took the time to tell me about his approach to making it...

"I wanted to do more with the truffle flavour than just use our pecorino, so I thought about how to get it inside the burger," Mulock explains. "I had chopped and sliced some going through the first prototype but felt it didn't come through smoothly or evenly enough. Eventually I decided to make a truffle milkshake in a blender so I could get it through the mix evenly. This worked a treat - but I wanted more so I also shaved on the mandolin more truffle to fold through the burger mix to give more flavour and texture to the burger. It was still missing something though. Even though it was great I knew I had to change the mechanics further and it was only when I upped the foi gras quantity that I was finally happy with the patty."

But hang on, Mulock wasn't done yet with tweaking the burger just yet. "The next thing to undergo a rethink was the relish," he told me. "The burger had grown richer so I needed to make it slightly sharper to give balance. I used the same butterhead lettuce as normal and me and Ben Tish created a chopped truffle aioli to give it a last hurrah and extra double amazingness. Thicker, crispy lightly battered onion rings were called for to help give a contrasting texture. Getting the bun size right was also crucial as too big and the whole thing is stifled by bread, too small and it's too bloody messy. And the guindilla (pepper) on top through the skewer is just too playful not to do."

And here is the final course, an Orange and Manteca Pudding with Tip Top sauce. Not that I ate much of it. Hayley who was sat to my right during this particular BurgerMonday session doesn't like foie gras and while she had a go at the burger, couldn't eat more than a mouthful. I felt sorry for her, really I did. But not for long. I "helped her out" by taking her burger and halving it with my dining buddy. After one and a half burgers (it was so worth it) I couldn't really do a pudding.

While the Opera Tavern's two Bens say that the OT deluxe burger won't appear on the OT's regular menu, I urge you to check out the mini pork and foie gras burgers on the menu. Check out my review of those lovely little mouthfuls of joy here.

I've said it before, I'll say it again – if you haven't been to a BurgerMonday event, you're missing out on the most exciting burger action in town. The bar seems to be raised higher at each event. I wonder who will be the next chef to step up to the hot plate and prepare a one-off burger of untold awesomeness?

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Opera Tavern Ibérico Pork and Foie Gras Burger


£5.50 This is a tapas place and the burgers are mini. But they, like every other dish I sampled, are spectacularly good. Waiter, more please!

Man cannot live on beef alone (believe me, I've tried), so I decided to investigate the mini Ibérico pork and foie gras burgers at the recently opened Opera Tavern in Covent Garden – on the suggestion of my well informed friend, Steph... 

Opera Tavern is the latest venture from the team behind the ever popular (and justifiably so) tapas bars Salt Yard on Goodge Street and Dehesa on Ganton Street. This new venture (it opened a couple of months ago) is situated in a former pub in the heart of theatre land in Covent Garden and serves charcuterie, cheese, Italian and Spanish tapas AND the super exciting thing, for me and, methinks, for you, is that there's a charcoal grill in the bar which is capable of cooking to perfection such delights as Pinchos Morunos (marinated pork skewers), Chorizo with Piquillos and Marjoram and, crucially, the Mini Ibérico Pork and Foie Gras Burgers which I'm about to start raving about.

But before I embark on said rave, I must tell you that Opera Tavern isn't the kind of place you go to just to get a mini burger or two. The dishes I sampled last week include Crispy Ibérico Pigs Ears (rather like pork scratchings), Padrón Peppers, and some excellent Calamari. All were top notch.

But, of course, it's the mini burgers that are the focus of my attention here. Served on a wooden board with customary wooden stakes through them, they look for all the world like little works of oozy, perfectly charred, rustic food art.

A look under the freshly baked, perfectly toasted, bread bonnet reveals a hint of melted cheese and some very lightly battered red onion rings. The meat patty itself sits on a bed of fresh garlic aioli, butterhead lettuce and a slightly crunchy red onion marmalade. I added a piece of the chilli served on the side, put the lid back on and took a bite. WOW! This little pork burger is sensational! I simply had to investigate further...

"For the burger we use the Blackfoot Ibérico pig whose diet is predominantly fresh hazlenuts," explains Opera Tavern's Sous Chef, Ben Mulock. "The cut we decided on is the collar," he continues, "because it has not only a great meat to fat ratio, but also ideal texture and flavour for the burger. I can't tell you the ratio of pork to foie gras – but I can tell you that it's not in there for flavour alone. It also adds a rich velvety texture to the burger, loosening everything up and making it even more pleasurable to eat."

And what of the cheese used?  "We use the very same aged manchego in our burger as on our manchego plate," reveals Mulock. "We feel the burger deserves the best."

But it's not just the ingredients, that conspire to delight the senses – the cooking of the burger is crucial. "The flavour that comes from cooking the burger on our fantastic robata grill is part and parcel of the great taste of the burger," affirms Mulock. "We even have the staff ordering a few each when they clock off in the afternoon, myself included. Who wouldn't want to eat the most luxurious burger going?" Who, indeed.

Folks, this burger is mini, but it is mighty tasty. Though, as I said before, Opera Tavern isn't just about the burgers. You'll definitely want to sample its other delights...

To summarise: Opera Tavern is a delight. Do it! 


Opera Tavern
23 Catherine Street

020 7836 3680