In the last month I've been privy to a new kind of burger-eating experience: that of the gut-busting three-burgers-in-one-sitting burger tasting menu. Here's the deal, diners are served a three course meal - only every course is a beef burger, each one showcasing a particular flavour concept. I've actually experienced three-burgers-at-once TWICE in the last month...
On the first occasion I was at the Admiral Codrington
pub, at the behest of chef Fred Smith
who'd invited a squad of burger loving tweeps to come and sample three of his recently honed burger concepts: The Lardo Burger, the Isle of Avalon Cheeseburger, and the 333 Chilli Burger. Yes, this really is the kind of event you can find yourself invited to if you're an active member of Twitter and following the "right" people (friendly chefs that like to showcase new burger ideas).
Only here's the thing: maintaining the joyous burger vibe consistently as you eat three hugely calorific burgers laced with lardo (pig fat), stinky cheese, not-to-mention sugary condiments all wrapped up in brioche buns... well, it can be tricky. But, of course dear readers I persevered... for you!
Here are some photos and my thoughts on The Ad Cod burger swarm evening which took place on Wednesday 3rd August:
The first burger served was the Lardo burger (above) which was served in a perfectly toasted glazed brioche bun rubbed with tomato chutney, a 'French' slaw (consisting of shredded iceberg, chopped cornichon, chopped shallot, parsley, Dijon mustard and a little mayo) then sliced tomato, pata Negra lardo, beef patty, more lardo and all topped with morbier cheese...
Now, when you're eating three burgers in one sitting, the first one you encounter is when all your burger-assessing skills are at their sharpest. On my very first bite, I thought the texture was awesome, but I couldn't taste the morbier, so I'm guessing it wasn't quite ripe enough. Other folk on my table said the burger was really mustardy but I couldn't detect a strong mustard flavour from the slaw in my burger at all. Actually, my burger was so mellow in flavour that I could really taste the slice of tomato - which was, actually, delicious. I could also taste the lardo which had an interesting, almost gamey mellow flavour but I didn't particularly like the texture of it, cut as it was into small slices that slipped around in the ensemble. Tasty, but I couldn't help wondering if the lardo might be better if it was 'built-in' somehow to the beef patty.
Next, the Isle of Avalon Cheeseburger, which was served in a toasted, seeded brioche bun, the inside of which was rubbed in a caramelised onion and tomato compote. 'English cucumber slaw' (shredded cucumber and iceberg dressed in an English mustard mayo with chopped dill) a slice of tomato, the patty, and confit old spot pork belly was topped with Isle of Avalon cheese.
This was probably the most ambitious of Fred's three burgers on the night. There was a lot going on - and I'm not sure all the ingredients combined to deliver one beautiful flavour concept. The first mouthful all I could taste was the bang-on ripe cheese which overpowered everything else in the burger. A couple of bites later I got less cheese and really picked up the flavour of the white, lean pork meat which was absolutely delicious. The problem was that the taste of pork didn't marry well with that of the beef patty. I'd rather have one of the meats and enjoy it - or the other. As a burger accompaniment, the Old Spot pork doesn't work nearly so well as say the AMAZING salty bacon Fred used in the Burgermat Show
burger back in June. And when that Isle of Avalon cheese is in full effect, it wipes out the flavour of both of the meats. Too strong! The cucumber slaw though, was GENIUS. I hated the concept "on paper" but the flavour of it was super. Actually, it made me think that this bun, that slaw, the Burgermat Show burger bacon, and a reasonably tasteless cheese such as mellow cheddar or Monteray Jack - would make for a super bacon cheese burger...
And last but by no means least, the 333 Chilli Burger. This came in a toasted brioche bun rubbed with chipotle relish, 'green chilli slaw' (green chilli Mayo and iceberg), home pickled Jalapeños, and a beef patty topped with ancho chilli braised short rib. Just look at it with a thin strip of green chilli protruding... Even before I'd tasted it I was a fan of this one.
For me, Fred's 333 Chilli Burger is ready to stick on the Ad Cod menu with no tweaks required. I LOVED the slaw in this one with its thin raw strips of hot green chilli - and the braised short rib was absolutely delicious. Really great flavour and I could eat one of these every day for the rest of my life NO PROBLEM!
Fred, if you're having any more tasting sessions at the Ad Cod, looking for feedback on your latest burger concoctions, HOLLER!
Now then, the second triple-burger feast I attended recently was a BurgerMonday
organised affair – cooked up in cahoots with The Draft House
pub on Tower Bridge Road. The burgers on the menu were The Yolk Burger (topped with a trimmed flat fried Egg), The Smoke Burger (topped with smoked cheddar and smoked streaky bacon), and The Foie Burger (topped with a slab of Foie Gras).
None of these burgers were as ambitious as Fred's Admiral Codrington burgers, but rather featured one particular flavour or ingredient that would give each burger a strong identity. The Yolk Burger (above) would make a fantastic burger-shaped brunch – the yolk and the hollandaise sauce really complimenting the gentle beefy flavour of the patty (which includes finely chopped challots and some parsley, a burger recipe trait Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh inherited from his mother).
The Smoke Burger was a wonderful celebration of smoked bacon flavour and the in-house smoked cheddar was a lovely touch. I don't know where Draft House get their burger buns from, but they're also worth a mention. Soft, fresh and slightly sweet with a perfectly glazed top.
The Foie Burger, although served as the third burger of the evening (and quite a challenge for many of the assembled), was cooked to perfection and an absolute delight to er, inhale.
And guess what? Unlike most BurgerMonday events, this triple whammy of burger joy can be yours to experience, as the Draft House burger feast is on the menu to all and sundry PROVIDING you're in a group of eight or more (at £14.75 per head) AND that you phone and book in advance. Please note, this burger-tastic menu is only on until the end of this month (September)
. Click here for details: www.drafthouse.co.uk
Of course, booking yourself in for a triple-burger experience isn't something you should undertake lightly. I strongly suspect the ease with which I inhaled the third (Foie) burger at The Draft House the other week had a lot to do with the three-burger "training session" at the Ad Cod a couple of weeks before. Even though it's totally wrong that my body should adapt to this kind of over-indulgent burger fest, I can't help wonder when I'll next get to guzzle three burgers in one sitting...