Tuesday 24 May 2011

#BurgerMonday: Lionel Lévy @ Andrew's, 160 Grays Inn Road, London

'Twas with a spring in my step, and a rumbling in my belly that I set off to my second BurgerMonday pop-up event. Just a week after Richard Turner had wowed the crowds with his custom, East London Steak Co. Gray's Inn burger, Daniel Young (the Young in Young&Foodish) enticed none other than Lionel Lévy, renowned chef from Une Table, Au Sud in Marseille to London, with several of his sous-chefs, a suitcase full of ingredients, and a challenge to cook up something special for 64 eager #BurgerMondayPopUp-ites.

I'd met up with a couple of fellow foodies (Hayley aka @hayleymudge and Anthony aka @gubgub08) for a drink in the Melton Mowbray prior to the event, and after almost an hour chatting about restaurants and food, our excitement levels were at fever pitch as we arrived at Andrew's (think 1950's style, formica-tabled greasy spoon, walls resplendant with menu covered chalkboards boasting dishes such as kidney, egg, and chips). We were greeted warmly by Daniel, and his wife Viv and seated ready for the feast to begin.

The first thing I noticed was that the marketing hype that surrounded the previous week's burger, was visibly absent. It had, instead, been replaced by what I can only imagine was a carefully executed French minimalism. Knife, fork, teaspoon, napkin sat on the table, with several glasses and a chilled bottle of Pinot Griogio (a rather pleasant Masi Masianco 2010). Following a glass of wine, the great Paul Winch-Furness aka @paul_wf came over to take a few photographs and chat about our mutual passion for ground beef, buns and toppings (check out his photos!)

So first up, our starter rolled out of the kitchen and is was a simple, elegant salmon crumble. The topping was made up of a crunchy, roasted garlic and ginger crumble, which covered a tender, flavoursome circle of zesty salmon that matched the wine very well. Needless to say it was quickly despatched into the pit, ready for the main event of the evening - the burger.
I think our whole table was surprised when the BLT Burger arrived , looking unlike any other burger we'd had before.

The bun wasn't a bun at all, but rather two slices of sour dough bread (from St. John Restaurant, which had been substituted in at the last minute from another bread, after Lionel had tasted the St. John bread when dining the night before!)

The top slice of bread was spread thickly with a pesto paste, a red pepper relish, and topped with a couple of gummy, sticky sun-dried tomatoes.

Then came the meat patty, a round, fat O'Shea butchers chuck, coarsely ground steak burger, with a fat content made up to 30% with rib and plate rib fat. Under the patty sat a couple of thick chunks of meaty bacon, and some lettuce, and then a thick layer of olive tapanade was spread on the bottom slice of bread. Matched with the burger was a delicious 2009 Cotes du Rhone, which went down a little too easily, judging by my head in the morning!

In order to eat the burger we had to carry out, what's known in the business, as the flip technique which as you can see was executed brilliantly below, without a drop spilled:

Enough of the #burgerporn, I hear you shout, show me the money - how did that bad boy taste?

The answer: Awesome.

And here's why: The meat, being high in fat, but from a single cut, had an soft, earthy, slightly tannic flavour which meant it wasn't fighting with the bold olive, pesto, pepper and sun-dried tomato flavours. This meant the quality really stood out as they made the various pastes made their way across the tastebuds. And as you'd expect, the sourdough bread was more than up to the wet, fatty burger challenge, softening slightly from its toasted state but not collapsing up until the final mouthful.

For dessert, was a delicious strawberry soup, which hid a layer of mint and lemon curd (from Bea's in Bloomsbury, no less). It was great, but couldn't sate my longing for another BLT burger provençal.

At the end of the meal would have been a great time to go home, but it just so happened that I was in the presence of the great Burgerac aka @burgeracblog, who shares a passion for all things meat and bun related, so I crashed his table and no doubt bored the other guests with burger chat!

So all that's left to be said is a massive thank you to Daniel, Viv, Lionel and the #BurgerMondayPopUp team - another great job, well done (which the burger, thankfully, wasn't!)

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