Monday 18 July 2011

7/10 - Giant Robot, 45-47 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M 5RS

Situated in the uber-cool mini-burb of Clerkenwell, just north of Smithfield, resides a Giant Robot. Now, I've often passed this place (incidentally sitting on the site of Match, which to date remains the single best burger I've ever eaten, prior to it closing down), on the periphery of my lunching territory, and normally after I've already eaten, and wondered about the impenetrable menu, filled with sliders, balls and giant sausage. 

So finally I decided to take the plunge and took my dining companions, the blonde and the brunette, to dine.

The first thing the blonde noted upon entering the restaurant was the sign outside that appeared to quote porn legend (and all round hairy-fatman) Ron Jeremy - "Great Balls of Meat & Super Long Cocktails", followed swiftly by the brunette saying she had sampled the giant sausage at Giant Robot late one night while out on the lash...well that set the tone for the meal. 

Thursday 14 July 2011

Can we crowdsource an In-N-Out Burger in London...

Update: 16 October 2012

In-N-Out have just popped up in London for a day - read the full review and details in this In-N-Out London Pop-Up post.


A question that reared it's double-double, animal style head earlier this week on Twitter was whether In-N-Out were planning their first outpost in our very own London town. Naturally I got very excited, in spite of the likelihood that it was all a vicious rumour, and I started to dream of a world where I could pop into In-N-Out on Clerkenwell Road during my lunch hour, and feast on the wondrous joyful burgers they offer. 

So when I engaged with Marcus de Vere of @anpburgers on Twitter over the likelihood of In-N-Out ever expanding to London, there were some clear signs that it was very unlikely - the facts appear to be:
  • all In-N-Out locations have to be within a day's drive of their own processing facilities
  • they are careful not to open in a location until they can guarantee the same quality food and service as they provide in their existing locations 
  • they currently have 250 branches in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Texas and hasn't spread to the other 45 states in the US
So I thought it was time to get in touch with them and see what their plans were for us humble, yet cultish, burger lovers in London.

My email was simple - do they have any expansion plans for the UK, and if they were interested to know that they already have a fair few fans in London. I used the contact form on their official In-N-Out burger website, and within hours I received this response:

As far as I'm concerned, if Jonathan says it might happen, I'm clinging to the dream. And so should you. 

My campaign is to see if we can crowdsource our very own In-N-Out burger joint in London town. So, fellow burger lovers, please help me. As Jonathan mentioned in his email above, In-N-Out "are intent on expanding as far as they can, and particularly into areas their customers have expressed interest.

You can do your bit by either sending an email to request they launch in London by using their email form, send them a message on Facebook saying how much you'd love to see In-N-Out in London, or both!

Oh, and when you're done, drop a comment here to let me know so we can celebrate or commiserate together!

Thursday 7 July 2011

5/10 - Ember, 99-100 Turnmill Street, Farringdon, EC1M 5QP

Location: Ember is a small bar with a warehouse-style interior, situated just by Farringdon tube station. Part of the wider Faucet Inn group, which operate a number of bars across the capital. My visit was on a Thursday lunchtime, sans reservation, but the bar was bereft of guests, a solitary older couple being the other beneficiaries of the slightly surly barmaid's attentions.

£8.75 for bacon cheeseburger including chunky chips.

Great. The burger arrived avec chips on a ergonomic wooden board, sauces to the left of me, burger to the right, here I am , stuck in the middle with chips. Not what I expected (from seeing the food served to the only other diners in the bar). The burger seemed quite small, almost mean if I'm being fair to it, but the whole ensemble looked quite impressive.

Ok. The toppings (bacon, cheese, onion chutney, huge pile of lettuce) were alright. The shining star in this ensemble was the bacon, which was meaty and full of unsmoked flavour.   Sadly that's where the quality of toppings end. A huge forest of lettuce hid a pool of sharp red onion chutney and a cold, tasteless cheese - still trying to work out how the cheese was both melted and freezing cold.

Clearly Ember's policy with the burger is 'eating is cheating'. This was a sorry sized patty - I estimated it at less than 100g. The patty was cooked medium, which was no mean feat considering it was about 0.5cm thick, and the grind was fairly fine. I had the feeling that the burger was a frozen patty, but I'm guessing (and asking my less than attentive waitress was a no-go). As you can see from the hand image below, the actual burger was significantly smaller than my, albeit piano players, hands.

Errrrm..I'm not sure what was going on with this bun, it seemed to be a cross between a soft pretzel (philly-style) and a white bap - although something in then creation suggested the chef had too much time on his hands as it was more a Frankenstein's monster of doughy bits than bun. A strange series of curls on the lid meant it fell apart almost immediately when picked up, and although the texture was lightly toasted and fluffy, sadly it lacked cohesion with the burger.

Plate Accessories:
Ok. Chips were on target, chunky, crispy and unsalted, and actually the most generous part of this meal. The tomato sauce was fine, and the mean portion of coleslaw was tasty, although it was a mere forkful.

Overall rating: 5/10
Despite having a small menu, and even smaller Thursday lunchtime clientele, Ember sadly fails to make the grade with this small and poorly executed burger. In my opinion it is a clear case of style over substance and having paid almost £9 for this, I could have easily knocked back a couple more, which would have taken the total cost to around £27, and I'd still have been disappointed. In short, a mean portion from a place that could do with upping their game for more passing trade.
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