Wednesday 23 November 2011

Ben's Canteen: Taking the next step on the burger journey

For those of you who follow this blog regularly, you'll remember my visit to Ben's Canteen during its soft launch, where I sampled their burger concept, and got to meet Ben, the man behind the canteen.

Well, a few weeks ago, I was invited back by Ben to try out his upgraded burger, and to graffiti the men's toilets...but more on that in another post.

Ben's Canteen (BC) Burger with chips - £12.50. Add bacon - £1.

The presentation of this burger is fairly standard. The burger offers up a double patty, with cheese melted on each, a floured bap (bun on) and a pile of steak cut chips. 
Very good. The melted cheese is a smoked Montgomery cheddar, which offers a wonderfully mellow and savoury flavour. It was melted over and between the patties gluing the whole ensemble together. On the base of the bun was a bed of ketchup and mustard with three or four thinly sliced gherkins. The condiments added a great counterpoint to the cheese and were quite reminiscent of the comforting cheeseburger style of the Byron Uncle Sam burger.
Very good. The meat in the Ben's Canteen burger has been totally upgraded from its former spiced meat paste incarnation, to a top notch, coarse minced chuck patty. Two of them in fact. The patties are around about 4oz each and are stacked on top of each other in the burger composition. They are made by Dove the Butcher on Northcote Road, not 10 minutes walk from Ben's Canteen, and you can buy the patties in their shop. The patties are made from minced chuck steak, and include a mix of finely chopped onions, garlic, salt and pepper. I am normally dubious when restaurants get creative with the patty mix, but the simple ingredients added to this one worked well with the whole ensemble.
The weak link. There is nothing wrong with this floured bap, direct from the Flour Station, other than it doesn't do a great job in keeping the juicy patties and sauces in. It's also a bit too big for the patties, leaving a big overhang which ends in a bite into empty space.

I asked Ben about the burger bun and his plans, and it is on a (very long) list of tweaks to make to some of their dishes. His main priority was to improve the patty, which he's done magnificently, so look out for a new look bun at some point in the future.

Fine. These steak-cut chips aren't going to set the world on fire, but they are cooked golden and crunchy. Hand cut chips have since come on the menu, and I look forward to heading back to try them.

Overall rating: 8/10
This is a pretty good burger, packed with flavour, juice and the superb smoked Montgomery cheese, but the bun needs to be reconsidered as it's just not up to the task.

The fact that at least six burgers were served while I was eating mine shows this burger is in its ascendancy!

Ben's Canteen
140 Saint John's Hill
SW11 1SL

Ben's Canteen on Urbanspoon

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