Friday, 25 February 2011

9/10 - #meateasy, Above Goldsmith's Tavern, New Cross

Location: On the first floor of the well known, but currently being renovated Goldsmith's Tavern, up a grotty staircase resides one of the worst kept secrets in current popular burger culture, #meateasy. Consisting of a single room, it's small, with an eclectic assortment of tables and chairs scattered about, and the walls papered with pages from the illustrated novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but boy is it busy!
Price:
£7  (Bacon Cheese Burger) £3 (Onion Rings)

Presentation:
It's a burger, on a paper plate, and it looks good! Presented 'bun on' (and that bun is not coming off easily...trust me), with a bit of melted cheese running down the site, now I've had better presented burgers, but what impressed me was this was attempt two - the first time round the burger came to me, (was it Yianni himself?), rushed to my table, apologised for how it looked, and rushed it back to the kitchen to tidy it up!
Toppings:
Bacon and Cheese, as well as some relish, and a wonderfully crunchy, vineagery pickle. The cheese was fabulous, fully melted and had seeped into the meat, welding it to the bun. The bacon was somewhat disappointing, although in fairness I could taste it, as it was miniscule...it didn't detract, but niggled somewhat.

Bread:


What at first glance appeared to be a simple white bap, turns out to be a fabulously dense, doughy bun that was more than up for the job of holding the whole delicious burger package together. As I've mentioned before, a poorly thought out bun ruins an otherwise fabulous burger - and this is none of the former, and all of the latter!

Meat:
This, ladies and gentlemen, is without a doubt one of the tastiest beef patties I have ever eaten. The thick-minced beef had a great long-aged flavour to it, juicy, medium/rare cooked with a unique spice to it. This is what my mind tells me burgers taste like, late at night after a skinful of beers, but it was neither late, nor was I drunk #meateasy, I take my hat off to you, for this is a total meat win!
Plate Accessories:
Nothing. Although we did load up on onion rings (very generous) and chilli cheese fries (phenomenal). In fact even the plate was paper, and the chilli cheese fries came with a plastic fork - we didn't care, the food was so good.

Overall rating: 9/10

To sum up the #meateasy burger experience is tough, it's like trying to explain what it was like being there when all the drummers from Live Earth came on stage and beat the SOS rythmn for the world - words don't adequately capture the experience. But when it comes to the burger...oh man, I didn't want to clean my teeth last night to hold that fabulous flavour in my mouth for just a few hours longer. If ever the Meat Wagon guys want to conquer the UK, all they need to do is upscale and show all these burger chains how it's done.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Boerwors - South Africa's 'secret' meat

When I say it's South Africa's 'secret' meat, what I mean is I'd never heard of it before Saturday night, when we headed over for a dinner party with some friends.

We'd been planning to do dinner for several weeks and, wanting to ensure that the wine matched with the dinner being cooked, I asked for a sneak preview of our main course. As our hosts originiate from South Africa, and they wanted to give us an authentic taste of their homeland, the answer to my question was they'd decided to make Boerwors.

Boerwors - eh?

Yup, I had never heard of it before either. In pronounciation, it sounded like Bierwurst, of german sausage fame, and as it turns out the concept behind it was fairly similar.

So what's in it?

I had to ask. How do you pair a wine with a sausage when you don't know what meat and spices are added - a simple pork sausage would go well with a zinfandel or something similarly medium-bodied, a hot and spanish-y sausage would go great with a Rioja. As it happens, boerwors is made up of beef and pork mince, mixed up with coriander, cloves, nutmeg, salt and pepper, the twist for this meal is it was to be turned into burgers, rather than wrapped in sausage casing, as was traditional. My obvious choice was a rosé, and I also decided to test a blended Shiraz/Cab Sauv./Merlot - which gave juicy notes, alongside a touch of oak and mint.

Boerwors is classically cooked on a South African Braai (BBQ).

How was it?

Obviously these had to be cooked medium, the pork not being a great rare meat, but despite slightly more cooking than I would like, they were actually pretty good! The nutmeg and cloves gave them nice depth, while the coriander added a touch of spice to the beef/pork mix. We topped them with mixed leaves, tomato, cucumber, grated mature cheddar and a homemade chutney, wrapped in fresh buns, which finished them nicely - I'm ashamed to say they were so good I had three...!

On the wine front, the rosé worked magnificently with the meat, but the blended red had to work quite hard, and it took about half a glass to settle down (I expect the wine needed a longer airing).

If I was making these at home, I'd experiment with some rosemary or some pureed apple in the meat mix as well...but overall, this was pretty good.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

8/10 - Byron Burger, One New Change, Cheapside, City of London

Location: On the first floor of One New Change is little burger restaurant called Byron (no doubt overshadowed by Jamie Oliver's Barbacoa), one of chain of around 10 restaurants across London. Byron is a small, pine furnished space, spattered with mocha leather booths, but its charm comes from its huge open kitchen, from which loveliness is produced.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

6/10 - Corney and Barrow, Paternoster Square, City of London

Location: Corney and Barrow is a well known city institution boasting a number of restaurant/bars across the square mile. Corney and Barrow, Paternoster Square branch is predominantly restaurant, and is populated with investment bankers and an army of black-clad waiting staff. 

Price:
£13.50

Presentation:
No photo, sorry, but good presentation. Burger was presented 'bun off' with a thick tongue of bacon hanging out. Top of bun was decorated with some sliced pickle and a couple of red onion rings. Chips and mixed leaf salad filled out the rest of the plate.

Toppings:
Bacon and Cheese. Good sized chunk of bacon, although slightly undercooked (too pink for my liking - who's heard of rare pork?!) Cheese was melted and nicely mature and salty. Add some sliced pickle and a couple of rings of red onion

Bread:
Brioche. Really? While a bit of sugar helps make fast food joint burgers palatable, why oh why would you inflict this on a wonderful rare-breed beef patty. While this blog makes no apologies for reflecting the views of its author, surely you must agree ...bun fail.

Meat:
Gooood. As you'd expect for £13.50, the meat came out rare, juicy and flavoursome, a touch of juice dripping from the patty as I lifted it off the plate. Two words - meat win!

Plate Accessories:
Chips, couldn't finish them (they were not good). Salad, drowned in dressing so left that too - luckily the burger filled me up!

Overall rating: 6/10

To summarise the above for Corney and Barrow, Paternoster Square, it comes down to a great quality, handmade beef patty sadly let down by the poor pairing of a brioche bun, tasteless chips and oily salad. My dining partner plumped for the lamb burger, and that had a bun I was envious of...
Corney & Barrow on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

7/10 - Firefly, Old Bailey, City of London

Location: Firefly is a cool cocktail bar and restaurant located on Old Bailey, close to Smithfield's Market, and St. Paul's tube station. 

Price:
£9.50 (plus 50p for bacon and 50p for cheese!)

Presentation:

Great. The burger came out pre-bunned (that is now a real word!) and it looked really appetizing! Good amount of mixed salad, nice dollop of coleslaw, and a decent portion of chips.





Toppings:
Comme ci, comme ca. Tomato and little gem lettuce underneath burger, and bacon and cheese on top. Smoked bacon was both delicious and generous, and the cheddar cheese really complemented the flavour nicely. The tomato and lettuce were disappointing, the lettuce being single, little gem leaves which were hard to bite off cleanly and pulled out during eating, and the tomato made the bun soggy and was relatively flavourless.

Bread:
Not good. Plain, low quality bap dusted with flour. Mine was toasted (a little too toasted!) to give it some body, but sadly over the course of the meal it compressed against the burger, and with the tomato ended up as an unappetizing, soggy lump...bread fail.

Meat:
Fairly good. Juicy, flavoursome and nice char-grilled grooves, but just a little over-cooked.

Plate Accessories:
Good. Delicious creamy, peppery coleslaw, tasty and crisp chips with skin on (annoyingly they were small and a little fiddly) but tasted good.

Overall rating: 7/10

So overall this is not a bad burger - let down by the bun fail, and poor choice of lettuce to go in the burger. The cost is just shy of £10, but I added bacon and cheese which pushed it just over the limit. The good news, however, is that if you go on a Tuesday they take 20% off your bill! Firefly is a good option for a reasonable burger.
Firefly on Urbanspoon
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