Monday 23 January 2012

Kobe Burger at Smithfield Bar and Grill

Recently, and I realise to people situated in and around Smithfield Market this may come as a disappointment that I've discovered it so late, I discovered that Smithfield Bar and Grill has a section on their menu dedicated to burgers. Not only that, however, nestled in the burger section is a burger to make my pupils dilate, and heart beat faster - a 100% Kobe beef burger.

Now, for £18.50, this is probably the most expensive burger I've had in London, beating the terrible £16 Gaucho burger, which is just the other side of Smithfield market, by a grand £2.50. Luckily though, until the end of January, Blackhouse are offering 50% off food so I could take this bad boy down (plus bacon and cheese) for just £10 then I'm laughing, right? 
On this occasion I was visiting Smithfield Bar and Grill with 'The Redhead', and we had our sitting on a Thursday lunchtime.
100% Kobe beef burger and chips - £18.50. Smoked bacon and mature cheddar - £1.50.

Mixed. The burger arrived on a square white plate, with a wicked mini chip basket of fries and a small pot of tomato relish, the whole package beautifully presented. The burger itself, however, looked like it was hanging off a cliff edge, heavily weighted to one side and fitting poorly in the bun. 
The Kobe burger from Smithfield Bar and Grill
Where's the other half of my Kobe burger gone?
Ok. A fat tongue of smoked bacon covered with melted cheddar cheese rested on top of the kobe beef patty. These were pretty good, although the cheddar had spent too long cooling before being served. Underneath the patty lay a layer sliced pickles, a couple of rings of raw onion, a couple of bog standard tomatos and a couple of whole leaves of lettuce. Whilst the pickles were sweet and crunchy, the tomato and lettuce were flavourless and, dare I say it, pointless. With no condiments inside, the beautiful juices of the patty ran onto the lettuce and splashed off like water off a duck's back. 
Under the lid of the Kobe beef burger from Smithfield Bar and Grill.
Massive meat win. This is, after all, Kobe beef. As it arrived juice was gushing in rivers, flowing through and down the roughly-ground, hand-formed beef patty onto the bun (by proxy of the plate). To the bite it is wonderfully sweet, beefy and cooked medium rare. The light in an otherwise poor burger.
Smithfield Bar and Grill kobe burger cut-through
Smithfield Bar and Grill kobe burger bite-through
Downright effing terrible. Bun Fail. This is an awful, inappropriate bun. A simple, dry white bap with absolutely no elasticity that broke apart as soon as it was touched, let alone squeezed. This is a fundamental error especially with the amount of juice the kobe beef patty holds (although most of it ended up on the plate due to waterproof lettuce issues). A wasted opportunity to treat the kobe beef with the respect it deserves. 

Good. The mini frying basket of skin-on chips comes included with the burger, and they are good and crunchy. They come presalted and are great when dipped in the tomato relish, that has an earthy, oven-baked flavour.

Overall: 4.5/10
A score like this makes me sad. This burger is so much better on paper, and in spite of my Smithfield Bar and Grill 50% discount on food, I still forked out £10, which as far as I'm concerned is about £8 too much. It has all the hallmarks of a burger put together by someone with no idea what a good burger should look or taste like, banking on is somehow being saved with the inclusion of a Kobe beef patty. Low quality ingredients here combine to maximise profit margins, with little thought beyond the Kobe. Sadly, this is a burger that relies on its pedigree and a load of city expense accounts to exist, and it won't be making my Best Burgers in London list anytime soon.

Smithfield Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. Love the honesty of this review !

  2. I would be very interested to see some proof that it was indeed Kobe beef. It is not exported directly from Japan to London, so has to come via elsewhere. The cost of Kobe beef is also astronomical and selling even a small burger for £18.50 seems way too cheap. When Zuma briefly offered a Wagyu burger(not as expensive as Kobe) it was around £50. Great read.

  3. I agree Fred - I think here we are looking meat from a Wagyu breed, finished in a Kobe 'style' rather than the luxurious Japanese Kobe - I can't think of any other way they can make this price point work...


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