Tuesday 14 February 2012

Smoking Burger Feast at the Draft House Tower Bridge

Ever since Daniel Young's BurgerMonday at the Draft House Tower Bridge which I sadly wasn't around for, I have been wanting to get my hands on some of those drool-inducing burgers. So imagine my excitement when I heard that Charlie McVeigh, owner of the Draft House chain, had started running their pragmatically named Burger Feast. I had to have it!
So I gathered a small cross-section of burger lovers from our fair London city, and agreed a time and date for our burger feast. So, on a cold Tuesday evening in February Draft House Tower Bridge hosted a bunch of hungry burger punters.

Designed for 8 or more people, and costing £14.95 per head, the Burger Feast incorporates three (yes three!) Draft House created burgers matched with beers from their expansive range, and includes enough sides to sink a ship.
Start your engines:
The evening kicked off with the most amazing sticks of warm pork crackling, appropriately sticking up out of a beer glass. These were chomped down in double-quick time, and were wonderfully crisp and warm which was welcome relief against the sub-zero temperatures outside. I warmed up with a pint (or two) of the Draft House Belgium Pilsner, which has swiftly moved its way up my list of favourite beers in London.
That's one helluva pork scratching!
Once the burgerati were all assembled in the bar, we made our way to the burger feasting zone (ok, ok, the back of the restaurant) and waited for the burger frenzy to begin.

Now, before we kick off, here's what's in the burgers: Each 2oz beauty is made up of 28-day aged, minced Belted Galloway from the same folks who are behind the East London Steak Co. (read my ELSCo burger review), these are then cut with chopped shallots, garlic, a splash of Worcester sauce and seasoned with salt and pepper.

A quick word about the photos, whilst my camera managed to underwhelm I've very kindly been given use the photos Joel Gershinson took on the night.

The Yolk.

First out of the kitchen was the yolk burger. A burger so named due to the addition of a perfectly cooked, trimmed fried egg perched on top of the 2oz patty. This burger is served with its bun resting to the side to avoid premature ejaculation of the runny egg yolk  thus avoiding an embarrassing clean up operation on the way to the table.  The egg is topped with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce.
Draft House 'Yolk' burger 
Draft House Yolk burger from @joelgershinson

Yolk burger with matching Wandle IPA
My eyes have genuinely been opened to the joy a good egg adds to a burger. I wasn't convinced with the egg on the Rivington Grill burger, but the egg on this was stand out awesome.
Now, it wasn't all plain sailing with this burger - we were all a bit sad that the buns and patties were cold when they arrived - understandably getting the egg right was of key concern to the chef, and the egg was wonderful - but with focus on the egg, the rest of the burger didn't quite meet expectations. It was also too dry, in spite of the runny yolk, and a bit more hollandaise sauce wouldn't have gone amiss.

The beer matched with the yolk burger was Sambrooks Wandle, brewed in London. This was a nutty, hoppy beer that complemented the creamy egg yolk wonderfully.

The Smoke.
Next out of the kitchen came the smoke burger.
Draft House Smoke burger

The smoke burger is a brooding, charred, smokey offering topped with thin rashers of house smoked streaky bacon, smoked cheddar and smoked chipotle mayonnaise. The patty is nicely charred and pink in the middle, impressive for such a small piece of meat, and the bun squashed down magnificently around the whole thing. It was juicy and the cheese wrapped around the whole package like cellophane. This was the winner of the evening for me, but I would have liked a bit more chipotle mayo to round it off, again being a touch dry.

The beer matched with the smoke burger was a cracking, local Camden Pale Ale. A brooding and quite bitter beer that complemented the charred smokiness of the burger.

The Poke.
Finally we were onto our last course, the amusingly-named Poke burger.
Poke me! The poke burger from the Draft House in its full glory
The poke burger is the most impressive looking of the three. Two mini battered onion rings glisten from under the lid, atop fresh birds eye chilli sauce, melted Old Amsterdam cheese. When squeezed, the juicy combination oozed wonderfully onto the bun and plate below. The chilli, however, was too raw and dominated the mini burger, drowning out the lovely cheese and the crisp onion ring flavour. It may be my inability to handle chilli, but it gave me a jolly big kicking.
This burger was also matched beautifully with a Meantime London Stout - frankly the only style of beer that could begin to quench the fire ignited by the chilli sauce in the Poke burger.

This triple burger whammy is also accompanied by mountains of excellent crisp and crunchy fries. Oh, and some bowls of 'chef's salad' which I'd describe as classic pub fayre - cucumber, tomato, radish, lettuce etc. drizzled in Italian salad dressing.

Overall verdict:
This is a great show piece feast. Big trays of burgers, great beers matched to what you eat, and incredibly attentive service will delight everyone around the table, and at £15 a head including beer, it's great value for money.

There are some minor problems to iron out as well, however, so for what it's worth here are my suggestions to upgrade these burgers and enhance the Draft House burger feast:

Yolk - 5/10
More sauce, more juice in the burger, and definitely serve warm!

Smoke - 8/10
This was the burger of the evening for me. The only tweak would be to add a bit more chipotle mayo to round it off a bit and increase the juiciness.

Poke - 7/10
Tone down the chilli a bit. It's raw, it's slightly unhinged, it's the kind of chilli that screams 'don't make me angry, you won't like me when I'm angry'.

The Draft House Pub on Urbanspoon

Photo credit: I'd like to thank Joel (find him on Twitter: @joelgershinson) for many of the excellent photos in this post - with his skillful photography, some of the burgers actually look better than they tasted!

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