In recent weeks my burger-to-exercise ratio has escalated in favour of the former, so I was congratulating myself more than usual for nailing a decent bike ride on Saturday, and for having no foodie-nonsense scheduled until the Thursday. Then I got an email. Would I and some others like to pop to the Admiral Codrington on Tuesday to try something new? My heart contracted painfully in fat-related protest, then relaxed into a little jump-for-joy: when Fred Smith says ‘I’ve got something new’, one has to get involved.
Fred, as you may already know, is the head chef at the Ad Cod. He has an infectious passion for beef and its placement betwixt buns which has led him to create some of London’s most talked about burgers. He’s also a top bloke, which is always a bonus. Recently he collaborated with Byron to create their Chilli Queen special . Sadly I had to miss the #teamburger preview / smash-up at Byron so I haven’t tasted one yet, but on the plus side I haven’t lost 2 days to alcohol poisoning either.
I don’t doubt that it’s a great burger, but it was inspired by something greater. So it gives me great pleasure to say that a legend has returned, new and improved, perhaps to remind us that the best chilli cheeseburger will always be found in the domain of its creator, the Ad Cod.
PRICE£15 for the Chilli Cheese Burger with chips. With so many ingredients and cooking processes, I think this is great value.
PRESENTATIONAll 5 beautiful burgers arrived snugly bunched up on a wooden board, glazed domes shining, cheese seeping sexily from their sides, with just enough red chilli on show to hint at what’s in store. Judge for yourself, but I thought they looked incredible.
TOPPINGSDeep breath, this is a long list. Starting at the bottom: red & green chillies mixed with (my current favourite thing) pickled red onions form a hot version of Fred’s trademark iceberg ‘slaw, the onions providing the gherkin-esque vinegary bite. Atop the patty is a cheeky layer of braised beef, flecked with more green chilli pieces, then smothered in Fred’s chipotle mayo and bespoke cheese. The CCB was genuinely hot, the heat not sanitised for the masses but not devouring all the flavour.
So many ingredients, so many processes, this is the Ad Cod’s USP: the time and skill to prepare burgers with love and detail. Each topping was delicious.
MEATMEAT WIN! The same great 8oz patty, sliced inch-thick against the grain from a gently compacted cylinder formed from beef ground in the Ad Cod kitchen. Cooked perfectly to medium-rare the aged beef flavour is intense, but I would say that compared with other AdCod burgers I’ve had that’s somewhat lost in all the chilli.
BUNBUN WIN! In the words of Hamburger Me “....the classic Miller's of Wimbledon brioche bun. This is a light and fluffy bun, but has the capacity to hold the mass of juices this burger patty throws at you.”
ACCESSORIESChilli cheese chips: The usual great triple-cooked chips, topped with the same cheese used on the burger, neatly sprinkled with peppers, chillies and pickled red onions, drizzled with chipotle mayo, and finally garnished with delicate leaves. But there’s more! Dig in and you’re rewarded with a hidden layer of that beautiful braised beef. Crikey this was good. I’d happily eat a large portion of this alone for £15.
Thin cut ‘fries’, dusted with dry peppery chilli dust. Hot. Moreish. Great dunked in loads of ketchup.
Poppers: Recently I made a cracking faux-pas in my MEATmarket blogpost when I flippantly relayed that Fred “could improve on” their wonderful poppaz. I hadn't meant to suggest he thought little of them, or to presuppose his opinion at all. In any case, he has gone and made some using his house cheese and plenty of chipotle, Panko-breadcrumbed and deep-fried, the perfect starter to the CCB meal. A crispy fried ball of chilli cheese is such an inherently great thing it seems trite to say they're bloody good. They're surprisingly different in both texture and flavour to those we had at MM, which personally I prefer (I was the only 1 in 5 diners who said that).
OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10Unlike Nick I find it hard to score things: I’m a neurotic over-thinker and hate being pigeon-holed or making decisions! But score I must. The AdCod CCB is not my kind of burger; I very rarely go for a ‘busy’ special when there’s a good old bacon cheeseburger on offer. However, this burger must be judged as what it is, not what it isn’t, and it’s by far the best chili cheeseburger I’ve had. Each ingredient is wonderful and they combine well to produce a tasty, genuinely hot burger. It’s beautifully put together and served with amazing sides. It’s hard to fault it, except for not being a standard cheeseburger. I suppose my only gripe is the same one I always have at the AdCod - I find it all a touch too soft, and so I’ll dock it ½ a point.
A burger-fan who admits he isn't into chilli cheeseburgers scoring one at 9.5/10? Imagine how much you’ll like it if you love CCBs. It's available from Monday 14th May at the Admiral Codrington - so get stuck in!