Thursday, 3 May 2012

Riding House Cafe WWF Burger Smackdown

Riding House Cafe is an achingly cool canteen-style restaurant situated halfway between Regent's Park and Oxford Circus, and it was the scene for a tense burger-off between the underweight challenger cheeseburger versus their overweight champion longhorn burger.

The occasion was an inpromptu work dinner with a colleague, hereafter known as 'The Aussie', and as my first visit to Riding House, we settled on covering off the both burger options on the menu. We had a couple of small plates to start, just to whet our appetites before the oncoming burger onslaught, hot and sour buttermilk chicken wings with celery blue cheese dip, and seared scallops, both were excellent and had us whipped our taste buds up into a frenzy before the main show.




Price:

'Challenger' Cheeseburger - £11
'Champion' Longhorn and bone marrow burger - £20
Riding House Cafe burger menu
Riding House Cafe burger menu

Presentation: 

Longhorn bone marrow burger and cheeseburger (back) from Riding House Cafe
Our challenger cheeseburger was served plated and lid-on, with an accompanying fries wrapped up in a greaseproof paper-wrapped tin pot. Both bun and chip container had a square theme going on which, for me, jarred against the round plate. Call me OCD (many do) but surely if you're going for a square theme...serve it on a square plate. It's pitch to the crowd - 'I don't fit the mould...'


The champ it faced off against was the longhorn bone marrow burger, also served lid-on though displayed early disappointment with the bun-meat ratio. Crisp onion rings, dill pickles and little gem adorned the plate. Oh, and five (yes five!) chips. This is the Andre the Giant of burgers, just the sort you don't want to see squeezing into ill fitting lycra. Barely able to speak, this burger sits on the table, growling.

Toppings:

The cheeseburger is topped with a magnificent smoked cheese which dominates the ensemble - beautiful light touch smoke that's making my mouth water just to think of it. There was also a tomato and onion salsa which didn't add or detract, but added juice to the ensemble, coupled with mayo underneath. Not a bad set of toppings. This challenger has the moves and the flair, but does it have the stamina to go the distance...
Riding House Cheeseburger - topped with smoked cheese and salsa
Riding House Cheeseburger - topped with smoked cheese and salsa
The Longhorn bone marrow burger is topped with truffled liver parfait and onion marmalade, while underneath the patty rests on slices of tomato and mayo. The truffled liver parfait is awesome. Earthy, rich, and moreish, and it complements the mellow onion marmalade really well, but I'm not convinced it's right for this burger - it completely makes the meat its bitch. It dominates it. Triple H has nothing on this bad boy.
Riding House Longhorn Bone Marrow burger - topped with truffled liver parfait
Riding House Longhorn Bone Marrow burger - topped with truffled liver parfait

Meat:

The beef in the Riding House Cafe cheeseburger was over seasoned and cooked more medium rare than medium (as requested by the Aussie). Not only that, but the texture was slightly rubbery suggesting preseasoning, and on top of all that the mince was mixed with onion and parsley. Don't get me wrong, it tasted good, and was juicy, but it was being pulled by its tight-fitting leotard into satisfactory by the cheese and gave an off-putting texture in the mouth. 
Riding House Cheeseburger cut-through
Riding House Cheeseburger cut-through
Pre-seasoned beef in the Riding House cheeseburger
Pre-seasoned beef in the Riding House cheeseburger
The Longhorn burger delivered a much better offering in the meat stakes. In spite of the massive ball of meat with serious bun overhang, and in spite of the medium cooking rather than medium rare (I wondered if our server mixed up the burger cooking preferences). The longhorn/bone marrow mix was excellent, lightly seasoned, perfectly juicy, beefy and unctuous, but when combined with the truffled liver the fabulous flavour was completely lost. 
Riding House Longhorn burger cut-through
Riding House Longhorn burger cut-through

Bun:

On the cheeseburger, the bun was a heavily toasted, chargriddled, sesame seed white roll and it was excellent. Light and fluffy and capable of lasting the distance. 


The Longhorn burger sported a brioche bun which worked really well with the truffled liver, and stood up to a some serious squishing of the massive patty. It had a lovely crisp exterior as well, rare in brioche buns from places like Hawksmoor, the Admiral Codrington etc.

Accessories:

The cheeseburger comes with skin on chips, which were pretty good, perfectly seasoned and very crunchy. 

The Longhorn comes with 5 chips which seemed to have arrived fresh from a Canadian logging factory. Plus they were al dente and did I mention there were JUST FIVE of them.

The onion rings were good, though, nice and crunchy, and the dill pickles were excellent.

Overall rating:

I loved Riding House Cafe, it was buzzing, the FOH staff delivered excellent service, but go for drinks and small plates 'cos, a bit like the terrible WWE match between The Ultimate Warrior and Goldust, they've got a long way to go. The Aussie loved her cheeseburger, but agreed the cheese was what pulled it up from mediocre to good.

Cheeseburger 5/10

The bun, fries and cheese gave this burger a score it barely deserves as the meat was very disappointing. This burger has been taken down for the count. 

Longhorn bone marrow burger 6.5/10

This made me sad. At £20, that's TWENTY POUNDS. This is one of the most expensive burgers in London at the moment. And it should be better. I'm happy with expensive ingredients being chucked in, and I'm happy to pay good money for a really well thought out burger. Sadly this had the former without the latter. Strip out the parfait, drop the price, and this would have been a great burger. As it stands, I can't recommend it. As some in the industry would say, #WWFfail.



The Riding House Cafe on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. We had cheeseburgers at the Riding House cafe last night. All were rare, when we asked for medium rare (and two pregnant ladies asked for well done). We sent them all back and waited 30 mins for another round of rare burgers. What a shame. I had loved it there, but the burgers are disapointing as you say. 5/10 is generous! more like 2/10 and nothing for the rude service.

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