Anchor Inn, Lower Froyle, Hampshire

Amazingly well put together, if overcooked

Burger source

I was so keen, on the occasion of this date night, to order something that wasn’t a burger. After all, I have burgers so often when I go out – who needed another burger? But then… I don’t go out often. And there it was, on the menu; promising a single cut of meat in the burger (suggesting it is made in-house), slaw, and a variety of other things that sounded great. So I gave in.

The order

The British brisket burger featured cheese, ruby slaw, baby gem, fries, onion relish. According to the menu. I opted for the bacon for an extra pound.

The meat of it

There are some unspecified extras on the burger. You can see, in the featured image above, a generous slice of tomato, three dill pickles, and a very moreish burger sauce. Curiously, the burger patty – in the deconstructed plating – is on the top bun. A quick merge, and you get…

Look at the melt on that cheese! The shine on the bun! the colour on the slaw! Hopes were duly raised…

…and lowered a bit in cross section. Whilst the bun continues to look glorious, as indeed do the toppings (and bottomings?), the burger is too densely packed and is cooked to grey.

First taste – sweet, applewood (?) smoked bacon adds bite and an additional savoury boost, the burger has a hard, well seasoned crust – but the meat is a little rubbery, to be expected given how it was cooked. The quietly sweet brioche bun, slaw, sweet gem and tomato and pickles cut into the savoury explosion somewhat, tempering it, smoothing it out. The mouthfeel is… good, the bun is fantastic, the burger sauce is adding moisture where the beef has lost it, the balance is… surprising. And whilst the beef’s texture is off, the flavour is not bad. Not great in and of itself – but not bad.

The build doesn’t hold together well, the patty is sliding all over the place, so whilst the flavours combine well, it is hard to eat in its intended form.

So I have the second half deconstructed, eating each bit separately. It confirms – excellent bun, sauce, thick-cut streaky bacon and slaw. The burger is almost burnt on the outside – the chef must have gone overboard with the sear, and (I’m guessing) squashed the burger on the grill to “help” it cook through. The single cut of beef leads to a very uniform texture but perhaps not the most inspiring flavour – other cuts add this, I seem to remember from the burger masterclass at Cut & Grind.

It was hard to gauge how I felt about this burger. The pub is so good – amazing atmosphere, roaring fire, a gentle susurration from the happy clientele all around us, good Covid protocol that we could see, fast moving and attentive wait staff. I had an excellent glass of Italian red to sip alongside the burger (a Cento Cavali Nero d’Avola). I was celebrating 15 years of dating my wife. Maybe the mood took me, but damn, I enjoyed this burger in spite of its limitations.

And the fries? Perfection. Crisp, soft centred, good potato flavour, well seasoned without being mouth-wrinklingly salty, delicious dunked in a bit of ketchup or mayo.

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  5/5
Build – 3.5/5 – weird reverse assembly, slidey in the bun
Burger – 2.5/5 – taste is ok behind the terrible texture and oversear
Taste –  4/5 – the sauce and trimmings make it up
Sides – 5/5 – calling the fries ‘sides’ is generous, but they were perfect
Value – 3.5/5 – £16 for the burger and fries. The glass of wine was pricey too

Burger rating – 4/5 – surprising myself with this score. It may not objectively have been good, but it was a brilliant experience, and I enjoyed the burger in spite of its limitations.

The deets

The Anchor Inn is in the middle of nowhere in North Hampshire. On a cold winter night, expect dark roads, blind turns, the occasional deer in your path. In other words, a perfect country pub. Find out more at the link.

Bodean’s BBQ, 10 Poland Street, Soho

Competent, if unexceptional, burger

Burger source

Privately held Bodean’s was founded by Canadian Andre Blais, who, mysteriously, had a dream of bringing Kansas city style BBQ to London. An obvious dream for a Canadian, some might say, whilst others wonder what that’s all aboot, eh? Regardless, the arrival of Bodean’s at its first site on Poland Street in 2002 was a watershed moment for American food in London, one that I remember rejoicing in at the time. It’s where I was introduced to pulled pork, ribs and burnt ends in a more significant way, and its chipotle buttered steak was something I was very fond of. Whilst I’ve not always had a consistent experience there in the fifteen years since it launched, I was curious as to what its burger had to offer. And the burger’s description isn’t overly complicated: “100% Prime Beef Burger Topped with Tomato, Lettuce, Red Onions and Pickles on a Toasted Sesame Seed Bun. Served with Fries.”

Alrighty then.

The order

I just ordered the burger, but topped it with Monterey Jack cheese and streaky bacon.

The meat of it

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On arrival, the scale of this burger took a while to process. There’s too much salad – a thick slice of tomato and lettuce was too much for the stack, so were duly extracted and consumed (fresh, crisp, sweet). The remaining burger, an 8oz behemoth, was topped with well melted-jack, slightly underdone bacon for my taste (chewy, not crispy) and crisp red onions and pickles. The sesame bun is not a brioche, a novelty these days, and the sauces need to be applied yourself – a basket of BBQ sauces, ketchup and mustard adorns every table.

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The cross section shot shows a slightly over medium finish (they wouldn’t do it medium rare for me). As such, the burger’s a little dry and overpacked for my liking, but extremely well seasoned, which leads to umami-filled mouthfuls. Sauceless, this burger is too dry and too salty – in the absence of a relish, some appropriately applied hickory-smoked BBQ sauce took the edge off it. Ironically, a brioche would have actually served a purpose here. But the sauce wasn’t bad and balanced the burger out. The cheese and bacon may have been what took the saltiness over the edge, though despite being slightly chewy the latter was at least a welcome contrast to the meat and cheese.

The fries looked crisp but were underseasoned and undercooked, which was a bit disappointing. That was it for sides for me. To drink, I had a Maple Syrup old fashioned, which they made with Jim Beam.

I really don’t like Jim Beam. It’s a sorry excuse for a bourbon.

On balance, the overall experience was fine, if somewhat unremarkable. I think the next time I go to a smokehouse, I’ll have to accept the possibility that the ribs and the pulled pork is what I should be going for.

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  3.5/5 – not a bad bun, but not well suited to the burger. Possibly my fault for salty toppings
Build – 3.5/5 – too big! No sauce!
Burger – 3.5/5 – been better with a coarser grind, looser pack and slightly smaller patty
Taste –  3.5/5 – fine, not extraordinary
Sides – 2/5 – fries were unexciting
Value – 2.5/5 – £15 for burger, two toppings and fries. Honest gives you a better version of the same thing for £10.95.

Burger rating – 3/5 – don’t go to Bodean’s for the burger – get the ribs.

The deets

Poland Street, but in seven other spots across London.  Locations via the website. Drink at the Blind Pig and go singing at Lucky Voice after, though, it’s probably my favourite bit of street in Soho!

Breakfast and burgers, 106 Leadenhall Street, London

Delicious, none-too-heavy burger, tasty even when delivered by Uber Eats

Burger source

Says the website:

“Our burgers are made from 28 day aged grass fed Scottish beef & made fresh daily. Our patties are custom blended, cooked to order & served with lettuce, gherkin, tomato, red onion garnish & our chef’s homemade burger sauce. All our beef patties are 5oz, hand made daily & cooked from fresh…”

I first encountered this restaurant when I needed a lunch venue near a client’s office on Leadenhall Street to meet The Bond, one-time guest blogger on this very blog. I remember it being awesome at the time but was too distracted by my mission to lure the Bond back to the employ of my company (mission: success) that I didn’t give the food the time enough for a review.

The day after the second general election in two years, and thanks to the assist of Uber Eats, we gave it another try.

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Burger lovers loving burgers – my team (plus the Bond) settle down to tuck in

The order

My order? A cheese & bacon burger – simples. We shared a few sides of fries between the 9 of us who were hitting up Breakfast & Burgers on this occasion (a few of us had been up late watching updates from the political craziness). Nothing too fancy. A few people went for the chicken, non-bacon variants, and Bondie had the chilli burger (“just the right level of heat”).

The meat of it

Despite being on the back of a bike for 15 minutes whirling through central London (an entirely faff-free process, with Uber Eats, once I figured out the limitations of the app), the burgers arrived warm and well packaged. Unfurling the wax wrapper revealed a handsome stack; a large slice of tomato, pickle and salad topped the burger, (as well as the cheese and bacon), itself surprisingly intact within a large brioche bun.

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Seriously, that pink is so perfect, this burger could have been Sous Vided

The cross section revealed a PERFECT pink, beautifully medium burger. The 5oz patty meant it wasn’t overwhelmingly drippy but the coarse-ground, loosely packed patty was perfect for what it was – well-seasoned quality beef. The slightly greedy man in me likes a slightly higher fat ratio, which might have been solved by getting the double burger on the menu… but it was lunchtime! So wasn’t going to be that indulgent. The bacon and cheese was a nice complement, though not overwhelming, and the burger sauce further added to the savoury bite. The bun and amazingly fresh vegetables were the sweet and crisp counterpoint to the umami-ness of the burger… all in all, it was perfectly balanced.

The fries, which never travel well – particularly not thin-cut french fries – were PERFECTLY seasoned, fairly large portions (they’d have to be at £2.75 a pop), and well fried – still crisp despite cooling rapidly from the trip. Remember them being equally impressive in store.

Sadly we didn’t opt for any other sides – will have to save those for a return trip to B&B.

Monkey finger rating

Bun –  4/5 – slightly oversized for the patty
Build – 5/5
Burger – 4.5/5 – bit more juice welcomed, but perfectly cooked
Taste –  4.5/5
Sides – 4.5/5

Value – 5/5 – <£10  for the burger and (admittedly shared) sides – which for a lunchtime indulgence, delivered, seemed pretty reasonable.

Burger rating – 4.5/5 – All in all, this really is a very special burger, from a very special little restaurant. It’s even better in-store, when its served in a basket, diner style. No frills, no thrills, but no spills either. Too tasty to wastey.

The deets

106 Leadenhall Street – a short walk from Liverpool Street. Also served via Uber Eats! Was with us within 15 minutes of being collected. And, once they hit the bike, you can track the burgers in real time…

 

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Pamella sets off on her cross-river odyssey with our precious cargo