ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The unanswered question

Re-reading that article I wrote for a doomed airline, and indeed my first ever foodie blog post reveals a theme. A theme about which I've been jabbering on for many years.

I love pubs and I love burgers.

Or, rather, I love good pubs and I love good burgers.

But there is one question to which I've never really found the answer: Why can't pubs do decent burgers?

Maybe the question is actually why don't pubs do decent burgers, but the underlying point remains.

It should be simple. They should be able to do it. The fact that they can't or don't bothers me. A lot.

See, in the good ol' US of A, any reasonable pub or bar - not even especially good ones - will probably serve you a perfectly good burger and fries for just a few bucks.

Here you can get such a burger in a few dedicated specialist burger restaurants and pop-ups. Byron,  Haché, and the MeatLiquor/wagon/easy chain. And there are several others on my 'to-do' list with burgertastic reputations.

But in our pubs the quality of burgers is pretty lamentable.

This is understandable in, say, Wetherspoons where a burger with chips and a pint is priced at around £5.99, and it's obvious that the quality will be lower than a slug's stomach (which might, in fact, be one of the ingredients therein!)

But they're not much better in pubs where you might pay £10-12 for a burger - pretty much the same price point at which you can get something very delicious in MEATliquor.

If pubs can do steak like this...
I've reviewed the burgers in an Antic pub - a small chain of which I'm otherwise rather fond, and which can cook a steak exceptionally well. Disappointing.

And I've tried the overpriced, overcooked and overpriced offering at the Cask Pub and Kitchen in Pimlico. Disappointing.

Even Dukes Brew & Que, a specialist barbecue place-cum-pub was, yes, disappointing.

It doesn't require a huge amount of skill or specialist equipment - just good quality beef, not overcooked for fucks sake!

Further disappointment

I shan't bother doing a full review of my burger experience the other day at the Spice of Life, a McMullens pub in Soho, because it was basically the same disappointing experience once again.

...then why the fuck are the burgers like this?!?
I asked for my cheese and bacon burger to be cooked rare, more out of hope than expectation, and, of course, it wasn't remotely rare, which might have been a good thing as it was gristly, bland and tasteless as a big foam hand with the London 2012 logo on it.

Actually, eating foam wouldn't be any more bland.

The brioche bun completely missed the point of brioche buns, which is to soak up the juices of rare burgers and it was insensitively toasted to a cinder.

The lettuce was wilted, the fries, bacon and cheese were all unmemorable, and my £10 could have been spent on superior burger products elsewhere.

But possibly not in a pub.

And so I come back to this question: Why can't pubs get burgers right? What the fuck is wrong with them? Good beer goes really well with good burgers - that's why the likes of Byron and MEATliquor have Yankee hop monsters and other interesting bottled beers in their fridges.

Is it some kind of conspiracy? Is there a law against pubs doing good burgers? Is this the one American influence that simply won't take off over here?

I'll be revealing the last handful of pubs in my Pub of the Year contest later this week, but I can tell you in advance that none of them will be getting any points for their burgers!

1 comment:

  1. check out fortyburgers in CASK Pub and Kitchen.


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