The London Fox | Currently on sabbatical in New York City

Month: May, 2012

Water boiled fish, return-to-the-pan pork and other tales

There’s a Chinese proverb which goes something like: “Kill the chicken before the monkey”. I have no idea what this means, but it probably has something to do with the order of preference in what the Chinese like to eat.

I went to a bloggers event a month ago organised by Seventeen, a Sichuan style restaurant in Notting Hill. It was a way of spreading the word for the restaurant (and what better way than offering out free food?).

I have to say, the food exceeded my expectations. I particularly liked the Chongqing chicken: cold poached chicken swimming in chilli oil, but their Water boiled fish (fish boiled in a spicy chilli broth) and Return to Oven Pork (twice cooked pork) were very well executed.

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Seventeen
W11 3JW

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Burger burger

“Oh my God,” she gasped, eyes rolling to the back of her head. Juices were dripping down the sides of her mouth which she promptly rescued with her middle finger, savouring every last drop. Seductively, she sucked on the finger until the last drop of this elixir was devoured. She returned to her subject, caressing it delicately. With both hands, she teased it back between her lips. Eyes rolling back again she exclaimed, “That is one fine burger”.

I love you, cheeseburger. You tender, juicy, dirty thing. You make me feel so guilty, but you satisfy me like no other. Will you marry me?

The hunt for the best burger in London continues, and my experiences with burgers so far have been mixed. I have certainly not tried every burger in London, but I think I have a decent palate for these naughty little critters.

One mention before I get into the main crux of this entry is GBK. The original “gourmet” burger restaurant, they changed the way we eat burgers – with knives and forks. I remember my first time at GBK – it was good because it was different. Their burgers were okay, but their bread was way too dry – certainly not a contender for London’s best burger. However, working late one night, I decided to order in a GBK (I had a craving) and to my surprise, it was not bad at all. The bread is now a lot softer and everything is less cardboard-y. If I can give an award for most improved burger, it would probably go to GBK.

Whereas GBK was trying to turn burger eating into some sort of gourmet affair, the fashionable way to eat burgers now is in a New York style diner, with your burger greasy and wrapped up. This week, I went to two such joints, Meat Liquor and Honest Burgers. Both do not take bookings – in line with the “casual” eating fad we are seeing more and more right now.

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Meat liquor burgers

At the outset, they are completely different. ML prides itself on being dark, brash and grimy (both in terms of décor and food) whilst Honest is clean, rustic and innocent. It’s just as well that I went with the Dirty Dog to Liquor and the Northern Hog to Honest. Both required queuing – ML has a strict policy whereby you must join the end of the queue for the duration of the wait whilst Honest lets you put your name and number down to be called. We waited 45 mins for ML, and 1.5hrs for Honest. Luckily, there are plenty of bars/restaurants in Brixton for a quick bite/drink. With ML though, make sure you have some good company for the queue, otherwise, it can get pretty cold and lonely.

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Honest burgers

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Firstly, the burgers. The Honest burger was delicious. I got the signature Honest Burger, Hog went for their daily special. Both were exceptional. Perfectly sculpted into little towers, with each segment nicely cut and arranged, they were easy to manage: not too sloppy, good balance of ingredients and not too thick. It was very similar to the burgers at Bukowski in this respect. Taste-wise they were delectable. They were, however, a little on the small side. One word to describe them would be “dainty”. They were delightful little things, but I didn’t feel much oomph.

In contrast, the ML burger comes out sloppy and sizeable. We had a Dead Hippie Burger and Double Bubble. Both tasted very similar to a Big Mac, but obviously higher quality. Everything was so soft and juicy and the relish was incredible. I certainly did feel the oomph on this one.

Next, the sides. Honest burgers come with a side of rosemary fries. I was not hungry enough to try more (cheeky bite to eat due to the long wait beforehand killed my appetite). They were incredible though. Crispy and soft in all the right places and they had great flavouring.

In ML, we over ordered because I was ravenous. Chilli Cheese Fries and Chicken Wings came on first, and a side of slaw later. They were meals in their own right. I found them all to be over seasoned; the chicken was way too sour which was a bit off putting. The slaw was also some of the worst I’ve ever had. Dry and boring.

Overall, go to ML if you’re feeling naughty, and go to Honest Burgers if you can get a table within 30 mins.

Meat Liquor
W1G 0BA

Honest Burgers
SW9 8PR