Burger Monday

Burgers, up until recently have been a dirty word, something devoured at the darkest hour of the night under the golden arches and a foodstuff gobbled in stacks by the chaffingly overweight. Similarly, the addition of "pop-up" to an event description seems to immediately demean it to a desperately-seeking- trendy status and instantly results in loss of integrity and interest within the first line. With this in mind how does the Burger Monday pop up easily quash all of the above? Simply because there is no front just good unadulterated meat from the best butchers cooked lovingly by talented chefs in an honest space, it is after all all about the food.

This humble sandwiched pattie has had a fair amount of limelight shed upon it recently, with some places getting praise for mediocre sloppy excuses of what could be a glorious dish. In essence we are talking about about ground beef formed to fit inbetween bread with a tomato slither and iceberg leaf and perhaps melted cheese, despite this margins for error are awidening as the immitators are wanting a piece of this cash cow.  What Daniel Young, food critic and avid fanatic displays is how it can he achieved, not once but continuously in different guises, at the heart of his events is prime beef cooked by the countries best and most uncompromising.

So one wet and dismal bank holiday Monday not so long ago we headed down to Andrews cafe in Kings Cross. Not for a dirty fry up but for a three course meal, all attention gravitating towards the burger who was being constructed by John Cadieux of Goodman's and meat supplied  the very reputable O'Shea's of Knightsbridge, in their eighth generation of family butchers.

The scene was backed by a chalk board scrawled wall and cosy table of fours, filled with like minds who like to discuss food at every available moment. In front of me was what looked like the centrefold to a butchers handbook, on closer inspection it was a breakdown of what cuts our infamous pattie would be made from and surrounding this were the recipes for everything else on the menu, very handy indeed. The host swished from table to table introducing himself and explaining the intricacies of the event with admirable unflagging enthusiasm and vigour.

Then as if by magic our first course arrived, a rich but balanced casear salad. The leaves were evenly tossed in the creamy dressing and flurries of Parmesan but pleasantly spliced with saltiness from the fish segments.

Not a very clear iPhone photo, please note the attention to detail on the disced croutons
smattered with melted parmesan micro gratings

Not long after came the "Benchmark Burger." The burger I will now compare to all others. It was that good. My mouth first broke into the glazed and toasted bun which pleasingly straddled sweet and savory boundaries, then crunch through the fiborous iceberg to the pungent red onion and then to the robust meat. I was lured in with the smoked bacon then into the evenly charred seal, enclosing the flavours within allowing them to fortify whilst the outer bore the intensity of the heat, resulting in each bite releasing drippings of juice of which mostly ended up down your chin, on your lap and if you're lucky the under layer of the bun. With each bite I fell a lot more in love with the burger, I tried to savour the hundred island pickle with the luscious meat and the toasted sesame top but it was so delicious i finished it in record time. A notable feat for a notoriously slow and savouring eater like me!

"The Benchmark Burger"
Speared Gherkin
Sourdough Sesame Top
Red Onion Slices
Iceberg Leaf
Smoked Bacon
Molten Cheese
Momentous Meat
Goodman's Special Sauce
Soaked Sourdough Base
Mid devouring...
With the main attraction demolished an illogical amount of brownie sundae was presented to me raising my spirits instantly, and yes it was on par with the quality of everything else. The intense chocolate semi molten cubes were mischeviously muddled through smooth vanilla ice cream and butterscotch ripples, I powered through with a content smile and glazed eyes.

Rich and rippled
Everyone in the room were in similar state as I, blissfully happy but in need of a herbal tea or port, depending on preference. I was in a dilusional state of euphoria when we left and I congratulated Mr. Young with my sincere remark of "that was the best burger I have ever had the pleasure of eating" to which he coyly smiled and retorted "you haven't been to many of my Burger Mondays have you?" A clear rookie comment from me, but something I am certainly working on, the mere thought of something topping that burger leaves me in cold meat sweats.

Smugness and the need to secure a seat at the next event may explain why this wonderous secret is kept well underwraps. But I say if you love the meat, book up and pass up that Byron and wait till Monday!


Lobster Love In

Despite the unflattering picture, I am more than happy to share with you one of my most contentest moments. This is the Lobster Bar in Red Hook NYC last year.

Any place that serves up half a lobster in a bun with herby mayo with a sprinkling of greenery ain't gonna be bad. My oh my was it good. I stepped into what looked like a chippy without the bright light box display of yellow crispiness. Instead when I ordered half the menu (options are lobster bun or crayfish bun with or without salted crisps) the rosy lady sliced up some sweet buns glazed them with melted butter and sent them to the grill. Whilst replacement crustaceans were fetched from the ginormous jacuzzi sized tank to the left of me, I peered in to see their sapphire speckled tails and claws snapping at me. I giggled gleefully.

This was in fact the crayfish roll, which contraversially was better than the lobster! The lobster was chunkily diced but each finger sized crayfish was left whole, keeping all juiciness intact!
The first bite was beyond my dreams. I love sandwiches and I love crustaceans great and small. Here they were brought together perfectly, lobsters and crayfish fresh of the boats from Maine explain their supreme juicness and sweetness and the grilled buttery bun provided a satisfyingly crunchy edge. the only sad part was that such a place, I have never seen in dear old London. Until now....

For months I have been following the Rock Lobsta on Twitter eagerly awaiting its brief stay at the dreamy boutique Luna and Curious up until this Sunday. The promise of another bun of filled with the sea's finest was a wonderful thing to look forward to on a Friday evening. Brew Dog IPA in hand and a quick scan of the options of lobster, 50/50 crab and lobster, brown crab meat or a carb fee option of six crayfish (self peel needed) led me to the easy decision of parting with £15.50 for a Hackney Lobster roll with crab mayo served with oyster and vinegar crisps and a sample of pickled samphire and carrot.
The Hackney Lobster Roll
I am an honest eater and this was a good effort; there was an entire lobster claw and a fair bit of meat throughout the mayonaise which was well flavoured and I like the added crunch of the cubed peppers throughout. Loved the very British pickle touch, although it lacked a decent amount of acidic punch. However the bun was poor, it tasted mass bought and a little stale. The biggest point of difference which made the Red Hook Roll send me straight to food heaven was the softness of the bun but the contrast of the buttered and crisp inner in which the delicate meat lay.
 All in all it is well worth a taste, for a different bite mid east end trawling and also for the superb little boutique which is housing it. Munch and browse the curious and the pretty artefacts in this well displayed store.
A mouthful of sweetness
Eager hands preparing

My favourite piece in the shop was this Hungry Hippo cold plated ring, what a beauty

A selection of quirky crockery, independently designed clothing
and lots of individual pieces to decorate your house and yourself!


Red Hook

89 Turnmill Street, Farringdon EC1M 5QU
020 7065 6800 

 Red hook conjures up fond memories of the raw red brick neighbourhood in Brooklyn, famed for exquisite lobster rolls, such a connotation easily leaves me smiling. With this in mind I skipped merrily down Clerkenwell Road to see what over the pond offerings we have managed to muster.
Upon arrival the appearance instantly transported me back to the quintessential New York loft apartment, cue bare brickwork, untarnished art noveau steel ceiling tiles and plump upholstered booths. The complimentary offering of the on trend iced tap water masked with lemon and cucumber slithers went down a treat as we gazed at the passing plates piled with juicy crustacean claws and smoky hunks of meat, then to the menu.
I was dining with my four girlfriends who are all notorious meat eaters, or more aptly put just notorious eaters. With a menu accommodating those who love both the land roaming and sea swishing creatures, in what sounded seemingly like generous portions we were all smiles, so far.
An even medley of surf and turf options, scallops and langoustines versus rib eye and sirloin, with an adequate amount of sides and surprisingly a generous variety of salads, lentils and pancetta or mixed leaves with feta. Surprising as there was an absence of onion rings and other obvious sides of that ilk, but then not so since the diner league was clearly one Red Hook felt it had surpassed.
After the critical decision making we sipped our blackberry tinged Merlot and bided our hunger with gossip and nuggets of bread. “Interim bread” is usually not worth more than a mention but their French baton slices were beautiful. Crunchy and flour dusted on the outside and perfectly warm, loosening up the lashing of butter a treat – a little dressed crab would have iced that cake well and truly.

In terms of food proper, we all naturally opted for steak; funnily enough our preference of cooking baffled our waiter more. Apparently medium-rare-rare or rare-medium-french style had no weight on our waiter or the chef as all five arrived medium rare. Accompaniments left us divided as half went for some unfortunately mediocre French fries and the other half sampling an array of smaller dishes, this including some delectable scallops and deep fried soft shell crab.
 Being big on surf and turf I went for langoustines and steak, which from a distance looked quite sizeable. Though when stripped back to meat quantity after much cracking and sticky fingers was meagre and disappointing. This being weighed up against my last comparable meal at Singapore’s Bobby Rubino's where I had the time of my life with three prawns the size of mackerels and half a rack of spare ribs and where sticky fingers were no hassle at all. The problem with langoustines served up this way is they are more for the drama of the dish, rather than the for bountiful meat content which the steak failed to top up. Everything was cooked up perfectly fine, I particularly enjoyed the peppercorn sauce which bizarrely tasted like hot dogs, but I was still pining for more. More flavour, more punch, more meat, or at least enough for my buck. Perhaps I should have gone for the sea faring variety as our other half of the table were gaily tucking into the scallops and crab, although their distinctive coos of pleasure when eating something truly delicious were absent.
Red Hook-ed we were not. The emphasis was on style whilst food and delivery were playing catch up. There were elements of the meal that were good but they were not the main attraction, and although service was professional and polite more often than not prompting was needed  rather than a given. The cocktail sipping crowd next door got it right, soaking in the best parts of the place with the option to dabble a little deeper if so wished.

Redhook Seafood & Steaks on Urbanspoon


Petersham Nurseries

Church Lane, Off Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AG
020 8940 5230
Nothing says I love you better than flowers and my dear mum adores them! As a (very) belated Mother’s Day present we tottered down to Petersham Nurseries for a slice of city-fied country life. The green pastures of Richmond and Petersham’s well nursed blooms were a welcome sight.

We leisurely paced from pansy pot to herb patch, cooing over Mother Nature’s finest, but glimpses of dishes exiting the kitchen, speckled with puy lentils and wedges of buffalo tomatoes, effortlessly won my undivided attention. As a contrary Mary I do enjoy blue bells in a row but am far more taken by what Skye Gyngell has lined up on the pass. After weaving through the al fresco diners and the glass menagerie of antique artefacts we arrived at our table nestled by a young lemon tree and an intricate Persian rug.

The menu seemed quite familiar, pan fried squid with spring greens and chilli, slow roasted lamb shank, reminiscent of dishes I attempt to rustle up at home. But this is Michelin star cooking and easily recognisably so even before you set eyes on the plates, the mouth-watering wafts give it away. We decided on sharing a starter of the said squid with new season peas and sage, and despite probably having very little else in this dish apart from the trio mentioned the flavours seemed complex and popped in our mouths with unbelievable sweet freshness.
I snapped up the last of the lamb shanks which was slow roasted to perfection with chickpeas, peppered with marjoram and an array of just picked herbs. So glad I did as it was flawless, the meat draped effortlessly off the bone, the vegetables caramelised whilst the juices picked up the subtleties equally as well as the  punch of the flavours making it splendid to slurp down merrily on its own and to add a clean bite to the dish some garden leaves.  Opposite me my mum was delighted at the well seasoned halibut fillets in front of her, accompanied by classic roasted fennel and roseval potatoes all brought together with lemon mayonnaise.

Neither the lure of the chocolate mousse and ginger caramel nor the turron and raisin ice cream was enough for the baked goods that the al fresco cafe diners were devouring. So we headed for the tea shed to order, unfortunately it was nearing the end of the afternoon and almost everything had too rightly sold out, though there was enough for a scone cream tea and slice of carrot cake. Both as they should be fluffiness protected by the single-crunch shell for the scone and dense and nutty carrot cake.

We soaked up the rest of the glorious rays, gazing at the bountiful flora, coffee cup in hand and revelling in that feeling of a perfect meal.  Till the very last sip, there was nothing I could possibly fault about the entire experience, the service was unnoticeable in a good way, our needs were pandered to in an unobtrusive manner, food seemed simple but showed skill beyond measure, harnessing freshness and in turn optimising each ingredients full potential and the setting for it all was simply idyllic. Well worth our journey north to south.

Petersham Nurseries Cafe on Urbanspoon