Food critics have had it wrong all these years. The only way to compare restaurants and chefs is by choosing the same dish at each establishment they visit. To be able to compare “apples with apples” is nigh on impossible due to chefs wanting to cook their own food, the chances of finding two chefs cooking the same menu is slim to none (unless you visit a chain restaurant).
This is why when I go out I have opted to choose one dish to judge all restaurants by:
The burger. Give me time and I’ll explain.
In the past 14 days I’ve eaten out twice. The first restaurant was a middle of the road Italian chain restaurant known for its express pizza’s. The other one according to its reviews and its book (which I bought) is the best steak restaurant in London (if not England, the world and the entire universe).
The joys if any about going to a chain restaurant is that you know exactly what you are going to get. The reason that the big chains are so popular is that if you walk in to a store in London, Manchester, or any High Street your order should look and taste the same. Not selling burgers I opted for a very disappointing pizza.
The only thing more disappointing then the food? Was paying the full £38 for 2 pizza’s, 2 drinks and some dough balls as I couldn’t download a voucher code.
Having seen the book and heard the reviews I was looking forward to the second restaurant I visited. Scanning the menu I spotted my go to dish. The hamburger.
Even at £15 for a burger I knew it would be worth the money. However I opted for the £20 Roast.
Why do I choose the burger when eating out? The burger has 6 main elements to it. By breaking it down in to these sections you can judge how good the restaurant is.
Homemade – Positive
Bought in, dry and square – Negative
Handmade & Cooked to your liking – Positive
Only available cooked well done – Negative
Homemade ketchup or relish – Positive
Sauce sachet – Negative
Gherkin, lettuce, onion, tomato inside the bun – Positive
Any of the above on the side – Negative
Crispy and hand cut – Positive
Frozen or under cook homemade chips – Negative
Proper plate – Positive
Slate, fryer basket, wooden board – Negative
My Perfect Burger
Bun (Amended from Hawksmoor cook book)
25g Custard Powder (Yes this is right)
1 Teaspoon Sugar
375g Strong White Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
15g Sesame Seeds
1 Egg for glazing
Add the custard powder and milk to a sauce pan, bring to the boil. Pour in to large mixing bowl and stir in the butter and sugar. Allow to cool. Add the flour, salt & yeast. Leave for about 5 minutes and then mix until smooth. Cover bowl and leave for an hour.
Divide the bowl in to 90g pieces. Roll and flatten with a rolling pin. Place on baking tray and cover. Leave for an hour to prove.
Brush with milk and top with sesame seeds if using. Bake at 200c for 20 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Burger (makes 4)
500g Good quality steak mince (15-20% fat)
1 Red onion – Diced
2 Teaspoons English mustard
Salt & Pepper
10g Fresh hardy chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme or sage)
Dice red onion as finely as possible. Add all the ingredients to a mix bowl. Mix well. Chill for 30 minutes. Divide in to 4 equal burgers.
Heat a frying pan or chargrill. Add a little oil if using a frying pan add the burgers and cook to your liking. Try not to keep turning the burgers.
Triple Cooked Chips ( Amended from Heston)
1kg Maris Piper potatoes,
peeled and cut into chips (approx. 2 × 2 × 6cm)
Groundnut or grapeseed oil
Cut chips and place into a bowl. Rinse under running water for 5 minutes to wash the starch off.
Simmer chips in water until they are almost falling apart (approximately 20–30 minutes, depending on the potato).
Place the chips on a cooling rack and allow to dry out
Heat a deep-fat fryer or a deep pan no more than half filled with oil and heat to 130ºC. Fry the chips in small batches until a light crust forms (approximately 5 minutes), remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
Put the potatoes on a cooling rack and place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
Heat the oil in the deep-fat fryer or deep pan to 180ºC and fry the chips until golden (approximately 7 minutes). Drain and sprinkle with salt.