Review – Dirty burger

This is the best burger I’ve ever had in London. I would say it’s the best burger full stop, but I’m too sentimental about In&Out burgers in San Diego to give that title away. But seriously, this is one of the juiciest and most perfectly balanced burgers I’ve ever come across. It comes from Dirty Burger, which is a newly opened burger shack at a backyard in Kentish town. The area is a bit unwelcoming, but for the amazing burgers, this is absolutely worth the detour.

There’s only three things on the menu: cheeseburger, fries and onion rings. We ordered all three. The burger was made up of a perfect patty – perfectly sealed, made of finely ground mince and hot but rare in the middle. The meat was tasty, juicy and very well spiced – and dare I say it, one notch better than Meatmarket! The cheese was strong, and added a savouriness to the whole thing which I find is unusual for cheeseburgers unless you go for a black & blue variant. It was topped with a creamy dressing, lettuce, thinly sliced tomato and pickle. And then there was the bun, which I read (madly enough) held a 15% fat content. It was glazed, and when you bit into it it oozed a little. In all it’s unhealthiness this is simply sublime, and a bargain bite, given how gourmet it is, at £5.50.

The chips were nice, double fried and crinkle cut which made them very crispy on the outside but nice and soft within. The only drawback were the onion rings. Both me and Mr Meatball could have done without them: they just tasted of batter and weren’t salty enough. Thus I must disagree thoroughly with Timeout’s raving about them. But perhaps it’s me who has a problem with onion rings, I always find there’s too much batter and not enough salt.

The lovely staff gave us two free milkshakes as they messed up our order, and the vanilla Milkshake was loose and sweet, which I like. Not stodgy and frozen like McDonald’s. Dirty Burger has a cute shack eating area, but sadly it doesn’t have the same people-watching view as Meatmarket. The sides aren’t quite as brilliant either. However, given the affordable price and the insanely nice cheeseburger, it is awarded 8.5 meatballs out of ten.


Review – Burger & lobster

To me, lobster always sounded like lots of fuss for little, and expensive, food. I have no problems with seafood that makes you work for your nibbles: anyone who’s attended a Swedish crayfish party knows the joy of devouring small red sea creatures for a small fingers’ worth of white meat. But since crayfish is cheap and lobster isn’t, I out of hand dismissed lobster. Now I must change that tune, having celebrated the end of university (forever!) together with Miss Salted Cod and some friends at Soho’s newly opened Burger & Lobster. Because it was ridiculously nice. And while it wasn’t cheap, it wasn’t really expensive either.

We arrived to our reserved table for four in the afternoon and the queues and stress I’d been warned about were nowhere to be found. After ordering in a round of Asahi we were offered to choose between a lobster, a lobster roll, or a burger. All would be 20 pounds each. The waitress also suggested a fourth option which we ended up going for: sharing a ten pound lobster between us, with unlimited fries and salad. She even brought him out on a tray whilst he was still alive, saying she’d named him Brett.

As Brett was steamed and grilled off to perfection (we were told he died by a swift cut through the head) we were kitted out with bibs, little lobster-tools and more Asahi. Once cooked and prepared for us, Brett was so large he had to come in on two different trays. He arrived together with bowls of shoestring fries, salad and garlic and parsley butter sauce. The sauce was simply divine dripped onto tender lobster meat, and as we fought away over the best claw meat we almost forgot about the fries and salad, although these were also very nice. A few more rounds of Asahi and lobster picking was loads of fun, and it turns out eating a massive lobster is a nice group activity if nothing else. As we started using Brett’s claws as gloves (see Kristine’s hand above) we decided it was time to move on to a boozier establishment. But as for the quality of the lobster, the price and the overall experience, burger and lobster get a unanimous nine meatballs out of ten from both me and Miss Salted cod.


Review – Chowda, Boston

I have to thank miss meatball for actually making this review possible. Back in April she introduced me to a person who would give me a freelance job, which would then turn into a full-time job (with two weeks training in Boston) which turned the poor salted cod student into a working salted cod who can now spend more on food!

I’ve been in Boston for a few days now, but due to jetlag and weird tropical weather, I have only just managed to try clam chowder (or chowda as Bostonians say) and lobster roll – Boston’s two iconic dishes. So I decided to head out to nearby Faneuil Hall and try both at Chowda, famous for its clam chowder and cheap lobster rolls.

I had never tried clam chowder before so I had no point of comparison, but this was good! While it looked less than appetizing (imagine pale yellow goop) it tasted extremely fresh and fishy. It was full of clams and white fish and had a great consistency – not too thick, not too thin. As you can see I only bought a very small portion, but this was extremely filling! I could easily have done with that and a bit of bread on the side.

But, the temptation of a clam chowder and lobster roll combo was too much to resist and I ordered the lobster roll too. Unfortunately this paled in comparison to the chowder. I regretted it as soon as I ordered it…The lobster roll was not made to order but was actually the last one standing in a refrigerated section of the stall. I don’t know if this is simply because I came in at a time when they had run out of fresh lobster or were not busy enough for the lobster roll to be made fresh to order, but what I experienced was a very cold, too sweet lobster roll. Despite the great amount of lobster in the roll it was drowned in mayonnaise and lacked in seasoning. I ate some of the lobster and left the roll which tasted cold and old.

I also have to point out to the horrible service. Having been a waitress myself I think I am allowed to be pretty strict with service. I would say that Chowda has some of the worst service I have ever experienced. Despite being empty (I came in at 5) the two people working there carried on their conversation for a good minute before attending to me. Second, the person serving me actually took a call from his phone while he was serving me. He did not try to end the call or make it brief, he was on the phone the whole time! I found this extremely rude and almost gave up on the food… but the chowder smelt too good and I was hungry.

While the clam chowder was great, I am pretty sure I will not be going back to Chowda anytime soon. I had heard that Faneuil Hall was a bit of a tourist trap for food and this only confirmed it. I will be trying more lobster in the coming days and I hope it is as good as the amazing 10 pound lobster me, The Swedish Meatball and some friends had last week at Burger and Lobster.


Review – Meatmarket

After days after days of revising the metaphysical aspects of IR theory, we thought we deserved a fatty break as exam-prep and headed to Meatmarket in Covent Garden today. We were drawn to it because of its relation to Meat liquor (which Isabel has declared previous love for here), and simply couldn’t resist a place with dishes like “Dead hippie burger”. The decoration around the counter is rather random as you have a view of the tourist-packed inside of the Covent Garden Market, whilst surrounded by True Blood-style accessories of a nitty gritty fast food place (plastic knives and forks, industrial sized condiment packages stored in chicken cages at the sides, a big roll of kitchen roll places on each table to wipe off grease), but it is all carried off very well. Playing on their name, the ceiling is full of little tweet-style signs carrying messages of cheesy contact ads filled with meat puns.

We skipped the fries and went for jalapeño poppers with rance sauce as a side, and then opted to share a dead Hippie burger and a Philly cheese steak. Had we not decided to go for a coke each, the bill would have landed on £14 for us both, which is very reasonable given the greasy fulfillment the food gives you. We got one refillable coke each at £2.50 which is very good value considering you can refill it as many times as you want.

Now, the food. The Dead Hippie Burger came charred on the outside and perfectly medium rare on the inside, and was high stacked with two patties, cheese, pickles, Dead Hippie Sauce – of course – and lettuce. For me this didn’t taste like the sauce from previous versions of the Dead Hippie but tasted like McDonald’s ‘sauce for fries’ sauce which you can only find in Portugal and which I (Salted Cod) absolutely love! So that was a nice extra. The bread was glazed and sweet and it was all so very lovely, in a drippy sense. The Philly cheesesteak is basically shaved steak fried with peppers and cheese, all pushed into a glazed hot dog roll. Simple as that sounds, it was chunky, sweet from the pepper, and gorgeous. Most likely also heart-attack inducing. The final decadence in the jalapeño poppers was so over the top it was kind of funny, but somehow ridiculously nice. The deep fried cheese balls with jalapeño were perfectly spicy, and they were served with a dill, mayo and sour cream ranch dressing which added to the deep fried grease by making it taste rich and fresh. So easy to overeat, and so so satisfying.

So the tip is: go on a rainy day when the market hall isn’t too hot, and never ever bring anyone with a heart condition. Else you should be fine. Not as good as Meat Liquor (less choice of food and drinks) but a good 8.5 meatballs out of 10.

Meatmarket, Covent Garden Market, WC2.


The Salted Cod’s attempt at the Shack Burger

Amazing burger, extra sauce of course

If you have been to New York you have probably tried the famous Shake Shack and its equally famous shack burger.
This summer I was lucky enough to try the shack burger and became instantly hooked! Back home I tried to create many american-style burgers, but none came even close. As often happens I took it to google and actually found a guy who dedicates his life to cooking and burgers more specifically, and actually went out to find this recipe. Kenji Lopéz-Alt writes the Burger Lab features, providing loads of recipes for amazing burgers (yes I want to work for them too) which is part of Serious Eats, an amazing website for anyone who loves food (if you’re travelling anywhere in the States make sure you check their recommendations before leaving).

Like him I am a huge fan of the burger, especially its sauce. It’s mayo based, but it’s sweet, sour and smoky at the same time. This guy actually asked the people at Shake Shack and they gave him the recipe. So, I present you, the recipe to one of the best burgers ever! (and I have tried many..)

You will need, for the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 4 slices of pickle (yes you heard it right…if you don’t have this replace it with some pickle relish like Branston).
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, or some chilli sauce you might have.
Mix all the ingredients in a blender and voila! Put it in the fridge until you’re going to use it.

And for the burger:

  • Half a kilo of good quality beef mince (this is no time for Tesco value).
  • Your choice of buns (white with no seeds will make it more authentic).
  • Cheap-looks-like-plastic-american-style cheese (and here Tesco value is your friend).
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato, sliced
  • Salt & Pepper

Start by forming the patties into smallish but thick round disks. Put them in the fridge while you prepare the buns.

The patties should look like this
Slice open the buns, spread some butter on them and toast them under the grill. When they start to look golden, take them out and spread some of that amazing sauce on both sides. Now heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan until really hot. Fry the burger on one side until slightly charred (more or less 2 minutes), flip it, season with salt and pepper and keep cooking for a further 2 minutes or until it feels cooked (you want your burger medium…hence not using tesco value). In the last minute of cooking flatten the burger with a spatula, slap that cheap cheese on it and wait for it to melt. Transfer the burgers into the buns, cover with some lettuce and tomate (and some extra sauce).
Enjoy one of the best burgers of your life.