I should point out immediately that this burger is from the hot food counter – Food On The Go – in my nearest M&S. It is NOT, rest assured, a burger you buy in a box then microwave or any shit like that. No, sirree. It's a burger you order then wait for a few minutes for it to be prepared and handed over the counter. I've had a couple of these now (it's important research, I tell you) and they are pretty good. Although the experience of eating a burger at my desk whilst scanning emails during my lunchbreak at work is, obviously, far removed from the HIX experience discussed in the previous review!
OK - so the first thing that strikes you about this burger is that it comes in a floury ciabatta style bun. I don't generally condone the use of ciabatta for the bun of a burger – because it's too much like hard work chewing through it. But looks can be deceiving: this bun is lightly toasted and is much lighter, texturally speaking, than it looks. Which is a Good Thing. It's absolutely covered in flour though - which is a Bad Thing. As soon as you pick the burger up, it gets all over your hands, in your beard, down your collar, all over your jumper... You get the picture. It's annoying.
The burger patty itself is thin at just under a centimetre in thickness - but this is made up for by the fact that it's enormous. It could well have started out with a diameter of six inches prior to cooking. Impressive, but alas, it's ever so slightly overcooked. On the positive side of things, it's definitely not dry. Rather the opposite is true - it's dripping with burger juice – or, as it's more usually known – fat. Dripping everywhere. Rather annoying but the paper the burger came in did a good job of protecting my desk from the onslaught of flour and burger juice.
Extras wise, there's a slice of fresh tomato and some crispy iceberg lettuce. The tomato, however, is nowhere near the dimensions of the burger - which is a shame. As is the absence of onion or gherkin. As you can see from the image above - there is indeed cheese and bacon included - although the bacon looks like it's been slung in with very little love. It also looks a little anemic. I'd rather it was cooked just a little more. The bite test, however, is a positive one: The burger can be squashed a bit and eaten in the traditional 'by hand' method. Which is as it should be. And the bacon bites without any of the stringiness that you sometimes get in anemic-looking bacon...
Taste-wise, the burger is, despite its scruffy looks, undeniably yummy. Really good balance of flavours and the juicy burger plus a splat of included ketchup does manage to balance the floury dryness of the bun's exterior. However, while it's definitely a tasty burger made with quality ingredients, albeit rather sloppily, it is not a burger to attempt to eat in public. It's more of an "eat it alone" kind of burger. Only alone can you shamelessly monitor the burger-dripping and the flour-everywhere problems that come part and parcel with this burger.
In summary: it's tasty, but it ain't pretty. This only just won three-star status by the skin of its teeth by scoring the minimum amount of points necessary in our 25 point scoring system. Flavour and structural integrity won through over sloppy presentation.
NB: You can get this burger plus chips (they're fat chips and nice enough but a portion of them is a meal in themselves) and a soft drink for an extra pound in a meal deal (£4.95) – which is really good value but not the kind of calorie bomb I'm prepared to ingest before spending an afternoon sitting at a desk!