It's a bit of a schlep for me, but I headed out to Ravenscourt Park a week ago with Hannah from the Burgers and Bruce blog to check out pub pop-up, Burgers-BBQ-Whisky-Beer, set up in the former Grand Union pub at 243 Goldhawk Road, W12...
Truth be told it was as much a social occasion as it was a burger-reviewing mission and so actually besides a few shots of my burger when it arrived, I didn't take any other photos as I was chatting away and, you know, stuffing my fat face.
There are six burgers on this pop-up's menu – three of which are aged beef burgers. There's the Half Pound (£7.50), which comes with bacon, cheese, pickles and relish; the BBQ Pork (pictured throughout this post, £8.50) which comes with cheese, pulled pork and slaw; and the Beef Royal (£8.50) which comes with short rib and truffle mayo.
There's also a Fried Chicken burger (£7.50), a Mac + Cheese burger, and a Fish + Chip burger on offer as well as sides including Chicken Wings with blue cheese sauce (£5), Chips / Chilli Slaw / Green Salad all at £2.50.
I was hungry but slightly wary of ordering the Half Pound burger, thinking it might be a double-patty monster. And seeing as I was planning to gorge myself on chips and chicken wings AS WELL AS a burger, I plumped for the BBQ Pork option only to find that when it arrived it was obvious that ALL the beef burgers at B-B-W-B are enormous half pound beasts.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for big burgers, but here the patty was simply too big for its bun. In the words of my new burger-buddy Hannah: "er, wide load!" As you can see from my photos, the circumference of the patty is considerably greater than that of the lovely seeded brioche style bun in which it was housed, an imbalance of ingredients which ultimately led to the collapse of my burger before I could finish it.
Structural issues aside, the enormous size of the patty meant that its flavour profile was way too big in the mix. Yes, there was a slice of cheddar cheese, slaw and slightly spicy pulled pork in the burger but you could hardly taste these additional elements. Moreover, the flavour of the patty was a bit weird. At first I thought perhaps there was a subtle herby flavour I couldn't quite put my finger on. But as I persevered, I realised it was the flavour of beef fat that was slightly overshadowing that of the beef.
Turns out the Burgers-BBQ-Whisky-Beer crew opt for "at least 30% fat" in their patties. Which is a lot. I'd wager that somewhere around 20% might be a better target. The age-old problem (pun intended) with using aged beef for your burger is that the fat-to-meat ratio isn't just about texture, but about carefully balancing flavour. It is, of course, the fat that takes on flavour the more it ages, thus increasing its ability to potentially overpower actual beefiness. To be honest, I don't care how aged the beef is in my burger - or how much fat is in it. Call me old fashioned, but all I really care about is that it's succulent and tastes, more than anything else, of beef.
In summary, the actual venue (an old dimly-lit Grand Union pub) is a really nice spot to spend an evening with friends. The curated selection of beers and Scottish whiskies is well worth exploring, and the chips and wings were pretty decent (although the wings could have been a little crispier). The burgers themselves are certainly indulgent in concept and generous in proportion and there's much evidence that the B-B-W-B crew have been doing their burger-homework.
I had a super evening eating, drinking and chatting here and I think it's hugely encouraging to see this kind of venture pop-up in West London. A few tweaks here and there could bring this cheeky pop-up's fare up to the high standards set by the likes of London's now well-established burger kings.
PS I almost forgot to mention the AWESOME show-stealing Cornflake Sundae we had after our burgers, wings and chips:
PS, Jan 2013 B-B-W-B has popped up for a few months in the Lord Wargrave pub in Marylebone (40-42 Brendon Street, W1H 5HE) so you CAN check out their fare right now.
Follow the guys on Twitter: @BBQWhiskyBeer