The results are in.
Let me start by saying thank you to you all for voting and because of your votes, I did not make the shortlist. HA.
However, even more important for me was that when I tried to raise money for Charity, I had a lot of support and managed to raise over £600 for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. This is a big feat and was because of all the people who have read my blog.
Look back four years ago and i did love burgers, however not as much as I do now.
Nowadays people will always ask if I eat anything else other than burgers and that all they see me doing is eating. From this I had the idea of doing a burger challenge and i am getting to the stage where I may make it an annual thing.
Is this sensible?
Will i do it differently?
No and Yes. They are the respective answers.
The point of this piece here is that I would rather not get the personal plaudits and instead I would be happy to help good causes.
Thank you again for all your votes- NEXT YEAR we can DO IT.
Another week, another foodie challenge.
This week it is to do some cooking.
Next up is G and there is a good list here, so please do choose wisely.
Word of Mouth plus a strong foundation are vital ingredients for a popular dining spot as well as a successful one. Hoppers in Frith Street, Soho is run by the same group who run Gymkhana and Trishna and upon this strong foundation, I was very confident that I would enjoy this experience. This plus a glowing endorsement by friends and family meant that when the opportunity arose for myself and Laura to go we jumped at the chance.
Hoppers provides you with Sri Lankan street food, in a sharing vibe. The staff warned us that the food would come at different times when it was ready, like wagamama.
Our order went in and we went for Mutton Rolls, Buffalo Biryani, chilli shrimp, a hopper each and Guinea fowl Kari. It sounds a lot and it was but it was just right. Laura was stuffed and it was enough for me.
I asked Laura for a few words on our Hopper experience and she said: "Different, new experience, good vibe with a nice homely environment". Wise words as always. I hope the pictures above and below compliment these amazing words.
I would recommend all the dishes from Hoppers that we ordered. Ideally i would have the Hopper come first, however, due to the cooking method it took the longest and came last. The Hopper came with some condiments of Sambol and chutney. The fact that our Kari (curry) of Guinea Fowl came with the hopper made it better.
The hopper - a pancake like batter made into a bowl, it is there almost as a substitute for bread. Tear off pieces off the hopper and dip into the Sambol, make yourself a mini wrap and even use it to eat the Kari.
The Biryani stood out for me and its company of yogurt, duck egg kari and Brinjal Moju (eggplant) are amazing. A delightful dish with a great depth of flavours, from the buffalo itself (in plenty of supply) and then the herbs which have a strong hint of aniseed as well as some of the usual characters.
Hoppers brings the spice of Asia with it, it tickles the senses whilst ensuring that your taste buds are not neglected and are greeted with warmth, variety and the full repertoire of happiness. A great restaurant to go and share food as a couple or as a group of friends. Go there, take your time and enjoy your meal
After years of thinking it over and then two months of actually planning it- the challenge finally happened on Saturday January 16 2016.
On a cold wintery day with the sun out and armed with just a Great Ormond Street Hospital T-shirt and a craving of burgers i went for a challenge.
The challenge was to eat 10 burgers in 10 hours. It sounds stupid enough and simple enough. Do something I like to do (eat burgers) whilst raising money for a good cause (Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity). I set myself a £500 target and with that to donate £10 for every burger I ate.
The route was as follows:
Venues and Times:
I had contacted all the establishments during the Christmas break and asked if they would help me on my quest. Giving £100 would be costly enough so I asked if they would be able to donate me a free burger instead of me paying for this- therefore helping me save my money to give direct to the charity. They all obliged and said yes.
So how did it go?
I shall walk you through the day.
12pm at Dirty Burger Shoreditch.
I got here early as the plan was to have the first burger in my hand at 12pm. The restaurant was not ready for me as they had a problem with a sign, so i patiently waited outside- eager to get the mission started. One of my friends (Oran) was early and shortly after midday my brother (Sherwin) joined us too.
Once inside i was excited and happy, I informed the staff that I was there for the challenge and having been informed earlier they wished me luck.
I was only expecting them to donate a free burger for me, however, they were kind enough to extend this to the three of us- The best burger of the day and the nicest restaurant for sure- THANK YOU.
In terms of difficulty for the challenge, this was at a 0. This was a pure joy and pleasure, my wish was that i could stay there the whole day and just eat their burgers and not have to run around London.
12:45pm at Bleecker Burger Old Spitalfields Market
After we gobbled up the first burger- we were in a positive frame of mind and marched our way to Old Spitalfields Market and found our way to the Bleecker Burger point. We were a bit early so took our time, sat down in the cold and contemplated life. I had a few colleagues meet me there (Thank you, Pat, Polly and Sarah) and we went about ordering our food.
The manager was a bit confused as he was not informed by his manager about the charity challenge and free burger, but instead offered us all three burgers at 50% off- THANK YOU BLEECKER .
As a burger, this was a small cheeseburger which was quite tasty, a bit too much lettuce, which was strange, but a good start for the challenge, two down and i felt good. 8 more would be easy at this rate.
2pm at Lucky Chip Burger Old Queens Head
Here is where it started getting difficult. I thought i would be clever and went for a Chicken Burger. Oran had mentioned how tasty it was, especially with the BBQ sauce and cream soda. CREAM Soda- what! ah well, it was still a burger at the end of the day.
It was 2pm and the weather was cold but sunny and it was a nice day. I had my friend Kapil join us too, along with his Wife Lisa and their beautiful daughter Sienna. It truly was a special day.
The Old Queens Head guys had reserved an area for me too; i felt special.
We got the burger and its size was dramatically bigger than the previous two. The challenge was now in full flow.
The Burger was lovely. The BBQ sauce and Soda cream added a new difficulty and that was the richness and denseness of the sauces. These combined with a big piece of fried chicken, made this burger a slower and longer process. Even Sienna looking at the burger (pic below) knew it was a mouthful and declined even a bite. 10 in 10 now looked like a losing battle.
2:45pm at MEATLiquorN1 Upper Street
From the Lucky Chip, four men, a lady and a little baby made their way up to to MEATliquorN1. This new restaurant continues the vibe from the other MEAT chains and we got there and i was welcomed by the general manager and asked how the task was going.
"Going fine thanks, it is getting a bit more difficult" i said.
Oran was in a good mood and recommended a Banoffee Hi milkshake (includes alcohol). I declined and went for a cheeseburger with water. The burger arrived ready to be consumed. No packaging or anything, just a cheeseburger with all its goodness.
Tasty, a great texture and great flavours, but now the burgers were going down a lot more slowly. Each bite was starting to feel like a session in itself. The cheeseburger here was not that big, but the three previous burgers had nestled themselves into my stomach and were not going anywhere.
With all the beef burgers so far cooked medium rare, it meant that my stomach was taking that bit longer to digest and process. So along came another layer of beef and bread and lettuce etc to sit on top of three previous burgers. The struggle was alive and kicking.
3:30pm at Five Guys Islington
So five and six. were still quite fun as we had more people join us- Dan came along at Five Guys for his first burger of the day. Here the Five Guys team gave us a £25 voucher which was very kind and Sherwin and I went for a Little Hamburger. THANK YOU FVE GUYS.
The 'Little Hamburger' is a bit of a strange name as it just means it only has one patty instead of two. We went 'All The Way' too, which means you get a certain number of toppings included, which are grilled mushrooms, onions, ketchup, mustard etc. I am a big fan of this burger, but at this stage of the challenge, it started becoming not so tasty. Here was the first burger of the day which I just wanted to finish and not savour the taste. The added toppings were a bit of a mistake and i should have just gone plain. The flavour of the mushrooms just did not work on the day for me and made the pleasure of eating a burger less enjoyable.
It is a tricky challenge.
5pm at Honest Burger Camden
From Islington we got on board the underground and found our way to Camden. Through the crowds of tourists we walked towards Camden Lock. Night was setting in and the pleasant sunshine disappeared and the cold felt more real.
At this stop we were greeted by Lee and his family. This day was not just about burgers- it was about the kids and it was great that they joined us.
The burger here comes with french fries which are generously doused with rosemary and salt. The smell was strong and as much as i wanted to have a bite of the fries, i just could not stomach it at this point. I could barely have the burger too. The patty was a thick one, very meaty and a bit too salty for my liking too. Lee and his family ate their burgers in peace and thoroughly enjoyed it. My friends all went for a chicken burger and they all complained that the chicken was off and rubbery- so after a few bites they stopped eating their burgers.
I had to continue on and the fight was a long one, but ultimately successful one for me. The burger was devoured and Honest Burger gave the whole thing on the house. Great work.
6pm at McDonalds in Camden
This had to be done. I had no where else to go and no one to donate me a free burger.
99p was spent on burger number 7- a cheeseburger. as little as it was here was the realisation that 10 burgers in 10 hours was just too much. I managed it easily (maybe not) enough but event this thin slab of meat surrounded by two buns was a battle longer than i expected.
Oran, who had missed a round at Five Guys, caught up here with two cheeseburgers. Well done Sir.
7:30pm at Tommi's Burger Joint Marylebone
At this stage i was a finished man. Again i was lucky that i was greeted by more friends, Matt and Sarah with their gorgeous daughter Jessica. At this stage I had really wanted to be kinder and nicer to people and talk more but i genuinely was not feeling great.
Again, i went tactically and chose to have a veggie burger. Not the greatest idea. The burger was tasty enough, but the veggie patty was huge and a lot to handle. I think when it comes to veggie burgers, the chains will probably try to pack so much in to compensate for the lack of meat. It was tasty enough but this was not a burger i will try again and to be honest, not a chain i will be going back to. Sorry.
8:20pm at Patty & Bun James Street
This was burger number nine. In itself an unbelievable feat, however, this challenge was not called 9 burgers in 9 hours. I went for the famous Ari Gold burger, which was normal burger with a few additions. One which i think led to my downfall was the tasty yet super rich and filling bacon jam. Oh MY!
I was aboslutely finished at this stage, every bite was torture. I had to keep it down and a few big bites did not seem to cause any sort of dent in the burger. I was losing and losing badly. My friends and fiance were telling me to just give up but I could not. The banter was starting too, with the one that ended up motivating me was saying that i only had 8.2 burgers. I had to continue - i needed to continue. Bite by bite i ate the burger, at times i thought i may be sick, but I kept all that meat down me, but that was to be it.
I gave in.
9:15pm at StaxDiner Just did not happen, I did not attempt to go there as it was futile and I could not even look or smell another burger again that evening. I was a failure.
So. what did I learn?
Sharing is caring. One thing i really like about Chinese food, is the ease with which people can share food together. With my brother moving to a new area, it meant i had a chance to try a new restaurant. A thoroughly recommended restaurant and one that had ease of access and a chance to share food with family.
From the starters to the mains and the spinning turntable in the middle, Chinese restaurants are open to sharing and experiencing all types of food. A bit of chicken, some duck, pork and beef, this alongside noodles and rice and everyone can say which one was their favourite, knowing well that everyone had a taste.
The food overall was okay, nothing too special to be honest.
The soup lacked a bit of seasoning, so i dumped a lot of soy sauce in there.
The whole duck pancake was fine enough (it comes to a point, where a Chinese restaurants need something extra special to stand out).
The main courses were all okay too, nothing stood out and not really special, but edible and quite tasty.
I will not be rushing back here any time soon, only to see my brother.
A good sharing option, but a bit pricier than China Town and nothing that makes it stand out.
It is all about the company though- thanks brothers.