It’s all about balance. Tempering my enthusiasm of getting the Brighton Burgers phenomenon off the ground is the sobering realisation that my arteries are already screaming for mercy after three meat sandwiches in just four days. Step forward the Dirty Little Burger then, handily listed under the Bar Snacks menu, and costing just a measly £4. Couldn’t be too bad for me, right? What’s that? Do I want chips with it? Oh, go on then, you twisted my arm.
Sitting proudly atop a hill at the end of Upper Hamilton Road, it’s hard not to fall in love with The Chimney House as soon as you set foot in the place. Having been there before on several occasions (without ordering the burger, I hasten to add) I had to re-appraise it with my new critical writer’s eye as we stepped in out of the glorious, unseasonal February sunshine. It wasn’t found wanting. Wooden floors, a central bar stacked with home-made sausage rolls and jars of chutney made on-site, every table adorned with a small vase of flowers; The Chimney House impresses as a charming and rustic gastro-pub with a warm first impression. The bartender/waitress greeted us happily and invited us to sit anywhere we liked. I strategically chose a table behind a pillar from where I could snap away at my food to my heart’s content.
Exhausted from the relentless beef intake of the past few days, my fiancé retreated to the healthier climes of the proper lunch menu, ordering a chicken soup with dumplings and a dose of humble pie. I tucked my errant t-shirt in, scoffed at her lack of stamina and promptly ordered the only burger made at The Chimney House, the Dirty Little Burger. The side order of chips was offered and gratefully accepted. We whiled away a pleasant fifteen minutes with our drinks, the quiet conversation punctuated just once by the sudden hiss of my chips hitting the fryer in the kitchen behind us. Expectations began to mount.
Turns out the Dirty Little Burger isn’t so little after all. But Dirty Medium-sized Burger just doesn’t have the cachet really, does it? It was definitely dirty, however, in the best possible way; my first bite was a molten, juicy bite of heaven, resulting in a rivulet of meaty liquid cascading down the cheese. A small tower of gherkin rounds were stacked to the side of the burger on the serving board (a presentational touch that I love), but were also present in the burger too, alongside rocket, chopped white onions, the cheese, the beef and ketchup. The bun was well-toasted and floury, just about achieving the required subsistence to contain the sheer dirtiness of the thing without disintegrating. The patty was nicely charred on the outside, but beautifully moist, clearly engaged in an ongoing battle with the glistening cheese to see who could make me reach for my napkin first. The ingredients and layering of the Dirty Little Burger reminded me of the make-up of a cheeseburger from McDonalds, especially that layer of onions and ketchup sitting on the bottom of the bun, but created with exceptional ingredients, rather than the mechanically-reclaimed shit that passes for meat under those golden arches. Plus, it’s only a couple of pounds more expensive, assembled with a great deal of care, and lovingly presented. I know what I’d rather eat.
Ordered separately as a side, but a filling dish in its own right, the chips filled a ceramic bowl that took up half the serving board. Hand-cut from big chunky potatoes, with the skin left on, these were a mighty fine accompaniment to the main attraction. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, just the way good chips should be, although maybe a fraction overdone to my taste, these were nevertheless enough to complete the meal. For a very reasonable £7 all-in, I destroyed everything presented before me without being uncomfortably full. That represents bloody good value in my eyes.
The Chimney House is a lovely little place to while away some time in. As I mentioned above, we’ve been here several times before, and always came away impressed with the place. Sitting outside of the main centre of Brighton, it might involve a little more effort to get to than the usual suspects (luckily it’s about three minutes walk away for me), but it’s totally worth the walk. Brunch, a quiet pint and a Friday evening date night have all been enjoyed here, for very reasonable prices. The service is consistently impeccable too, always delivered with a smile and a natter, and we’ve been given extra bread on several occasions free of charge. A gem of a pub that more people should know about, and definitely worth your time.
Easily the best burger consumed in this fledgling burger adventure to date, and one that will take some beating, the Dirty Little Burger is a flavour-packed belter that’s not lacking for size, despite its name. If you like your patties juicy, your cheese gooey and your gherkins errr…. served both in the burger and on the side, you’ll love this burger. Try it immediately.
Price: £4 for the burger. £3 for the hand-cut chips (sold separately).
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.