I can’t help myself, really. Faced with that long list of options (each one sounding worthy of its own entry) there was a sense of inevitability that I would choose the most outlandish burger, a concept that could easily have sailed east across the Atlantic from our American friends, a behemoth that would perhaps shave a year off my life if consumed. The Dirt Burger. A chuck steak patty, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and red onion. So far, so normal. A bun comprised of two toasted cheese sandwiches. Sorry, what was that?
It was a close-run thing though. There was the Truffle, tempting me with it’s addition of (you guessed it) black truffle to its patty. Or the Zombie Head Shot, given consideration merely because of its utterly ridiculous name, a moniker more at home on a trendy cocktail list than a food menu, but putting me off with its blue cheese and guacamole combo – neither of which I’m a fan of. But the Dirt Burger won out, the sheer novelty of two meals, breakfast and lunch, coming together in an unholy alliance under the burger banner.
For its breadth of scope, Waggon And Horses should be commended; offering no less than fifteen different burgers on its permanent menu and a further three specials, from which my companion for the day (the newly reinvigorated fiancé taking one for the team once again) chose her lunch – the Holy Guacamole. Comprised of chicken, halloumi, guacamole, salsa and salad, hers almost rivalled mine in sheer towering size.
Ah what a curious creature the Dirt Burger is, a sandwich of two halves so to speak; literally so, once I’d sawn it awkwardly in half for a cut-through shot. The first few mouthfuls are surprising but tasty – the toasties providing delicious melted cheese, the smoked bacon holding its own against a chunky and coarse patty that’s cooked well, and the raw red onion (my nemesis) not competing too aggressively to be the dominant flavour. The crunch of the toasted bread, boasting slightly too much char, is a not unwelcome texture to the experience, certainly providing a more durable receptacle to house the burger’s innards than several other buns I’ve had down the years that break apart as soon as you give them that first lustful glance. But as time wears on the Dirt Burger begins to become a bit of a chore. Those two layers of cheese that bookend the experience start to harden and congeal, and suddenly all the moisture of the burger gets sucked out. The patty, whilst undoubtedly of good quality, isn’t the most juicy, and with no detectable sauces hiding away under the salad, the Dirt Burger soon becomes the Dry Burger. I had to dunk the last four or five mouthfuls in my splodge of mayo reserved for my fries, so desperate was it for some moisture.
And afterwards, the remorse. The slow calculation of how many calories might have just been consumed. The post-burger belly beginning to cramp up immediately. The slowly-dawning dread that its actually a fair old walk back to the comforts of home. By no means a bad burger – this has plenty going for it, not least the sheer gluttony of it all – I won’t be eating it again. Although I’m certainly not put off in trying some of the other interesting looking sandwiches on the list.
“Any spare centimetres in that overflowing gut of yours?” the Waggon And Horses asks? “We’ll see to that.”
Alongside my burger colossus on its tasteful wooden platter was a small white bowl positively overflowing with crisp golden fries. So much so that a rogue one sabotaged my artfully composed burger shot, and another had given up and launched itself off the side. Fantastic value at just £2.00 extra, the fries were tasty enough but almost immediately stone cold. Hard to begrudge this when they’re all sitting out in the open like that, far away from the warmth of their receptacle, but still – nobody really wants cold fries do they?
Waggon And Horses is a cosy little pub that sits on the corner of Jubilee Street and Church Street, where the staff are friendly and the whisky list is extensive. In the summer, the place positively heaves, buoyed by an enormous beer ‘garden’ (essentially an area staked out on the pavement outside) that attracts sun-seekers looking for liquid refreshment. Inside, you’ll find the usual items that denote classic English pubs up and down the land – fruit machines, brass light fittings, and old boys in flat caps whiling away a lazy lunch hour. The staff were suitably warm and friendly, like most places in this fair town, and all in all its a very decent little boozer.
For sheer novelty factor, the Dirt Burger will be tough to beat. Whilst the Troll Pantry surprises and delights with exotic ingredients (take a bow, Jim Beam bourbon) the Dirt Burger goes for all-out calorific war, fusing two gutbusting meals into one, and channeling the spirit of American burger joints across the pond. But here’s the rub – it actually gets worse as a burger rather than better, mainly because of that lack of greasy, juicy goodness that keeps a burger satisfying to the end. Here’s a pro tip: if you do get one – and you still should, all things considered – split it with a friend, and wolf down those decadent toasties whilst the cheese is still all good and gooey. You, and your belly, will thank me for it.
Price: £7.50 (+ £2.00 for the fries)
Rating 3.5 out of 5